Opinion: Without tight integration, EMC will have paid far too much merely to gain the halo effect that goes with being the owner of a well-respected security division.
As EMC, the leading enterprise storage vendor, continues to acquire its way to becoming a software powerhousemost recently agreeing to buy RSA Security for $2.1 billionits worth asking where the company is headed and how well its corporate strategy is serving corporate IT.
We take a skeptical view of mergers and acquisitions because they reduce the number of vendors in the marketplaceand thereby reduce customer choice.
In addition, they are difficult to execute, and can turn two competent companies into one incompetent one. Often, during the consolidation process, management conflicts arise; travel budgets balloon; customer service lags; and products fall by the wayside, leaving the customers that have depended on them no recourse.
That said, without mergers and acquisitions, we wouldnt have the industry we have today. Cisco Systems would not exist as we know it; IBM and Microsoft wouldnt either.
These companies have built out their portfolios by acquiring, generally, much smaller companieson the whole, a more successful approach than attempting to weld together two disparate giants.
So what kind of acquisition will EMC-RSA turn out to be?
Wall Street analysts gagged at the hefty price paid by EMC, and rightly so, but on balance, we think EMC-RSA falls into the category of beneficial mergers.
The key will be the integration of RSA technology into EMCs productssomething that EMC CEO Joe Tucci says is part of the plan, although in the merger announcement, he did not unfurl a detailed road map of just what technologies will appear where, and when.
EMC already has a vast software portfolio, most of it from previous acquisitions such as VMware and Documentum, and RSA identity and access management technology should become part of just about every software product that EMC makes. An obvious place to start is with the companys Documentum productsDocumentum eRoom, in fact, is already integrated with RSA technology.
More important, however, is integration of RSA technologies with EMCs ControlCenter. EMCs SANs (storage area networks), switches, and storage and backup arrays are all managed by Web-based interfaces, which are inherently vulnerable to hack attacks.
Tightening those management tools with RSA technologies would be a tremendous benefit to enterprise IT.
EMC has its work cut out, though. If the acquisition of Veritas by Symantec last yearand the subsequent dearth of integrated productsis any indication, integration of security and storage software is hardly a snap.
But without tight integration, EMC will have paid far too much merely to gain the halo effect that goes with being the owner of a well-respected security division. Customers already can, after all, buy EMC and RSA products separately.
Without question, EMC paid dearly for RSA. Now, EMC must pay the additional price of laborious integration.
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eWeeks Editorial Board consists of Jason Brooks, Jeffrey Burt, Larry Dignan, Stan Gibson, Scot Petersen and Lisa Vaas.
Stan Gibson is Executive Editor of eWEEK. In addition to taking part in Ziff Davis eSeminars and taking charge of special editorial projects, his columns and editorials appear regularly in both the print and online editions of eWEEK. He is chairman of eWEEK's Editorial Board, which received the 1999 Jesse H. Neal Award of the American Business Press. In ten years at eWEEK, Gibson has served eWEEK (formerly PC Week) as Executive Editor/eBiz Strategies, Deputy News Editor, Networking Editor, Assignment Editor and Department Editor. His Webcast program, 'Take Down,' appeared on Zcast.tv. He has appeared on many radio and television programs including TechTV, CNBC, PBS, WBZ-Boston, WEVD New York and New England Cable News. Gibson has appeared as keynoter at many conferences, including CAMP Expo, Society for Information Management, and the Technology Managers Forum. A 19-year veteran covering information technology, he was previously News Editor at Communications Week and was Software Editor and Systems Editor at Computerworld.