Canadian storage, security experts assess EMC’s RSA purchase

EMC’s purchase of RSA Securities for US$2.1 billion last week has some experts wondering when the intersection of storage and security will begin to deliver results for end users.

It’s too early to call it a trend, said Evans Research Inc. storage analyst Jennifer Ewan, but the acquisition of Veritas by Symantec (which closed a year ago) laid the foundation for more mergers of this type.

Ewen, however, sounded a note of caution: the decision by an anti-virus leader to buy a storage management specialist has yet to fulfill expectations.

“It has not been, to this point, overwhelmingly positive,” said Ewen, adding that EMC may have better luck.

“It’s a new area in many ways for EMC, but they’ve certainly shown themselves to be experienced in integrating many different technologies – especially software into their existing platforms. It’s certainly feasible (the acquisition) could work,” she said.

There’s definitely an opportunity to be had by bringing together the storage and security markets – keeping data, but also keeping it safe – said Ewen, but it will be another year before judgement can be passed on this most recent merger.

Mary Kirwan, principal of Toronto-based security consultancy Headfry Inc., said that storage area networks may now be in greater need of security solutions since many of them are now run over IP networks and could possibility be exposed to the public Internet.

“One piece of the puzzle for the storage guys that has always been missing is the security piece, and obviously the RSA acquisition would supply that piece,” said Kirwan.

By buying RSA, EMC has also bought the right to refer to itself as an “end-to-end” solution provider, she added. The security acquisition also gives the storage firm more options to help customers meet their data compliance requirements.

Brian Bourne, president of Toronto-based CMS Consulting Inc., mostly deals with Microsoft-based security products, but said he has some familiarity with both EMC and RSA. Bourne deals with Dell products (Dell endorses and sells EMC security solutions) and has encountered RSA through the user group he co-founded, the Toronto Area Security Klatch (TASK).

“I didn’t see this coming,” said Bourne of the acquisition. “It will be very interesting to see if they let RSA continue fairly autonomously . . . or whether they will cross-breed (products).”

The latter would make sense for EMC, he added, but they may have paid too dear a price for the opportunity. “I can see where everybody is coming from – secure the data on the disk – but I’m pretty sure they could have bought that technology for less than $2 billion.”

The market is still shaking out, said Ewen. There may be an obvious compatibility between security and storage, but they are both “very complex” product sets. End users can’t afford to wait for tried-and-tested solutions. Separately, security and storage are “too important; they don’t have that luxury.”

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