Head of Security Operations Talks About His “Leap of Faith” Hiring McAfee Resident Support

By on Sep 12, 2017

Serving more than seven million clients and members, The Desjardins Group is the largest financial cooperative in Canada. Its employees like to say that it provides the gamut of financial services “from birth to death.”

To protect the Group’s geographically dispersed network of 47,600 employees and 70,000 endpoints (including more than 8,000 servers), Christian Gauthier, director of surveillance and security, has an extensive staff. His team oversees a host of McAfee products purchased under an Enterprise License Agreement (ELA). In 2014, he added a McAfee Resident Support Account Manager (RSAM), Yves Melançon.

“Initially, paying for an RSAM was quite a tough sell and required a leap of faith,” says Gauthier.

He already had a highly skilled staff, as McAfee RSAM Melançon confirms. “I have been at many companies and Desjardins’ security staff stand out,” says Melançon.

Gauthier was willing to take that leap of faith, however, because even a few hours of downtime—for instance, if online banking goes down—cost The Desjardins Group greatly. Gauthier believed that a McAfee RSAM would pay off in faster time to resolution and downtime avoidance.

His faith was rewarded.

“We have found Yves to be worth much more than the additional staff we might have hired instead of him,” says Gauthier. “He is extremely knowledgeable and can figure out what’s wrong or else escalate to the right people and get us quickly to resolution, usually without me having to say a word. By saving us time and helping us avoid downtime, he has saved us a lot of money.”

Hard Numbers and Examples

When the McAfee RSAM contract came up for renewal, Gauthier knew that The Desjardins Group’s new chief information security officer would require more than just his word that Yves Melancon was worth the cost. So Gauthier gathered “hard numbers” and specific examples to demonstrate the value of the RSAM.

“Using very conservative figures, I easily justified Yves’ presence,” says Gauthier. “Yves’ ability to accelerate resolution—to get answers in seconds rather than having to open a ticket, or to go directly to the best resource within McAfee— has minimized costly downtime and disruption as well as saved us a ton of time.”

Gauthier also cited specific examples of time and monetary savings that could be credited to having a McAfee RSAM on board. For instance, intrusion prevention system latency was preventing The Desjardins Group from taking on a very large retail chain that desired to use its payment system. As soon as Melançon learned of the situation, he contacted the McAfee Network Security Platform (IPS) developers, who quickly ascertained the problem. Within 48 hours, the problem was solved, outdated equipment replaced, and Desjardins had a major new customer and revenue stream. That incident alone proved the immense value of the RSAM.

In his figures for the CISO, Gauthier didn’t factor in time saved from faster deployment and deployment done right the first time. Take, for example, a recent deployment of McAfee Advanced Threat Defense. “With Yves’ help, McAfee Advanced Threat Defense worked well from the start, immediately catching ransomware, greyware, and banking-specific malware,” explains Gauthier. “The kind of knowledge and insider access to resources that Yves has, you just can’t hire that off the street.”

Gauthier recalls an interaction at the annual McAfee FOCUS (now MPOWER) user conference two years ago that made him value his McAfee RSAM even more. “We had been having trouble with a now obsolete McAfee product,” he recollects. “Yves walked me over to the top technical person for that product, introduced me, and basically demanded that our issues be addressed immediately. I knew without a doubt he was working for me and it made a real difference.”

How do you know if an RSAM is right for your company?

Gauthier is clearly happy with his decision to hire a McAfee RSAM, but should every company with 70,000 nodes hire an RSAM? Should every company with more than a certain threshold of nodes or number of McAfee products?

Not necessarily.

According to Gauthier, whether you should consider hiring an RSAM doesn’t depend on the number of nodes or products, but on complexity. “As the complexity of your McAfee security environment increases, the value of a McAfee RSAM grows exponentially,” he says. “Having the right person with access to the right resources makes an enormous difference.”

The founder of The Desjardins Group, Alphonse Desjardins, had a motto: “S’unir pour server,” which translates to “Unite to serve,” similar to McAfee’s motto “Together is Power.” No wonder Melançon fits right in.

“Yves is as much a part of our team as those receiving a paycheck from Desjardins,” Gauthier says. “There is no ‘theirs’ and ‘ours’; we are one team and he’s one of ours.”


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