Symantec all smiles over Intel's McAfee plans

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Symantec all smiles over Intel's McAfee plans

Partners shocked but comfortable.

Symantec has responded positively to Intel's $8.54 million acquisition of arch rival McAfee.

NYSE-listed Symantec's shares rose six percent to $US13.37 at the close of trading, Thursday, after the realisation that the company it was most commonly compared to was swallowed up by a non-direct competitor. 

Symantec was seemingly positive about its future fortunes and touted its "brand agnostic" approach to information security as its strength. Its official response claimed that it was important to focus security on people and the information they need to access - independent of the device.

"That will require security to work seamlessly across multiple platforms as users switch devices to use, store and transmit information," Symantec said in a statement.

And Symantec may have had the backing of analysts with at least one such firm, Ovum, also raising an anti-competitive concern.

"We can assume that Intel's objective is to incorporate more security features into its chips. For users and businesses this will be welcome, but clearly there is a risk of monopolistic concerns damaging the market. Effective security has to work at the platform, network and business levels and a secure chip cannot address all of these by itself," Ovum said.

But, Ovum conceded that Intel's influence in the information security arena would have a "major impact on the future of computing."

Channel reaction

Neil Campbell, Dimension Data's global general manager for security, wasn't convinced there was an anti-competitive issue. If you think beyond anti-virus towards other products [such as governance and systems management] then Intel has a unique offer, he said.  

"Embed those in the silicon and we do have quite a unique and therefore not anti-competitive security situation," Campbell said.

Meanwhile, as a global McAfee partner, Campbell said, based on Intel's initial statements, he was comfortable with the takeover.

"Intel plans to continue to operate McAfee as a standalone business and keep its management and strategies in place with regards to its security products that it develops.

"It wouldn't make sense for Intel to force any major strategic changes given that it's a very successful business in its current business model," he said.

As for what Intel's long term plans could be, Campbell said the acquisition would impact Intel's consumer sales more than enterprise.

"Intel is getting more and more involved in the consumer space: manufacturing CPUs, wireless chipsets and also with the recent Texas Instrument's cable modem business acquisition as part of its set-top box strategy, there's a diverse number of paths in reaching the consumers there.

"I'll assume there'll be announcements around very consumer focused benefits and therefore competitive differentiators for Intel and that in my view must be what's driven this acquisition. I'm struggling to see an immediate or midterm impact on organisations but I definitely see the consumer angle," he said.

Although he later pointed out that Intel's wireless chip set would have implications in the corporate space.

Other partners were too shocked to comment. CRN contacted a number of McAfee's partners across the country and most declined to comment.

Andrew Johnson, director of Manage Protect, said as a McAfee partner he cared about two things: the technology and the channel focus.

"If you don't mess with technology it's going to be ok," he said. "Over the last 12 months there's been strong channel focus." 

Watch this space:

In March EMC announced that its security division RSA had partnered with VMware and Intel to bolster security in the cloud.

At the time Art Coviello, president of RSA described the alliance as a 'technical collaboration' that has not been seen in the security space for some years.

How much longer will this "vision" last?

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