Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Why Checkpoint (and Cisco and Fortinet and PAN) Should Take Notice of McAfee...

(Disclaimer: I previously ran product Marketing for Secure Computing and McAfee Network Security so has some bias, though hold NO market positions in any of the companies in this blog)

In Sept of 2008, days before the market collapse, Secure Computing accepted an all-cash offer from McAfee. In November, the deal closed. Many wondered what the future of Sidewinder, one of the oldest, but arguably most secure and revered product in the market. In less than 2 yrs, we now have the answer, with McAfee Firewall Enterprise V8.0. 8.0 is a BIG release, even if it only does some of what was announced. Application and user awareness, ePO integration and more make this a big product.

Next generation firewalls are coming hard and fast into the market, led by the innovative and disruptive Palo Alto Networks. Fortinet and others also have some level of this capability, and you can bet that network players Cisco and Juniper are not far behind.

With 8.0 , McAfee has fired a broad shot across the bow of the firewall market. Sure, lotsa questions remain, everything from performance to IPS on 8.0 and its impact on the OTHER McAfee IPS product line, to can McAfee win the love of the channel. However, this is a shot to be reckoned with. McAfee has a $500M+ Netsec business and wants more.

A bit more on IPS. The market seems to be saying this...1) IPS is part of the Next Gen FW 2) IPS provides compliance level protection 3) We need more innovation for threat prevention (witness the recent SNORT NRG initiative.) Now, I see this convergence as a leaving a wide open space for Next generation threat prevention at the NW level, a product that protects against today's browser based attacks, not the network probes of the past. Who/What will emerge to fill that gap?? That's a post for another time...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Positioning from Strength

Often I observe that when business is good, positioning gets stale. However, no one cares. As one of my good CFO friends once told me "Top line growth covers a lot of rocks". I think this is a shame, and a real missed opportunity. Positioning from Strength is a HIGHLY leveragable activity, one that has the potential to accelerate both business and valuation.

Take my client Nimsoft, recently acquired by CA for $350M on a very healthy multiple. When I arrived to work with the CEO, Gary Read and his exec team, business was going great. Nimsoft had (and still has) a tremendous product, great sales momentum and was an execution machine. However, to Gary's credit, he was open and receptive to a discussion of positioning, vision and go forward marketing strategy, in a way that was highly unusual for a business going so well.

I think Gary saw that Nimsoft was sitting at the apex of an opportunity to reposition from strength, and to use that strength to build a platform and vision that was forward looking and unique. That's exactly what we did when we launched and implemented the Nimsoft Unified Monitoring strategy, architecture, alliance and .com portal.

The results, well they speak for themselves, great going forward positioning, coupled with continued amazing execution led to continued growth and the CA transaction. But we are not done yet, and this week took the next step with the launch of Nimsoft On Demand, a SaaS delivery of Nimsoft Unified Monitoring. Look for more great things to come from the Nimsoft business now that it is part of CA, this is only the beginning.

So, I think this shows very strongly the value of positioning from strength. CEOs and BODs, don't wait for the crisis, IF YOUR BUSINESS IS GOING GREAT, and you haven't examined your GTM positioning and messaging within the last 12-18 months, there's never been a better time than right now...(Need help, well, I know someone who's pretty good at this :))...

Monday, April 12, 2010

New Google Docs ---Document Nirvana or Document Socialism

So, Google releases a whole new update to google docs today with MUCH fanfare and the requisite sexy blog and youtube video... This ones been in me for a while, and while there are a lot of little reasons I'm not sold (such as dont see biz value of Simultaneous editing, Version control really weak, Change tracking is not so hot, offline access, feature parity to SW) these gaps will are are being closed.)

I think the biggest reason is I want to own my docs!!!

I live my life in a world of docs, spreadsheets and presos, they are the way I create, communicate and distribute intellectual property. Yes, I often do this in teams, and LOVE Box.net for that. But I don't really want you to change that formula or that bullet point and obliterate my content. Do it, save it and call it V2. If I do let you do it to the live one, how do I easily and painlessly see the changes from the one on my hard drive??

I think content ownership IS a big deal ESPECIALLY when working with teams. To me, Google Doc paradigm is Content socialism, and I guess I want private property, even when I let you onto the property and even move the furniture! I've always found pass the baton editing (Sharing sites like box.net fill the bill well for this) more effective than group gropes, which I love on the whiteboard but find incredibly frustrating when dealing with constrained content like Docs, spreadsheet and presos...

Am I a dinosaur?? What do you think???