Investment Trends With…
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Mr. Joel Achramowicz
Merriman Capital, Inc.
SecurityStockWatch.com: Thank you for joining us today, Joel. Please
give us a brief overview of Merriman Capital and tell us about your background.
Joel Achramowicz: Merriman Capital, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary
of Merriman Holdings, a public company founded in 1987 and traded on the
OTC under the symbol, merr. The firm is a full-service investment bank
offering securities research, trading, institutional sales, advisory services
and banking counsel for small- and micro-cap companies mainly in the U.S.
and Canada. However, the bank does do business at times on a global basis.
We have about 50 professionals located around the country with two major
offices in New York and San Francisco.
SecurityStockWatch.com: We read with great interest in your recent
research that, Software has traditionally secured critical information
on networks and PCs, and it has allowed users to access various centralized
systems applications. But virus attacks and security breaches have demonstrated
that server software, on its own, is not always capable of completely
securing a network or remote user platform. Because of these security
concerns, there is a pressing need in the computer industry for the development
and deployment of a more robust and reliable security infrastructure,
including new security hardware in devices, to guard against these persistent
security risks. Which companies are you tracking in this endpoint
Joel Achramowicz: Actually our focus is directly for the most
part on smaller companies; however, we keep our eyes on most of the large
players as well. In particular, were looking for major technological
shifts in the tech industry that can cause significant disruption, both
macro- and micro-economically. For instance, historically developments
in network security have helped to compartmentalize the security function
within the bounds of most multi-nationals and what we might call the intranet.
This has been manageable for the most part as long as companies could
tether their employees to the internal VPN. Clearly, this is what we were
getting at with the quotation you used above. Unfortunately for most CIOs,
the advent of ubiquitous mobile computing has blown this internal model
apart. The question becomes: How can we ensure security and authenticate
external access to data at the systems level when employees are using
all types of mobile platforms at remote locations?
This concern caused us to become interested in developments in Trusted
Computing and the TCG consortium. It seemed evident to us that endpoint
security will be one of the next major system challenges for multi-nationals
around the world. We believe that the TCG standards can help these institutions
regain control of their distributed, mobile workforces with some modicum
of secure computing based the TCG standards platform. Every mobile device
it seems to us must have a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) for reliable
authentication. Moreover, every disk must have a controller that can encrypt
data directly on the drive to protect this critical and vulnerable data
storeparticularly on laptops and tablets. We call these drives Self-Encrypting
Drives (SEDs). The TCG is evangelizing the incorporation of TPMs, SEDs
and critical endpoint security polices its established to ensure better
computing security for the new era of ubiquitous mobile interactions.
Some of the companies we like that are championing TCG standards going
forward include Microsoft with its forthcoming Windows 8 platform; Wave
Systems with its comprehensive set of software applications that can manage
disparate endpoint devices at the systems level; and, were intrigued
about ARM Holdings, which has recently joined the TCG and is we believe
planning to incorporate TCG standards into its popular processor cores.
There are others, too, that we like; but, thats a start.
SecurityStockWatch.com: What is your perspective on the market
drivers for these solutions? And what about barriers to greater adoption
in the marketplace?
Joel Achramowicz: Unfortunately, security has always been a fragmented
industry and this has been both beneficial and a detriment, too. With
the scope of computing becoming so widespread today, we believe its
perhaps time to have a major player such as Microsoft codify a new comprehensive
set of TCG security applications into a systems platformsuch as
the next Windows 8 platformto provide comprehensive, corporate control
over both internal and external security and across a plethora of devices.
This has yet to be done and we believe that Microsoft can help to validate
the TCG standards as a new paradigm for distributed system security in
todays mobile world.
SecurityStockWatch.com: What are some of the large caps, mid-caps
and small caps, you are tracking in this space? Care to give a brief thumbnail
on each? Any favorites?
Joel Achramowicz: Obviously, Microsoft, Intel (McAfee), Symantec come
to mind, along with the PC OEMs; but, were interested to see whether
Apple, Google and Samsung join the TCG. Nokia recently joined; but of
course, that companys working closely with Microsoft. And, we mentioned
Wave Systems above as perhaps the biggest little company driving
trusted computing. Amazon.com is another name that we might see joining
the TCG since that major e-commerce behemoth has a stake in distributed
mobile computing devices. Clearly, this is going to be an interesting
space to watch going forward.