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VMware: Life after EMC

VMware: Life after EMC

When EMC acquired VMware in 2007 waves were made in the technology world, primarily in the server sector.  VMware, after all, was by far the best in show when it came to cloud and virtualisation software and services.  It was a no brainer for EMC, who is a prominent player in the server build space.  The acquisition made EMC a power player in the cloud and virtual space overnight.  But in August of 2016 another such momentous occasion took place.  EMC bolstered by its VMware arm came face to face with one of the tech world’s biggest giants; Dell.

 

Dell has had a storied rise in both business and popularity ever since it was conceived by its owner and founder, Michael Dell.  After a 3-year hiatus from the company, Dell (the man) returned as the head of Dell in 2007 and the company has been on an upward trajectory ever since.  Dell (the company) has basically revolutionised the way consumers and businesses looked at their computer hardware.  Giving their customers the ability to customise their machines in the most hassle free way possible.  This, along with strategic partnerships, advanced marketing techniques and overhauling distribution practices, catapulted the company into the hardware giant it is today.  That’s why the $67 billion (USD) merger of Dell and EMC (the largest in history) is so significant.

 

More than just the mind-boggling dollar figure, the merger turned the hardware giant in Dell into a cloud and virtualisation powerhouse overnight, in a move reminiscent of EMC’s initial acquisition of VMware just under a decade ago.  The banner of EMC2 fell on September 27, 2016 and has forever been replaced by the trademark Dell’s logo, but what does this merger mean for the future of VMware, and more importantly what role will it play in Dell’s current environment?

 

 

According to both entities, the future is brighter for both VMware and Dell, that is after the initial hysteria and uncertainty.  Stock prices of both companies fluctuated significantly once the merger was announced.  Employees, managers and shareholders were unsure of what was to come next.  However, as the hours and days passed, official news and plans were revealed regarding the direction of both companies, and the market seemed to react positively.  Stock prices climbed back up and, if the trend holds, will surpass the pre-merger price in the coming months ahead.

 

For VMware, flying under the banner of Dell gives them much needed stability and reach.  Keep in mind, that VMware is a relatively young company when compared to the likes of EMC, Dell and Microsoft.  It has undergone and, in some case still is undergoing, growing pains.  With Dell’s guidance and backing, VMware can focus on growth and development without having to worry too much about mitigating the risk of both.  Dell’s enormous rolodex of clients (which is continuously growing thanks to Dell’s business development efforts) has been opened to VMware which exponentially increases their reach.  Remember that VMware is already in a class all its own when it comes to cloud and virtualisation services and this merger basically makes them almost untouchable.  Almost.  VMware CEO, Pat Gelsinger, was quick to admit that the only other competition out there is Microsoft with their Azure Stack fronted by Hyper-V.

 

But herein lies the rub.  Critics of the merger view Dell’s inextricable history with Microsoft as a potential for VMware’s downfall.  Almost since it started shipping out PC’s Dell has loaded them with Microsoft software.  For decades this has been standard operating procedure with each Dell box, laptop and server being powered or touched in some way by Microsoft.  Where then will Dell’s allegiance lie?  With its own product in VMware or with the company that it has partnered with for so long in Microsoft?

 

When it comes to server virtualisation it is almost an open and shut case with VMware dominating the market.  However, the emergence of the cloud space created a wrinkle in what was VMware’s absolute reign.  Microsoft’s cloud solution Azure is, for lack of a better term, blowing VMware’s solution, vCloud Air, out of the water.  To add fuel and confusion to the fire, Microsoft’s own CEO, Satya Nadella, posted a video stating that he acknowledges the merger but is looking forward to the continuous partnership that Dell and Microsoft has forged over the decades.  He also adds that Microsoft looks forward to expanding its cloud business with Dell.  In school yard parlance, they be fighting words.

 

So who does Dell ultimately side with.  With the merger, Dell now has a vested interest in the success of VMware.  However, in Microsoft resides a partnership spanning decades in which both companies have benefitted greatly.  VMware management has already stated that the merger will see a greater integration of VMware technology into Dell machines, but this will put Dell directly at odds with their decades long bedfellow in Microsoft.  The ball it seems is in Dell’s court, whether they like it or not.  Who will they back and who will they shun?  Turning their backs on Microsoft’s cloud solution may sour their relationship with software giant, but then again there are no “take-backs” when $67 billion worth of assets has already changed hands.

