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McAfee's mid-market security mantra

McAfee planted its roots in the enterprise arena but is increasingly turning its attention to the mid-market space. ARN caught up with senior vice-president global mid-market business, Darrell Rodenbaugh, to discuss what mid-market customers need and how McAfee is setting itself apart from competitor, Symantec.

What is the mid-market looking for in terms of security?

We have an internal mantra around the importance of delivering solutions that are smart, simple and secure. In a customer and partner survey McAfee conducted this year, we found 60 per cent of companies in this space spend less than one hour a week proactively managing security and only 13 per cent have a security expert. To some of those customers security is a part-time job; the typical IT manager does everything from managing desktops to new applications, building new websites and maintaining security. The problem is security becomes a job they don't really focus on because they have all these other things that are truly adding value and moving their business ahead. We have got to deliver solutions that recognise the customer does not have a lot of time to mess around with that sort of stuff, so simplicity is critical. In the SME space, customers need solutions that offer the same security levels we offer our largest banks and government agencies. We need to deliver that in a smart and simple manner to our mid-market customers.

How is McAfee helping partners embrace the midmarket?

Companies in this space have probably already protected themselves from basic malware problems and are becoming more sophisticated on how they deal with email. They are now starting to realise Web security is a major area of exposure and are waking up to the risk of critical confidential data walking out of their businesses. That can happen in different ways - either maliciously through people trying to hack into the organisation, or their own employees taking confidential data outside. I think there is a huge opportunity for our resellers to capitalise on that and deliver solutions to solve those problems. Some of these threats are pretty sophisticated and resellers can deliver expertise to SMEs that do not have that in-house. We see a lot of our partners building entire practices around how they deliver solutions to these companies - either through traditional consulting services or managed services - and delivering technology in a way that makes it easy for the customer to absorb. We offer an online anti-malware security solution which allows a business partner to deliver any malware solution to customers and then monitor exposures and problems remotely.

How has the security landscape evolved over the past 1-2 years?

It has become much more complex and it's a tough balance. On one side customers are facing a fast evolving and expanding series of threats. There is an explosion in malware, spam and data protection security. But there are really no company resources dedicated to facing that challenge. Companies are trying to build their business and are not necessarily investing proportionately into securing their business.

What are some emerging trends you're seeing in the security space?

We are seeing a lot of movement towards consolidation and easy to manage suites that offer a wide variety of security functions through a single PC console. Our customers are getting beyond the idea of buying a variety of [point] vendor solutions. Vendors are buying other vendors and there is consolidation taking place, but customers want that. They want solutions that offer them breadth across all of their security problems managed in a single, easy to use fashion. They're demanding appliance solutions that are very broad and comprehensive and managed from a single platform or console. That trend is being driven by both the vendor community and customers demanding it.

The ever increasing and complex threat landscape is another new trend. Customers are waking up to data exposure risks and are more highly sensitive towards managing, maintaining and protecting data. Some of this is driven by very real exposures customers experience when they lose that data and some of it is driven by governmental mandates forcing them to be open about the exposures they have had.

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What sets McAfee apart from your biggest competitor, Symantec?

We have a single minded focus on security. We wake up everyday thinking, worrying about and doing a lot of work around how to deliver the best security for our customers. We are not distracted by other lines of business that don't have anything to do with security. Our challenge has been in educating our customers and doing a better job of making our customers and partners more aware of the capabilities we deliver.

Last quarter the Bank of America decided to move forward with McAfee and they were an existing Symantec customer. In the banking industry there are huge pressures around costs. The Bank of America made a very expensive decision to say they were not going to use Symantec anymore. It was driven largely by the difficulty in Symantec's upgrade cycle. We also focus a lot on the customer experience and I think that distinguishes us from them.

Last year, McAfee acquired encryption and access control vendor, SafeBoot, to expand into risk management. Will McAfee be focusing on any other areas of security this year?

We will continue to expand our portfolio of security solutions. We are going to deliver that with our own internal development, through partnering and acquisition. We already had a data protection solution - SafeBoot really rounded it out to make our total offering complete.

We are leading the market in delivering capabilities that secure the virtual environment and announced several new functions to make that virtual environment safer than the non-virtual world. We are putting a lot of effort into virtualisation and delivering some of our solutions on top of virtual operating systems to allow customers to easily and efficiently install and utilise our technologies.

What else can partners expect to see from McAfee this year?

In the mid-market space they can expect to see a lot of new investment in our partner community. We have just brought our SME Premier Partner program to this region and the idea is that we want to support partners trying to build robust businesses. We will continue to support partners doing work in the enterprise space, which has historically been our bread and butter. Partners will see us deliver better support, new programs, deal registration, better rebates, marketing and co-marketing activities. Our mid-market business grew by around 20 per cent last year and I believe we will grow by about 30 per cent this year. We are making a big investment and I'm growing our sales force in the mid-market globally by 300 per cent, year-on-year. That sales force's primary mission is to build and develop opportunities with our partners and we are also seeing that growth in Australia.