RSA sale spells a new chapter for Dell

The divestment marks the end of a five-year journey that began with EMC

It’s shaping up to be a year of big moves in the IT industry. While Xerox and HP circle each other and companies like Google and FireEye snap up smaller businesses, Dell Technologies has announced this week that it will be selling off RSA Security to a consortium of buyers led by private equity firm Symphony Technology Group.

The security firm has a long and storied history, founded by the developers of the RSA public key cryptographic algorithm which still underpins a good deal of cybersecurity today. It joined the EMC Federation in 2006, but found itself under the benevolent leadership of Michael Dell back in 2015 after the mammoth merger that created both Dell EMC and the wider Dell Technologies family. 

As part of that merger, Dell absorbed not just EMC, but also RSA, SecureWorks, VMware, Pivotal and Virtustream, creating a somewhat mis-matched portfolio. Dell and EMC make for obvious bedfellows thanks to their shared focus on infrastructure hardware, and VMware offers a range of complementary capabilities. The others, however, felt somewhat out of place, offering cloud and software services that didn’t really fit with Dell’s infrastructure-heavy offering.

Now, however, the company looks a lot more streamlined. RSA was by far the biggest and oddest outlier in Dell’s portfolio, and now that it’s gone, a new shape is starting to reveal itself. VMware has quickly become the golden child of Dell’s stable, with multiple co-branded initiatives and product synergies, and the portfolio has been reshuffled to reflect this. Pivotal is now owned by VMware, and it’s not unreasonable to expect that Virtustream will go the same way before too long – the latter company is geared towards supporting cloud migration, which meshes exceedingly well with VMware’s multi-cloud focus.

This just leaves SecureWorks. Another odd one out within the Dell Technologies family, the managed security services and threat detection provider doesn’t really have an obvious place beside the rest of Dell’s subdivisions – particularly given that VMware’s latest acquisition, Carbon Black, fills what few strategic roles it could reasonably be expected to play. If I was a betting man, I’d be inclined to put money on it also being sold off before the year’s out.

What, then, does that leave us with? Well, in short, it leaves us with a streamlined, hyper-focused hybrid cloud powerhouse. Dell EMC’s class-leading infrastructure hardware, coupled with VMware’s dominance of the software frameworks that run on it, makes for a formidable combination. Without the baggage of tangentially-related sub-brands to slow it down, Dell Technologies is free to divert its full focus (discounting its client computing business) on the back-end infrastructure markets in which it has the strongest position, rather than spreading itself thin trying to be all things to all customers.

Fundamentally, this is a clear statement of intent from Dell, and maps out a trajectory that is more focused, more thoughtful and more ruthlessly efficient than we’ve yet seen from the company. If I were a rival vendor, I’d be feeling somewhat worried right about now.

Featured Resources

Unlocking collaboration: Making software work better together

How to improve collaboration and agility with the right tech

Download now

Four steps to field service excellence

How to thrive in the experience economy

Download now

Six things a developer should know about Postgres

Why enterprises are choosing PostgreSQL

Download now

The path to CX excellence for B2B services

The four stages to thrive in the experience economy

Download now

Recommended

Alienware’s new gaming laptop is a kick in the teeth for Intel’s new CEO
Hardware

Alienware’s new gaming laptop is a kick in the teeth for Intel’s new CEO

8 Apr 2021
Dell Latitude Chromebook 7410 review: A security-conscious Chromebook with no staying power
Laptops

Dell Latitude Chromebook 7410 review: A security-conscious Chromebook with no staying power

7 Apr 2021
Dell OptiPlex 7070 Ultra review: The ultimate small form-factor PC?
Hardware

Dell OptiPlex 7070 Ultra review: The ultimate small form-factor PC?

17 Mar 2021
Dell P2719HC review: Attractive but inaccurate
monitors

Dell P2719HC review: Attractive but inaccurate

17 Mar 2021

Most Popular

Microsoft is submerging servers in boiling liquid to prevent Teams outages
data centres

Microsoft is submerging servers in boiling liquid to prevent Teams outages

7 Apr 2021
How to find RAM speed, size and type
Laptops

How to find RAM speed, size and type

8 Apr 2021
Hackers are using fake messages to break into WhatsApp accounts
instant messaging (IM)

Hackers are using fake messages to break into WhatsApp accounts

8 Apr 2021