New buys for EMC may come in security, big data

The company is open to more acquisitions in key areas

EMC may be in the market for security and data analytics acquisitions as it builds out what it calls a federation of businesses among VMware, RSA Security, Pivotal and the company's traditional storage operations.

The dominant enterprise storage vendor has already branched out into virtualization, security, big data and other areas over the past several years, often through acquisitions. At EMC World this week, executives pitched their federation as the right mix of businesses to help bring enterprises into a new wave of IT built around mobile, Cloud, Big Data and social networking technologies.

Just two days ago, EMC announced it would buy enterprise flash storage startup DSSD for an undisclosed sum. On Monday, EMC Chairman and CEO Joe Tucci said EMC spends about 12 percent of its revenue on R&D - about $US3 billion this year - and 10 per cent annually on acquisitions.

But there are still areas where EMC may want to add capabilities, through either internal investments or more acquisitions, according to Jeremy Burton, EMC's president of products and marketing.

"I think we would love to do more in the world of security," Burton said in an interview Wednesday at EMC World in Las Vegas. "The problem is vast. I think the bad guys are winning."

There's no clear leader in the industry, nor any company with all the necessary tools, Burton said. "For all the innovation that we've seen, nobody has yet cracked the code there," he said.

That includes RSA, which has remained focused primarily on identity and encryption rather than operational security inside a company's infrastructure, Burton said. It doesn't have antivirus, anti-spam, database security, or firewall products.

One promising area is security analytics, currently the fastest-growing sector for RSA, he said. Security analytics can crack into every packet going across a network and quarantine or monitor them. It uses big-data technologies such as Hadoop to analyze patterns and look for anomalies.

The broad category where EMC's Pivotal subsidiary plays, which includes big data, next-generation databases and PaaS (platform as a service), is also ripe for acquisitions, he said. The market is so new and broad that EMC is still watching how it shapes up.

"As it develops, I'm almost certain we'll buy more in that area," Burton said. In particular, there may be promising new companies in so-called data fabrics, where Pivotal's Greenplum Database plays, and in big data. "If you think about the world of big-data analytics, there are very few packaged applications," he said. It will take a couple of years for the leaders to appear there, Burton said.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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