Secure strategy

Dave DeWalt, CEO and president of McAfee speaks exclusively to Network Middle East about snatching market share from rivals

Tags: MalwareMcAfee IncorporationUnited Arab Emirates
  • E-Mail
Secure strategy
More pics ›
By  Julian Pletts Published  November 1, 2009 Network Middle East Logo

Bolstered by encouraging growth over the first half of this year despite the financial crisis, IT security vendor McAfee is squaring up to market rival Symantec and aiming to snatch more market share. Julian Pletts talks exclusively to CEO and president, Dave DeWalt.

You have presented the ePolicy Orchestrator (ePO)  in Las Vegas - why is it important that enterprises centrally manage their security, particularly in a region like the Middle East where there are a great deal of distributed networks?

The main challenges we have seen in the last few years are driving the demand for a centralised management console. The reason for that is we've seen such a diverse set of attack vectors on cyber-crime and terrorism that if you are a corporation, and are de-centralised as a network, as almost every global national company is, or you are even a small business, you have to understand the threats that you are facing. Some of those threats can come in everything from a USB thumb drive to a computer email to a network on the web. How do you correlate the threats across these vectors? You need to look at it as a single pain of glass and a single view. That is what we are trying to do and we realise McAfee isn't the only company and set of products that can solve this and that is why we have 81 partners integrated into the ePO and we have announced a whole lot more. By creating an integrated framework of third party products to McAfee's, we think that together we can be stronger.

Symantec CEO, Enrique Salem described the competition as Symantec and the seven dwarves. Symantec have a strong tie-ups with OEMs that are worth a great deal to them. Has McAfee been trying to gain a stronger foothold in this important route to market?

Are you trying to push my buttons now? It is a little early in the morning to get the seven dwarves comment! We have a heated rivalry with Symantec and McAfee has grown and we have had 14 consecutive double-digit growth quarters. We have accelerated our growth, in a difficult economy, and a lot of this has come at the expense of market share from our competitors. Analysts have shown that we have just passed Symantec as the number one provider in corporate security. We have grown by staying focused on security and partnering positively with both the channel and the community to create positive security operations. And when it comes to partnerships it is obvious that we have to take a lot of those partners away from our competitors and we have always had a strategy of creating a ubiquity of security. To create ubiquity of our products, we partner in a good strong way, Verizon and partnerships with others really show our strategy of silicon in the satellite. This is creating, embedding and OEMing our technology from the smallest of semiconductors, like we have done with Intel, to the largest of cloud-based computing models, like Verizon's, BT's and Telefonica's. We have been doing a lot of work with the Middle Eastern telecommunications partners who are huge partners of ours as well.

So it is it fair to label McAfee as one of the Seven Dwarves?

Well, obviously that is a pretty interesting comment in content security considering we have now passed them in corporate security. I'm not sure who is the dwarf now but certainly we have gotten even bigger than them in the most important segment - corporate.

You reported strong second quarter results earlier this year of US$469 million in revenue. What is it about your strategy that you think has allowed McAfee to grow in a very tough climate?

The strategy has really just been to focus on security, as opposed to our competitors. Security is a growing challenge for the world. The internet isn't architected with security in mind and as a dedicated security company we have been able to double our business in the last three years just by focusing on that.  The difference is our partnering models, our strategy for security only and the fact that we really interlock our strategy from consumer to corporation and that comes in the form of intelligence from all over the world. We have got research and development outside of the US, more than 50% outside of the US, we do business in more than 90 countries around the world and we are very focused on what we call the emerging markets, such as the Middle East. We have already doubled our growth and investments in the emerging markets with a strategic imperative that I have launched over the last year called ‘capture the emerging markets'. The whole Middle Eastern country base has really been very strategic to McAfee and the growth is starting to show that.

McAfee has been actively seeking the help of third party vendors and the channel to combat dangers from cyber criminals? Where has this open strategy come from and how does it benefit the company as a whole?

Well it benefits us and really benefits the customer and that is really why we do it. Most of the customers of ours have said that they really feel they need an ecosystem of security that works together. Our competitors have chosen a direction where they only work with their own product, a very proprietary way of working. It's a very naive way. Interoperability and integration is critical in the enterprise. There are many products, more than McAfee's and Symantec's and Trend Micro's, and whoever can work more interoperability in than others, is probably the stronger vendor. Most customers have applauded that we have integrated lots of companies, even if it competes, and we have to constantly be showing customers that we have better products, but we are also open too and that openness allows us to correlate data and intelligence much quicker than our competitors. And since threats are much more diverse these days, it is obvious to see why that is important.

With over 80 companies involved in the Security Innovation Alliance though is it not inevitable that there will be stability issues and security flaws?

No, we have very rigorous testing and each product is tested. McAfee goes through the same rigorous testing process as with our own products. Most of what we do is transmitting data across. That doesn't create a new vulnerability, especially with the secure protocols and the encrypted protocols that we have, but it does allow us to communicate better. Really the main thing you are trying to solve is the time to remediate a threat, so by communicating faster, the quicker you can remediate a threat, the less vulnerable you are. So we developed the ePO model, where these products can be integrated. Where our competitors have no integrations with third parties, they have no way of communicating, so how can they solve today's threats?

Security as a service seems to be a direction that the security market is heading towards. How have you been working to ensure that you are able to establish a strong presence in the services market?

Having just visited Dubai a few months ago when I met with some of the largest telecommunications companies, it is very obvious that the market segment is very open for that sort of technology and distribution. We have already been doing that and the ability to do what we call ‘clean pipes' is very near.  This is the cleansing of the IP networks and fighting spam prior to it reaching the business of the consumer. With web filtering and other types of firewalls and denial of service security, some of our biggest partners are very active and in many cases, ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to security in the cloud.  That is another target when it comes to us acquiring technologies.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code