Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programmers

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

On McAfee

Today, Apple’s CPU/motherboard supplier Intel announced that it will acquire McAfee, in a deal worth nearly $7.7B. While this is definitely big bucks, it doesn’t seem like terrifically big security news.

Intel probably don’t want the technology. McAfee is the world’s biggest security vendor, so there are cheaper ways for Intel to acquire security technology. Intel probably don’t want a fast buck either: or if they do, they’re not about to get it. It would take around a decade for Intel’s new security software division to make its money back, assuming no huge changes in organization.

Intel may want the IP. McAfee has an extensive patent portfolio (as do all the big players in the cold war world of security software), there’s bound to be things that Intel could implement in silico. Jokes have already been doing the rounds on Twitter of a new CPU opcode, SCANAV. Encryption and data tagging seem more likely targets. But couldn’t they just license the patents?

I expect that what Intel are after is to make the company a one-stop IT shop, with security software being just one element in that. Large businesses and government in particular value having a small network of large, stable, boring, trusted partners. We’ve already seen in the last couple of years that the likes of Cisco, HP and Oracle have been shifting toward “vertical” provision of IT services. Intel now have a few different software houses under their wing, and of course McAfee brings a vast collection of juicy business customers. What Paul Ottelini is likely hoping is that such customers will start looking to Intel for other services, and maybe hardware too. And that Intel’s existing customers will buy into McAfee’s security offerings.

posted by Graham at 21:12  

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

On voices that matter

In October I’ll be in Philadelphia, PA talking at Voices That Matter: Fall iPhone Developers’ Conference. I’m looking forward to meeting some old friends and new faces, and sucking up a little more of that energy and enthusiasm that pervades all of the Apple-focussed developer events I’ve been to. In comparison with other fields of software engineering, Cocoa and Cocoa Touch development have a sense of community that almost exudes from the very edifices of the conference venues.

But back to the talk. Nay, talks. While Alice was directed by the cake on the other side of the looking glass to “Eat Me”, the label on my slice said “bite off more of me than you can chew”. Therefore I’ll be speaking twice at this event, the first talk on Saturday is on Unit Testing, which I’ve taken over just now from Dave Dribin. Having seen Dave talk on software engineering practices before (and had lively discussions regarding coupling and cohesion in Cocoa code in the bar afterwards), I’m fully looking forward to adding his content’s biological and technological distinctiveness to my own. I’ll be covering the why of unit testing in addition to the how and what.

My second talk is on – what else – security and encryption in iOS applications. In this talk I’ll be looking at some of the common features of iOS apps that require security consideration, how to tease security requirements out of your customers and product managers and then looking at the operating system support for satisfying those requirements. This gives me a chance to focus more intently on iOS than I was able to in Professional Cocoa Application Security (Wrox Professional Guides), looking at specific features and gotchas of the SDK and the distinctive environment iOS apps find themselves in.

I haven’t decided what my schedule for the weekend will be, but there are plenty of presentations I’m interested in watching. So look for me on the conference floor (and, of course, in the bar)!

posted by Graham at 11:47  

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