The infrastructure of a computing enterprise is a tricky thing with which to deal. It's tricky to protect because it's tricky to define. What do we mean by infrastructure protection? Is this some sort of a product that is ever-present throughout the enterprise? Is it something that defines and manages what other products do? The answer to both these questions is “yes.” The infrastructure is everything about the enterprise that supports the applications and, therefore, protecting the data means protecting the infrastructure.
The problem is that the actual protecting becomes part of the infrastructure itself. That makes it subject to the same potential compromises to which those things it is protecting are. So the logical way to protect the enterprise at the infrastructure level is to pull the protection outside of the network. Capable systems are doing exactly that. Slowly, security services are moving to the internet in shared environments. These shared environments are special-purpose clouds, to use the current vernacular.
The second issue is compliance. If the infrastructure protection is not policy driven, it will fail in its purpose. The infrastructure is exactly that. It is not just the server farm. It is the servers, the endpoints, the communications devices and, today, it could, for example, be the organization's telephone system running on VoIP. Coordinating protection of all of that is a formidable challenge, and our entry this year meets the challenge in spades.
In prior years, we focused on policy and configuration management tools and other similar solutions for the infrastructure-protection problem. But, when we started to examine the field this year, we found those approaches, while good enough for now, were not forward-looking enough. In fact, we found they had not progressed materially in the past year or two. So, we scratched our collective heads and re-examined the problem.
Only one product – actually more of a service – popped out for us, and that company is our sole Innovator in the category this year.
iPrism Web Security from EdgeWave
As the company's website says: “EdgeWave develops and markets on-demand, on-premises and hybrid secure content management (SCM) solutions for the mid-enterprise and service provider markets.” And, while that certainly is accurate, it really is a very innocuous description of a truly innovative company. Formerly St. Bernard, EdgeWave became focused on web filtering for small- and medium-size businesses. Its product was easy to use and deploy, and the cost was relatively low.
About 2 years ago, EdgeWave refocused on its new product, iPrism, and web filtering. Because it felt itself getting a bit stale, the management team decided to make solid upgrades. The result was an overwhelming response from eager users.
One of the smartest things this Innovator has done is recognize that while “cloud” is the buzzword on everyone's lips, not everyone is going to the cloud. At least not yet. So EdgeWave has offerings that can be installed on-premises, in the cloud, or via a hybrid model. The second smart thing EdgeWave did was assess where the so-called “pain points” are for most companies and provided – through acquisition or in-house development – solutions to those problems. Finally, they fit those solutions together so that customers could have a holistic suite of solutions to a holistic suite of challenges.
When we asked the EdgeWave visionary why he thought the company was special enough to be one of our Innovators, he told us that the answer was easy. EdgeWave has morphed its technology into services with one easy-to-use and manage platform. Its portal, he said, is the secret sauce. Moreover, they found real value in listening to its customers (now 8,000 SMBs) to establish strategy and delivery. That meant improving communication with customers. “Listen to your customers when they are unhappy,” he told us. “That's when you get the most useful feedback.”
To top it off, EdgeWave focused on marketing/distribution, and established a channel strategy and focus and, where necessary, created top partners.
AT A GLANCE
Flagship product: iPrism Web Security
Innovation: Comprehensive web filtering for small- and medium-size businesses.
Greatest strength: Listening to its customers when they are not happy and providing solutions to the things that made them unhappy.