What the Intel/McAfee Merger Means for Enterprise Security Managers

Much of the chatter over the past two days about the Intel/McAfee deal has been about whyIntel decided to acquire McAfee. But what does the deal mean for enterprise security managers? We asked a few experts at other security vendors to for their take on the news.

It’s Time to Give Next Generation Security Products Another Look

Chris King, director of product marketing at next generation firewall vendor Palo Alto Networks says the companies Palo Alto works with tend to prefer vendors that are focused exclusively on security and might not be keen on working with vendors that are involved in other areas. “They don’t want to get lost in the morass of a bigger company. They want the focus of a security company,” King says.

He also notes that companies tend to lose a lot of talent after an acquisition. King says “Every company says its acquisitions are going to be ‘wholly owned subsidiaries.’ What that means is ‘We’re trying to keep as many people as we can.'”

Forrester analyst Andrew Jaquith is already warning enterprise IT managers to avoid making long-term commitments to McAfee solutions until they can see how things shake out.

King is optimistic that the shake-up will lead to more enterprises taking Gartner‘s advice and moving to next generation firewalls.

Security Will Move Both Up and Down the Stack

But Kurt Roemer, chief security strategist at Citrix (a partner of both McAfee and Intel) says that although there’s often exodus of talent after a normal acquisition, we shouldn’t assume that will be the case after this deal. He believes that the acquisition is a logical one, and a move based mostly around Intel’s cloud acquisition. “The cloud market is like a startup market – there’s lots of room for innovation.”

Roemer, like King, emphasized the need for next generation security products and believes that this will shake things up in the security market. “It’s not going to be business as usual in desktop security,” he said. He envisions security moving both upwards (into the cloud) and downwards (onto chips) in the stack instead of being solely OS focused.

Diversify Your Security Vendors

But Chris Larsen, head researcher at Blue Coat‘s research lab, cautions against relying too much on one company for security protection. “If you have McAfee everywhere – your antivirus, your firewall, etc. – then you are only protected against what they know about.” Diversifying your vendors means you will get a wider variety of threat databases and improve the chances of preventing malicious code from wreaking havoc on your network, he says. There could be big advantages, especially as services move into the cloud, to having a single, integrated security solution at many levels of the stack, but it will still be a good idea to add an extra layer of protection or two in there somewhere.

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