Partners need to be less promiscuous: McAfee

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Partners need to be less promiscuous: McAfee
McAfee's Gavin Struthers.

Partners need to slash the number of vendors they’re working with if they want to maintain growth and relevance in the highly fragmented security market.

That’s the word from McAfee’s international channel chief, Gavin Struthers, who said partners should reduce the number of vendors they’re working with from the tens to around four.

“It’s time partners got off the fence and doubled down with a smaller number of vendors so their focus is deep, wide and relevant,” said Struthers, in an interview with CRN.

He was in the country for yesterday’s Partner Advisory Council, an annual event. At the PAC, Struthers will drive home a series of core messages, one of which is to embrace the Security Connected ethos - a series of ideas underpinning McAfee’s end-to-end security market approach - the other is to get on board with the Partner Connected program.

“The ones who do embrace these things are seeing growth three times the market average,” he stated. (audited figures have not been provided).

The Partner Connected scheme has five aspects, he said, reiterating the point partners need to reduce the number of vendors they work with as the stepping off point.

“Then you need to pick the areas you want to declare expertise in,” he said. These could be areas such as network security, malware protection, risk and compliance or data protection, for example.

Struthers said the third aspect is something he thinks has been lost, which is basic sales discipline. Vendors and partners need to work together and be collectively accountable for the results, he noted.

The fourth and fifth aspects are linked, essentially being commitment and investment. “The more you invest, the more you earn.”

Struthers said McAfee partners fall into three categories - classic, transitional and transformational. Classic partners are essentially box movers, and the only way to make money in this area is to have scale, he said.

Transitional businesses are moving to the cloud and software as a service model, while transformational partners (he cited local company Managed Protect as an example)  were born in the cloud. Naturally, it’s the areas of cloud and services where margins are highest, Struthers said.

“As the market consolidates, partners need to make some hard choices,” he said. “Many vendors are becoming competitors to their partners. McAfee won’t do that, and we’re not going to be acquired*. We’re a 100 percent channel company.”

*In 2010 McAfee was acquired by chip giant Intel in a deal valued at $US7.68 billion. Struthers said Intel views end-to-end security as a key pillar of its business.

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