Out of the Mouths of Customers

It’s a busy week to say the least. Not only are we a sponsor of the 2nd Open Networking User Group (ONUG) meeting, we held our inaugural Technical Advisory Board (TAB) meeting. Leveraging the fact that many of our customers will be attending ONUG, we brought together some of the most forward-thinking networking and business professionals from enterprises, service providers and partners to talk about our company, our product roadmap and our ideal use cases.

Before I get into the highlights, I’d like to give Embrane a high-five because we can actually have a TAB made up of paying customers. In an industry currently dominated by PowerPoint slides and acronyms, having a shipping product that people are using is unique in its own right. Also, where there was a full day of great feedback and dialogue. I’m just going to cover three aspects of the discussion otherwise I would have to write a novel to capture everything.

Platform vs. Product

One of the liveliest discussions was around the value of Embrane to customers. If you’ve been following the Embrane story, you’ll recall we’ve been focusing our marketing message around application-centric networking and more specifically, as of late, application-centric security. Our firewalls allow customers to get better security, faster, for less. However, to a person, each TAB member was very clear that they did not view Embrane as a firewall company. Some went as far as to say if we pitched them as a firewall company, it’s likely we wouldn't have made it past the first meeting. The value for them is the delivery model and the Embrane heleos Elastic Service Manager (ESM). They clearly get why our approach is better from a security standpoint, but in their minds it’s the result of the ESM, not the firewall on its own.

Speed Matters as Much as Security

The primary issue these customers are facing – and are using Embrane to address – is the length of time it takes to not only deploy a firewall, but also to make changes to their firewalls. Firewalls are shared devices that support multiple applications, so it can take several weeks to get a security policy changed because the risk of impacting another application that may or may not share that the same policies. Delivering a dedicated firewall for every application solves that problem and or significantly minimizes the time it takes to make changes.

Avoiding Vendor Lock-in

This was an interesting topic and one I’ll talk about in much more detail in another post, but it was raised when we discussed our differentiation versus VMware. There is significant concern about being locked into VMware. Everyone sees why VMware is being aggressive with their messaging around networking (although customers and partners still haven’t been given access to VMware NSX or details about its pricing), but no one wants to hand over their compute, storage and networking to one provider. Plus, the service providers recognize that VMware is now a competitor to them with their hybrid cloud offering.

I know the first TAB is always the toughest because you need to level-set and go through items in a lot of detail, but this was well worth the time and effort. We appreciate the great feedback and guidance from our TAB, and I’m already looking forward to the next one.

John Vincenzo