Jay Chaudhry, CEO of Zscaler, tells CommsMEA how his company offers a unique approach to cloud security.
CommsMEA Tell me about Zscaler?
I started this company in 2007, a time the industry expected cloud computing to happen. We realised that security should be cloud-based as well. So I had developed lots of security appliances before in my previous start-ups, and most of the companies I started were box companies, appliance companies. But I compared appliances to power generators that we used to buy for our home years ago when there was no running electricity. I thought these boxes are like power generators. If you can get services from the cloud securely with the proper policy control, why would anyone buy boxes?
CommsMEA So how does Zscaler fit in to the security equasion?
It is very hard to keep buying and deploying ‘pointy’ products, so our ultimate goal was to eliminate the need for them. Our reasoning was that if we are your check-post, why don’t we do everything in one place rather than multiple places. It is like if you go to the airport and have the first check for your tickets, the second for passport, and the third for customs etcetera. It slows things down, so we actually consolidated all the point products. We are like five start-ups in one and doing all the comprehensive check-posts between the user and internet.
CommsMEA So you developed the company to offer a more comprehensive security solution?
I started this cloud-based company to say let’s build our security around the internet, so we sit between the user and the internet. We act like a check-post to make sure nothing bad comes in and nothing good comes out. That was the dream, the mission. If you look at security companies, you put them in a few buckets: you need to protect your servers, then you need traditional firewall appliances to take care of that. Then you need to protect the users. First of all people started out protecting users by putting anti-virus, but anti-virus does not work because signatures are always out of date as the bad guys keep moving things fast.
CommsMEA How is the business model when you work with operators?
In the Middle East, operators are our go-to-market partner. They leverage our technology and they also know the country-level requirements and regulations. They also have customers, so clearly we are enabling them to have the local cloud in each of these countries. They can have a cloud powered by Zscaler and they market and support their customers. Zscaler provides the cloud and the security, but it is locally deployed and locally managed. Countries in the Middle East really require that traffic termination inspection must happen in-country, data must stay in-country, so our architecture is designed to be able to do that also.