My interview with Philippe concludes with final discussions about Qualys, as well as his parting views on the extended enterprise. Also, all ye entrepreneurs in India and China, listen up, he has ideas for you too!
SM: That brings us to the current situation with Qualys. PC: So today it is a wonderful experience. If you look at Salesforce.com, people questioned moving the data outside. Our customers are essentially security people, so we had an even harder job. I don’t want to take credit away from salesforce.com, but we had a hard time because we are convincing security people to move away, and they were just paranoid.
SM: Yes, I can see that. Big psychographic mismatch with the message you are trying to sell. How did you get around this problem?
PC: All the companies we started with had vision, and they wanted to ensure the security of the network. They were naturally more inclined to help us help them. Many of them realized that with the budgets they had for Security, they would not be able to do their job, hire the right expertise, buy enough software, hardware, etc. So, they decided to work with us.
SM: Good job! How far along are you now?
PC:Today, we are doing 250 million IP scans; we have 2500 customers like Daimler Chrysler, which goes through multiple continents. We have about 3000 appliances deployed, and we have 22 of the Fortune 100, and a lot of credit unions as customers. Their security needs are very high, and we do a good job.
SM: Fantastic. And what are your plans now? PC: We are moving a level up with a new AJAX UI. When you look at deployment of a new application, you need to look at enabling technology. It took 45 years for airlines to get safe and cost effective because many things had to be invented along the way.
When I look at the internet there is one technology which needed to be upgraded, it was the browser. With Firefox, Microsoft was forced to evolve to catch up. AJAX went around the limitations of the browser by allowing us to create rich applications. We can just go get the data we need and do interactive, rich applications in the browser now.
SM: Interesting. On a broader scale, what technology do you think would make the biggest difference going forward? What is your assessment of the future?
SM: The only piece of technology missing today is the broadband ubiquitous wireless access. Then you become always online, and always connected no matter where you are on the planet you will have access to the data. I think in 5 years we will have enough broadband that there will be no network in the company because it will be somewhere in the planet. Why maintain a network yourself if you can have someone else do it.
Small companies do not need a network if they are connected. You just need applications to access you data. Now you look at Zimbra… what is the difference between Microsoft Outlook and Zimbra? The new generation of people are computer savvy and they do not want an enterprise software application because it is complicated. I think we are coming into the new world much faster.
SM: What else? How do you see the industry power structure shifting?PC: Software-as-a-service is very disruptive. What I see is that it changes the paradigm because the barriers are different. In the past the enterprises were making the purchase decisions. The new paradigm is now very different. Specialists like Qualys are making the selection of the infrastructure pieces.
Unlike the enterprise, we are deployed on a batch of servers. If Microsoft comes out tomorrow with a new database that is faster and cheaper than Oracle, we can switch and the users will really not care, nor know. We relieve them of costly, complex choices to make. Our users can switch us much more easily also, because while we have the data it is their data. It is easy to take the data out and move it to someone else.
The role of high tech companies is about to change very quickly, like in the mainframe industry there was a need to deploy computers everywhere and they could not do it effectively. So, mainframes had to go away. Now, we are seeing the same thing again, only on the scale of the whole planet. If a company like Qualys, with 140 people, can deliver a worldwide application in seven years, imagine what the big ones could really do. So the competition is now becoming global.
SM: So you could see a company out of India or China which does exactly what Qualys does with a very different cost structure and could become a player? PC: Absolutely, things are happening. Things are going to happen more and more and more. You are going to a world where changes are going to be very rapid. That is good news. We should look at the fact that this will increase and create opportunities. Just like the industrial revolution, people were all afraid and nobody could envision how much wealth would be created. I think we are just at the very beginning of a new revolution.
SM: Philippe, merci! Wonderful set of insights! I hope some entrepreneurs go back to the drawing board on the opportunities around Extended Enterprise and the next generation SaaS out of India or China.