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EMC's Big Bet

Nearly a week after EMC announced its purchase of security leader RSA for $2.1 billion, it's time to tally the initial reactions. (See EMC Secures RSA for $2.1B.) So far, it looks as if users are optimistic about the deal, while Wall Street isn't.

This comes as no surprise. The combination of security and storage is incredibly attractive to customers who now juggle a multiplicity of products and vendors. "The integration of security management in hardware, as opposed to a plug-in, is a good move," Sanin Rahman, software engineer at content management consultancy Armedia told Byte and Switch senior editor James Rogers. "Oftentimes you have all these different components that come together, and they are not always compatible." (See Users Welcome Super-Deal.)

The question is whether EMC's acquisition of RSA will in fact result in the kind of integrated products Rahman and others anticipate.

The vendor's track record isn't all that great in this regard: After spending $260 million to buy management software firm Smarts in December 2004, EMC didn't release anything linking Smarts to storage kit until March 2006. (See EMC Gets Smarts and EMC Smartens Its NAS.) EMC didn't extend Smarts' root cause analysis to Fibre Channel until April 2006. (See EMC Stays Smart.)

Product integration may not be a priority for EMC this time either. It looks as if EMC is making RSA a separate EMC Information Security Division, run by RSA CEO Art Coviello. (See Did EMC Overpay?) This is the tack EMC took after it bought VMware in December 2003, and it allows EMC to continue a profitable business without worrying about extra product development.

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