EMC: another domino in the identity game

Eric takes a look at what's really behind EMC's acquisition of RSA...

EMC joined the identity party with their announced acquisition of RSA Security for just under $2.1 billion USD. The acquisition has confused stock analysts, prompted security folks to point out that this is not industry consolidation, and had Dan Farber wondering if a a hydra was being created. At the end of the day, let's be clear: this is about EMC recognizing that you cannot secure or manage information without identity.

EMC's stated business is "information management and information-centric security," both of which speak to the foundational role that identity plays. Amazingly, for years technology companies have thought they could A) manage access or B) secure data throughout its life cycle *without* having to "deal with" the "identity problem." We've tried to document the identity learning curve that enterprises seem to go through, but this acquisition has me thinking that we should document the similar process that companies are going through.

One by one by one, the "security" space is falling to identity --be it Symantec, Checkpoint, NAC vendors, storage, or even encryption -- the past 60 days has seen niche after niche come to understand the larger forces that are moving them. The reason, of course, is simple: their customers are telling them so.

Their customers are telling them so, and with good reason -- the relentless drive to network *everything* forces IT managers everywhere to stare down one meta-problem: management. And here we hit the tech company learning curve: systems management, content management, storage management, virtualization, etc. The list goes on and on as none of these sub-management paradigms can adequately provide the proper frame of reference for understanding how to manage everyone and *everything* on the network. Eventually, identity emerges. For it is through the identity lens that the task suddenly looks itself to be manageable.

You can secure and you can manage (storage, data, content, devices, anything), but you can't do either properly and at the scale of the modern network without the organizing construct of identity.

Welcome, EMC.