McAfee is now being viewed as an innovator in the security space again after being spun out of Intel, EMEA partner boss Ed Baker has claimed.
The cybersecurity giant endured a difficult spell under the Intel umbrella, but pledged to become a more nimble business for the channel when it became independent again in April last year.
Partners had been critical of McAfee's unclear road map before it was acquired by private equity firm TPG but Ed Baker, the vendor's EMEA partner lead, told CRN that steps have been taken to give the channel a coherent view of where it is going.
"I think the vast majority of partners we spoke to wanted to see our vision, and that is what we are doing now," he said.
"We are giving them the vision around what we are doing with cloud, Skyhigh (which McAfee acquired), and that gives them confidence in where we are going as an organisation, because they can unlock more with their customers.
"I have certainly felt some goodwill and a good reception. We are now perceived to be an innovator in the marketplace, which is one of the things our partners have been asking for."
McAfee quickly took steps to shake its antivirus tag when it became independent, global channel boss Ken McCray said last October, and Baker explained that the vendor is now in the process of evangelising its new approach.
Baker joined in April with a pedigree of building for emerging technologies, having built out Cisco's channel when it entered the datacentre and server market.
The channel boss said that McAfee is currently in the process of kick-starting its interaction with partners.
"We are relaunching ourselves into the market," he said.
"It is about building intimacy with customers and becoming a trusted adviser from a security perspective.
"In order to kick that off it is really important to incubate some of the key messages and technologies to make sure they are really understood.
"It is definitely an ongoing task. We have got to the stage now where people can understand our vision, they can feel it, but now we have to prove it. We are proving the vision with partners by winning different customers and trying to drive more intimacy."
This new approach has seen McAfee look to shape the perception that it is purely an AV player, with the vendor now touting its "device-to-cloud approach".
"It is about the architecture," he said. "We don't have one product in the portfolio, we now have an architecture which is about the device all the way through to the cloud.
"If you really want to fix the challenges that a customer has with security, they are looking for that architecture approach. No single product is going to do it, they want to see how it is all put together.
"We have an architecture that partners can use to drive a higher-level discussion with and build services around.
"We have a strong legacy but we are really trying to reinvigorate ourselves. Some parts of the market are embryonic, such as the CASB market, so it is about explaining to partners and customers how important that technology is and how it is going to evolve."
David Lannin, director of technology at security VAR Sapphire, said that McAfee's channel engagement has been below par of recent times, but did say that things have started to improve over recent months.
He also claimed that the vendor's new integrated approach to security technology could win over customers.
"They have had a bit of a rocky ride with on the channel side of things; the way they communicate hasn't been very good and a lot of people have left and people have come in, so there has been a lack of cohesion," he said.
"They have great tech but if they don't have the commercial people in place what is the point? It's not exactly been a channel enablement programme, but things have started to improve over the last couple of months and we have been getting a lot more interaction with their channel guys
"We met the guy who is looking after sapphire and the technology looked good. He went through a lot more use cases for the integration of the technology which is a really cool part of what they do, so the future is probably quite good for them. They just need to communicate that better to the customers and partners now."
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