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McAfee launches a security-as-a-service push

The security vendor has created a new business unit to focus on the SaaS opportunity, and help partners become security managed service providers

Security vendor McAfee (NYSE: MFE) is taking its security software as a service (SaaS) play to a new level with the creation of a separate business unit led by a former SaaS executive from Hewlett Packard, and is promising good revenue opportunities for the channel.

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McAfee already has a broad range of SaaS offerings and has been playing in the space for some time according to Kelly Haggerty, director of product management, SaaS and SMB, with McAfee. The new unit will be headed by Marc Olsen as senior vice-president and general manager of the SaaS security business unit. Olsen was previously vice-president of SaaS business at HP.

While security may not be the first application to come to mind when it comes to hosted software, Haggerty there are a number of use cases and segments where a SaaS approach to security makes good sense and has had good pick-up.

“We’ve had very good success in the SMB, but also in the enterprise space as well,” said Haggerty. “There’s a niche in distributed environments, to provide branch offices with the same level of service as the rest of the enterprise through a management console, without having someone on site.”

Haggerty added that while SaaS and the security play within SaaS has certainly seen some challenges, it has also evolved over the last five to eight years and within the last two years McAfee has noted a strong increase in adoption.

The vendor’s goal, he said, is to offer security capabilities in a range of delivery methods to allow the partner and client to tailor the right solution to their specific needs. In the e-mail filtering space, for example, McAfee offers hardware, software and SaaS solutions, leaving it up to the customer to select the best solution for their use-case, having considered the pros and cons of each.

“In the early days it was more early adopter, but now we’re seeing lots of SMBs and businesses deploying SaaS, and we’re getting great traction in the channel,” said Haggerty. “We offer a partner security services program for our VAR channel so they can offer managed security services on top of the McAfee technology, with a partner dashboard to manage it.”

McAfee has acquired a number of two technologies in recent years with a SaaS focus, including ScanAlert, and by bringing all of McAfee’s SaaS offerings together under one umbrella, Haggerty said they’ll be able to solidify the roadmap and give partners more opportunities to bring to customers.

The main go to market method for McAfee’s SaaS offerings is through a managed services provider (MSP) model with the channel. The offerings are sold through a subscription model with one, two or three-year licenses that include all updates and support. Partners can remotely manage the service for their clients through a management console, and can bundle or add services on top. Haggerty said McAfee is flexible with the delivery model, and is open to either offering the service through McAfee’s data centre but managed by the partner, or allowing the partner to host the service in their own data centre.

For the partner that doesn’t want to get into the MSP business but has a client with a use case where the MSP model makes sense, McAfee’s SaaS offerings are also available as a SKU through distribution. The partner earns margin as they would with a software sale, and the client is provided with a secure login to a management console to manage the service themselves.

McAfee offerings currently available through the SaaS model include Atremis, TrustedSource, SiteAdvisor, Total Protection, Email Security, PCI Certification, Web Security Service and Foundstone on Demand and Web Protection.