Optiv Security: a cybersecurity guardian you can trust with your data
Global cybercrime damages are expected to cost $6trn annually by 2021 and as cybersecurity tools increasingly flood the market, Optiv Security is helping technology executives navigate this critical field.
Today’s Chief Security Officers (CSOs) and technology executives face an unprecedented challenge. As Europe’s business scene is shaken up by a wave of new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and blockchain, more and more cybersecurity threats have also entered the fray.
From phishing to hacking, trojans to malware, today’s adversaries are malicious, creative and unrelenting. Swathes of cybersecurity tools are now available to tackle this, but it can often be difficult to ascertain how much an organisation should spend on cybersecurity or which technologies are most vital. Indeed, until recently, many CSOs and technology executives found it hard to even get a seat at the table at an executive level to make these decisions.
Now, as the cybersecurity industry has gained more momentum (and as recent large-scale hacks have gained more airtime) more and more organisations are recognising the benefits of abandoning a reactive approach to cybersecurity in favour of an ‘inside-out’ risk-centric method, driven at a corporate level. In fact, this is where Optiv Security, a leading security solutions integrator, has made a lasting impression on the market.
Simon Church, General Manager and Chief Executive Vice President, Europe, explains that Optiv helps customers navigate the proliferation of tools on the market so that they can plan, build and run successful cybersecurity systems. “The biggest challenge facing CSOs and technology executives today is what I would call the increase in noise,” Church observes. “A decade ago, there were only a handful of viruses and so there were very few cybersecurity technologies to deploy. Now that’s changed: we have huge numbers of viruses and malware looking for gaps wherever they possibly can. The workplace environment is also more open as people are bringing smartphones, laptops or tablets in and out of the organisation. There’s a growing threat and that means the cybersecurity market is growing too.”
Maintaining world-class partnerships with more than 350 leading security technology manufacturers, Optiv acts as a ‘one stop shop’ for companies who want end-to-end security solutions. With global expertise and leading cybersecurity partnerships, Church highlights that this is just one way in which the cybersecurity company stands out from the crowd. “Today, technology executives are looking for a company to help them understand their systems, their risks and how they can balance this against their budgets and corporate strategies,” he says. “They also require someone who can simply communicate with their management, their board and their users. With Optiv, they only need one partner.
“We really understand this landscape. We have a high level of expertise and talented employees, as well as lots of long-lasting trusted partnerships with cybersecurity companies. It’s beneficial for our clients because, as the business saying goes, there’s ‘only one throat to choke’. All in all, we're making a relatively complex subject as simple as possible for our clients and we’re taking them on that journey of security improvement.”
Knitting together thousands of potential products and technologies, Optiv is able to offer cybersecurity in the form of managed services for companies who perhaps could not afford to maintain an inhouse security team of their own – and this has proven to be a success. After celebrating a turnover of around $2.5bn last year, the North American firm is now turning its attention to the European market so that it can offer these services to Europe-based firms or US businesses which have expanded into the region. “Today, we count nearly two-thirds of Fortune 1000 companies among our customers,” says Church. “A lot of these organisations want to expand and want a partner who can provide these services across Europe. We certainly think there’s a huge market here.”
Regardless of location, however, one thing remains consistent at Optiv. As one of its key values, the company stresses that it will work shoulder to shoulder with its clients to understand their needs regardless of the location. By understanding the bigger picture, Optiv strives to execute the most effective solution, taking its clients’ priorities, values and budget into account. To this end, Church asserts that his customers' successes are also Optiv’s successes.
“I think it’s key that we understand our customers and the companies that they’re doing business with,” he notes. “Ultimately, we need to understand what they’re trying to achieve so that we can develop a security strategy that aligns with this goal. In cybersecurity, I often think that companies throw the latest technology at a problem whereas I think it's really important to have a much deeper understanding as to what these technologies truly mean in context. Overall, I would say the key challenge, what keeps you awake at night, is making sure that we’re applicable to the marketplace and that we have the right engagement with our clients.”
On top of Optiv’s impressive technology roster, Church is also keen to point out that cybersecurity isn’t just about having the latest gadgets and tools. Harking back to the cybersecurity threats that have dominated the headlines of late, he says that one of the most important considerations for CSOs and technology executives today is a simple one: education.
“You just have to look at the news to see that every day there are high profile breaches,” he reflects. “A lot of it has to do with education: the education of employees, regular testing and making sure that they recognise the implications of clicking on a particular link, for example. Ultimately, the value of an organisation can be severely degraded by a security event. Would you as a consumer want to be doing business with an organisation that can't look after your data or your payment card information? It’s vital that employees understand how critical security is to their roles and the trust that their clients have with them.”
Outside of North America, Western Europe is the largest market for corporate security, according to reports from Gartner. The global research firm forecasts total spending to grow to around $32.6bn by 2021, up 27% from 2017. Backed by private equity giant KKR Group, it seems Optiv is well positioned to tap into this booming market. “Our goal is to be the number one security services integrator globally,” Church says. “I think overall if you look at what we've been doing from a US perspective, every week, month, year, we're winning awards, from vendor awards to industry awards. So, if you can take that secret sauce which Optiv's developed in the US and apply it with a European flavour then we're confident we can do well in the market.”
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”