Upskilling, reskilling for networking, cloud and security

During interviews last year, Cherif Sleiman, SVP of International Business at Infoblox had shared with EITN about Infoblox’s expansion plans for the region. Fast forward to 2021 and today Cherif is saying that they have delivered on their expansion strategy.

“A lot of the things we planted early on with our vision and strategy is starting to blossom now. But we have a lot more work to do.”

The SVP rightly observed that the pandemic had been an accelerant for digital transformation in many companies. But that was not all that happened. “Organisations, are adopting SaaS and public cloud and SD-WAN and automation… they realise that it’s really important they start to think about risk and security as they embrace more of public-type of technologies and Internet-based technologies.

Dr. Cherif Sleiman

“This notion of securing an enterprise by securing the ins and outs (of data traffic) in the data centre, is all gone. It’s something of the past.”

Infoblox has always been a leader in secured DDI and securing networks so that organisations’ end points can work remotely from anywhere. “However, for the first time, we are seeing the need for security and networking to not continue to be managed and rolled out in siloes,” Cherif pointed out.

Infoblox BloxONE began about four years ago to address this, as well as enable businesses to manage, measure and govern security and networking in a holistic way from a single pane of glass.

Cherif explained that the CEO Jesper Andersen had led an initiative to create a whole new company that is born in the cloud. “And we created very systematic and thoughtful bridges, operationally as well as architecturally, on a product level to help organisations roll out hybrid solutions in a consistent fashion.”

This is timely, and Cherif reiterates that customers will actually prefer and will choose cloud and SaaS-based deployments. “Because the name of the game is speed and digital transformation is about how fast you really innovate, how fast you retain your customers, and how fast you can really attract new customers.”

Upskilling and reskilling

When talking about new ways of working, it is difficult to exclude reskilling and upskilling from the conversation. Cherif has very strong opinions about reskilling.

Cherif said, “In my opinion it is hard to continue to succeed by using old tools. So reskilling your employee, to me, is really one of the most important things a company can do. And it’s not just that. It’s about revisiting your processes.

“You can’t really scale and grow in this type of climate where the name of the game is speed and trust, by being a command and control type of company.”

This refers to decisions being distributed and being made while closer to the field, instead of back in HQ.

Significantly, Cherif brought up the changing notion of selling. “The way you reskill, and re-enable, and re-vector your team’s careers is very important,” he said.

“We may be familiar with technology companies which sell a lot of on-premise solutions and infrastructure. “So, you needed to invest in very expensive ppeople who knew the ins and outs of products and have hours or years or training to be masterful of products so they can do proof-of-concepts, configurations, and installations, and more.

“With SaaS, all of this gets abstracted,” Cherif pointed out.

This in turn has an impact upon sales cycles which become shorter from the typical 12-18 months duration which includes product evaluation, test, installation and so on.

Another important point was also brought up about cloud being the prevalent way to delivery technology services . “In a SaaS world, the customer can just easily point their infrastructure somewhere else, and they are gone.

“So, you have to balance the front end which acquires customers, but you also have to invest a lot in maintaining and retaining the customer.

This requires a whole new level off skills and types of skills that organisations have not really invested in, Cherif said.

“Hence, reskilling and adding new skills and basically revisiting your entire (process) as a company, is very important.”

“In a SaaS world, the customer can just easily point their infrastructure somewhere else, and they are gone.


According to Cherif, the industry is going to see much leadership development in Infoblox, involving not just top management, but also frontline leaders. This development will likely address the human aspect of leadership.

“We talked about workload transformation – locating apps and services everywhere in the public domain. There is a workforce transformation philosophy that needs to go with that.” Cherif opined, explaining that while empowering teams and managing their teams, front line managers and other leaders in the organisation are being cognisant of their well-being and health.

This translates to new policies like flexible vacations, internal meeting days, and more.

“There is a lot like this that will continue to brew inside Infoblox, to fundamentally continue enabling work-life balance and wellness for our employees,” Cherif concluded.

Watch the video interview below: