McAfee Refocuses 'Partner First' Strategy for SMBs: Bill Rielly

We do not have 'hobbies' outside security as we are committed to protect small and medium businesses says Bill Rielly, Senior Vice President, SMB, McAfee.

CW: SMBs have limited IT budgets and new threats emerge through social, mobile than the traditional threat vectors. How can they improve the security posture?

The challenge they face is that hackers and cybercriminals are increasingly finding at SMBs companies as good targets. They will continue to attack big banks and big enterprises too. In many cases, SMBs traditionally have lower defences and they can pretty quickly monetise through credit card, customer information etc.

What's changed with SMBs is that they now care more about security and they are starting to invest more into it. They want McAfee to be their security expert with a suite of offerings through entire extensive R&D. For an average small business owner, we do all R & D investment for security solutions in a predictable and affordable way.

CW: What is the adoption curve of SMBs versus the large enterprises? Are UTMs still preferred at large?

The growth worldwide for SMBs and the money they spend on security is faster than other part of the security market. There continues to be lot of interest in UTM and in basic security prevention / defence.As companies become more specialised and companies face more regulator pressure specific to security, they will scale up in terms of sophisticated solutions. Companies like us provide solutions that offer simplicity, predictability and affordability to protect a small enterprise.

CW: Doesn't McAfee miss out on UTM space as you got rid off of SnapGear few years ago?

We are constantly evaluating what products we need to put in the market. We constantly follow UTM market very closely and we don't make product announcement on what's coming. There is a market out there and we are following UTM landscape.

CW: What are the pitfalls that SMBs should avoid in their security journey?

Before selecting a security vendor, SMBs should be clear about the comfort levels of their employees. For e.g. Do they want all employees to have access the customer data on each employee's ipad, maybe not? All sales people should know sales data and forecast on tablets and what if they leave the ipad in a taxi. A 'People First' approach is extremely important.

The next thing for SMBs is to look beyond AV. Many small businesses say that they deployed AV three years ago to protect themselves. Working with our channel partners we realise they need protection across the threat vectors of email, web, data today. I would sort of sound an alarm that AV is important for SMBs but it is the fraction of total equation of the modern security needs.

CW: Why should enterprise channel partners work with you than your competition?

We have recruited more people on SMB team in India. These people live is 'SMB' by spending more time with relevant channel partners. We have to be 'Partner First'. We are now reinforcing SMB strategy in India. For us to provide scale and what smbs really need we need partners and we are investing in partner incentives with resellers and distys. The large focus is on technical enablement for the partners to understand our value proposition so they can talk to end customer with confidence.

McAfee works with more than1200 partners today which focus on SMB segment. We continue to grow and take a local approach as Indian market is quite regionalised which I call Hyper Local. We are reaching specific regions with channel partners to extend dominance across security market in SMBs.

CW: Are SMBs receptive to cloud offerings by McAfee? And what about BYOD ?

We have customers across segments interested in cloud and SaaS. Our strategy is not to make it 'SaaS versus On-Premise'. We simply want to make sure that we have services and products enable the partner to give you the protection you need - SaaS, on premise or a combination. McAfee and different partners in the supply chain are making sure to inbuilt security in cloud solutions. Other companies are integrating McAfee and other products as part of their cloud offerings to the market.

BYOD is very real across the globe and it is happening in India too. Finance folks at the end customer end totally get it as they understand the long term investment in mobility on a three to five year period .Though the IT team might disagree at times.

CW: What is value proposition of McAfee for SMBs as a security vendor ?

All the investments revolve around one domain as we only do security which is a big deal. We look after more than 64 billion queries a day and that's what it takes to keep our customers safe.

McAfee is providing full set of products and offerings to SMBs (less than 250 users). In the past, there have been efforts by vendor companies to go after one segment which is a narrow piece that's their call. Our approach is to we need to protect against all the threats these companies face. We have acquired companies like Stonesoft. We are investing in SaaS protection -- email, web and end point, encryption products and archiving.

While we continue to narrate overall 'McAfee story' to partner and customers, we need to emphasise that we are the largest standalone security company focusing only security. Our holistic approach appeals to companies as we do not have hobbies outside security as we are committed to protect small and medium businesses.

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