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McAfee to reassure customers, release product updates at Focus 10

In the wake of being acquired by chip making giant Intel, McAfee is rolling out updates and pampering its partners at its annual security conference, Focus 10, in Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS -- McAfee Inc. is looking to reassure its customers and partners it is on a steady course as it rolls out product updates this week at its annual security conference, Focus 10.

McAfee executives say they are continuing to innovate, bolstering that claim with a bevy of software updates and partner program announcements only weeks after chip making giant Intel announced its planned $7.7 billion acquisitionof the security vendor. At Focus 10 this week, McAfee will first welcome its partners, followed by conference sessions with its customers in which McAfee security engineers and product managers will describe the threat landscape and how McAfee's product roadmap can adapt to virtual environments, cloud-based services and a growing number of consumer devices at the endpoint.

Industry analysts who said publicly that they were puzzled by Intel's acquisition of McAfee in August, also said the merger could give the security vendor the cash it needs to continue to fill in gaps in its portfolio while battling its main competitor, Symantec Corp., a security giant in the middle of integrating encryption vendors, PGP Corp. and GuardianEdge Inc.

"McAfee hasn't exactly been standing still with its acquisition of SafeBoot," said Jon Oltsik, principal analyst at Milford, Mass.-based consulting firm Enterprise Strategy Group. "We don't know what McAfee's future will hold [with Intel], but it certainly can't hurt."

Oltsik said it's unlikely that McAfee would gain an edge over other security firms with Intel's chip-based security. Intel would have a hard time with federal regulators if it tried to cut out other security vendors from supporting its chips, he said.

At the heart of McAfee's strategy is its E-Policy Orchestrator (ePO) a centralized management console that maintains security policy and reporting across its entire product line. The company is enlisting its customers and partners to build security tools on top of ePO using a set of new APIs that can be used to pull information out of ePO and tap into system management and change management frameworks. Martin Ward, senior director of risk and compliance at McAfee, said it's the first time that data can be pulled out of ePO. Earlier APIs enabled partners to input data into the management console.

"McAfee Risk Advisor is an application that uses the security management platform and we now have partners who are doing the same by using the APIs," Ward said.

Redwood City, Calif.-based RedSeal Systems Inc., which makes network mapping software to give network security administrators a visual view for risk assessments, is expected to launch a product this week which uses the APIs. McAfee's API framework will be fully released in December to all members of its partner program. The APIs will also enable channel partners to offer new services to customers, Ward said.

McAfee is also launching Enterprise Mobility Management 9.0, fully integrating its acquisition of Trust Digital into its endpoint management suite. The acquisition of Trust Digital in June enabled McAfee to provide authentication, mobile device provisioning and policy management for a variety of devices, including the iPhone OS, Android, Web OS, Windows Mobile and Symbian operating systems. The software also gives IT administrators the ability to disable or wipe devices if they are lost or stolen.

The security vendor is also making two announcements around its support of virtual environments. The company released McAfee Management Optimized for Virtualized Environments AntiVirus (MOVE AV), which can perform antivirus scanning on multiple VMs by running on top of the hypervisor. McAfee's Ward said engineers have improved performance issues over earlier antivirus scanning software for VMs. McAfee is also integrating the MOVE platform into the ePO.

"We've taken this platform and expanded it so we now have multiple management views," Ward said. "The security policies will track those VMs or desktops in the environment."

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