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Thriving in the New Normal: A quicktake of APJ

According to Cherif Sleiman, Infoblox’s SVP of International Business, the world changed overnight into one where many of the professional principles we have known and held on to all these years, were up-ended.

 Not immune to change caused by the pandemic, Infoblox had quickly adapted their HR policies and technology policies to support a workforce that can work-from-home.

“We are a company that is designed for this, and we’ve been trying to help organisations shift to this kind of digitally inclined world,” Cherif said pointing out also that many of their customers and potential customers have actually been caught off guard.

Cherif Sleiman, SVP of International Business

He would even say that Covid-19 had brought about vulnerabilities which are exactly the ones that Infoblox addresses.

In fact, they have observed that there was accelerated demand for their solutions and capabilities, and as a result Infoblox began to put intense strategic focus on their roadmap.

 “We have added a lot of capabilities,“Cherif said. One way they have done so is by doubling their investments in the APJ region. “We have been investing the entire 5 to 6 months, adding incredible amount of resources in sales, engineering, support, inside sales and marketing, and so on,” he described.

Topofmind topics with customers

The SVP also shared that during many discussions, be it in public forums or executive meetings across different industries, three main points had emerged.

First, is that no organisation was prepared, and second, the coronavirus had unified every exec’s view of what the new upcoming world is going to look like and how they have to operate.

Cherif explained, “Organisations are going at different speeds looking at cloud, SaaS, security… some may have been a little ahead of others, but for the most part everybody was taking their time.

Now, regardless of what business you are in, everybody is looking at the same reality.

“Everybody understands that migrating to multi-cloud architecture, adopting SaaS and using SD-WAN, and looking at risk and modelling risk and trust models, is very different (now).”

The third point is really around adapting HR policies for a new way of working now.

“Organisations have had very rigid workforce policies about working times, and use of devices. All of a sudden now they have to go back to the drawing board and say, ‘Hey we need to introduce flexibility. People need to be able to compute on different devices and organisations have to invest in right tech to ensure trust and privacy!’”

Making APJ great

Cherif observed that besides being a massive and diverse market, APJ also contains the largest economic movers and shakers. “But, when it comes to investing in technology, APJ has been a laggard.”

Culture and etiquette has played a massive role, in Cherif’s opinion.

“Having kind of pushed back always on some of the most recent innovation, on average now the Asian market is about two years behind the Western markets.”

But along came the coronavirus, and things have changed. The pandemic has actually forced organisations to rethink how they have been operating befo

“As a result of that, I felt that there is a significant opportunity to invest in Asia, where organisations need help not just in deploying technology but more importantly, have someone in a consultative advisory role to refer to, as they rethink business models and embrace new technologies,” Cherif said.

As a result of that, I felt that there is a significant opportunity to invest in Asia, where organisations need help not just in deploying technology but more importantly, have someone in a consultative advisory role to refer to, as they rethink business models and embrace new technologies, Cherif said.

This advisory role is one that Infoblox’s CEO Jesper Andersen, and Cherif himself have had to take up as they met with customers and potential customers on the regional and global scene.

Cherif also feels that Covid-19 gives APJ specifically, the added advantage of catching up to the West.

The decision to increase capacity and capabilities in APJ seemed timely, as a result.

He shared that the decision to invest came as a surprise to analysts and the industry, considering the anticipated economic downturn caused by the pandemic. “(But) those decisions have been backed by the board, and the board feels bullish and committed to the APJ market,” he affirmed.

Talent

“Accordingly, we have doubled our team in the last 6 months, in every function that an organisation (like Infoblox) needs to thrive; not only survive but actually thrive,” the SVP observed.

Of note, is the tech and business leaders who have taken up senior roles within Infoblox. For example, there is George Chang who is now VP of APJ and Alvin Rodrigues, who has become field Chief Security Officer at Infoblox.

“We’ve had some really impressive leaders join Infoblox. That’s a testament to their astute understanding of the market, and a testament to Infoblox having the right vision and strategy,” Cherif commented.

Another revelation that emerged whilst he interacted with customers, was the idea that partnerships with large, established organisations, is not enough anymore. Businesses are discovering that young and innovative companies are solving old and new problems in new ways, and doing a better job of it, even.

Another revelation that emerged whilst he interacted with customers, was the idea that partnerships with large, established organisations, is not enough anymore. Businesses are discovering that young and innovative companies are solving old and new problems in new ways, and doing a better job of it, even.

Talent and experienced exec leaders may have noticed this as well, and are placing their chips on innovative and agile tech companies like Infoblox.

Awareness about DNS

The leader for International business, sees governments starting to incorporate controls for DNS security on a nationwide basis. The most recent one is Singapore when they announced their cybersecurity master plan.

But more work remains, as Cherif observed this awareness around DNS security controls is not yet pervasive across the entire world. “I think that kind of maturity will probably accelerate across the world with time.

“Having said that, my appeal to every security commission in every nation, is to think in terms of the new digital economy.”

A world without borders where everyone has the freedom to interact and transact, means there is a huge amount of intelligence that needs to move to certain parts of the IT infrastructure.

Enabling decisions on an identity basis, requires an incredible amount of data to add context that would ascertain the user’s identity and the level of information access that user is authorised to have.

Cherif concluded, “The world requires a massive amount of push from the governments, to put the onus upon enterprises, and to accelerate their mindset and the way they think about securing critical national infrastructure.”