As 2015 starts, I opened a new chapter in my professional life – I’m leaving Intel Security, my home for the last 20 months, to join one of the rising stars in the security industry, CipherCloud, to lead thought leadership initiatives.
Intel was, without question, an extremely interesting place to be and one that has an unparalleled impact on the industry – if you can get your idea into the chip design, you can change the way computing is done by everyone, from your grandmother to the guy who is building the next generation of connected cars. But, at the same time, there is no denying the level of effort needed to navigate through the complex decision making processes and organizational intricacies at a place like Intel. To be fair, this is a challenge all large organizations face, Intel is not alone.
At some point, I realized I longed for the days of spirited of innovation and trail blazing which is far more vital than simply building consensus – don’t get me wrong, building consensus is an incredibly valuable skill and one that I am still improving upon. But, those that know me would know that if my days were filled with nothing but building consensus, I would probably die a spectacular death from intellectual boredom.
With that in mind, I joined CipherCloud, a fast growing company with a set of interesting cloud security offerings. It’s only my first week here, but walking around I can feel the energy and enthusiasm on the floor — the office is buzzing with innovative spirit from every corner. I just learned that all employees are encouraged to submit product innovation ideas to the “idea bank” from which a winner is selected each quarter. Many of the product innovations came from the idea bank; no one is too inexperienced or too junior to submit an idea or be heard. For those of us who are a bit of a misfit for rigid organizational processes and those who like to effect changes quickly, this level of excitement and agility is almost intoxicating.
Another reason I chose CipherCloud goes back to one of my long time pet peeves – I have always felt the security industry is built a little too much on fear and uncertainty, and too little on the positive business impact of security. Sure, adversaries are getting more sophisticated and consequences of attacks are increasingly dire. But, we have also made incredible strides in information sharing, context-aware security, and in many organizations, IT security is now a boardroom conversation. It is high time the security industry stops dwelling on the same-old “sky is falling” message and starts to focus on being the business “enabler”.
To me, there is no other place where the “enabling” effect is more pronounced than CipherCloud. Customers come to CipherCloud because they need CipherCloud’s technologies to unlock the power of the cloud. Recently, CipherCloud signed up one of the long-time opponents of cloud computing. This customer has, for years, prohibited the use of cloud services at their company; they even went as far as saying anyone who uses cloud will be instantly fired. It’s no surprise that the company can no longer hold out and recently started deploying a number of cloud services for internal business processes, and they did so with CipherCloud’s technologies, which enabled them to retain the control that the company desires. I can’t wait to hear the business benefits the company will see as a result of embracing the cloud – and I am sure it will be nothing less than astounding. If this is not an “enabling” story, I do not know what is.
On Friday, I attended my very first lunch forum, where Ajay Nigam, the Chief Product Officer, gave an update on the product roadmap. Ajay started his presentation with an analogy to the famous Roland Huntford book “The last place on earth”, which chronicled a race to the South Pole by early explorer teams. Ajay’s points were that we are “explorers” in a barely chartered territory, and that it would require everyone’s ingenuity and team spirit to reach the goals.
Indeed, the journey to the finish line may not be as arduous and the condition may not be as adverse as in “The last place on earth”, but we will nonetheless be charting original paths and pioneering fresh ideas to tackling new obstacles. And that is what will get me to jump out of bed every single day.