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Biggest tech deal ever signals shifting landscape

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When Dell agreed to pay a jaw-dropping $67-billion for EMC, it made official the belief that the IT landscape is undergoing radical transformation, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

When computer maker Dell announced this week it would pay $67-billion for storage giant EMC, it marked not only the biggest technology acquisition in history, but also a major shift in the information technology landscape.

EMC happens to own a majority share of the biggest cloud computing company in the world, VMWare, which will remain a listed company. Arguably, Dell was after this business, with its highly strategic positioning at the heart of the digital revolution. Analysts applauded the deal, which they believe will spur growth in EMC as well as in its underlying businesses.

The deal was announced on the eve of the annual VMworld conference in Barcelona, where 10 000 attendees from 96 countries gathered to hear company executives pronounce on the future of the cloud. In the wake of the buy-out announcement, their messages took on new significance.

“There are tectonic shifts under way and the merger is just a piece of that,” said VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger. “In the next decade, 40 per cent of the Fortune 500 companies will be no more. Inaction becomes the biggest risk a business can take today.”

He outlined several imperatives that, he said, would shape VMware.

“First, elephants must learn to dance. That means we have to innovate like a start-up, while delivering like an enterprise.

“Second, we are moving from an experimental phase to the professional era of the cloud. We are meeting the information security challenge of protecting people, applications and data, and we can deliver a comprehensive security solution for the first time in history.”

In an exclusive interview, company president Carl Eschenbach said that there was a natural affinity between VMware and Dell, as the two companies had been in a strategic partnership for a decade already.

Dell is a global leader in computer servers that underpin company networks, while VMware is a leader in systems that help companies manage data centres in which the servers are housed. The deal would make both companies more effective in meeting market needs.

“It gives us a converged infrastructure across three areas: network, compute and storage,” said Eschenbach. “We have the storage and network, but don’t have a compute platform. Dell brings that to the table, and allows us to build a converged infrastructure stack.”

From a sales point of view, he said, it was like putting together pieces of a puzzle.

“One of the biggest benefits is a non-technology one; it’s a new go-to-market opportunity. EMC has been focused on large enterprises, while Dell sells into the mid-market and small and medium businesses. Now we have the entire market segment covered to sell our solutions through Dell and EMC.”

The timing of the deal, he believes, could not have been better, as businesses are waking up to the strategic importance of information technology and the move into the cloud.

“The IT organisation needs to change and transform. People think of IT as just a cost centre, as just the plumbing that keeps a business up and running. In the past, most senior executives would ask for more costs to be taken out of IT.

“Now people are realizing that, if we can build new agile frameworks and bring products and services to market faster, it can be an enabler for growth. If you listen to the next generation of CEOs, they talk about digital transformation, and how it can drive top-line growth.”

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee.

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Bring your network with you

At last week’s Critical Communications World, Motorola unveiled the LXN 500 LTE Ultra Portable Network Infrastructure. It allows rescue personal to set up dedicated LTE networks for communication in an emergency, writes SEAN BACHER.

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In the event of an emergency, communications are absolutely critical, but the availability of public phone networks are limited due to weather conditions or congestion.

Motorola realised that this caused a problem when trying to get rescue personnel to those in need and so developed its LXN 500 LTE Ultra Portable Network Infrastructure. The product is the smallest and lightest full powered broadband network to date and allows the first person on the scene to set up an LTE network in a matter of minutes, allowing other rescue team members to communicate with each other.

“The LXN 500 weighs six kilograms and comes in a backpack with two batteries. It offers a range of 1km and allows up to 100 connections at the same time. However, in many situations the disaster area may span more than 1km which is why they can be connected to each other in a mesh formation,” says Tunde Williams, Head of Field and Solutions Marketing EMEA, Motorola Solutions.

The LXN 500 solution offers communication through two-way radios, and includes mapping, messaging, push-to-talk, video and imaging features onboard, thus eliminating the need for any additional hardware.

Data collected on the device can then be sent through to a central control room where an operator can deploy additional rescue personnel where needed. Once video is streamed into the control room, realtime analytics and augmented reality can be applied to it to help predict where future problem points may arise. Video images and other multimedia can also be made available for rescuers on the ground.

“Although the LXN 500 was designed for the seamless communications between on ground rescue teams and their respective control rooms, it has made its way into the police force and in places where there is little or no cellular signal such as oil rigs,” says Williams.

He gave a hostage scenario: “In the event of a hostage situation, it is important for the police to relay information in realtime to ensure no one is hurt. However the perpetrators often use their mobile phones to try and foil any rescue attempts. Should the police have the correct partnerships in place they are able to disable cellular towers in the vicinity, preventing any in or outgoing calls on a public network and allowing the police get their job done quickly and more effectively.”

By disabling any public networks in the area, police are also able to eliminate any cellular detonated bombs from going off but still stay in touch with each other he says.

The LXN 500 offers a wide range of mission critical cases and is sure to transform communications and improve safety for first responders and the people they are trying to protect.

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Kaspersky moves to Switzerland

As part of its Global Transparency Initiative, Kaspersky Lab is adapting its infrastructure to move a number of core processes from Russia to Switzerland.

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This includes customer data storage and processing for most regions, as well as software assembly, including threat detection updates. To ensure full transparency and integrity, Kaspersky Lab is arranging for this activity to be supervised by an independent third party, also based in Switzerland.

Global transparency and collaboration for an ultra-connected world

The Global Transparency Initiative, announced in October 2017, reflects Kaspersky Lab’s ongoing commitment to assuring the integrity and trustworthiness of its products. The new measures are the next steps in the development of the initiative, but they also reflect the company’s commitment to working with others to address the growing challenges of industry fragmentation and a breakdown of trust. Trust is essential in cybersecurity, and Kaspersky Lab understands that trust is not a given; it must be repeatedly earned through transparency and accountability.

The new measures comprise the move of data storage and processing for a number of regions, the relocation of software assembly and the opening of the first Transparency Center.

Relocation of customer data storage and processing

By the end of 2019, Kaspersky Lab will have established a data center in Zurich and in this facility, will store and process all information for users in Europe, North America, Singapore, Australia, Japan and South Korea, with more countries to follow. This information is shared voluntarily by users with the Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) an advanced, cloud-based system that automatically processes cyberthreat-related data.

Relocation of software assembly

Kaspersky Lab will relocate to Zurich its ‘software build conveyer’ — a set of programming tools used to assemble ready to use software out of source code. Before the end of 2018, Kaspersky Lab products and threat detection rule databases (AV databases) will start to be assembled and signed with a digital signature in Switzerland, before being distributed to the endpoints of customers worldwide. The relocation will ensure that all newly assembled software can be verified by an independent organisation and show that software builds and updates received by customers match the source code provided for audit.

Establishment of the first Transparency Center

The source code of Kaspersky Lab products and software updates will be available for review by responsible stakeholders in a dedicated Transparency Center that will also be hosted in Switzerland and is expected to open this year. This approach will further show that generation after generation of Kaspersky Lab products were built and used for one purpose only: protecting the company’s customers from cyberthreats.

Independent supervision and review

Kaspersky Lab is arranging for the data storage and processing, software assembly, and source code to be independently supervised by a third party qualified to conduct technical software reviews. Since transparency and trust are becoming universal requirements across the cybersecurity industry, Kaspersky Lab supports the creation of a new, non-profit organisation to take on this responsibility, not just for the company, but for other partners and members who wish to join.

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