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McAfee Takes on Cisco, Checkpoint

McAfee is unveiling its enterprise network security strategy today, underpinned by the company's Network Security Business Unit (NSBU). At $500 million in annual revenues, the NSBU is already large, but Dan Ryan, executive vice president and general manager of the group, has been charged with boosting revenues to $1 billion per year.

He told InternetNews.com that he sees McAfee (NYSE: MFE) as being in third place in network security, behind Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) and Checkpoint (NASDAQ: CHKP), and added that he aims to use pricing to gain market share.

"We're part of the ABC squared team," he said, which means that the company is working with others who also compete with Cisco and Checkpoint. The largest vendor is HP (NYSE: HPQ).

The core McAfee NSBU product is the ePolicy Orchestrator (ePO). "In the past, security companies sold individual products but lacked the glue to hold them together," Ryan told InternetNews.com. For McAfee, ePO is that glue.

Prior to McAfee, Ryan was the CEO of Secure Computing when it was acquired by McAfee last year. He said that the ePO glue is what distinguishes his previous job from his current one.

It lets managers use one management product instead of many. "We need to move beyond swivel chair management," he said.

One product ePO links to is the Total Protection Suite (ToPS), for which McAfee is today announcing a new Internet gateway. Ryan said that since McAfee is seeking market share, the strategy is to sell the gateway and offer gateway e-mail protection and data loss prevention (DLP) for free.

Ryan said that DLP is often the last line of defense and that every company should have it.

McAfee is also upgrading its firewall, which also plugs into ePO. The product features User Behavior Analysis (UBA) and is application and user aware, Ryan said.

"With this firewall, we are moving from monitoring ports and protocols to monitoring users and applications," Ryan said.

"The typical firewall has 5,000 to 10,000 rules, and it's tough to find the cause of the problem when one of the rules is broken," he added.

To further disrupt pricing, he added, the company is shipping the 2150 VX McAfee Firewall Enterprise virtual infrastructure that allows companies to put 8, 16, or 32 firewalls on one 2U box for $59,000, $79,000, and $99,000 respectively.

The McAfee Firewall Enterprise Virtual Appliance for VMware environments is priced at $4,900 per VMware ESX instance. "Our customers can run as many firewalls per ESX instance as they want," he said.

A one-vendor solution lowers costs, said Chris Christiansen, IDC vice president, in a statement. "Effective network security must have global intelligence and must be integrated into the broader organizational security management infrastructure. Vendors that deliver these levels of integration in a complete suite will be successful as this will lower overall cost of ownership for organizations. For the next three to five years, reducing cost of ownership will drive security investments," he said.

"The days of managing network defense, Web and messaging security and data security as separate activities simply won't succeed in today's economic and threat environment," Christiansen concluded.