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n°26  |  May   2008
Executive opinion

With globull, Bull invents the world’s most secure mobile computing platform
Interview with Philippe Miltin, Vice-President, Bull Products and Systems

On 15 April, Bull announced in France* globull , a revolutionary mobile computing security solution. Can you tell us about it?
Globull is the fruit of a two-year R&D program, carried out by Bull’s team of IT security experts. Today, it is the most secure solution in the world, which lets you take your working environment with you, wherever you go, in complete security. It consists of an ‘electronic safe’, the size of a PDA (personal digital assistant), weighing in at just 120 grams, with its own hard disk and internal defense industry-standard cryptographic processor. Any data that you store on it is protected from intrusions, viruses and spyware. It also allows you to secure your own working environment and applications, and use them on any kind of workstation: whether it is a laptop, an ultra-portable notebook, a home computer...

The idea is that you take it with you, and connect it to any workstation: at home, in a hotel, on a customer site… All you need to do is to authenticate your identity using the in-built touch screen to immediately call up your own working environment. With globull – which truly combines IT security and mobility – ‘the heart of my computer is always with me’.

The launch of globull talked about a solution at the heart of the needs of the market. In what way?
In our ‘open world’ today, ways of working are changing and we increasingly need to access our data and applications anywhere, anytime. Already, the majority of managers and professionals carry out between 20% and 80% of their work outside their company’s offices. This represents a major challenge in terms of IT security: with the proliferation of laptops, ultra-portable notebook computers, PDAs, USB keys… just how do you avoid being the victim of your data being stolen or spied on, your confidential communications being intercepted, your systems being broken into?

Attacks on IT security have serious consequences in terms of productivity and protection of knowledge capital (customer files, financial data, contracts currently being negotiated, R&D projects...). It’s estimated that the cost of cyber-crime is now more than $100 billion a year! What’s more, IT security failures can have an extremely bad impact on the image and reputation of organizations that fall victim to them. Everyone remembers the scandal that resulted in the UK when the Ministry of Defense lost the personal data of some 600,000 recruits and potential recruits, when an officer’s laptop was stolen in January 2008. Only a few months earlier, HM Revenue and Customs had lost two un-encrypted CD-ROMs containing sensitive personal data on the 25 million people who receive Child Benefit; an incident that unleashed an unprecedented backlash. And there are similar things happening every day in different sectors of the economy and different countries. To the point where an editorial in the American Forbes magazine declared that 2007 was “the year of the stolen laptops”. With globull, Bull is responding to this huge challenge.

The launch announcement referred to a series of major innovations. So in what way is globull revolutionary today?
globull is a veritable step-change, designed to truly combine mobility and security. First and foremost, globull is a revolution in terms of IT security. It combines the very latest security technology with ease of use, to overcome the current vulnerabilities associated with ‘secure’ PCs and USB keys. globull also represents a revolution in mobile computing; because it lets to carry all your personal data and the whole of your working environment around with you, and launch it on it any workstation. Thanks to its virtualization technology, globull is the first solution in the world to fully offer this functionality on Windows®. And finally, globull is the world’s first solution to bring complete security to the new generation of mobile computing products that industry analysts Gartner have called ‘portable personality solutions’, in other words, mobile working environments that are totally independent of the workstation on which they are running. By 2012, according to Gartner, 50% of mobile workers will leave their laptops at home, preferring to make use of other solutions, including ‘portable personality solutions’. globull is positioning itself firmly in this market. And it is also highly complementary with other emerging approaches – Web-based offices such as ‘cloud computing’ – because it offers a secure way to access them. As a result, globull is at the heart of future trends in mobile working.

What kinds of users and organizations is globull aimed at?
globull is potentially of interest to many kinds of people! Because it makes mobile computing secure, globull finally lets people work in the way they want to, without any restrictions or constraints, in total security. That represents a real revolution for users. It is also a revolution for IT Security Managers, who can at last make mobile computing an integral and easy-to-manage part of their corporate security policies. Finally, it is a revolution for IT Departments, who can not only extend the use of mobile computing in complete confidence, but also develop innovative approaches to managing their IT resources, reducing the cost of buying, administering and supporting their workstations, by combining the use of globull devices and ‘hot-desk’ PCs. globull is much more than just a plug-and-play product: it is also a kind of ‘Swiss Army Knife’ for secure mobile working, a genuine platform on which IT Departments, software publishers and systems integrators will be able to build their own customized solutions and applications.

So what is Bull’s ambition for globull?
Don’t forget, it was Bull that invented the smart card. Today, with globull, we have reached a new milestone in reconciling security and mobile computing. In an open world, where users define the markets and its uses, convergence is set to continue at the crossroads between the triple worlds of telecoms, computing and the media. globull is positioning itself at this crossroads from the outset, as the potential heart of the mobile, secure multimedia workstation of the future. It may take many different forms, from the most sophisticated PC to the simplest, ultra-portable device.

This announcement has led to a great deal of interest among our customer-base. Even before globull was officially launched, the Council of the European Union bought it for its diplomatic personnel, and a very large number of major companies and government bodies have expressed an interest in it for their senior executives and management teams. With globull, Bull is clearly demonstrating its capacity for technological innovation, and affirming its status as a major player in IT security in Europe.

*To be launched worldwide this fall

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