The VAR Guy just returned from a quick lunch. Waiting at his doorstep was Alex Thurber, McAfee's Channel Chief. Thurber arrived with a smile -- perhaps because Intel's buyout of McAfee was completed earlier this year. And now McAfee is preparing an SMB-centric channel partner program to go along with established channel efforts. But that's not all. Here are highlights from The VAR Guy's sit-down with Thurber, senior VP of worldwide channels, commercial and SMB at McAfee.

1. Big Business: Thurber says McAfee has business relationships with 98 of the Fortune 100 companies.

2. Big Five Priority: Channels is one of five key initiatives for McAfee this year. And within channels, key focus areas include a  new SMB Partner Program, which should debut in a month or so. It's designed for customer engagements with up to 250 seats, Thurber says.

3. Ease of Doing Business: McAfee has spent about $20 million overhauling its internal CRM systems. Watch for some enhancements designs specifically for channel partners. Thurber also notes that McAfee does 98 percent of its channel business through distributors, so there will be some "ease of business" improvements on the distribution front as well.

4. Cloud Triple Play: On the cloud computing front, Thurber sees three prime opportunities for McAfee and its channel partners. They include:
  • Security of the cloud: That's pretty much standard perimeter security.
  • Security to the cloud: This area involves an Intel on-premise appliance, which ensures users a secure connection to the Internet.
  • Security from the cloud: Here, McAfee depends on the GTI (Global Threat Intelligence) network, which tracks 2 million new "bad" sites per year.
6. Managed Services: "We're bringing out an MSSP program this year," says Thurber. MSSP, The VAR Guy believes, stands for managed security service provider. The MSSP program is in pilot now...

7. On the Road: Thurber travels roughly 30,000 miles per month. His next trips involve partner meetings in Dubai, Munich and Moscow. "It's a truly global job," he says. "And the best part of my job is meeting with partners."

8. Enablement Push: McAfee has launched an "Ace" post sales certification. It's similar to a mini-CCIE, like a mini CCIE. First ACE is in the Caribbean. Continuing to drive the enablement piece.

9. Intel Synergies: Sure, McAfee has synergies with Intel. But Thurber is careful not to hype them. He quickly cuts to the chase saying Intel has three top priorities: Power efficiency, connectivity and security. "It's nice to see McAfee's core focus being one of Intel's top priorities," said Thurber. However, he says Intel will continue to work with third-party security companies as well.

10. Cloud Won't Kill the Channel: "Instead, there will be aggregators," said Thurber. The aggregators will include traditional distributors that direct VARs to SaaS services. Plus, there will be next-generation distributors like Spam Soap (a close McAfee partner) that aggregate cloud services. Thurber says it will be a global trend. "We've built SaaS datacenters in each theater... EMEA, APAC, the Americas," he adds.

11. Mobile Opportunities: There will be 50 billion mobile connected devices, and they will require security, Thurber mentioned. "Security will be required on the business side and the consumer side," he added. To address the need, McAfee offers Enterprise Mobility Manager: which secures communications from corporate email servers all the way to the mobile device.

12. Partner Summit: Sounds like McAfee Focus will be October 17 or so in Las Vegas. McAfee will likely announce the event in the next few weeks. But be sure to double-check the date and location with the software company. The VAR Guy has never been known for managing his own personal calendar very well.

Oops. Time's up. The speed date with Thurber has just ended. Back soon with more perspectives from The VAR Guy's secret San Francisco hideout.

Meet The VAR Guy: For more information about future speed dating engagements send email to TheVARGuy [at] NineLivesMediaInc [dot] com. Use the subject line “Speed Dating.”

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