RSA VARs Uneasy Over EMC Deal


EMC's blockbuster $2.1 billion acquisition of RSA Security could help raise the profile of security as a crucial part of core IT infrastructure, but solution providers are concerned that the direct sales-oriented culture of EMC could erase the recent progress RSA has made in improving its channel relations.

"EMC has a reputation for being a very aggressive sales organization that has been known to take deals direct, even if the partner has helped mature the opportunity," said Tim Hebert, CTO at Atrion Networking, a solution provider based in Warwick, R.I. The vendor also has made sweeping changes to its channel model and changed certification requirements without getting feedback from partners, he added.

With EMC known as a high-pressure sales organization and security traditionally seen as a trust-based industry, it's difficult to see where the synergies would lie between the two vendors, said Pete Venuta, vice president of sales and marketing at Information Security Technology, a St. Paul, Minn.-based solution provider that partners with RSA.

Still, EMC has a solid strategy for bringing RSA into the fold, said Mark Teter, CTO of Advanced Systems Group, a Denver solution provider that works with both EMC and RSA.

"Security has been somewhat of a peripheral aspect in IT operations, and this will most likely be the acquisition that finally brings security into the core infrastructure," Teter said.

RSA fits into EMC's information life cycle management (ILM) strategy and will help the vendor attain its goal of becoming a full-fledged information company, he added.

The planned acquisition gives EMC the ability to better protect customers' data by adding RSA's access control, identity management and encryption technologies to its entire line of storage products, said Rob Sadowski, senior product marketing manager for information security at Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC.

"We have a strong idea about how to integrate [RSA's technology]. We can offer encryption across the entire EMC product line and provide strong encryption key management as the data gets encrypted," Sadowski said.

RSA also will serve as the basis for EMC's new information security division, to be headed by RSA President and CEO Art Coviello, who will become an executive vice president at EMC once the deal is finalized.

The division will retain the RSA name as well as its channel and customer base, Sadowski said, adding that none of RSA's some 1,400 employees will be laid off as a result of the merger.

Although synergy between security and storage is important, EMC sees RSA as the impetus for what will eventually become a billion-dollar security business, regardless of whether it's integrated with EMC's storage product line, said John Worrall, senior vice president of worldwide marketing at New Bedford, Mass.-based RSA.

The RSA deal is the latest in a string of acquisitions that has taken EMC beyond data storage and given it the means to create and manage content, store it according to policies set by users based on their compliance and regulatory requirements and provide services related to accessing and protecting content.

In an effort to diversify, the storage giant has been gobbling up software companies in recent years. In 2003 and 2004, EMC made three major acquisitions: Documentum for $1.7 billion, Legato for $1.3 billion and VMware
for about $650 million.

EMC also has purchased a handful of smaller ISVs, including Dantz for its small-business storage expertise, Rainfinity for NAS virtualization, Capitva Software for document capture, NLayers for application mapping and management, Kashya for enterprise data replication, and ProActivity for business process management.

PAULA ROONEY and JOSEPH F. KOVAR contributed to this story.