Dell’s complex security strategy comes down to a relatively simple—if not easy-to-achieve—single goal: Be the top single vendor of end-to-end security offerings.
It’s a strategy that’s driven Dell over the past several years to invest billions in buying security firms—including SecureWorks in 2011 and SonicWall, AppAssure and Quest in 2012—to help fill out its capabilities, and one that was a central theme in mid-October during the vendor’s inaugural Dell Security Peak Performance Conference. At the show, CEO Michael Dell reportedly outlined his company’s security roadmap for 600 of its channel partners, including plans to include encryption throughout Dell products and to enhance the security of its network switches.
“Security is not a new thing for us,” Dell told the partners during a keynote address, according to news site CRN. “It was part and parcel of what we did in the data center and the client businesses. But now we are weaving them together in profound ways. Think about endpoint encryption and how do we bring network security and the network together. Think about what is going on in converged infrastructure. We are building a complete set of solutions.”
Security also looks to be a centerpiece the upcoming Dell World 2014 show, a three-day conference in Austin, Texas, that kicks off Nov. 4. According to the show’s agenda, more than a dozen breakout sessions will touch on such subjects as mobile and email security, endpoint security, security for the Internet of things (IoT) and firewalls. Dell officials also will talk about security in educational institutions in the era of mobile computing and bring your own device (BYOD).
All of this falls in line with Michael Dell’s understanding that, as the company evolved from a PC maker to a fuller enterprise IT solutions and services provider, security would become an even more important part of what the vendor does, according to John McClurg, vice president and chief security officer for Dell Global Security. The CEO wanted to ensure that Dell addressed security “across the full spectrum” of its offerings, McClurg, who has been with Dell for more than three years, told eWEEK.
The company recently got some strong validation of its strategy, with 63 percent of its resellers in a survey taken just before the partner security summit last month saying it was very important or important to offer their customers end-to-end security solutions—from network and mobile security to identity and access management–from a single vendor. Only 7 percent said doing so was not important.
A key part of what Dell offers in security addresses what McClurg calls “wetware”—the human element. According to IBM’s recent Security Services 2014 Cyber Security Intelligence Index report, about 95 percent of IT security breaches reportedly can be attributed to some kind of human error.
More employees are doing more work over more devices—not only PCs, but also smartphones and tablets—from other locations—on the road or at home. Add in the fact that work is increasingly being done in the cloud, and the need to ensure security while increasing access to corporate data and networks for employees is growing rapidly. In addition, thanks to such social networks as Facebook and Twitter, the risk of human-related security issues is expanding. Security solutions need to address employees as “extended beings” whose work life can expand beyond the confines of their working spaces, McClurg said. Security efforts need to be “contextually aware” to work in the “open nature of the world we experience,” he said.
“Where our private lives begin and our professional lives begin is breaking down,” McClurg said.
Data, Network Security Will Be a Focus at Dell World
Dell is addressing the human factor in security through a variety of measures, he said. Among the solutions are the company’s Enterprise Single Sign-On, Identity Manager and Password Manager offerings to make it easier for IT departments to manage and control employee compliance and access. At the same time, Dell offers a range of solutions around endpoint security, and continues to bring integrated encryption into all of its systems. Dell also is working to leverage its Kitenga Analytics technology—which is used to help organizations analyze structure and unstructured data stored in Hadoop—in the security realm to help look for and identify risks and mitigating indicators, McClurg said.
At Dell World, a number of the security breakout sessions will address the threats and solutions around human behavior and threats. One will deal with network, mobile and email security that will touch on everything from BYOD issues to secure email exchanges. Others will touch on endpoint security and the threats raised by mobile computing and the cloud. Dell officials in the show’s agenda note that “an organization’s employees are a threat actor’s most desirable and easily exploited target.”
Addressing the modern worker is also a challenge.
“Due to our always on, connected global economy, employees have never been more inclined to bring their own device and cloud storage apps not approved by IT,” according to the agenda. “IT admins have the headache of trying to protect the data wherever their end users take it while meeting compliance mandates.”
Though enterprises have a growing list of tools they can use to help secure their networks and data, employees and business partners still have to do their part to help create a culture of security, according to McClurg. The need to be aware of and forward-thinking regarding security and the threats that are out there.
“They can’t any longer think of [security] as a distasteful part of doing business,” he said.