RSA Security: Happier Endings

By Baselinemag  |  Posted 2005-02-01 Print this article 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.

View the PDF -- Turn off pop-up blockers!

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 because—unlike, say, IBM—RSA 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."

Identity and Access Management

RSA Security
174 Middlesex Turnpike,
Bedford, MA 01730
(781) 515-5000


Employees: 1,049

Art Coviello
President and CEO
Before joining RSA in 1995, he was chief operating officer for CrossComm, a networking equipment vendor. His first job was as an accountant for Deloitte & Touche.

Bill McQuaide
Senior VP, Enterprise Solutions
In charge of strategy, management and marketing for enterprise security products. Joined RSA in 1997 after holding management positions at Hewlett-Packard, Data General and other information-technology companies.

ClearTrust controls access to Web applications based on individual or group profiles; it provides self-service functions including account creation and password resetting. Sign-On Manager allows users of Windows computers to access multiple applications after logging on once.

Reference Checks

Fifth Third Bank
Bob West
Chief Information Security Officer
(513) 534-5300
Project: Cincinnati bank lets 20,000 users access 20 Web-based applications through ClearTrust.

Credit Union Central of Ontario
Paul J. Martinello
Dir., Web Services and Systems Development
Project: Provider of operational and financial services to 190 credit unions in Canada uses ClearTrust to manage how 3,000 people access its customer-service site.

Dave C. Miller
Chief Security Officer
Project: Auto industry information services provider uses ClearTrust to control which parts of its portal 20,000 customers may access.

Refco Group
Victor Leung
Mgr., Web Security
Project: Financial services firm provides 16,000 employees and customers access to Web portals via ClearTrust.

Boston Medical Center
Darren Dworkin
Chief Technology Officer
Project: Hospital lets 1,500 physicians and staff log on to several Web applications via ClearTrust.

Geisinger Health System
Dave Young
Program Director, Web Services
Project: Health-care provider with 40 hospitals uses ClearTrust to give 20,000 patients online access to their medical records; another portal allows physicians to log on via ClearTrust to check their patients' full medical records.

Executives listed here are all users of RSA's products. Their willingness to talk has been confirmed by Baseline.

RSA operating results*

Gross margin82.0%79.5%66.0%
Operating profit/loss$46.72M$24.95M-$96.99M
Net profit/loss$34.98M$14.84M-$96.82M
Net margin11.4%5.7%-41.7%
Earnings per share$0.51$0.24-$1.71
R&D expenditure$61.89M$53.63M$55.06M

* Fiscal year ends Dec. 31
Source: company reports

Other Financials**

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


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
eWeek eWeek

Have the latest technology news and resources emailed to you everyday.