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McAfee rolls back the clock with Artemis cloud security service

Tech companies are masters at taking an old technology or service, shining it up a bit, giving it a new name and trotting it out as a completely new idea. But it’s not often that a company does that with its own idea, but that’s exactly what McAfee Inc. seems to be up to with the launch today of its Artemis technology, a security-as-a-service offering. The service is meant to deliver antimalware protection over the wire, giving users protection against new threats by analyzing new samples submitted automatically by users and sending out protections if a new threat is identified.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before.  That’s right, it’s the new and improved MyCIO.com. Back in the day (read: 2000), McAfee, then known as Network Associates, had a short-lived subsidiary that delivered antimalware protection as a service, albeit with a slightly different twist. The original MyCIO.com model had a couple of hosted services, including IDS and vulnerability assessment, and also included an antimalware service that used a modified peer-to-peer architecture to deliver updates to users more quickly. This was before the days when automatic updates were standard practice, so the idea of a handful of users inside an enterprise serving as local update points was innovative. It enabled the first few users who signed onto the network to pull down the newest update files and then begin serving them to other local users as they came online.

The MyCIO.com model turned out to be a little ahead of its time, and the company was subsumed by parent NAI in 2001. A former exec with the company told me a couple of years after MyCIO.com shut its doors that NAI executives just didn’t have the stomach to ride out the bumps and hiccups in the ASP market. But now that companies such as NetSuite, Salesforce.com and others have shown that the model itself is a viable one, we’ll have to see how it plays out this time around for McAfee. So-called cloud computing is the new hotness for technology vendors in all sectors, and can provide some real benefits in terms of cost savings for some enterprises, so it makes sense for McAfee to take another run at it. Like the man said, everything old is new again.

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