Today marks the official debut of OpenDNS’s new EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) headquarters. But despite the fact that the company is a newcomer to the United Kingdom, new EMEA VP Andre Stewart says he has good reason to believe that OpenDNS will be right at home in the heart of London.
Although the connection may not be immediately obvious, Stewart says that The City and the cloud-delivered security company have both been defined by a love of innovation and comfort with fast-paced growth in recent years. He believes that these qualities make OpenDNS a good fit for not only London, but the rest of EMEA, as well.
Journey to OpenDNS
Stewart has had a long and successful career with some of the world’s leading enterprise security and networking vendors. But his path to that early success was both unconventional and illuminating for someone who would later oversee hundreds of millions of dollars in sales across Europe.
“After the dotcom bust, I was part of a cross-border channel M&A business,” said Stewart. “It was mostly resellers and distributors working in the communications sector. The companies I was working with ended up becoming [major channel companies] Telindus, Dimension Data, Westcon, Logicalis and Articon Integralis [now NTT Com Security].”
Stewart explains that many European customers have very strong relationships with their partners, making these channel players a key target demographic for technology vendors looking to break into Europe. With his expertise, opportunity quickly came knocking in the form of NetScreen, one of the world’s first hardware network security companies.
“NetScreen was the first company to put software into hardware and create network security appliances,” said Stewart. Early employees of NetScreen and OneSecure (a company acquired by NetScreen in 2002) went on to found Palo Alto Networks and Fortinet, companies which continue to dominate in the next-generation firewall and unified threat management space today.
While helping NetScreen navigate the market opportunity in Europe, Stewart saw firsthand the opportunity — and challenges — of the network security market.
“That was the beginning of network security,” he said. “Before that, there were only really antivirus and content filtering solutions. In the mid 2000s is when I think we first started talking about cybercriminals, and what they were doing. The industry had to educate people on just how big the opportunity was, what the market potential was and what problems we were addressing.”
“Even though there were early breaches, there were actually very few people at the time paying attention to new developments in security. It’s only been recently, in the last 24 months or so, that we have seen people outside of the industry talking about cybercrime and cyberterrorism. It’s only very recently that most people understand that they have been affected,” he said.
Later, Stewart moved on to senior leadership positions at Corero, Fortinet, and finally A10 Networks.
“When I was at Fortinet in France, sales grew from nothing to over $100 million over six years… and that offering wasn’t as exciting as OpenDNS,” he said.
Kindred Spirits Between OpenDNS, Londoners
But what makes OpenDNS exciting? Why did he choose to join the company? Stewart says that it’s a combination of the company’s business model, past history and future promise that hold up well when compared with the forces that are shaping today’s security needs in the enterprise.
“The way that the world is going, there are three high growth areas that are really interesting: preventing cybercrime, Big Data/analytics and cloud-provided services,” he said. “The thing is, OpenDNS is one of the few companies that can credibly say it does all three of those, and that’s very interesting.”
“We also have an infrastructure that’s for real. It’s extremely robust and has been working since 2007,” said Stewart. “That’s incredible. Infrastructure is a major barrier to entry for other companies. If you look around and you see some of these startups from Silicon Valley and elsewhere, they may be very well-funded, but few of them are approaching OpenDNS’s kind of performance. OpenDNS has a massive amount of data that we’re ingesting every second and from that we have the infrastructure to produce intelligence on what’s good and what’s bad on the fly.”
“Finally, dealing with so much data per second and then coming out with intelligence on the back of it is quite unique in the market,” he said. “With these capabilities and proprietary data, you can interest high-end customers in any vertical as well as providing the same quality service to SMEs.”
Stewart also sees the company’s growth potential as a boon for customers. “It almost reminds me of the early days of Yahoo! and Google; the more people that used their services, the more accurate their searches became.” He added that OpenDNS’s threat intelligence collection methods are not intrusive, unlike companies that target end users for advertising.
“With OpenDNS, the more companies that deploy it, the better the intelligence is. It’s a virtuous cycle,” he said.
Stewart sees a similar cycle powering the booming economy that has defined London’s character in recent years.
“Why did we choose London? It’s really based on the fact that London is an extremely dynamic, growth environment,” he said. “More and more entrepreneurs are coming to London and starting their businesses here than other European countries. A lot of the young talent, and even the older talent, are coming to London because there is employment and investment here. People in Spain, France, Italy, Greece–the people who are leaving university in these countries, instead of staying in a local capital are coming to London. All of that means more people in London. More buzz, more restaurants, more buildings, more work and a bigger economy. It’s an upwards cycle.”
Security, and Solutions, without Borders
Despite these similarities, Stewart says that OpenDNS’s solution is uniquely broad, and that it can bring value to the specific security challenges facing companies throughout Europe and the rest of the region.
“We’re starting from London, but the whole European market can benefit from OpenDNS,” he said. “Whether it’s countries like Italy that have lots of very small companies, to countries like Germany that have lots of middle sized companies or France with a lot of big companies — it doesn’t matter. Everybody can benefit from our solution.”
Stewart says that the company initially plans to establish itself in London, and then expand to other countries in EMEA. Stewart believes that OpenDNS’s services are differentiated and show value to customers in any country around the world.
“It’s about taking the unique intelligence and the data and really bringing it to the forefront to provide security,” he said. “There are few companies that actually do that, and OpenDNS can consider itself as one of those few.”
“These qualities stand for the world. There are no barriers for cybercrime, so there should be no barriers for cybersolutions.”