By Sramana Mitra and guest author Siddharth Garg
About Credant Technologies
Credant Technologies’ Mobile Guardian solutions are designed to protect endpoint data wherever it resides, helping to ensure endpoint data security and demonstrate compliance while avoiding the costs and complexities of full disk solutions.
Named in 2007 and 2008 as the fastest-growing privately held security company in the Inc 500 survey, Credant Technologies’ goal is to enable customers to leverage the business productivity benefits of highly mobile endpoint computing without the risks or operational constraints imposed by other technologies.
More than 800 companies and government agencies worldwide use Credant solutions to secure data on more than 7 million devices, and each device is supported by the company’s global network of direct support services and strategic technology partners.
Credant was selected by Red Herring as one of the top 100 privately held companies and top 100 Innovators in 2004, and it was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2005. Austin Ventures, Menlo Ventures, Crescendo Ventures, Intel Capital, and Cisco Systems are all investors in Credant Technologies.
About Chris Burchett
Chris Burchett is an expert in both embedded firmware and enterprise software, and he is the author of numerous patents. Since co-founding Credant in 2001, he has led the technical direction of the Credant product line. Burchett is currently head of the development effort and product management team.
Burchett previously served as director of research and development for i2 Technologies, where he led the company’s mobile wireless initiative and the first large-scale development i2’s forecast, supply, capacity, allocation, and order planning products. Prior to i2, Burchett designed and developed real-time embedded systems using artificial intelligence for classified projects.
Burchett received his bachelor’s degree in computer science from Texas Tech University and his master’s degree in computer science from Southern Methodist University.
Sramana Mitra: Hi, Chris. Before we jump into the cloud discussion, would you give readers some context on Credant? What do you do, what is the scope of the cloud computing problem that you are handling, what is your infrastructure like, and so forth? This is so that we have some idea of the scale of the implementation.
Chris Burnett: Sure, absolutely. Credant was founded in 2001, and we were founded on the premise that mobile computing was going to become a big part of the enterprise world and would need enterprise management and security. For the past several years, we have been focused on giving enterprises the tools to secure and manage their endpoint devices, starting with PDAs and smartphones and also with Windows, desktops, laptops, Macs, and removable media. So, that has been our history to date, and we provide encryption for data, device controls, port controls, and things like that.
SM: What is the architecture of the solution? Do you host encrypted data?
CB: We don’t. We are an enterprise software [company], so we have a management server, and clients run on the endpoints. As we have been talking to our customers, one of the things we have asked them is their perspective on the cloud. We have a lot of customers in a variety of industries – a lot of financial and healthcare customers, the government, the U.S. military, and so forth. As we started talking to these customers, we realized that one of the things holding them back from using the cloud as more than an experiment is data security.
They didn’t trust even a private cloud running in somebody else’s infrastructure. They were uncertain and uneasy about trusting the cloud provider and the cloud provider’s supply chain. What people started saying to us loud and clear was, ”I can’t use the cloud to the level that I would if I could secure the data.”
When we looked at that problem, we realized they were already using our solution for key management for encryption of their endpoints. We felt we already had lot capabilities – key management, policy control, and compliance reporting – that our customers could use for encryption on the endpoints. We asked, “What if you had the same capabilities in a cloud scenario, where you still control the keys and policies and that kind of stuff, would that enable you to use that cloud with more security and would you be more willing to do so?” and we got very positive results.
That became the basis of a future strategy that we first announced a couple of months ago. What we announced was basically a formation of a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), a private cloud product formed to and focused on solving VDI problems for people.
SM: I see.
CB: I want to answer your questions instead of giving product pitches, but basically what we found was there were people who were using VDIs, maybe in the financial sector or maybe a bank, but they probably don’t use VDIs in a persistent image kind of way. In other words, they are not persisting the changes to the image itself. So, they don’t need encryption inside the image itself, although they might want to encrypt one user with one key and another user with another key. But what they might be doing, in examples I have seen, is using removable media with a virtual desktop environment. In that case they want to be able to protect that removable media in a way that they can ensure that it was compliant, they can report it, they can manage it, and cover the license and that sort of thing.
SM: OK. Let me try to recap our conversation in a way that is slightly more approachable for our readers.
SM: You said you are already in the encryption business, and you had existing enterprise client relationships. You were hearing from your clients that they were not using the cloud as much as they would if they had better encryption at the endpoints. Did I get that right?
CB: Well, better encryption in the cloud. For the things they were going to move to the cloud, they wanted to make sure they had data encryption that would prevent the cloud provider from seeing their data.