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Michael Dell at RSA 2017: Security A Key Part Of Business Digital Transformation

Partners said Michael Dell's appearance at the 2017 RSA Conference validates Dell's commitment to the security vendor, which it acquired as part of its blockbuster acquisition of EMC.

New innovations in technology present a massive opportunity for businesses, but security needs to be a key part of a business's digital transformation, Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell said.

"There is a real thirst for this digital transformation and we're seeing it really begin across a wide variety of industries. Investment is following," Dell said. "The digital transformation is real. But, from a technology sector, it has to be done securely."

Dell joined RSA CTO Zulfikar Ramzan as a surprise guest in the opening keynote at the annual 2017 RSA Conference in San Francisco, Calif. on Tuesday.

[Related: 10 Security Trends To Watch For At RSA 2017]

Dell Technologies acquired RSA late last year as part of its blockbuster acquisition of EMC. The company has since made some product integrations with the Dell portfolio, though has said RSA would largely remain independent from its parent company.

Mark McKeever, principal at Tempe, Ariz.-based solution provider MicroAge, said Dell's RSA visit is a smart move for the CEO, who has been relatively quiet about the company since acquiring it as part of the landmark $58 billion deal with EMC.

"It's part of the new federation, and people take notice. Partners take notice, and customers take notice when an influential person like that is taking interest, even if it's just 15 minutes," McKeever said. "I've been to other conferences when a key person or CEO isn't there, and people wonder what that means to us. RSA is a great brand, and [Dell] has dispelled any questions about its importance by showing up."

Dell said security technologies are more important than ever to CEOs and boards of directors, saying it is an "issue of high concern for them." However, he said for them it isn't a technology issue – it's a business and risk issue.

However, he said business leaders are also optimistic for 2017 and the potential that new innovations can bring for digital transformations across all industries, including healthcare, education, manufacturing and more. That will force many of these companies to look for security technologies to make those transformations in a secure way.

"We really feel like we're enabling this next wave of human progress and for me that’s an incredibly exciting place for me to be," Dell said.

McKeever said security is a "vastly complex and difficult topic to get your head around," and despite the fact that it can be a tough sell, MicroAge makes data recovery and security the foundation of its data center sales strategy.

"It's easy [for customers] to underestimate the importance because unless you've had something bad happen, it's easy to assume it's something that happens to other people," McKeever said. "It's an ever-changing topic, so it's really easy for people to fail to appreciate how important it is," he said.

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