EMC president's move to subsidiary RSA shows security a priority

RSA President Tom Heiser's new role in EMC indicates that RSA's parent company recognizes the importance of security in all its cloud-based services.

In an internal communication sent Monday, EMC said Heiser would focus on adapting EMC products to the cloud, particularly the infrastructure- and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) markets. RSA Executive Chairman Art Coviello would take over Heiser's responsibilities in the near term.

"One possible explanation could be that EMC wants the cloud-based security expertise that's resident in RSA and is recognizing that it's going to be an increasing component of their other businesses as well,"said Chris Christiansen, an analyst with IDC.

RSA's cloud services include storage, archiving and backup in the consumer and enterprise markets. Such products require encryption, authentication and other security technologies for data protection and privacy.

[Also see: MIT researchers advance cloud security with end-to-end encryption]

Security is also an important element in locking down administrative access to the services, whether managers are connecting through a PC or mobile device. That a tablet can be used as an administrative tool shows how management software is no longer the complicated, proprietary technology it once was, so security has to be robust.

"To justify a lack of security through obscurity is indefensible," Christiansen said.

In announcing Heiser's transfer, Coviello said in an email to staff that "success for the broader EMC in the cloud space is something that we all need to see become a reality, and that Tom is the right guy to help make that happen."

Along with Heiser's transfer, EMC executive Mark Quigley will become chief operating officer for RSA over the coming weeks.

As senior vice president of new ventures, Heiser oversaw EMC's $2.1 billion acquisition of RSA in 2006. Two years later, he joined RSA as a senior VP and was promoted to president in 2011. He joined EMC in 1984.

Read more about cloud security in CSOonline's Cloud Security section.

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