McAfee CEO says Intel acquisition not about silicon

TORONTO – In town for an executive summit event at the Steam Whistle Brewery, McAfee Corp. (NYSE: MFE ) CEO Dave DeWalt told customers and partners he believes Intel Corp. ‘s (NASDAQ: INTC ) blockbuster acquisition of the security vendor will create exciting possibilities.

The US$7.68 billion acquisition was announced in August and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2011. DeWalt said the details are still being finalized as the deal has yet to close. However, he said McAfee will operate as a separate subsidiary of Intel, but with a whole new level of resources for research and marketing with the goal of changing the security model.

(Learn more about the Intel acquisition, McAfee’s plans for the SMB and where it sees channel opportunity in this CDN video interview with with McAfee CEO Dave DeWalt)

DeWalt said Intel has really changed a lot in recent years in the way it develops silicon. It was all about getting more and more performance, following Moore’s Law . Then over the last decade it became more about getting increased power from the processors. After building the company on those two pillars in recent years, DeWalt said Intel is now set to add security as its third pillar, on the same level as performance and power.

He added he’s been surprised to learn about the intelligence Intel has already added to the silicon, such as its vPro and Active Management technology . Buying McAfee isn’t about adding to the silicon further though, said DeWalt.

“It’s about integrating and leveraging the features already existing in the silicon today,” said DeWalt, and better marrying the silicon hardware from Intel with McAfee’s security software. “This becomes a very powerful model for us, and can bring a lot of solutions and products to the market.”

In a video message played for attendees at the McAfee event, Intel CEO Paul Otellini pointed to mobility as a driving factor behind the acquisition, and the proliferation of mobile devices being used for both work and play. The increasing number and differing type of endpoint devices requires a new security approach with a tighter integration of hardware and software, said Otellini.

“We’d been collaborating with McAfee for 18 months (before the acquisition) on ways to improve security, and create a closer hardware/software partnership,” said Otellini. “We’ll maintain current McAfee product lines and support for multiple architectures.”

Four trends shaping security

Looking at today’s security landscape, DeWalt said McAfee sees four significant trends that are shaping the vendor’s approach to securing consumers and businesses.

The first is communities. McAfee is utilizing online communities to gather data and assess an ever growing, ever changing threat landscape and react more quickly as new threats emerge.

The second is virtualization. With virtual desktop deployments reaching the mainstream, McAfee is developing hypervisor-based protection.

The third trend is the consumerization of IT . Tablets and slates are emerging as a new class of secondary devices, leading to a mass expansion of the number of endpoints in the network, and exposed to threats. Particularly with the ever-expanding number of apps running on these various endpoints. On the plus side though, DeWalt said almost any mobile device is easier to secure than a Windows-based PC.

Finally, the fourth trend is white-listing or application control is becoming a mainstream trend.

To address these trends, DeWalt said McAfee is focusing in endpoints, and coordinating them with the network and the cloud in an open architecture. McAfee sees strong potential in the cloud, and as a service delivery models.

Follow Jeff Jedras on Twitter: @JeffJedrasCDN .

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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