In our most recent contribution to The Connection, we interviewed Tissa Richards, founder and CEO of Network Kinetix, on her experience and role as a woman in the NonStop community. In this follow up, we dive deep into the history of the company, the future of security in NonStop, and what is next for this up and coming solution provider.
Mandi Nulph: Can you give us a little background on your company and how that idea came to be?
Tissa Richards: I'll start with telling you what the company does, and that might help frame the problem that we saw that wasn't being solved. Essentially, what we realized was that any enterprise that relies on a network faces a big gap between understanding what's happening while it begins to happen and taking action with enough time to have an impact. This is primarily true in the three areas we focus on: security, compliance, and monetization. The tools and the solutions that are out there right now require an event to complete and exit the network. Then there are sequential steps of detection, identification, and action. It's all "post data", and yet it’s called "real time" today. However, network speeds are getting faster, more things are moving onto the network and becoming applications-driven. The security attack surface is always increasing and the time to detect threats is shrinking, so there is no time to wait until something has already happened before you detect, identify and act. That’s the fundamental paradigm shift: we developed an architecture that enables the detection, identification and action before events form or finish forming, which is entirely preemptive.
I'll give you some examples. There were over 110,000,000 health care records breached in 2015. Each of the top 50 mobile carriers loses $1 billion each year to fraud. In both of these cases, it is too late to rely on a post-event paradigm. You can’t “un-breach” your personal health data. You have to preempt it from ever being breached in the first place. And those mobile carriers have to prevent that revenue loss from occurring in the first place, especially with their revenues being squeezed by over-the-top applications. Our epiphany was that a paradigm shift really has to happen. It was a pretty straightforward approach to a massive, far-reaching problem, and we thought, “if we could do that, we could solve these problems.
With my background in security and enterprise software and early interest from the mobile industry, our first customers were mobile carriers because theirs were really the first set of problems that we saw in a concrete way could be addressed with this solution. But we made sure the architecture that we designed was network agnostic. We wanted it to fit any enterprise that relies on a network, so now we are getting traction with health care, financial services, IoT, utilities–anyone who relies on external or internal networks. Really, the network is the engine that's driving everything today. You’d be hard-pressed to find a vertical market that isn’t impacted in some way, but when you're a startup, you have to start with the market that you can either get access to the quickest or where you understand the use cases the best, so that's where we started.
Mandi: I know that HPE is one of your partners, so how does Network Kinetix play in the NonStop space?
Tissa: There are really two ways we do that. The first was driven by a customer where we were solving a pretty big revenue assurance problem and the chief security officer made a comment that was probably a throwaway comment in his mind. When the pilot was over, he called and told us that they’d been hit again with a security and fraud event. They wanted us to go back in rapidly because it was mission-critical. I think that's when it really dawned on us that not only was the solution itself really mission-critical, but we were going to need to deploy it on hardware that had failover and was missioncritical. Some of our executive staff had been with Tandem, and that's when we realized there was a really natural fit with the NonStop product line.
The second thing that connects us to NonStop is that most of the world’s mobile and financial infrastructure runs on NonStop--think of HLR/HSS and ATMs. So that hardware infrastructure is a natural fit for a lot of the use cases where we would have to interact with those anyway, and it tells the story really well for our customers when they say, "Well, can you run on the NonStop?" and the answer is, “Yes, we can.”
Mandi: Where do you see the future of security heading?
Tissa: I think it’s an interesting question, and we get asked that a lot. The whole foundation of the company for us has been about preemptive network intelligence for those three areas of focus: security, compliance, and monetization, and you'll notice that I never use the words "predictive", "reactive" or "real-time". Those are really the terms that, until now, have been used in all enterprise solutions. As networks are speeding up and more and more critical functions are being pushed onto the network, there is no time to be reactive. Predictive is great, but what that means is that you're going to put defenses in the places where you think you might be breached next time. It doesn't solve the problem of this time. I think where security is heading is zero latency, zero day, zero impact. You have to be able to completely preempt any impact to your systems, to your infrastructure, to your resources, to your customers, to anything and everything critical to your enterprise.
You need to have complete fidelity in everything that you do. So that's our guiding mission. All our solutions are preventative. We don't allow an event to complete before the software has determined what it is, what impact it will have against business policies, and what you can actually do to change it or intercept it, and I think that's got to be the future of security and compliance. The model that companies have been spending money on is clearly not working. Take Verizon and Yahoo: to downgrade an acquisition price by hundreds of millions of dollars because of breaches, there's a very real impact to shareholders, to the board, and to the consumers. I think that's just one of the most recent examples where the old model is not working.
Mandi: What's next for Network Kinetix?
Tissa: We have some really cool pilot installations going on. In a number of industries we are doing things that have never been done before. I know that because our customers tell us, the patent office tells us, and our investors tell us, so the market is telling us that. It's really exciting to be doing that, and it's exciting to being doing it with HPE and to bring new solutions to them. If anyone wants to know what that looks like, I encourage them to talk to HPE and get through to us as we move forward with building our presence. It's something we can easily show people, so there are not a lot of ways to find it online and that's intentional at the moment.
Check out the June/July issue of The Connection to learn more about Tissa, her professional journey, and what she sees as the furture of NonStop.