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EMC dodges 'death spiral' with RSA buy

EMC's recent acquisition of digital security specialist RSA has enabled it to avoid the "death spiral" that competitor Symantec has fallen into, according to its VP of information security.Dennis Hoffman told ZDNet Australia he studied Symantec's acquisition strategy and discovered a fundamental flaw, which he believes EMC has dodged by acquiring RSA -- instead of a number of small security players.

EMC's recent acquisition of digital security specialist RSA has enabled it to avoid the "death spiral" that competitor Symantec has fallen into, according to its VP of information security.

Dennis Hoffman told ZDNet Australia he studied Symantec's acquisition strategy and discovered a fundamental flaw, which he believes EMC has dodged by acquiring RSA -- instead of a number of small security players.

"When you try to acquire a string of little companies in an immature market, you get into an innovate, integrate, acquire, death spiral," he said.

"You acquire so you must integrate. By the time you have integrated, the technology has leap frogged you so you cannot innovate and must acquire again. That is what [Symantec] have done."

Key to EMC's strategy was to start with an anchor acquisition that was branded, with a complete technology platform.

"We are going to add things to it, whereas I think Symantec tried to buy one thing here, one thing here, one thing here and put it into a little box and turn it into a suite," he added.

At the time, according to Hoffman, EMC didn't have authentication or authorisation technologies.

"We didn't have good auditing technologies. RSA had almost all of that and a brand that was instantly recognised in the security space," he said.

Apart from giving EMC a platform to use for securing its customer data, the RSA acquisition also catapulted it to the forefront of security, much in the same way as Symantec's acquisition of Veritas pushed a "security" company into the world of storage.

"RSA was not only a technology on which to build a common security platform but it was a business platform, a brand, a conference and credibility. This allowed us to secure identity, secure the infrastructure and secure data through their encryption and key management products.

"It stated instantly to the entire world that we were dead serious about security. It gave us credibility to go in and have a CISO (chief information security officer) conversation, which no EMC sales team did," he said.

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