McAfee wants safe IT

LAS VEGAS – McAfee Inc. is taking advantage of FOCUS 2010, its third annual user conference, to unveil its next generation of security products and to reassure customers that its pending acquisition by Intel is a beginning, not an end.

“We’re talking about McAfee 3.0,” said McAfee president and CEO Dave DeWalt during his keynote. “It’s an almost perfect scenario. We can invest, innovate and create markets. It will take McAfee to the next level, and take Intel to the next level.”

Intel CEO Paul Otellini, in a video greeting, added that the acquisition is an important strategic move for Intel as well. “It will let us bring software and silicon together to do the heavy lifting,” he said. “It’s part of Intel’s transformation from a PC company to a computing company.”

He also repeated the assertion that McAfee will be run as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Intel, and that all products will be maintained. He says that the entire McAfee management team will stay on after the deal closes.

IDC’s John Grady, senior research analyst, security products and services, is cautiously optimistic. “Time will tell,” he said, “but it’s pretty exciting what they’re trying to do: push security down to the silicon.” But, he cautioned, “nothing will happen for the time being.”

Once the Intel question was put to rest, DeWalt moved on to the major theme of the conference, the company’s new initiative, Security Connected. It brings together endpoint security, network security, content security, mobile and the cloud regarding a new common management platform, McAfee Security Management Platform 5, powered by McAfee’s ePolicy Orchestrator (ePO).

The platform includes a software development kit (SDK) that will let other tools plug into ePO to provide a unified view of the security landscape. McAfee has integrated its Global Threat Intelligence (GTI) into all of its products, providing real time connectivity through the cloud to threat information gleaned from over 100 countries. DeWalt said that the service processes about four billion queries per day.

DeWalt also announced Endpoint Security 9 (formerly the Total Protection Suite), which provides protection for everything from servers to smart phones. The new McAfee MOVE (Management Optimized for Virtualized Environments) platform improves protection for virtual desktops, offloading anti-virus from the virtual machines to improve performance and improve overall VM density. It will be preloaded on Citrix Xen Desktop.

Candace Worley, senior vice-president and general manager, endpoint security, said that customers found running anti-virus software each virtual desktop reduced the number of desktops they could provision per host. By offloading virus protection to a separate security VM and performing all scanning there, Citrix demonstrated a 3X increase in VM density in its labs.

On the server side, Worley said, anti-virus needs to be run on each VM, so McAfee has provided tuning and optimization to ease the load. Products are vendor-agnostic, running on Citrix or VMware or Microsoft-based VMs.

On the desktop, McAfee has concentrated on performance. Worley said some customers have seen a 30 per cent improvement in on-demand scans in VirusScan 8.8.

“We want to make IT simple, safe and secure, from silicon to satellite,” said DeWalt, noting that in the current environment everything from ATMs and point of sale terminals through to embedded systems is potentially at risk. “We will even see McAfee technology sitting in outer space on satellites,” said DeWalt.

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