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From the CEO’s Corner 2015: Where We’ve Been, Where We Are and Where We’re Going

From the CEOS Corner

Ever since I joined Vormetric in 2012, it’s been full steam ahead. Lately, I’ve been even more optimistic, excited and engaged (yes, it’s possible!)

We’re coming up on our 15th year and I work with a group of incredibly smart, passionate and committed people. This means I generally wake up feeling exceptional. Making that reality even better, though, is the fact that our industry is at a turning point and our company momentum is strong. With much going on from a technological, business and internal perspective, I thought it would be helpful share some of what I see happening and how it informs the role we play.

ClickToTweet: CEO @kessalan – Where we’ve been, Where we are, Where we’re going http://bit.ly/1MsHF7u

I don’t do this very often. In fact, I believe this is the first time I’ve ever published a blog post of this nature. But, my instincts tell me now is the right time.

Past Predicaments

The other morning I saw a report on CNBC. The news outlet had polled a bunch of CEOs to ask them what they were most concerned about. I was fascinated with the response. Sixty-eight percent felt one of the greatest risks to their business was the risk of being disrupted.

I think about this a lot. It is one of the reasons why some 2+ years ago we started our journey to significantly accelerate our investment in new products (application encryption, tokenization, gateway cloud encryption, enhanced key management and Teradata offerings) and new capabilities (e.g., Big Data). Two plus years ago we also started a journey to “follow the data”. We saw acceleration in the popularity of cloud service providers who deliver IaaS, which lead to the creation of a cloud team.

Concurrently, we also made some big strategic bets in the SaaS and PaaS environments. Several years ago a new set of potential competitors emerged. Their strategy was to offer third-party encryption gateways to help SaaS customers protect the data before it arrived at the SaaS provider’s cloud. They delivered these solutions by reverse engineering HTTP protocols and essentially trying to outsmart the SaaS application. Tens of millions of dollars were invested in several of these companies. Hundreds of people were hired to staff them.

What Has Happened?

The outcome was predictable. As data security concerns increase, so too have the efforts of some SaaS vendors to solve the problems that these third-party “bolt-on” offerings were trying to address. Back in the day, we had many meetings and full-throated conversations about how we *must* parrot the strategy of these new market entrants.

We did not. We opted for a different path.

We chose to:

  • Focus on our core strengths, the protection of information at the file level as it moves from the enterprise into cloud environments (Box, Amazon S3, Microsoft and others)
  • Recognize the immaturity of data security as delivered by SaaS providers but rather than try to disrupt them, evolve our platform to assist them. Help SaaS providers solve the very difficult problems of data security from the inside-out
  • View SaaS as a channel to consume and ultimately deliver our technology as part of their solution, just as our IaaS cloud partners (e.g. Rackspace) do today

As a result, rather than disparage the lack of security features or immaturity of SaaS offerings, we are positioned as a data security leader and a source of technology and experience. We are willing to help SaaS providers, large and small, deliver strong data security offerings that will fuel their business growth.

For me, there are several lessons to be learned:

  • Think about the future and start investing as early as feasible
  • Work hard to get inside the head of the end customer and ecosystem partners so you can…
  • Be disruptive, but disruptive in the right way (true customer value and an ecosystem that enables the disruption)
  • Be firm in your conviction and don’t be too willing to chase the “idea or trend of the week”. If you do, you must have a clear and differentiated strategy that will give you a sustainable competitive advantage

Present Realities

Encrypt Everything. Really?

For some time now I’ve been telling anyone who will listen that the world of data security and encryption is changing. In the past, IT executives largely let departmental and disparate groups make decisions about data security and encryption solutions. Many small vendors offered point solutions and what we and others did for organizations largely (often) flew below the radar of the top IT executives.

The high profile breaches that continue like a daily drumbeat have changed all that. Increasingly organizations are concerned about data security and importantly, the cost and operational impact of protecting their assets. It is no longer smart, or cost effective, to allow data security solutions to be narrowly focused and sub-optimized. It is far too expensive and far too complicated.

As encryption technology grows in popularity, the operational cost of managing the encryption environment is exploding. The desire to encrypt more, data privacy regulations and data moving to the cloud all serve to complicate the problem.

Consequently, organizations are starting to take a longer and more strategic view of data security. Industry-leading entities who talk the big talk but typically go at a glacial pace, are actually making moves and choosing to invest in Vormetric.

I’m often asked to present at financial conferences. These conferences include potential investors, business partners and customers. I always remind the audience that the security industry in general has the rather bizarre characteristic of selling products and services that no one wants to buy. Customers consume our product because someone or something is forcing them to do so. Given the opportunity to sell aspirin or a health supplement, I’ll take aspirin every day. Which leads to my next observation…

From Hated to Hero

During my many years in IT and working with customers, I’ve often found the keys to success lie in an ability to turn lemons into lemonade. In the case of data security and encryption, we are at the cusp of having a sea-change impact on the industry and our CISO customers. We have great success today because our value proposition includes our highly reliable and industry-proven transparent encryption solution. Customers embrace that solution because they don’t want to change their applications, infrastructure or business process. We made life much easier for them.

Lately, my phone rings more frequently with calls from external parties who are impressed with our progress and our business. There are many who want to invest or find ways to partner with us, especially because we’ve proven we have the ability to build a sound business. We are growing at a high rate (42% in the last fiscal year) while managing our spending and cash well. I chalk this up to a number of variables, but one in particular really sticks out to me: Execution is key.

Execution is so very important. You can have a great strategy but fail completely if you can’t execute. I continue to be encouraged by progress we are making to improve our ability to execute. It is a journey and not a single event, so each and every day we challenge ourselves to improve. That said, we should feel good about our progress as we redouble efforts to take us to the next level.

Our Future

FY 2015 was a great year, and we’re starting off FY 2016 strong. We plan to grow our team by some 30-40% this fiscal year. We’re seeing big customers make large investments in us. We’re seeing Fortune 100 organizations commit to Vormetric as part of a more aggressive “encrypt everything” strategy. We’re seeing enhanced go-to-market capabilities via our traditional and new cloud service provider channels.  Our early successes with some SaaS customers have opened the door for us to build a credible strategy using SaaS/PaaS as a channel.  We have built an impressive technology partner ecosystem and expect the momentum to continue.

As I look to the future I’m looking for ways to bolster our position, better serve our customers, provide greater opportunities for our team and intersect the larger market opportunities. To me that means:

  • Furthering our early successes in cloud and SaaS/PaaS
  • Accelerating our growth and footprint internationally
  • Expanding our value proposition so we can offer a more comprehensive end-to-end data security offering
  • Looking for opportunities to intersect with trends in mobile payment and the internet of things (IoT)

Customer interest in our new products continues to grow. Enhancements to our core product will deliver profoundly powerful features that benefit customers and extend our lead over our competitors. Building on our early investments in Big Data will serve us well. We have a strong, well- respected business and the financial resources to invest in our future.

Let’s keep up the winning streak.

The post From the CEO’s Corner 2015: Where We’ve Been, Where We Are and Where We’re Going appeared first on Data Security Blog | Vormetric.

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Vormetric (@Vormetric) is the industry leader in data security solutions that span physical, big data and cloud environments. Data is the new currency and Vormetric helps over 1400 customers, including 17 of the Fortune 30 and many of the world’s most security conscious government organizations, to meet compliance requirements and protect what matters — their sensitive data — from both internal and external threats. The company’s scalable Vormetric Data Security Platform protects any file, any database and any application’s data —anywhere it resides — with a high performance, market-leading data security platform that incorporates application transparent encryption, privileged user access controls, automation and security intelligence.