 

Pundits may argue that Dell may have got a bit more than they bargained for when they inked the EMC merger.  However, one thing is for certain, Dell got a bargain.  Oracle’s chairman Larry Ellison showed a bit of envy when discussing the merger, mentioning that were not Oracle already in the midst of developing their own cloud solution that they would have tried to outbid Dell to acquire EMC and VMware.  Dell and Ellison both believe that the acquisition was both logically and fiscally sound, and that the investment is very much worth it.  Dell is no longer the hardware giant of old.  With the undeniable might and power that it now possesses with the acquisition of VMware it has been transformed into a titan, something that is not often seen in any industry.

 

This article was contributed by David Share from Amazing Support. They provide IT Support in London and surrounding areas.

The Future of Ransomware

The Future of Ransomware

Insiders, experts, and pundits have weighed in on the future of ransomware.  Sorry to say, but it is looking pretty bleak.  The already potent attack vector is still roaming around unchallenged.  Poor defenses, gaping vulnerabilities and current data handling practices still puts thousands of businesses at risk every day.  Cybercriminals are exploiting some of the most basic crutches of businesses like lack of budget and technical know-how to maximise the amount of damage they can do while simultaneously maximising the amount of money they can extort from businesses and individuals alike.

 

Budget is a key issue when dealing with ransomware.  The sad truth is that the vast majority of businesses have and will continue to underestimate the amount of money that should be dedicated to building an air tight security system.  Instead businesses have mostly been acting on a reactionary basis.  This may be a logical when taking a “fix only what is broken approach”, but it’s different when a company’s systems are actively being breached by a criminal.  The criminals are not there to merely cause havoc to a system, they are usually looking to extract data.  Once a system has been penetrated by a ransomware attacker it is too late.

 

Businesses who lack the technically proficient employees required to keep up with the ever evolving attack methods of cybercriminals undoubtedly have massive gaps in their security systems.  Sure, once upon a time, their systems may have been state of the art (most likely when they purchased them), however as time goes on new exploits are created by attackers, the security community responds by creating updates and patches, and this is where businesses often fall short.  Often times businesses lack the in-house talent to properly install and implement these patches and updates (ironically the vast majority of these are free to download).  The gaps in security created by unpatched software only gets bigger over time and makes a breach all but inevitable.

 

While businesses need to step up their security game in a big way, there is still the other side of the equation that must be considered.  Ransomware attackers are nothing if not efficient.  They do not rest on their laurels.  They know that the majority of businesses are ill equipped to handle their type of attack and are prolific at coming up with new methods of penetration, information gathering and infection.  By the looks of it, ransomware attacks are changing and evolving even as you read this.  In the past, cybercriminals have relied on a less efficient way of distributing their exploits.  Using a “spray and pray” approach using mass phishing campaigns, the attackers would send out loaded emails to as many people within businesses as they can, in the hopes that one or more of these unsuspecting employees will open the email and download the attached file in which a malware or Trojan has been embedded.  Even though ransomware attackers have extorted countless millions using this methodology, they have deemed it far too inefficient and are starting to convert their tactics to that resembling a sniper.

 

This time around the weapon of choice will not be a widely distributed email or exploit, but will be a highly dedicated, highly focused self-propagating ransomware.  It has been dubbed a cryptoworm and it is a really, really big problem for those concerned with system security everywhere.  Self-propagating ransomware is not new, certain aspects of it have been used in attacks for nearly a decade now, but in cryptoworms this technology and method has been distilled and refined.  Cryptoworms not only have the ability to infiltrate a system and move within it vertically, but it also has the ability to move across systems laterally using a code and infiltration methods similar to those seen in Conficker and SQL Slammer worms.

While these two exploits are considered by many in the industry to be “old school” methods (Conficker was active in 2008, while SQL Slammer was causing a mess since 2003), they attack vectors are still potent due to the gaping, unpatched loopholes found in systems of many businesses.  It seems that ransomware attackers are familiar with the old adage “don’t reinvent the wheel”, because they are now repurposing old, yet highly efficient, threats and baking them in to new exploits like cryptoworms.

 

 

This article was contributed by David Share from Amazing Support. They provide IT Support in London and surrounding areas.