RSA Security: Happier EndingsBy Baselinemag | Posted 2005-02-01 Print
Once it got its house in order, RSA Security has impressed customers with support and an exclusive focus on security.
Here's a well-worn story line: A category leader (RSA Security) sees a hot product segment (identity and access management) and acquires a startup in the field (Securant Technologies, which RSA bought in September 2001).
Then what? Sometimes the product dies like a neglected houseplant. In this case, while it took RSA a few unsteady months to tend to its new possession, customers say they're satisfied that Securant's Web access management software, ClearTrust, is in safe hands.
Technical support for ClearTrust "did go downhill" right after the acquisition, says Paul J. Martinello, director of Web services and systems development at Credit Union Central of Ontario. But after about eight months, RSA standardized disparate elements of the product; for example, it cleaned up the management interface to make it more consistent and easier to use. "We've had good communications from RSA ever since," Martinello says.
Even when RSA hasn't been able to fix a problem immediately, it has impressed customers with its gymnastic efforts to try. Three years ago, New York-based financial services firm Refco Group ran into performance problems with version 4.6 of ClearTrust and also discovered that the software sometimes wouldn't work with its BEA WebLogic application server. According to Victor Leung, Refco's manager of Web security, RSA couldn't get to the bottom of the problems in that version of ClearTrust but resolved them with version 5.5, released about a year ago. Nevertheless, he adds, "They really went above and beyond to try to troubleshoot it."
Dave Young, program director for Web services at Geisinger Health System in Danville, Pa., says RSA has also provided extensive options for connecting ClearTrust to databases and directories. It can store data in 14 different third-party systems, including Novell's eDirectory and Sybase's database, both of which Geisinger still runs. "A lot of the other vendors wanted you to use what they had," he says.
That's becauseunlike, say, IBMRSA doesn't sell non-security-related products such as directory servers or databases, says Dave C. Miller, chief security officer at Covisint, a supplier of information services to the auto industry. "Their whole focus is security," Miller says. "I like the fact that they have to play with everyone."
RSA operating results*
* Fiscal year ends Dec. 31
Source: company reports
Total assets - $624.66M
Stockholders' equity - $476.53M
Cash and equivalents - $289.72M
Long-term debt - None
Shares outstanding - 69.79M
Market value, 1/31 - $1.18B
** As of Dec. 31, 2004, except as noted
Includes short-term investments
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