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CIO Influence Interview with Gee Rittenhouse, Chief Executive Officer at Skyhigh Security

CIO Influence Interview with Gee Rittenhouse, Chief Executive Officer at Skyhigh Security

“Security Service Edge is a cloud-centric converged solution that accelerates digital transformation by securing data wherever it resides: websites, cloud services, unmanaged endpoints, and private applications.”

Please tell us a little bit about your journey and what inspired you to start with Skyhigh Security?

Earning a PhD in electrical engineering and computer science, I’ve always loved the multi-facets of tech. I would say that equally important is how much I love the ways tech really helps companies, consumers, social media and beyond. I really value the impact of technology as well as the technology itself. When you combine those two things inevitably your career ends up in security because of all the innovation that happens there and of course the ability to help others from within the space.This of course lends itself to how I went from Cisco to McAfee Enterprise which we spun out to create SkyhighSecurity earlier this year.

What is Skyhigh Security and what are your core offerings? 

Skyhigh Security emerged as a new entity earlier this year that is focused on helping customers secure the world’s data. We’re dedicated to helping customers secure their hybrid workforce and accelerate digital transformation with data-aware Security Service Edge (SSE) solutions. SSE is a cloud-centric converged solution that accelerates digital transformation by securing data wherever it resides: websites, cloud services, unmanaged endpoints, and private applications. It is considered an essential component to building cloud and networking security capable of accommodating improved performance and growth. As far as core offerings, the Skyhigh Security SSE Portfolio includes Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), Secure Web Gateway (SWG), and Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB).

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How does SSE portfolio work in the modern enterprise technology stack?

Security Service Edge provides a data-centered approach to security that enables fast, reliable, and safe work-from-anywhere and digital transformation by securing web, cloud, and private applications. It provides unified data and threat protection at every control point in a single pass to reduce risk, the cost of security, and management complexity. Nowadays, data is the most valuable asset a company has and SSE slots effortlessly into the modern enterprise technology stack. It takes less time to transition to than a full Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) environment and provides a full scope of technologies needed to provide employees with secure remote access to crucial data, applications, and tools while monitoring behavior of those who access the network.

What kind of benefits do you provide to DoD and how could it transform the Cloud industry for the government organizations?

The Skyhigh SSE portfolio provides critical building blocks needed in the DoD’s Zero Trust architecture and framework. We recently achieved an Impact Level 5 certification which allows government agencies and their contractors to use Skyhigh CASB for complete visibility and control over their data in the cloud, including access to sanctioned and unsanctioned cloud apps. By transforming to a cloud-delivered SSE, they can converge connectivity and security for greater threat protection across all their cloud services.

Please tell us a little bit about your recent announcements related to the Zero trust architecture and how it could transform the global Cloud services market?

Recently, we announced our Skyhigh Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) technology achieved the Department of Defense Provisional Authorization to Operate at Impact Level 5. Our data-first Zero Trust cloud solutions meet and exceed the public sector’s needs as well as the requirements of the administration’s executive order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity. In addition to that, we’ve been focused on growing the business and recruiting top talent, including rounding out our channel organization with the addition of Scott Goree as vice president of worldwide channels and Jeff Tripp as senior director of America’s channels.

Most organizations have no access to monitoring systems for data compliance and security assessments. What is your advice to CIOs of the companies that are looking to tighten their Zero Trust frameworks? 

CIOs need to create operational efficiencies to reduce overall IT costs. In order to properly and fully protect their hybrid environment, they need to implement a zero-trust architecture that includes cloud-native security and an understanding of the limitations of network perimeter security. One of the most important steps they can take now is to implement a zero-trust architecture, which will help them shrink their attack surface, improve threat detection, prevent data breaches and reduce business risk. With access delivered from a Security Service Edge, CIOs can protect users and data in new ways; from full visibility over remote worker traffic, to unmanaged device control, and cloud-native activity monitoring. This helps them Improve employee productivity and accelerate new capabilities being introduced across business functions, as well as stay current on paradigm shifts in IT for an organizational advantage.

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AI ML reduces training time for customers in cloud services management. What are its final outcomes in terms of cost optimization and productivity in the post-COVID era?

Security operations has been leveraging AI ML for many years.  As threats become more sophisticated detecting them early is key.  ML does this by looking for small abnormalities in the sea of normal.  But in addition to detecting threats, companies must be able to quickly respond to them.  AI facilitates this by offering suggestions and guidelines on the fly to help the security analyst respond quickly in the presence of multiple security events.

The last two years have accelerated digital transformation for the global Cloud businesses of all sizes and stature. What has been the biggest lesson for you that helped you stay on top of your game? Would you like to share your pandemic experience on how you managed to continue your development works and research during the uncertain times?

The lesson that many of us have learned during this period is that people can work from anywhere and still be productive. We have always known that certain job functions could be productive while working remotely.  But over the last several years we have seen that entire companies can be effective while being out of the office. This has fundamentally changed the way we work and as we discussed, the evolution of the security industry. For me personally I always came to the office. I enjoyed being there and the daily routine of going in and coming home.  Today I can do that from anywhere.

Your take on the future of data science and AI in the IT automation products:

I think we’re only at the very beginning of AI in IT automation. We’ve seen that it can facilitate functions that are repeatable in an efficient and natural way. This will only continue as AI can further guide decisions by leveraging learnings across industries.

An advice to every data science / AI professional looking to start in this space:

AI and ML is everywhere and can be applied broadly across industries. Find an area that you are passionate about and apply your skills there. Not only will you be able to continue and develop your skill but the impact will also be meaningful to you.

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Thank you, Gee! That was fun and we hope to see you back on cioinfluence.com soon.

[To participate in our interview series, please write to us at sghosh@martechseries.com]

Gee Rittenhouse is the CEO of McAfee Enterprise’s Security Service Edge (SSE) business. As a veteran in the security industry with strong executive management skills and deep technical expertise, he is responsible for scaling business growth as well as accelerating and securing data-aware digital transformation efforts for customers.  

Prior to McAfee Enterprise SSE, he was the senior vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Security Business Group (SBG), where he led the company’s global security business including strategy, portfolio, and architecture. While at Cisco, Gee was named a “Rising Star” by John Chambers and CRN due to his work and accomplishments as vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Cloud and Virtualization Group, where he advanced development of the company’s software stack, NFV, and SaaS consumption model.

Skyhigh Security Logo

Skyhigh Security protects organizations with cloud-native security solutions that are both data-aware and simple to use. Its market-leading Security Service Edge (SSE) Portfolio goes beyond data access and focuses on data use, allowing organizations to collaborate from any device and from anywhere without sacrificing security.

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