‘Disruption’ is defined by many companies in many ways. For Palo Alto Networks, the term disruption stems from the essence of providing the companies with the ability to focus on their core competencies by simplifying the security landscape.
According to Ercan Aydin, Regional VP of Emerging Markets at Palo Alto Networks, today, security solutions are available over the counter and you can buy them on an hourly, monthly or yearly model. The consumption model has changed to cloud and today business with the cloud and on the cloud is a different ball game altogether. “Today business is heavily IT oriented but the infrastructure is still old school.”
Cost cutting and budget restraints have not affected the investment in security solutions in the region, according to Ercan. On the contrary, the region has been significantly investing in newer security solutions and Palo Alto Networks has been boosting its offerings to meet the increasing demand.
“Simplicity is our greatest technology” says Ercan. “Our ability to simplify the security environment has been one of the strongest reasons why customers and partners are keen to work with us. Instead of focusing on the problem, we focus on the objective and the objective is to prevent cyber-attacks. The first step towards mitigating attacks is the realization that security cannot exist in isolation, nor can a single solution prevent a cyber-attack. As a mighty step towards this, last year we announced an initiative of opening up our platform to all the industry including our competitors in order to prevent successful cyber-attacks. Any company in the IT industry right now, including some of the customers that are using custom based applications, they can integrate their technology into our platform and take actions. And this has been resonating very strongly with our customers. We are providing this as a consumption-based model or pay-as-you-use. This is very disruptive to the market and is a game changer.”
THE MARKET AND THE MARKETPLACE
As the VP for emerging markets, Ercan would be focusing heavily on markets like Turkey, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, North-East and West Africa (new Africa) including all French speaking Africa. “We have our presence in the Dubai market for the past 5 years. In these five years, it has been the fastest growing market for us for two key reason. Firstly, the culture of this country itself is very receptive of any latest technology and people embrace it. The other reason is, as I said above, our ability to simplify the entire security architecture.”
Talking about Palo Alto Networks approach in various markets, Ercan says that every market responds differently. “For Palo Alto Networks, the predominant focus has been protecting the mission critical information and we generally work closer with sectors such as Police, BFSI, Telcoms etc. that have strict regulations and contains highly discreet and secure information. However, we see that cloud adoption in Dubai is significantly high compared to other countries. Here, the primary focus of any organization is to be agile and cloud has been satiating this demand well. On the other hand, we see a very big shift from OT to IT OT.”
To enhance our cloud offerings, we have partnered with Ingram Micro and Reddington in this region. On the channel side, we work with two types of partners – traditional partners and born-in-the-cloud partners.
A CISO’s BEST FRIEND
Palo Alto Networks believes in co-existing rather than competing. There are too many technologies that exist today, but are not connected. Ercan says, “A UK based survey says that an average enterprise in UK has 42 different security vendors. I expect it will not be a very different number in this part of the world as well. One of the pinching challenge is that, these technologies or vendors are competing with each other. This is a grave problem and a CISO has to get them to talk to each other. You need to analyze the security, understand the problem and with that, you need to take action. This requires co-existence.”
“We are the first vendor who integrated multiple technologies successfully and we automated the updates. Palo Alto Networks initiated with application firewalls. We are the innovator of application firewalls which is customized and allows only certain applications access into systems. This security-based user integration policy was novel and it is our innovation. We then started scrutinizing threat in the IPS traffic and developed licenses for IPS and AV signature. This replaced a lot of redundant technologies in the market. We supplemented it with two things, Acu Virus scanning in the network and a URL filtering. We have our own database which gives the customers the ability to identify the URLs. We added APT provision. We are the biggest company in the world in APT provision. All of these technologies are integrated. This will eliminate a lot of manual work for the customers. We went on to adding endpoint protection to it as it became very important in past five years. Having good network security was not enough to protect endpoint including smart devices, laptops etc. Even though we did all these, enough is not good enough, so we opened the platform to the industry where they can come and integrate their solutions.
ERCAN’S TOP THREE
“We are looking for geographical expansion and we are investing into new markets. We started operations in Pakistan 6 months ago. We are thus increasing the pipeline. Relatively, we are a young company who came late to the market. But we have made huge investments in markets like Dubai or Abu Dhabi where we a big office and bigger operations. Africa is also a very interesting and fast-growing market, in multiple geographies including Libya, Nigeria, Jordan, Egypt etc.
We have grown in the toughest times because we have been successful in cost optimization with our solutions and services. We replaced around 5 – 10 technologies in an organization. All these technologies are used as redundant generally in multiple locations. We cut the costs of the organizations in the range of 50%, sometimes up to 80% reduction of cost in the operations. In UAE, we saved 10s of millions of dollars in the last 5 years, by significantly reducing the cost of operations.”