Private equity, Enterprise, Content, Networking

McAfee Enterprise Security: New Owner, Same Channel Partner Strategy?

Digital binary code concept.

Private equity firm Symphony Technology Group (STG) has completed the acquisition of McAfee's enterprise security software business. The $4.0 billion deal was first announced in March 2021.

The McAfee enterprise business will be rebranded to a new name in "the coming months," though exact timing was not disclosed. McAfee's consumer antivirus business was not included in the deal, and remains publicly traded under the stock symbol $MCFE.

McAfee Enterprise Partner Strategy?

In a press release about the now-completed deal, Symphony Technology Group emphasized a cloud-first security product strategy to defend governments and enterprises from security incidents.

Alas, the STG press release did not mention if or how channel partners and MSPs fit into that McAfee enterprise business strategy. Still, there are signs of continued partner engagement. For instance, the McAfee Enterprise Business and FCN Inc. have won a major cybersecurity contract with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, GovConWire reports. FCN is a woman-owned, ISO 9001:2008 certified small business serving the Federal Government worldwide, the IT consulting firm says.

McAfee’s enterprise business serves 86% of the Fortune 100 firms, and generated $1.3 billion in net revenue in fiscal year 2020, the company said in March 2021.

The STG-McAfee deal is similar to rival Symantec’s breakup into two companies in 2019. At the time, Broadcom acquired Symantec’s enterprise security business for $10.7 billion. Symantec’s consumer business, now known as NortonLifeLock, remains publicly held and trades under the stock symbol $NLOK.

McAfee Enterprise Security Software: Business Evolution

The McAfee enterprise security software business has evolved through organic R&D as well as acquisitions. The company in November 2020 unveiled MVISION XDR (eXtended Detection and Response) to help partners and customers improve SOC (Security Operations Center) threat response capabilities and lower costs.

Around the same time, McAfee announced the MVISION Cloud Native Application Protection Platform (CNAPP). The platform “delivers consistent data protection, threat prevention, governance and compliance throughout the cloud-native application lifecycle, including container and OS-based workloads, McAfee says.”

Also, McAfee has aligned with Amazon Business to help SMB partners address security and IT resource challenges.

McAfee Enterprise Security Software Faces Fierce Competition

Meanwhile, McAfee faces intense competition from fast-growing endpoint detection and response (EDR) software companies — such as CrowdStrike and SentinelOne, among many others.

SentinelOne has been particularly aggressive in the IT channel -- especially in the MSP and MSSP partner ecosystems. Indeed, more than 90 percent of the company's revenue comes from channel partners, according to SentinelOne SEC filings for an IPO in June 2021.

SentinelOne’s two largest channel partners, in terms of revenue flow and influence, are Exclusive Networks and SHI International Corp., according to an SEC filing in mid-2021.

Key SentinelOne partnerships in the MSP software and services sector include ConnectWise, High Wire Networks and N-able (formerly SolarWinds MSP), according to MSSP Alert.

Amid those market realities, the McAfee enterprise group -- new name pending -- will need to clearly articulate and execute on its partner strategy.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.