CA Sets Sights on Displacing Symantec, McAfee

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George Kafkarkou, the head of CA’s Internet Security Business Unit, believes he can displace large chunks of his larger rivals share of the antivirus and data loss prevention market with a new channel apparatus and strategy.

To say the company formerly known as Computer Associates – now known simply as CA – has a tainted reputation is a bit of an understatement. For years, customers and partners complained about poor quality of service. Market analysts and media would joke about CA being a place where good products go to die. And the lasting impression of the company is its protracted accounting scandal that resulted in the 12-year federal prison sentence of its former, high-flying CEO Sanjay Kumar.

The past is behind CA and the company is looking to its future. And that future may rest in the broad line of security product it has amassed over the years.

For more than a year, CA has been consolidating its offerings in client and network security, identity management and risk management and protection technologies into one unit called the Internet Security Business Unit. Under the leadership of channel veteran George Kafkarkou, the ISBU is building a firewall between it and the rest of CA’s channels, creating a new, focused business that promises a complete commitment to building market share with security solution provider partners.

“We’ve thought about this from the ground up,” says Kafkarkou. “Every vendor says give me your revenue and you’re lucky to have our product. We don’t do that. We want to earn that relationship.”

It’s a vastly different position from the CA of yesteryear, when solution providers and customers would routinely complain about long wait times on support calls, poor quality of presale and tech support, and, abysmal difficulty in doing business with CA inside sales and logistics. Since ISBU formed in 2007, Kafkarkou and his team have focused on improving tech support and making it interactions with CA easier for partners.

The results, Kafkarkou boasts, are astounding, with the average wait time for tech support calls dropping from above 15 minutes to less than 3 minutes. While a tremendous improvement, he believes there is still much room for improvement.

“No vendor in the world will say tech support is perfect, but we’ve made a world of difference in making improvements,” he says.

Technically, not all CA security products fall under the ISBU. Enterprise-class identity management products remain with the core business, but channel sales and support strategies are coordinated with ISBU. Directly under the unit fall CA’s antivirus, antispam (acquired Pest Patrol technology) and emerging data loss prevention solutions. These products are finding new found market viability as market leaders—such as Symantec and McAfee—make missteps in their channel strategies and relations.

CA is among the chorus of security vendors that includes Kaspersky Lab, Sophos and AVG that claim to be taking share away from the two market leaders. Kafkarkou believes displacing Symantec and McAfee in the channel and replacing their products in end user environments is critical to CA’s success.

“We need to enable partners to displace competitors. We’re looking for growth through competitive displacements,” Kafkarkou says. “We’re trying to grow in competitive displacements because we’re convincing our customers that we’re in this for the long haul.”

With the long haul comes a long road ahead. Kafkarkou is aware of CA’s position in the security market; the company has marketed security products for more than a decade and still holds less than 10 percent share in any category in which it competes. The ISBU is rolling out a series of support tools, providing partners with enhanced training, creating marketing materials and doling out free demo units to put products in the hands of partners.

Kafkarkou believes consolidating CA’s security products into a segregated business unit and focusing its channel efforts will result in rapid revenue and market share growth for it and CA’s partners. And if CA should achieve its goals, Kafkarkou says his and CA’s commitment to its partners will remain steadfast.

“The world doesn’t revolve around us; it revolves around our partners and that will not change when I have the second-largest market share,” Kafkarkou says.