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McAfee Takes E-Mail Security to Cloud, Streets

McAfee on Monday rolled out its new e-mail security software program, giving enterprise customers the option to use a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) delivery model, an on-premise appliance or a hybrid mix of both.

The new sales and marketing strategy comes in the wake of McAfee's (NYSE: MFE) $140 million acquisition of SaaS security software vendor MX Logic back in May. At the time the deal was announced, MX Logic claimed its on-demand offering was used by more than 4 million end users at over 40,000 companies.

Now McAfee customers can combine SaaS and integrated hardware and software appliances in any configuration, company officials said.

"Customers have told us they shouldn't be forced to choose between different delivery models for e-mail protection," said Marc Olesen, senior vice president and general manager of the McAfee's SaaS business unit. "Bottom line, we're uniquely prepared to offer customers e-mail solutions that best meet their current and future business needs, maximize their flexibility and reduce total cost of ownership."

McAfee, which faces plenty of stiff competition in the rapidly expanding on-demand e-mail security market, not only has to fend off Symantec and IBM but a new and potentially more formidable challenge from Cisco by virtue of the network-equipment and software firm's $830 million acquisition of IronPort in 2007.

In March, Cisco rolled out its own new initiative to add hosted services such as cloud-based e-mail security applications as part of its broader Web 2.0 strategy.

"Cisco is investing heavily in Software as a Service (SaaS)," Keith Valory, director of product management for Cisco's security technology unit, told InternetNews.com in March. "When [CEO] John Chambers talks about the future of Cisco, he talks about enabling Web 2.0 and SaaS applications as a key driver."

Cloud-based security applications as well as the never-ending onslaught of sophisticated hacking and phishing scams plaguing social networking, banking and consumer Web sites has made security software -- regardless of how customers get it -- one of the hottest markets in all of information technology.

Last month, Gartner analyst Ruggero Contu predicted the worldwide security software marketing would surge to more than $14.5 billion this year, up 8 percent from 2008. Roughly $3 billion in sales will be derived from SaaS delivery models. Contu sees the total security software market growing to $16.3 billion in 2010 -- another 13 percent jump.

"Although the worldwide security software market is affected by the economic downturn, the growth will continue to be strong in 2009 as security remains a critical area where drastic cuts cannot be afforded," Contu said in a research report. "In the medium term, the greatest growth opportunities will come from software as a service (SaaS), appliance based offering and small and medium businesses (SMBs), which are in security catch-up mode compared with large companies and therefore spend a higher percentage of their budgets on security."

McAfee says it now has all the bases covered.

Its on-demand Email Protection suite fights off viruses and worms, blocks spam and quarantines suspect messages. It also filters outbound e-mail to prevent the accidental -- or deliberate -- distribution of key intellectual property. It also archives all e-mail in real time and ensures full and automatic e-mail functionality in the cloud if and when a server or power outage is detected.

The hybrid option lets customers tap into the McAfee Email Gateway on premise to provide outbound protections from data leakage and support regulatory compliance with content filtering, automatic policy enforcement and integrated encryption at the gateway.

"Hybrid e-mail offers a fully featured solution for today's environment," IDC's Brian Burke said in a statement. "The hybrid approach offers the cost-savings and management ease of a cloud-based solution that reduces unwanted e-mail before it hits the corporate gateway. It allows for custom policies, data loss prevention and integrated encryption capabilities that are best provided by an on-premise appliance."

McAfee said its Email Gateway appliances are now available, starting at $1,995 each. McAfee Email Gateway version 6.7.2 will be available in the fourth quarter and cost $21,840 per 1,000 users.