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'7 Minutes' with Zentera Systems Director of Sales and Business Development Robert Donovan'7 Minutes' with Zentera Systems Director of Sales and Business Development Robert Donovan

When customer apps are spread across in-house data centers, public clouds and colocation sites, security can be complicated.

Lorna Garey

August 14, 2017

5 Min Read

**Editor’s Note: “7 Minutes” is a feature where we ask channel executives from startups – or companies that may be new to the Channel Partners audience – a series of quick questions about their businesses and channel programs.**

In June, Zentera Systems announced its CoIP Cloud-Ready Enclave product, available in the CenturyLink cloud, and based on the company’s “Cloud over IP” architecture. The aim is to facilitate secure customer migrations to multi-cloud ecosystems by overlaying a virtual security layer. With such an overlay, IT or a partner can apply consistent security policies, no matter where applications are running – on premises, in a colocation center or in the public cloud – and lock down communications between various systems in a service ecosystem.

Zentera's Roberty Donovan

Zentera’s Robert Donovan

Zentera says the Cloud-Ready Enclave is cloud- and network-agnostic and thus won’t require changes to the customer’s infrastructure, and it can be up and running in less than a day. The concept is interesting enough that Gartner named the company a Cool Vendor in Cloud Security for 2017, and analysts see sales growth potential, writing: “In 2017, more than half of new IaaS deployments that use only the IaaS vendors’ security offerings will add third-party security within 12 months due to dissatisfaction.”

We caught up with director of sales and business development Robert Donovan to talk about how partners can incorporate the technology. One interesting use case is IoT, where security is becoming a federal case (literally). Sensors, analysis engines and data stores live in different places and must communicate securely. Zentera’s application interlock and granular segmentation features let partners or end customers decide what belongs in an IoT mesh, then build point-to-point connections between those systems. Only approved applications will be allowed to send packets over these links, minimizing the attack surface.

For a deeper dive into the technology, check out this write-up by Ethan Banks, co-founder of PacketPushers. Banks points out that you might see “Zentera Inside” branding from cloud vendors like CenturyLink, RackSpace, AWS and Microsoft Azure, and that the tech is in use under the covers by the likes of McAfee, Red Hat, Symantec and VMware.

Channel Partners: Tell us what customers love about your product or service. What’s the secret selling sauce?

Robert Donovan: Customers love the speed and efficiency of our CoIP Cloud-Ready Enclave product. CoIP is a platform that protects enterprises’ application workloads by connecting them through security enclaves, which are isolated through a virtual overlay network. “Overlay” means enterprises’ security policies can be implemented and moved with workloads, between any cloud, hosted or on-premises environment. Furthermore, the security enclaves are decoupled from underlay infrastructures and can be up and running in less than a day. CoIP also offers cloud-native security features like micro-segmentation, application interlock and adaptive security learning. Customers love that experience, where security is provided through virtual networking. It’s an approach that is unlike typical security and general IT projects.

CP: Describe your channel program — metal levels, heavy on certifications, open or selective, unique features?

RD: Ultimately our goal is to be a partner-focused channel. A certification program is in our road map because that’s the best way to empower our partners to leverage our technology to provide better solutions to their customers. Right now, we are focused on a limited number of partners because …

… we want to ensure our partners are successful. In time, we will expand our footprint.

CP: Quick-hit answers: Percentage of sales through the channel, number of partners, average margin. Go.

RD: Goal for average margin is 15-20 points. Our channel program is an ever-evolving vital portion of our business. It’s a bit too early for stats, but we are in the middle of opening up huge channels. The one we can publicly disclose is CenturyLink, but stay tuned for more announcements!

CP: Who are your main competitors, and what makes your offering better?

RD: Using conventional VPN connections can solve point-to-point challenges, but do not offer a complete solution to multiple endpoints in multiple clouds. Illumio is a competitor that offers micro-segmentation; however, it uses traditional VPN, with no advanced networking capabilities. vArmour is another competitor, but their solution is based on hypervisors, while our solution is based on application security. Lastly, Palo Alto Networks is a potential competitor, but they are an edge-based firewall company on a road map for endpoint firewalls. Only CoIP interlocks enterprise applications to the enclave, which is a unique approach to security in the cloud.

CP: How do you think your technology portfolio will change in the next three years?

RD: We are a next-generation solution provider in the network and security space. As the market evolves to security-first networking, we will continue to shape our solution to be adaptive and ready for future cloud challenges, providing MSSP support and offering DevOps new solutions for security integrations. We aim to expand our solution and promulgate CoIP as an emerging standard in the industry.

CP: How do you expect your channel strategy to evolve over that timeframe?

RD: We will continue to work with key channel partners in several different areas of focus to expand our footprint for industry penetration. Our APIs will enable them to incorporate CoIP into their own products and services, to the benefit of all involved.

CP: What didn’t we ask that partners should know?

RD: We are at a tipping point in cloud evolution. Companies will have to adopt a cloud-first strategy to remain competitive, and will have to take multiple journeys to become cloud-centric. Some of the more traditional service providers will need to evolve or risk becoming irrelevant.

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