McAfee has announced a formalized Managed Service Provider (MSP) partner program. The move comes a few weeks after McAfee unveiled a profitability stack for VARs. The latest MSP-centric move arrives amid an MSP land grab and a CEO change over at Symantec. Can McAfee, part of Intel (NASDAQ: INTC), stand out amid the intense competition for MSP mind share and market share?

New McAfee Channel Chief Gavin Struthers and his team certainly have been busy. According to McAfee, the new MSP partner program offers "tools, training and resources to build a successful managed security services business" -- whether on-premises or in the cloud. Both approaches offer service provider licensing (pay-as-you-go monthly subscription services).

More Than Anti-Virus

Within the MSP partner program, McAfee is promoting software and cloud services that protect endpoints, servers/networks, virtual environments and mobile devices. MSPs can use either McAfee ePolicy Orchestrator or the McAfee SaaS management console to manage customer engagements. That's a key point: Many security software companies are still building out single-pane-of-glass management dashboards.

McAfee says the MSP partner program "is an expansion of the McAfee SecurityAlliance Partner program."

To understand how partners are succeeding with McAfee, keep an eye on Spam Soap -- which started working with McAfee when McAfee acquired MX Logic in 2009. Spam Soap has been in growth mode, signing up MSPs for its email security services.

McAfee's MSP push is global in nature. The MSP partner program is available through authorized distributors in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Nordics, UK, and U.S. and will be expanded to other counties and distributors throughout 2012, the company said.

Checking On Some Details...

Still, I'll raise my usual questions about MSP- and cloud-centric partner programs. Can MSPs:

  • Manage end-customer billing?
  • Set, control and adjust pricing with customers?
  • White label McAfee's services, and re-brand those services?
  • plus McAfee's software feeds into MSP tools like RMM and PSA software?

I think Spam Soap is proof positive that MSPs can white label McAfee's services. But I have to check on the other items.

Either way, McAfee faces intense competition in the MSP software market. I've explained some of those competitive forces in a blog about Symantec's CEO change today.