Websense CEO unveils a brand new company

With last year’s acquisition of Port Authority, a data loss prevention (DLP) vendor and SurfControl, a Web and e-mail security company, Websense (Nasdaq: WBSN) has since evolved from being known as a Web solution company to establishing itself as one that also provides DLP and e-mail security solutions.

Gene Hodges, CEO at Websense, unveiled a new company logo to reflect how Websense has turned into a “brand new” company, offering more than just one type of solution. Hodges says, “Our logo is all about being able to say ‘yes’ to a more wide open usage scenario for end-users while they attain even better security.”

The company also unveiled its new Websense Web Security Gateway solution, which is a software solution that Hodges says will allow users to leverage Web 2.0 technologies safely and securely.

CDN Now had the chance to speak with Hodges and also with Fiaaz Walji, country manager for Websense in Canada, to discuss the significance behind the new company logo, trends in the DLP space, as well as plans and goals for the fiscal 2009 year.

CDN Now: Tell me about your career background. I know you joined Websense in early 2006 and you were at McAfee before that. What led to your move over to Websense?

Gene Hodges:

I was the president of McAfee for five years and was in the business unit before that for three years. Before that I was at a start-up business that was focused on mobile data communications. The threat drives our market and at the point that I left McAfee, it was fairly clear that the threat was shifting. It was a shift away from attacks on infrastructures to a move to an attack on information. The second major shift was where the attack came from. That shift was moving towards Web-based attacks which are different from viruses. Websense had a set of what I considered to be very innovative technologies.

CDN Now: What would you say were one or two of Websense’s biggest accomplishments this year and why?

G.H.:

At a corporate level, we saw an improvement in earnings per share (EPS) with margin improvement. We were up 70 per cent over EPS over the same time last year in 2007 and that was accomplished through the successful integration of Surf Control and working with the channel to preserve the SurfControl install base and really bringing that over to the new Websense product base globally.

Fiaaz Walji: We’ve gone from a one-product to a multi product portfolio and it helps us become a true security company. For the channel, it means more of an extended footprint. I think from a channel perspective, it’s really about helping the partner grow their business.

CDN Now: What’s the new Websense Web Security Gateway solution all about and what do channel partners need to know about it?

G.H.: The driving force behind Web Security Gateway is a shift in how the bad guys use the Web to attack essential information inside companies. In the past, you weren’t in any real big danger of being compromised unless you went to a hacker Web site or something along that nature. Today, what’s happening is the bad guys are compromising places on social networking and collaborative sites. This drives a need for a different type of protection because these sites change very rapidly. We need to move to a different way of assessing these Web 2.0 sites. We’re taking the same technology we’ve been using to scan the Internet and putting it onsite for the customer in real-time. It doesn’t matter how innovative these (bad) guys get, if there’s malware, we can stop it and also stop any objectionable content. This solution offers real-time protection capabilities and lets companies set a wide open Web 2.0 usage policy to let employees go anywhere they want while still being secure. Web Security Gateway is a software solution and we also supply it on hardware. Partners who have worked with firewalls, routers, switches, proxys, and so forth will be very comfortable with selling this solution and will make money off of it.

CDN Now: Tell me about the new Websense logo and how that came about.

G.H.: The logo change was based on a need to show customers that we’re a brand new company. When you look at our product offering 18 months ago, it was a single product offering in a maturing market. Now, the market has expanded and we now have the ability to be a higher level strategic partner. Security policies are changing and our logo is all about being able to say ‘yes’ to a more wide open usage scenario for end-users while they attain even better security.

CDN Now: What would you say is the biggest trend happening in the DLP space now?

G.H.: It’s a top-down driven market and the interest in the solution really begins with the senior management of the corporation. This is something driven by regulatory compliance and based on the need to protect essential assets.

F.W.: Two years ago, we looked at DLP when we acquired Port Authority. Companies were looking to budget for it last year but I think moving forward, companies will be spending in the coming months. This is a service-heavy model that uses technology to help solve the problem of DLP.

CDN Now: What would you say are some of the most common mistakes make when it comes to securing their data online?

G.H.: The biggest issues in the DLP space today are that businesses are not taking care of classic Internet access control. You can have a good VPN, but where’s the data and who can get access to it? It’s important that only those who have to work with the data have access to it. If you try to control the flow of essential information through Internet access control, you end up with a tightly bound process that isn’t being followed. You have to give the customer the freedom to move information around liberally using mobile devices and portables, but at the same time, you must make sure even in an unprotected setting, the baby doesn’t get out of the bath water, so-to-speak.

CDN Now: What are Websense’s goals and/or priorities for the fiscal 2009 year?

G.H.: Our product line is pretty much complete. We want customers to have a consistent policy regardless of where they are. The biggest change next year is that we want to have a tighter and more profitable contract with our most capable partners who are able to deliver the services around more complex solutions. We’ll be more willing to guarantee and give larger margins to those partners and will be open to making cash available to them as well. But on the partner-side, we want to see more of an investment in our technologies and we’ll be expecting a more in-depth skills-set from those partners.

F.W.: We’re also working on improvements on our channel program as the landscape changes. We’re always collecting feedback. Whether it’s enhanced margins or programs, look for updated information from us. Are there changes coming? Yes. But you’ll have to wait and see. Our fiscal year starts January 1.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Maxine Cheung
Maxine Cheung
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