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McAfee tries to lure ISS customers

update Security vendor offers "Switch" program to lure customers away from rival IBM, after Big Blue's ISS acquisition last year.
Written by Vivian Yeo, Contributor

update Security vendor McAfee has gone on the offensive against Internet Security Systems (ISS), specifically targeting customers queasy from the latter's takeover by IBM.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based McAfee launched its ISS Switch Program in late November, Allan Bell, the security vendor's marketing director for the Asia-Pacific region, said in an e-mail to ZDNet Asia.

ISS provides network protection products and services, including intrusion-detection and monitoring tools. The acquisition was completed at the end of October.

Under the initiative, ISS customers are offered incentives such as free installation and premium support that come in the form of a designated technical account manager. Bell said the move is aimed at encouraging the "adoption of McAfee security risk management solutions including McAfee IntruShield and McAfee Foundstone", and provide ISS customers with an option to migrate.

"We were hearing that customers were concerned their level of security would decrease following IBM's acquisition of ISS," he said. "Our message to these ISS customers is that they can feel safe switching to McAfee because of our strong track record… They can get more from McAfee than IBM, including comprehensive and integrated security risk management solutions, market-leading security expertise and research."

Peter Evans, vice president of IBM Internet Security Systems, acknowledged in an e-mail to ZDNet Asia that it is not uncommon for competitors to "attempt buy-back programs during times of industry shifts and change". However, he noted that IBM is "further investing in the ISS business to accelerate the automated protection capabilities of ISS' roadmap and solve enterprise challenges faster". This focus, Evans added, will help reassure clients that IBM--along with ISS--have the ability to address security threats.

In an interview last August, Tom Noonan, president and chief executive of ISS, said the merger would allow ISS to become a more formidable competitor in the market. Noonan warned: "Now we are in a position to unleash the dogs of war. It will be us against McAfee or whoever is number two in the market."

According to Bell, McAfee's Switch program is currently only available to customers in the United States, but will be extended to the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region in the first quarter of 2007.

The program will, however, not be offered to Asian businesses, he said. Bell explained that McAfee already offers a similar program in the region, dubbed "Rap it up with McAfee", which will be available to "customers who are concerned about the acquisition of ISS". This customer base also has access to McAfee SecurityAlliance premier partners which offer a range of IPS (intrusion prevention systems) skills and services, he added.

ISS customers based in the United Kingdom and United States did not respond to queries from ZDNet Asia.

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