Silicon Valley is home to some of the world’s biggest technology companies and has long been a bastion of pioneering innovation and incredible technological prowess. Infoblox, a privately held IT automation and security company is headquartered in California’s leading tech hub and has enjoyed phenomenal success in the ICT security management space since it was founded by Stuart Bailey in 1999.
The company focuses on managing and identifying devices connected to networks—specifically focused on the Domain Name System, Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, and IP address management.
Infoblox recently selected Dubai as the venue for its global leadership team to get together to map out its strategic blueprint for the future. Telecom Review took the opportunity to secure an exclusive interview with its CEO Jesper Andersen, EVP of Worldwide Field Operations Bill McCarthy, and SVP of International Business Cherif Sleiman.
In what was an engaging and thoroughly enlightening interview, the prominent technology thought-leaders and prominent executives discussed the challenges, opportunities and trends emerging in the ICT industry, and expressed their confidence that the technology they have can resolve and address a number of the security concerns and issues that are currently plaguing operators on a global scale.
When asked about whether or not they had a global uniformed market strategy for telecommunication operators, CEO Jesper Andersen said that they adopt a slightly different approach which is dependent on specific markets, but insisted that their strategy was coherent and very clear.
Andersen said, “I would say our service provider strategy is worldwide. We adopt different approaches depending on the market as 5G is obviously being rolled out faster in some regions than others, and cloud is much more prevalent in some parts of the world compared to other regions. However, in relation to telecommunication operators, our strategy is pretty clear, and that is we’ve always acted as the main DNS caching Platform and the DNS for Gn/Gp on a mobile network.”
Andersen added that subscriber services (parental control, in-browser messaging and other subscriber security services) also provided them with a lucrative opportunity as operators on a worldwide scale prepare for the deployment and commercialization of 5G networks.
The CEO added, “We think there is a growing opportunity with subscriber services and that gives us an ability to leverage that DNS infrastructure to help provide security services to subscribers of all these telecommunication providers. This is a huge and relatively new opportunity for us.”
He added that 5G was dictating a lot of movement around cloud and as a result, there is a growing migration and requirement for software-defined networks. He also pinpointed the opportunity MSP provided for Infoblox and said those four aspects were the key foundation to their overall market strategy.
Andersen said, “A lot of service providers are broadening their opportunity to offer more IT services to their customers, and we’re a very important part of that. Those four pillars of our telecommunications and SP strategy are worldwide and uniformed. They take on different areas of focus, and we’re not equally ready for them everywhere in the world either. However, the Middle East is actually one part of the world were our readiness I’d say is amongst the highest. We’ve got some great customers that are extremely innovative like Etisalat for example.”
His sentiments were echoed by the charismatic and dynamic Irish-American Bill McCarthy, who also said that Infoblox had to be very measured in its approach with telecommunication operators from a cost reduction perspective.
McCarthy said, “It really is a critical part of the business, and I would say just like any large enterprise, we want to sell into the traditional IT department also. MSP for us is extending the reach of the company through service providers, as there are markets they can touch, and customers they can support more efficiently than we can. The whole OPEX challenge for operators and declining ARPU’s mean everything about what we do has to be thoughtful in terms of cost reduction. I think there’s a possibility we can be accretive for something like subscriber services were from a cost standpoint you can decommission your DPI stack, which is pretty remarkable. But from a revenue perspective, maybe there is a way to get a little bit more ARPU.”
For his part, Cherif Sleiman said that he was beginning to see many service providers globally adopting a new mindset in an effort to offset continuing declines in their traditional revenue streams.
Sleiman said, “Service provider organizations have seen their traditional voice and data revenues implode and are actively looking at new ways to diversify their portfolios and generate new revenues. Service providers are really abandoning a lot of the telco-orientated mentality, and as a consequence they’re really starting to become light-hearted enterprises. When you talk about things like SDN and virtualization, that basically automates the two worlds and they become more IT centric. So from that perspective being sensitive to service providers’ infrastructure, and how they spend on expansion, it’s clear they want consumption based.”
Sleiman disclosed that two years ago, Infoblox changed its entire architecture and business models for service providers which are all now based on SDN and NFV and low-based consumption. He said this had resonated with a lot of its customers and as a consequence, global service providers across Europe, Asia and the US were all adopting the technology, but more importantly were all adopting revenue generating services that Infoblox launched.
When pressed on whether or not operators were focusing enough on the security of 5G networks, both Andersen and McCarthy conceded that there are a lot of challenges currently facing SPs. In addition to this, they both noted that the proliferation of data expected to exponentially explode with the increase in connected devices and 5G mean many of those challenges are only going to become more complex.
McCarthy said, “An automated vehicle is going to have a heavy reliance upon security. I mean if somebody was to take over your car then the consequences of that can be drastic. The same applies if you use IoT in a medical device - it’s critical the application is secure. We believe that whether you’re a large enterprise or a service provider there’s a very, very big challenge in front of every stakeholder in the ICT ecosystem in relation to security.”
Andersen said, “We’re struggling with a few things from a technology perspective. In a traditional way, in telco environments from a networking perspective they have done a lot of their security by effectively looking at heavy network packets that come across. That’s known as DPI (Deep Packet Inspection). They have various vendors that have produced the hardware that sits in line on the network to do that. In 5G the volume of traffic becomes so big that even if they could afford it, which they couldn’t, but if they could you can’t do that. You have to rethink your security strategy in pre-filtering stages and this is a huge opportunity for us. Let’s say that there is a bad website that the service provider doesn’t want anyone to go to, let’s say it’s the sensors in your car, if you imagine that you can block that at a DNS level then no HTTP packet will ever be sent. So now all of a sudden that pre-filtering not just helps security it dramatically lowers the amount of bad traffic on your network. However, it remains a real dilemma for them. If they don’t have enough potential solutions on the network, how are they going to cope with so much traffic?”