CXO of the week: Apu Pavithran, Founder and CEO of Mitsogo (Hexnode)

By : |June 15, 2022 0

Mitsogo doing business as (dba) Hexnode, one of the SaaS businesses in the enterprise security industry. Its headquarters are in San Francisco, California, with a major part of the development team in India located at Kochi, Kerala, and Chennai, Tamil Nadu.  They also have offices in Australia and Germany. Mitsogo is one of those few companies that did not get greatly affected by the pandemic.  There were no layoffs, in fact, the company grew almost 1/3 in employee count and experienced a 200% increase in revenue growth.

In a recent chat with Apu Pavithran, Founder and CEO of Mitsogo (Hexnode), he talks about his startup journey and what Mitsogo has been up to in the latest edition of CxO of the Week.

Tell us about Mitsogo and Hexnode, its flagship product.

Mitsogo entered the market as mobile device management (MDM) solution nine years back, in 2013. However, that was when not many varieties of devices were popular in the corporate space. It was mostly comprised of Windows desktops. But soon enough mobile phones and tablets started showing up in the workplace – like iPhones, iPads, Blackberry, and Android phones. So, the mobile device management solutions were relied upon to manage mobile devices alone.

But not even a decade later, workplaces went through phenomenal changes by adopting modern technology, and employees were not chained to their desktops anymore. The inclusion of mobile devices, laptops, and even IoT devices in the offices made work more flexible and productive but at the same time, the corporate data was scattered over many devices in many locations. The transformation from MDM to Unified Endpoint Management (UEM), that the industry witnessed was due to these changes in the workplace.

Hexnode UEM is our flagship product, and our budget-friendly solution has helped us gain the attention of both growing SMBs and established large corporates. It’s not just the mobile devices, laptops, and PCs we are able to manage. We could also keep a watch over the now-trending devices of the new normal, IoT, and XR gadgets. Basically, Hexnode UEM lets the organization have complete visibility and control over all the work devices, apps, and data in it. It helps keep devices compliant with the corporate security policies and reduces risks posed by unhealthy cyber practices and outside threats.

What are the upcoming trends in the security industry for the future world of work?

Cloud adoption has been underway for quite a time. However, businesses are yet to capitalize on their prowess. Once applications shift to the cloud, convergence will be the next step. Today, corporates deal with many applications for different tasks, and managing all of them simultaneously is a burden left to the administrators. Addressing the concerns, SaaS applications have made the job of convergence easier. We can now see security solutions integrating into one another and depending on the use cases; businesses can find a single solution to address all the concerns.

As such, with devices and data migrating to the cloud, trusting devices within the corporate perimeter will no longer be a wise decision. The pandemic also forced employees to log into their home networks, necessitating the need for a solution that no longer depended on perimeters. Today, moving from trust to no trust, ZTNA (Zero Trust Network Access) and SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) are the two acronyms that have taken over the networking section of the security industry. SASE brings network security to full force by culminating technologies like ZTNA (Zero Trust Network Access), FSaaS (Firewall as a Service), and more like the kind.

What, as per you, are the five important things that Mitsogo should be looking at today?

The market is competitive, and you continue to be a part of the race only if customers need you. So, fulfilling customer demands and expanding the product always tops the list.

Our first plan is to extend management for IoT and XR devices. The metaverse didn’t fail itself in making a noticeable entry into the field. However, as it takes businesses to a whole new level, it also unveils unaddressed security concerns. A few decades back, just like managing PCs, laptops, Macs and mobile devices became a necessity, sooner IoT and XR device management will see a growing demand. So, along with the devices we already manage, we plan to add IoT and XR to the list. We have also been adding up features as per our customer demands.

To go next, as I mentioned earlier, the industry is going to witness an uptake in SaaS applications and their proliferation will sooner demand a management platform. Hexnode’s SaaS app management platform, Hexnode Do is the next on our to-do list. Hexnode Do offers a unified platform to manage and secure different SaaS applications.

Now, leaving off the technical side, we are currently expanding our partnership base. Amidst the four partnership programs we offer, we have been focussing on ISV and OEM partnerships this year. Kaspersky and Keeper Security were the latest additions, and more are on the way.

The majority of our customers are based out of the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and the Middle East and now, we plan to target India. Post pandemic, the pace of digitalization has quickened and about 62% of the Indian businesses are in the formative stage of digitalization. Currently, executives have started to think of device management solutions while building their security roadmap, and we are looking out to establish a base in India as well.

Finally, we have been intensively working on our hiring strategy, looking for both fresh and experienced talent. After our first base in Kochi, we opened our second branch in Chennai, which is an even bigger office space. Post pandemic, we have been experiencing higher demands for the solution and so we will be hiring throughout the year.

Cybersecurity in the new decade: What are the top 5 trends in enterprise security for the ‘new normal?

Everything today revolves around the concept of ‘anywhere workplace.’ Be it the transition from on-prem to cloud-based solutions or the development of remote onboarding and workforce management solutions, the future has been moving towards making ‘anywhere workplace’ the new normal.

With anywhere workplace comes anywhere devices, and device management solutions like UEMs are witnessing upscale in the industry. The geographically distributed corporate devices that merely depended on basic security measures had to be much more secure to withstand the threats that tagged along with remote work. With UEMs, IT admins could tighten up security by pushing restrictive and mandatory policies.

Similar to UEMs, IAM (Identity and Access Management) solutions have also seen a prominent rise in adoption. Currently, corporates have been moving data to the cloud, and ensuring that the right person gets access to the right files is important. IAM solutions ensure that every identity is authorized through techniques like single sign-on (SSO), multi-factor authentication (MFA), etc.

BYOD is yet another trend that has been gaining traction. Well, though it has been in the limelight for quite a while, subject to discussions over privacy and security, the new normal left corporates with no choice. Moreover, the development of containerizing work and play has addressed the concerns that could have otherwise ruled out BYOD. Privacy has gained more momentum than before and is now an international concern. After Europe’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and California’s CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act), we will sooner see a more significant portion of countries stepping towards enacting privacy regulation acts.

Finally, enterprise security is not complete without AI (Artificial Intelligence). Though not a new term, it is yet to be explored at the commercial level. While AI has found applications in customer services and countering zero-day vulnerabilities, its full potential is yet to be exploited.

What changes Mitsogo is bringing to the industry?

A mission to make enterprise security simple is what landed us with Mitsogo, and the first step towards ensuring cybersecurity is having complete visibility over the devices logged into your corporate network. Hexnode makes that possible.

IT admins are handed over keys to having complete control over all the corporate devices. In addition, Hexnode’s UI (User Interface) is kept simple for those who are new to the platform. The admins can remain alerted over the compliance status of the devices and ensure that personnel does not override the security policies pushed to the device.

How has the pandemic affected the way enterprise security works?

The pandemic changed the very culture of the workplace and businesses had to rethink and take a 180-degree turn on their conventional security techniques. Businesses realized that dependence on virtual borders like VPNs and Firewalls would no longer suffice. With employees and their devices scattered diversely, an imminent demand to think outside the existing work architecture rose. Securing corporate resources outside the corporate perimeter while also ensuring the smooth flow of work became a challenge for CISOs. While these scenarios made CISOs think of an alternative for the upcoming threat landscape, several enterprise security solutions like UEM, IAM, ZTNA, VPNs, etc witnessed quick adoption.

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