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Contributing Writer

Dell’s Most Secure PC Initiative Presents a New Opportunity

Sep 06, 20134 mins
AuthenticationCisco SystemsData and Information Security

Company can build on current offering, upset the endpoint security market, and benefit from enterprise security trends

When it comes to selling PCs to business organizations, Dell has long held a well-deserved reputation for aggressive pricing, tailored customization services, and strong customer service. Okay, but what about endpoint security? In the past, Dell sales reps would simply open their catalog and let the customer choose from a vast list of partner options. Want AV software, full-disk encryption, or biometric authentication? Dell would simply ask its customers to choose dozen of partner options in each area.Well that was then and this is now. Yup, Dell can still offer a multitude of 3rd party add-ons, but the company now leads with its “built for business” solutions including one it pitches as the most secure PC available. Dell’s endpoint security solution is focused in 3 areas:1. Authentication. This includes secure hardware (i.e. supply chain security of Dell components), a custom TPM chip, pre-boot authentication, single sign-on, and integrated multi-factor authentication.2. Encryption. Aside from its use of self-encrypting drives, Dell now integrates its Credent acquisition to encrypt files and removable storage. 3. Malware prevention. Dell can still sell AV but it now bundles its Dell Data Protection agent which is built using Invincea Advanced Malware Detection/Prevention (AMD/P) technology. This gives Dell PCs advanced capabilities that go beyond AV signatures/heuristics alone.Dell doesn’t just install a bunch of OEM security software on PCs. Rather it integrates its software, tests configurations, and wraps the whole enchilada with centralized management. This combination has the potential to deliver the three things every CISO is looking for: risk mitigation, streamlined operations, and lower costs. With this offering, Dell now competes with Kaspersky Lab, McAfee, Sophos, Symantec, Trend Micro and a plethora of other endpoint security veterans. Nevertheless, Dell has a good opportunity to succeed here. Why? Many organizations are looking to integrate security products and winnow down the number of vendors they buy from. This certainly gives Dell an advantage in the SMB space where it is already strong. Dell also has relationships with senior IT people at enterprise organizations which provides a foot-in-the-door at the very least. Finally, the endpoint security market is in turmoil where of legacy products are no match for new requirements. IT transitions (i.e. client/server, Internet computing, cloud, etc.), tend to open markets to new vendors so Dell has as good a chance as anyone.No doubt, Dell has a strong position and a treasure chest of resources. To succeed with the Global 2,000 however, Dell must:1. Sell high in the enterprise. Large organizations typically have 3 different IT groups and buying centers when they procure endpoint security, encryption, and authentication. Unifying these three makes economic and operational sense but IT security staffers don’t have the juice to make this happen. To alter the security status quo, Dell needs to influence CISOs rather than security administrators.2. Expand the offerings. Dell’s three security angles can be supplemented with things like vulnerability scanning, patch management, and a security-centric endpoint asset/configuration database over time. With tight integration and central management, these kinds of enhancements will surely grab the CISOs attention. 3. Embrace and extend. Of course Dell wants to sell PCs, but customers will likely have some HPs and Lenovos lying around – not to mention a growing army of Samsung Galaxies and Apple iPads. Dell should extend its management purview to non-Dell devices as well.4. Integrate with SonicWall, SecureWorks, and a partner ecosystem. Aside from PC security, ESG research indicates that large organizations really want an enterprise security architecture that includes central command-and-control, comprehensive analytics, and distributed enforcement. Dell may not have all the assets to build this type of software architecture alone but it should make sure that its secure PCs, SonicWall network security, and SecureWorks services can help guide CISOs down the road toward enterprise security nirvana. Dell’s market muscle should help it fill the remaining portfolio gaps with 3rd party partners.Like Cisco, EMC, HP, and IBM, Dell now realizes that there are tremendous cybersecurity opportunities ahead. What’s more, customers are eschewing point tools in favor of integrated solutions. Dell’s secure PC offering gets it in the game. If it executes appropriately henceforth, Dell could gain a lucrative seat at the enterprise security table.

Contributing Writer

Jon Oltsik is a distinguished analyst, fellow, and the founder of the ESG’s cybersecurity service. With over 35 years of technology industry experience, Jon is widely recognized as an expert in all aspects of cybersecurity and is often called upon to help customers understand a CISO's perspective and strategies. Jon focuses on areas such as cyber-risk management, security operations, and all things related to CISOs.

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