Everybody seems to want in on the cloud access security broker (CASB) market! In the past year, Cisco acquired CloudLock, Microsoft acquired Adallom, and Blue Coat acquired Elastica and Perspecsys and then itself was acquired by Symantec. Whew, that’s a lot of buying and selling!
Anyone who has made a bet on purchasing technology from a young company only to have that company swallowed up knows how the movie is likely to end: The acquiring company tries to “consolidate” architectures, roadmaps get reswizzled, talented developers leave, and your project no longer has the support and attention it needs from the vendor. I realize that I’m painting a worst-case scenario, and I know there are exceptions out there.
In any early market, and certainly one as important as CASB, it’s critical to know where your vendors are in their own company lifecycle, and what their plans are for supporting your projects and requirements in the long-term. There are five things you need to know about vendors that you consider strategic to your business, but before we go into them, I want to take a moment to talk about the what needs to be the heart and soul of a long-term, iconic cloud security business like Netskope.
When you’re building a business that’s in it for the long haul, you need to have a leader and an experienced, collaborative core team that, in their hearts, want to build for the future and have the fortitude and patience to stay 100 percent focused on that. From day one, the Netskope team has been thoughtful about every single decision we’ve made, from the purposeful way we architected our solution, to our bigger vision about where we want to take the company, to how we built our technology and channel partnerships. We have not taken short cuts or short-changed our partners for short-term wins, but instead built the product and the company to earn the trust of, and build long-term partnerships with, our customers and partners.
Now for the five things that signal that your vendor is in it for the long haul:
- Financial viability. Does the company have the funds it needs to accomplish its long-term objectives, including technology investments, engineering talent, and the customer support team needed to ensure your success? Ask about fundraising, cash burn, and assess long-term financial viability. Netskope has pursued funding opportunistically in strong markets to build the arsenal needed to attract and retain engineering and support talent and make the right technology investments to support our global customers for the long-term. We invite you to visit our profile on CrunchBase to verify this and learn more about our investors, board members, and recent news stories.
- Global presence. Has the company invested in a global technical, people, and partner presence to support its customers around the world? Ask about data center, software, and hardware investments, global locations, and certifications, as well as global sales and support offices and partnerships. We built Netskope to stand the test of time, from our investment in a full hardware and software stack in Equinix data centers around the globe, peering relationships with all major service providers, undergoing SOC1, 2, and 3 Type I and II as well as ISO 27001 certifications, investment in global traffic management, building a world-class customer success team in all of the regions we serve, and forging partnerships with global systems integration partners to ensure our customers have the best possible support and assistance they need.
- Product leadership and investment. Has the company truly invested in its technology, ensuring a product that’s differentiated in the market and with an architecture that fits your environment and where you’re headed (and not the other way around). Does the company’s engineering team give you game-changing features on an ongoing basis? Ask about deployment options, request a roadmap session, and stress test their products against your most sophisticated use cases. With more than 40 patent claims, Netskope features the industry’s only “all-mode” architecture (including an on-premises appliance for those customers with special data residency requirements) that supports your full range of use cases, the industry’s most advanced cloud data protection, the industry’s only cloud threat protection and anti-malware capability, and the most robust set of enterprise workflows and integrations. We release dozens of critical features and improvements each month, and maintain close ties and open lines of communication with our customers to ensure that we solicit and incorporate your feedback quickly.
- Robust service and support. Has the company invested in customer success, support, and professional services to ensure your success? What’s the ratio of success professionals to customers? Call their help desk during your POC. Ask to meet your named customer success manager and the professional services personnel who will be helping you get the most out of your cloud security investment. Netskope has invested in a robust, high-quality, well-run customer success organization. Each of our customers has a named customer success manager and a simple, fast process for accessing our support desk and escalating service requests. Our customer satisfaction and retention rates are the highest in our industry.
- Attention to hiring and culture. Assess the quality of every single person you interact with at the company. Do they act with integrity, answer your questions honestly, follow up, and work hard every day to earn your business? In short, do they have your back? Our culture is at the core of everything we do at Netskope. We have a stringent hiring process, ensuring that every Netskope employee adheres not just to our policies but also embodies our values. No matter who you interact with, from sales to support to marketing to engineering and beyond, you will meet some of the most honest, hard-working, talented people who have your best interest at the heart of everything they do.
These five things – financial viability, global presence, product leadership and investment, great service and support, and attention to hiring and culture – are the signals of a company that’s in it for the long haul. They are foundational to what we do here at Netskope, where we are 100 percent committed to building a long-term, iconic security company.