What did I learn from the McAfee analyst day? Colin Powell knows a lot about information security

I attended McAfee’s analyst day at its FOCUS 09 Security Conference last week in Las Vegas. It was interesting to see former army general and Secretary of State General, Colin Powell, addressing an information security audience. He attended the same university as I did — City College of New York — so I especially enjoyed cheering on a fellow alum. His speech was very relevant to the security arena, as he discussed the danger of vulnerabilities within any information system and the critical need to safeguard against them. Of course, it fit very well with McAfee’s story, as McAfee CEO, Dave DeWalt did a good job continuing the military theme. However, I still left with feeling of wanting more — perhaps expecting McAfee leaders to say something more concrete about what it all means for them. Do they want to help with cybercrime, cybersecurity, and critical information protection? Will they be working more closely with government in information security initiatives?

(On a positive note, Colin Powell became an unexpected customer reference, as he mentioned recently licensing McAfee antivirus for his personal laptop.)

Along with many executive briefings I had with product managers and marketing folks, there were several highlights for me:

  • NAC is becoming more ingrained within McAfee’s product portfolio.It’s good to see that McAfee is integrating NAC with products across spectrum. For example, they are combining NAC with the IPS appliance and planning to integrate behavioral analysis technology with NAC.
  • Verizon Business and McAfee are planning to provide managed security services together.Verizon plans to complement its offering in a variety of ways with this announcement. McAfee will provide 1) premise based security solutions, 2) cloud-based security services, 3) SaaS-based PCI DSS solution, and 4) security operation services.

So what did I learn? It’s still possible to pull off a strong event in Las Vegas (and even bring in a Four Star General and former Secretary of State) despite the tough economy. There were also a good number of customers and partners attending the event. I saw a good storyline for McAfee’s network, endpoint, and managed security business. I also saw a desire from McAfee to get more involved with cybersecurity and critical infrastructure protection (CIP), however, their progress is only in its initial stages. At the moment, McAfee is focused on building partnerships and establishing a broader community through its Security Innovation Alliance (SIA) program. I’m interested to see if these plans will ultimately mean improved value for customer.

Were you at the event and want to share your thoughts? Are you a McAfee customer using any of their NAC, IPS, or other network-based products? We’d like to hear what you have to say.