"We have been through a lot," admitted freshly appointed EMEA boss Adam Philpott at McAfee's annual MPower Press summit last week.
The security vendor's executive line-up made no effort to gloss over what has been a somewhat frantic scramble to keep operations running smoothly and minimise disruption following its split from Intel.
The chip maker sealed its buyout of McAfee for $7.6bn (£6.4bn) in 2010, with the anti-virus stalwart's brand disappearing under Intel's umbrella. But when Intel announced it would spin out its security wing to TPG Capital, retaining a 49 per cent stake in the company, the McAfee name was reborn.
McAfee "couldn't have been a worse fit" with Intel according to global channel chief Richard Steranka, who admitted to the press that a security vendor selling to end users working under a chip maker selling to OEMs made for an awkward and fractious relationship.
Leaving Intel has also proved a messy affair for McAfee, with EMEA channel boss David Small telling CRN's sister publication Channelnomics Europe that McAfee had to hire new HR staff, replace PCs that had been requisitioned by Intel, and roll out new IT systems across the company within a four-month period.
And it is not only McAfee's IT infrastructure that has seen a facelift - its executive line-up has also undergone something of a reshuffle. Speaking at the same event, Adam Philpott only stepped into the EMEA leadership role in August having previously led Cisco's EMEA cybersecurity team, serving under CEO Chris Young who ran Intel's security arm before it was sold off to TPG.
Despite so many changes over such a short period of time, EMEA channel boss David Small stressed that McAfee's partner base experienced "less than a week" of disruption as the firm shut down systems, preventing partners booking deals or receiving rebates. But the regional exec told us that "partners didn't really notice anything" during the "mad scramble" that was the security vendor's first four months of existence.
But addressing the European channel press, Philpott insisted that partners have a lot to look forward to under McAfee. Its intent to acquire cloud access security broker (CASB) vendor Sky High is proof that the firm is eager to move into new security arenas and innovate as a standalone company.
The firm has come under fire in the past for offering a portfolio that is too broad and too fractured, with no clear direction or sense of technological cohesion. Philpott refuted such claims, echoing recent statements made by Michael Dell that partners and customers prefer working with fewer vendors.
The exec said there are now "up to 1,200" security vendors in the market, up from around 350 to 400 only a few years ago.
"When you think about it from a client perspective, you're adding all these pieces and it becomes very challenging to operate that as a system because there is no silver bullet [in the security industry]," said Philpott.
"If you have lots and lots of vendors you're not going to need someone for every vendor but you are going to need more talent than if you have fewer vendors… Because we offer a broader portfolio, you can drive some vendor consolidation, so that is one step in the number of skills an organisation requires."
The firm's channel execs said it is making a big push on incentivising the channel to invest more in McAfee, and less in other vendors. And with 100 per cent of sales going indirect in EMEA, and a willingness to reward partners with up to eight per cent rebates for exceeding sales targets by more than 50 per cent, McAfee is certainly making a compelling case.
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