Channel chiefs, Channel partner events, Channel partner programs, Networking

Intel Security’s Next Channel Partner Moves

Ken McCray
Ken McCray

Intel Security Channel Chief Kenneth McCray is on a journey. It began roughly two months ago. It requires perpetual motion. And it will continue at the Intel Security Americas Partner Summit 2016 in May.

McCray was named head of channel sales and operations for the Americas in January 2016. He succeeded Fernando Quintero, who had moved on to become VP and GM of Intel Security.

When we first spoke in January, McCray described how he was in "listen mode" as Intel's new Americas channel chief for security products. Sure, he had plenty of experience under his belt -- working with McAfee in various roles for more than two decades. Instead of leaning back and resting on that experience, he dove in and met with dozens of staff members and partners -- often one-on-one.

Intel Security: In Transition Mode

The former McAfee business -- much like McCray himself -- was in transition mode in late 2015 and early 2016. Rebranded as the Intel Security business, the chip giant tried to quietly kill some SaaS security applications in October 2015. But rivals jumped on the news with migration services to their various SaaS platform.

Still, Intel Security spent the early months of 2016 rallying the channel with new products, services and partnerships in 2016. And during his first few days as channel chief, McCray created a shortlist of key priorities. It started with product quality, because "a VAR or system integrator won't attach themselves to a product that doesn't meet its promise," he told ChannelE2E.

Yes, he's sure Intel Security offers quality products. And that gives McCray peace of mind to focus on priorities like partner engagement and solid communications -- both internally and externally. "We can open our front door and let all the partners in. But if we don't have effective ways to maintain that engagement then it's a wasted opportunity," he said.

Intel Security Americas Partner Summit 2016

With that thought in mind, McCray's team is preparing the first Intel Security Americas Partner Summit -- set for May in Boca Raton, Fla. Until this year, Intel typically lumped security partner gatherings into the company's broader FOCUS conference. But sensing an opportunity, Intel launched a dedicated security partner event.

Smart move. Intel and its security partners have plenty of market opportunity ahead. But the company also faces intensifying competition from security companies that filled a SaaS void when Intel killed off some products in 2015. Also, Intel must prove that it continues to understand recurring revenue opportunities for channel partners. When McAfee had some MSP momentum in recent years, sources say that momentum has hit some bumps over the past 18 months or so as Intel rebalanced its security portfolio.

So what can you expect to hear from Intel Security and McCray? The clues are found in a recent blog by McCray. It shows how he dove into the channel chief opportunity -- both within Intel and out in the field. And it suggests that Intel Security is investing in partners. The deeper details will surely emerge in May.

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.