ESET evolving as end-to-end enterprise security company: Parvinder Walia

We have extended our technology expertise to emerge as the preferred security vendor for enterprises, says Parvinder Walia, APAC sales director, ESET.

The security market is growing fast technology as organizations brace themselves from continuous attacks. Slovakia-headquartered ESET is leveraging its expertise in this area. The company has been delivering security software to organisations across the globe since 1987.

On an India visit, Computerworld India spoke at length with Parvinder Walia, sales and marketing director, ESET Asia Pacific, on the changing threat landscape and the company’s renewed focus on enterprise segment.

Edited Excerpts:

How is ESET positioned today in the highly competitive endpoint security market?

The endpoint security market in APAC is approximately $1.7 billion, which is around 22 percent of the global market. Almost half of APAC numbers to the tune of $800 to $900 million is from Japan. Hence, we are largely focused on Japan and at present we are positioned fourth with first half share of 7.2 percent in that region. We are growing in Australia, HK and Taiwan.

The double-digit healthy growth for ESET has been due to the restructuring of operations and more engagement with channels across different markets. We are adding resources across offices, including a dedicated online team in Singapore.  We aim to be amongst the top three vendors in APAC from the current number four position (with a 5.2 percent marketshare) in the endpoint security market.

India is a focused market as we have increased the team in the region with the appointment of business development executives. However, India is a complex market with many security players and the demand for more customized requirements than other countries. We witnessed a healthy double digit growth last year in India.

ESET is focusing on B2B rather than B2C like its competition, including Kaspersky and Trend Micro. Is the slump in global PC sales in the last seven quarters the reason for the shift in strategy?

APAC is a relatively different market as ESET has been dominant in consumer and retail segment in Hong Kong. In Japan and Australia, we are relatively well known in the enterprise segment. Asia market has started to grow with more industries setting up their operations. It has to do with rules and regulations in SMBs and data protection act in many countries.

The consumer focus has been and will remain the core business for us. But we want to be more dominant in enterprise and ERA (ESET Remote Administrator). Our product took over five years as our teams gathered data from our enteprise customers in countries like Australia, New Zealand and Japan and then designed it for existing and potential customers across the globe.

PC shipments have gone down in 2015 in the first half compared to 2014. At the same time, in the first half of 2014, there was a spike in purchase of PCs in Japan as the government announced tax increase and it was the end-of-life for Windows XP. Overall, the PC sales have been impacted by smartphones and tablets.

How does ESET plan to counter companies like Symantec and Intel Security in the corporate space? 

We have always been strong in the SMB segment. In order to address the corporate segment, we have been planning the right strategy and execution across different countries to have a sizeable number of enterprise customers.

When compared to the enteprise portfolio of other vendors, we launched technology alliances program to offer new technologies in the security space. We acquired DESlock (encryption company for enterprises of all sizes) last year, which is now integrated with other ESET products. We have also launched two-factor authentication products. We tied up with StorageCraft for backup and recovery solutions. The widening portfolio has accelerated ESET’s transition from a predominantly SMB player five years ago into an enterprise security company beyond AV solutions.

What are the typical pain points of SMBs and enterprises with regards to endpoint security?

ESET has been more focused on SMBs, but we have enterprises with over 10,000 users too. In countries like Japan, we have customers with 65,000 users to 3 lakh users in some cases. ESET management console ERA 6 can handle huge number of users effectively.

Technology can do its bit to secure enterprises, but there is always the human element. I believe technology plus education go hand in hand and make it difficult for anyone to hack into company data.

We pride ourselves as providing lighter, faster and proactive protection from day one of ESET’s existence. We maintain that USP over other vendors.

Enterprise customers demand solutions beyond endpoint security, like SIEM and DLP from a security vendor. What's your gameplan? 

Consumers do ask us for more products for network security and other technologies like our popular endpoint products. It’s more in demand from enterprise segment as their IT infra is more complex than SMBs.

Encryption was something that we introduced in the recent past. We have products for gateway security, mail security and exchange security too. Many of our existing customers--and channels--have been asking for other solutions like DLP, which we might look at in the future.

Why is it that no traditional AV company has made great strides with security products around mobiles and tablets?

ESET does have a well-etched strategy around mobile security like most OEMs including free version and a paid one with premium features like anti-theft, call blocking, etcetera.

We are seeing growth in mobile security, but not as a standalone offering. We have a solution like security for five devices, which can be Windows or Mac. We have seen many registered keys on Android. The slow adaptability of users to protect mobile can be one of the reasons for slow sales in mobile security.

Users – consumers and enterprises – need to have basic protection. Android, which is the dominant OS in India, does have vulnerabilities. There are free options available, but there needs to be a business version to have some layer of protection for sophisticated attacks. In general, we see growth in mobile security products for ESET.

Wherein lies the sweet spot for ESET? Any favorite verticals in India?

From verticals perspective, it depends largely on channel partners’ focus, like education and BFSI .We have a few government clients too. Security being a horizontal product, we have customers across most verticals. We see more uptake in BFSI with our 2FA product.

Moving more towards B2B means more systems integrators would come into ESET’s GTM beyond resellers...

ESET has a strong presence in India with two distribution partners - ESS distribution and Sakri IT solutions. Pune based Sakri was added last November to widen our market coverage and take advantage of their channel ecosystem. Both are Pan India companies working with channel partners in tier 1, tier 2 and also channels in tier 3 and tier 4 cities.

We are working with many systems integration channels who help with fulfillment in the corporate segment. It will be a mix of quality partners and also quantity because we want to be available in both segments - consumers (retail partners) and enterprise (VARs as business partners) and maximize the opportunity through different channels in India.

Channels work with us because of the business and the associated benefits they receive  from our distributors, including the partner program. And the important factor is ESET’s technologically-advanced products, which provide comprehensive protection for their customers. Technical support issues are minimal too because the product is extremely good and easy-to-install for organizations.

Channel partners often replace the AV solution of one vendor by another. Does this affect you?

We are one of the vendors with the lowest false positive rates in the industry. The reseller or implementation partners needs to analyze the infected device or system thoroughly at the customer end first. False positive is a very important factor in Internet security.

Some channels working on short term goal might replace AV products in succession three to four times for a customer, but this leads to instability because the IT team has to adapt to the new technology and integrate it into their enterprise. Channels should find the root cause, check for false positives and solve the pain areas for a trustworthy relationship with the customer rather than just changing the AV at the customers' end in the event of a breach.

Why should Indian companies work with ESET in a market flooded with endpoint security vendors?

Our USP of lighter, faster and proactive protection has been bringing us many customers from the other side. This has resulted in an increase of our market share globally, including in APAC and India. ESET has an advanced technology product to cater to their pain areas. We are increasing our portfolio in other domains to become more a relevant ‘end-to-end’ provider.

Our key priorities for India include strengthening the channel ecosystem and increasing our presence in India across tier 2, tier 3 and tier 4 cities. We are improving the sales and marketing presence in India to double our market share in the next couple of years.

ESET’s vision is to be among the top three vendors in the world in the next five years and the APAC market and India region will be key catalysts for growth.