Cohesity – Leapfrogging The Competition In Data Security And Management

I recently sat down with Sanjay Poonen who now leads Cohesity as CEO and President and is someone I have known for years. Most recently, Sanjay was COO at VMware, overseeing all go-to-market functions and establishing their successful cloud ecosystem with AWS, Microsoft, Google, and Oracle. He also led VMware’s security’s business and is on the Board of Snyk, so is savvy in the security space.

With ninety days under his belt as the Cohesity CEO and the completion of a successful Connect virtual user conference attracting thousands from around the world, along with several exciting announcements, it was a perfect time to catch up with Sanjay.

Cohesity, Sanjay Poonen, CEO and PresidentCOHESITY

Cohesity Data Cloud – a multi-cloud data security and management platform

For those who may not be familiar, Cohesity has a robust data security and management platform, which is a testament to the genius of the company’s founder and Chief Technology and Product Officer Mohit Aron.

The approach taken by Cohesity follows in the footsteps of hyperscale software giants such as Amazon, Apple, and Google who manage exabytes of consumer data simply and efficiently at scale. Cohesity has applied the same hyperscale architectural principles to managing enterprise data.

The architectural approach based on a single platform has three major components. Firstly, a distributed file system to store data across locations; second, a single logical control plane; and third, the APIs to run and expose services and applications on top of the platform.

The single multi-cloud platform consolidates data across the data center, edge, and cloud, using a single management system and simple services that are easy to deploy. The platform, Cohesity Data Cloud, includes data security and management functions such as backup and recovery, security and compliance, disaster recovery, long-term archival, file and object services, test data management, and analytics. All data security and management functions are run and managed in the same software environment at scale, in the public cloud, on-prem, or at the edge.

Cohesity sits at the intersection of three of the most business-critical priorities today: security, cloud, and data management.

Ransomware has raised the cybersecurity stakes

Ransomware is the Black Swan event that CIOs, CISOs, CEOs, and company boards are concerned about today.

There is increased pressure on the CISO as ransomware pushes the focus far beyond establishing perimeter security controls. Ransomware attacks are becoming more sophisticated as bad actors move from encrypting production data to targeting the backup data and, more recently, stealing sensitive data with hopes of a guaranteed payout.

Initial ransomware targets were production data. Encrypting production data could bring business operations to a halt. A ransom would sometimes provide the keys to unlock and decrypt the data. A well-run backup plan would typically offer a workaround to these attacks.

Ransomware then evolved to work around a backup plan by lurking for weeks or even months, systematically encrypting or destroying backups before launching a full-scale attack on production data, resulting in businesses having to slow or even cease operation in some cases.

When you thought it could not get any worse, cybercriminals have realized that data can be stolen and encrypted with access to systems through malware and phishing. Cybercriminals can extort a ransom for decrypting your production data and not leaking your stolen data to the public or dark web.

With this backdrop, a single platform for data security and management and security across that covers data protection, security, mobility, access, and insights has become necessary.

Announcing Cohesity Data Hawk 

Cohesity is announcing a new security offering called Data Hawk that has three major security capabilities rolled into one product. The first is threat detection and scanning on backed-up data to help detect anomalies and potential threats and help ensure no infected data or viruses are reintroduced during a recovery. The second capability introduces smart data classification as a part of the recovery process. This feature will intelligently classify the data, determine what sensitive data exists and where, and — in the event of an attack — help businesses easily understand and assess whether sensitive information was compromised. The third capability is cyber vaulting and recovery via an offering called FortKnox, which is integrated into DataHawk. Fort Knox helps improve cyber resiliency with an immutable copy of data in a Cohesity-managed cloud vault.

In summary, it’s threat detection and scanning, data classification, and cyber vaulting in one, easy-to-deploy SaaS solution that Cohesity manages.

It takes a village to fight the bad guys

Cohesity helps thousands of enterprise customers advance data security while protecting and managing their data. Many of those customers also rely on a variety of cybersecurity vendors. But, today, cyber security and data security and management vendors need to work hand-in-hand to help customers have a best-in-class security posture in place. CISOs and CIOs need collective intelligence and integrations across all vendors to be successful.

Cohesity is announcing the Data Security Alliance. Realizing that no one vendor can solve all security problems alone, Cohesity is taking the lead in bringing an ecosystem together to provide customers with this end-to-end security. Cohesity has recruited the best in cyber security, including Palo Alto Networks, Mandiant, Tenable, CrowdStrike, Splunk and others, to help customers tackle critical security challenges.

A good example available today of how this alliance works is the integration of the Cohesity platform and Palo Alto Networks’ Cortex XSOAR. When the Cohesity platform detects anomalies in the backup data that could indicate an emerging attack, Cortex XSOAR is alerted and initiates an automated playbook to triage and mitigate the impact of a potential cyber-attack.

In addition, Cohesity has formed the Cohesity Security Advisory Council. This council brings together the brightest minds in security to advise the Cohesity team, customers, and partners on security trends and emerging threats.

The council is led by Kevin Mandia, CEO of Mandiant and one of the world's foremost cybersecurity experts. It also includes security experts who bring years of experience from Netflix, Facebook, and the National Security Agency (NSA). The latest member to join the Cohesity Security Advisory Council is Kelly Bissell, leader of Microsoft Security Services.

Wrapping up

I've watched this market for almost thirty years, and we have entered a new paradigm that pits companies against cybercriminals with significant resources. Gone are the days when having perimeter defense alone was fine. Today, we need to assume bad guys will get in, and the task is to find them and recover fast after a breach.

Cohesity, under Sanjay's leadership, has a significant focus on security from a product, partnership, and advisory perspective. That, coupled with Mohit’s vision in data management, is the strongest leadership combo you will find in their market today. Everyone has data that needs to be backed up, protected from ransomware, archived, and analyzed for risk and insights. Cohesity’s simple-to-adopt SaaS offering should be on your shortlist.

Patrick Moorhead

Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.