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IN THE HOT SEAT: McAfee builds up channel strength

IN THE HOT SEAT: McAfee builds up channel strength

Following the launch of a new channel program by its US counterparts in July, McAfee Australia's recently appointed channel manager, Dawn McMorrow, is now putting the final touches on the security vendor's local partner initiatives. Along with strengthening the skills of its resellers, McMorrow said her focus was to provide partners with a more structured, formal program that both recognises and rewards its reseller base.

ARN: Tell us about your background Dawn McMorrow (DM): I have been with McAfee for six months as the channel manager for Australia and New Zealand. I previously worked for Business Objects as the distribution manager for four-and-a-half years. I was originally employed by the Crystal Decisions side of the organisation.

What does your job with McAfee encompass?

DM: My role is to manage the overall relationships with our channel partners and to roll out a channel program. McAfee is a 100 per cent channel organisation. We made a commitment some time ago to have all of our deals go through the channel. What we are really looking to do now, and why I was brought on, is to bring structure to how we work with the channel.

According to the global program, McAfee will be introducing tiers into its channel. Will these be applicable to the local market?

DM: We plan to the tweak the program to support how we want to work with the local channel, not the other way around.

Over the last six months I have been looking at the local market, understanding how the channel works and where we need partners to focus. Then we said let's take the global program and look at how that fits with our local channel model.

We have analysed our coverage across all of the market segments: from SOHO and SMB, to medium to large and enterprise businesses. We want to make sure we have partners in all of these areas as well as across all of our solution sets. For example, we have our newly launched Partner Security Service, network IPS and a few other hosted security products.

The tier program will have elite, premier and partner levels. As usual with these types of programs, the benefits are tied to levels of commitment. We want to reward and recognise partners who have committed to leading with McAfee solutions.

We are also introducing things such as co-marketing funding. In the past we've had marketing budgets and we spent the budget where we saw fit, but now we will put a lot more structure around it. Our partners, for example, in specific solution set areas - we will work with them through marketing drives on a regular basis. We'll also undertake lead generation activities to really grow their business.

Will there be any additional certifications as a result of the new partner program?

DM: We run a free e-learning training package, which is part of our certification process. All partners at all levels will have 24x7 access to that. They can go in and get themselves certified. Although we introduced this earlier this year, it will be something we will utilise when we certify partners who commit to us through the new tiers.

Is there a certain segment of the market McAfee hasn't been strong in traditionally that you want to focus partners on? For example, many security providers are now concentrating on providing managed services offerings.

DM: It is certainly one of the areas we are focusing on. We have over 200 partners now in our managed services offering and we are always looking to recruit more in that area as well.

Another key area is intrusion prevention - that is where the growth in the market is coming from. Organisations are realising that antivirus software isn't enough anymore. The speed, type and complexity of the threats that are coming through now mean that you need something to proactively prevent them. That's where our technology is going. It also ties in with our recent acquisition of Foundstone.

Has the Foundstone acquisition had much of an impact on the way McAfee deals with its channel?

DM: Yes, we are currently working on certifying our intrusion prevention partners. We are also now recruiting more host intrusion prevention, network intrusion prevention and secure content partners for our WebShield 3000 enterprise series products.

Is there a specific limit you've set on how many partners to recruit?

DM: We need to make sure we have partners who are leading with secure content management in the SMB and medium to large space. If we are getting the coverage from partners in specific territories or segments, then we probably won't look to increase numbers there. But we are looking for between 10-15 partners in the secure content management area.

We need partners who are security focused, and have skills in security with technical people and pre-sales people. We will work with those people to get them trained and certified and enable them to go out there and confidently sell and demonstrate the products. We have tech­nical workshops with our pre-sales engineers to assist them to get through that process, as well as the e-learning program.

Since I have come onboard we have also been doing some channel seminars. Our aim is to do one per quarter.


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