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McAfee Joins CASB Fray with Skyhigh Acquisition

In a bid to fill a void in its security portfolio, McAfee on Monday announced its plan to acquire leading cloud access security broker (CASB) Skyhigh Networks for an undisclosed amount.

By acquiring one of the industry's best-regarded CASB providers, McAfee is putting itself on course to take on Microsoft, Symantec, Cisco, Netskope and others vendors that are blending cloud security, network protection and endpoint management.

Prior to spinning off from Intel earlier this year, McAfee determined it needed to focus on two key threat protection and defense control points: the endpoint and cloud. This is the same conclusion Symantec reached last year, acquiring Blue Coat for $4.6 billion. Cisco also followed a similar strategy last year with its acquisition of CloudLock, which it is integrating with its OpenDNS, Talos threat analytics and existing firewall and data loss protection (DLP) offerings.

Microsoft jumped into the CASB arena two years ago with the acquisition of Adallom, which it relaunched last year as Cloud App Security and refreshed in September with support for conditional access. Cloud App Security is now offered as an option with Microsoft's Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) service.

Other popular providers of CASB tools include BitGlass, CipherCloud, Forcepoint, Imperva and Netskope.

Raja Patel, McAfee's vice president and general manager for corporate products, said in an interview that customers and channel partners have all asked what the company had planned in terms of offering a CASB solution. "We think there is a large market for CASBs and the capabilities that Skyhigh brings," Patel said. "They were the original CASB player in the marketplace, and they have led the category and really moved the needle in terms of their leadership and evolving the category."

The deal is expected to close early next year, at which point Skyhigh CEO Rajiv Gupta will report to McAfee CEO Chris Young, and will oversee the combined vendor's cloud security business. Gupta's team, which will join McAfee, will also help integrate Skyhigh's CASB with McAfee's endpoint and DLP offerings.

"Combined with McAfee's endpoint security capabilities and operations center solutions with actionable threat intelligence, analytics and orchestration, we will be able to deliver a set of end-to-end security capabilities unique in the industry," Gupta said in a blog post.

Patel said the company plans to let customers bring the policies implemented in their McAfee endpoint protection software and network DLP systems to their cloud infrastructure and SaaS platforms. Another priority is bringing more context to its endpoint tools and integrating the CASB with Web gateways and cloud service providers.

While only 15 percent of organizations used CASBs last year, Patel cited a Gartner forecast indicating that number will grow to 85 percent by 2020. "If you look at the exponential growth of people adopting public cloud environments over the past two years, it extends to moving the security posture around it," Patel said.

McAfee's channel partners are expected to welcome the company's acquisition of Skyhigh, according to Patel. "It's a great opportunity. They have been asking what we will do in this space for a long time. Now we have an answer for them," he said.

Enabling the channel, in terms of training and certifications, will come after the deal closes. "Enablement will come as a natural part of integration," he said. "The goodness there is it we are still early market but it's getting to that point where it's crossing the chasm sooner rather than later."

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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