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Thought Leaders in Cyber Security: Elisity CEO James Winebrenner (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, May 16th 2022

For those of you following our coverage of techies transitioning into successful entrepreneurs, here is another terrific case study.

Cyber Security is probably the tech industry’s more prolific segment. James discusses a specific approach to network security that has become increasingly more contemporary and relevant: segment-based policy.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by introducing our audience to a bit of your background as well as Elisity.

James Winebrenner: I’m the CEO of Elisity. I had been in the security and network infrastructure for about 25 years. I started my career at Check Point software back in the 90s. I’ve been very blessed to have a career looking at a number of different trends in security and network infrastructure. I’ve done stints at Cisco.

The last startup that I did from ground zero was Viptela. I stayed on and ran that for about two years. I was anxious to get back to building something again. I had an interesting background on both the network and security side of things. Frankly, that’s where Elisity is focusing. There’s a lot that we learned through the software-defined market evolution around the need for security to be baked into a lot of the infrastructure evolution, specifically, the trends around segmentation and being able to bring segmentation much deeper into the network and make it easier to build privileged access policy around how infrastructure interacts on those network segments.

The focus for Elisity is to bring identity-based micro-segmentation into physical networks and extend that into the cloud edge. In doing so, it allows organizations to move away from implicit trust to open access with more traditional perimeter controls to zero trust where we’re building dynamic segmentation based on the identity of an asset.

Sramana Mitra: Interesting. I’m going to ask you a personal journey question. When you started at Check Point, was it in a technical capacity?

James Winebrenner: Yes.

Sramana Mitra: So you come from a hardcore technical background.

James Winebrenner: Yes.

Sramana Mitra: But you were not one of the founders at Check Point. That was the place where you developed technical experience in the security space.

James Winebrenner: Yes.

Sramana Mitra: Is your first security startup straight out of Check Point?

James Winebrenner: No, I spent time on the security consulting side before going to Cisco. We were focused on networking but with a strong security bent. It was Viptela in 2012. Most companies were leveraging MPLS for WAN. It was the standard. It was very challenging for organizations to do encryption in those environments.

In fact, there was a very large credit card company that we worked with that was spending tens of millions of dollars a year for a dedicated encryption overlay. This was challenging to do. One of the key tenants was making encryption table steaks for WAN.

This segment is part 1 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cyber Security: Elisity CEO James Winebrenner
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