EMC exec: Selling risk needs no justification

Art Coviello talks to Computerworld

Responsible for steering the course of EMC's security franchise, Art Coviello, executive vice president of EMC's RSA Security division, says the unit will eventually contribute US$2 billion to EMC's annual revenue. In a recent interview with Computerworld, Coviello talked about a balance between storage and security needs, why administrators focused only on "dumb storage" are a dying breed and why selling risk needs no justification.

How do you respond to claims by critics that security vendors overblow technology risks?

I don't sell fear. I sell a concept of understanding risk first and applying security commensurate with the risk. I don't have to justify what we do. It's justifies itself on the merits. I'd rather have an informed and educated customer because it's less time-consuming and easier to do business.

How can businesses simplify e-discovery processes?

E-discovery is important because there is not a single bit of data you should keep that you don't need. It's not a question of being afraid to be sued; it's a question of being able to get at the data that you do need. It's like having your house cluttered with clothes that your children have outgrown. If I get rid of extraneous information or data, it's a lot easier for me to focus on high-value [information]. There's still going to be low-value information to keep, but at least you won't have junk.

How are the jobs of IT storage administrators changing?

If they are [only managing] dumb storage, they're not going to take advantage of all the features and functionality that a company like EMC can bring. They're going to be dinosaurs.

Are CIOs or business owners really in charge of data storage and security? For a while, business owners were leaving the CIOs and IT organization behind [by trying to solve] lots of legacy [problems], growing data and tighter budgets. Over the last 18 months, you've seen a lot of CIOs reassert themselves and take more control by acting in a far more coordinated way. [CIOs] are also being more demanding of their vendors and in general being more creative.

Do you agree with EMC CEO Joe Tucci that encryption technology should be available to IT without charge?

I agree with Joe, because I think encryption is something that is really commoditized.

How do you respond to complaints that encryption hampers device performance?

If you do [encryption] in the chip sets, there won't be a performance issue. In the meantime, we'll do it through a SAN switch, and that's what Cisco is doing [with EMC]. We're actually doing [encryption] development in PowerPath. [RSA] was the provider of the [encryption] technology, and I was skeptical. But I've been impressed by its performance characteristics. It won't be for everybody, but a good healthy amount of customers can use PowerPath file encryption and not take a big performance hit.

What are RSA's plans to serve the consumer market?

Might we have more of a consumer brand? Maybe to the extent that EMC develops more of a set of consumer services. We'll certainly be an ingredient for that.

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Brian Fonseca

Computerworld
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