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Dell doubles SecureWorks, plans additions to security portfolio

Eric B. Parizo, Executive Editor

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Not only is information security one of the top three business priorities for Dell Inc., but the company's top executive said the personal computing giant isn't done adding to its enterprise security product portfolio.

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I think you can sort of look at the areas where we're strong and almost guess which one is the next logical piece that fits within the portfolio of capabilities we have

Michael Dell, chairman, CEO, Dell Inc.

During a keynote question-and-answer session Monday at Gartner Inc.'s 2012 Security & Risk Management Summit, Dell Chairman and CEO Michael Dell spoke in detail about the Round Rock, Texas-based vendor's enterprise infosec strategy.

Dell said security, along with managing connected devices and IT infrastructure, is one of three areas of opportunity to grow its enterprise business. That's no surprise given that Dell has made a big splash in the enterprise information security market recently with a trio of security acquisitions: security services specialist SecureWorks last year, and this year both network security vendor SonicWall and thin client virtualization firm Wyse Technology.

"A number of years ago, we went to our customers and asked them, 'What unsolved problems do you have?' Security was at the very top of the list for just about every customer we talked to," both large and small, Dell said.

The company has doubled its SecureWorks business in the 16 months since the acquisition, Dell said, and it is creating closer ties between its security properties and its newly created software organization, led by former CA CEO John Swainson.

When pressed by Vice President and Gartner Fellow Neil MacDonald about what information security markets might be next, Dell didn't offer specifics, but indicated its security spending spree likely isn't over.

"I think you can sort of look at the areas where we're strong, and almost guess which one is the next logical piece that fits within the portfolio of capabilities we have," Dell said.

Yet if there was one crystal clear message, it was that Dell has no plans to help secure legacy systems.

He touted the company's history supporting a variety of other vendors' technology, yet seemed to illustrate a sharp distinction between supporting contemporary network equipment from rivals like Cisco Systems Inc. and F5 Networks Inc. and the headaches that come with managing what he alluded to as yesterday's technology.

"We're the open guys. That's always been our heritage and that will continue to be our heritage," Dell said. "I'm not going to tell you about Solaris or mainframes or anything like that; we're going to migrate it to x86," referencing his company's x86 line of commodity servers.

"We are unencumbered by legacy. Other companies with one or two fewer letters in their names, they have this old stuff they're protecting," Dell said. "We want to get you off the old stuff and onto new stuff."

Yet MacDonald pressed Dell on what may be an odd double standard: the company is heavily pushing its own x86 servers in the data center as an alternative to midrange and mainframe systems, but following its SonicWall acquisition, it intends to offer SonicWall network security products while still supporting the products of its competitors.

"This is not a new concept with IT services," Dell countered. "There are plenty of examples where IT services companies are agnostic and manage a variety of products, and sell their own."

Finally Dell spent a significant portion of time trumping up his company's upcoming line of Windows 8 devices, especially tablets. Enterprises will be able to manage and secure tablets and other mobile devices running Windows 8 more easily than devices sporting rival mobile platforms because of interoperability with existing Windows infrastructure, he said. The company will continue to manage and secure iOS and Android devices as well, though it recently stopped selling Android smartphones.


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