Wireless security is our Mojo over competition: Kiran Deshpande

We will now go highly aggressive with portfolio stack, channel roadmap and customer acquisitions in India, says Kiran Deshpande, Co-founder & President at Mojo Networks.

Mojo Networks has been redefining the modern Wi-Fi platform through its innovative technology solutions in the enterprise space. With a well-entrenched roadmap to address the wireless security concerns of Indian enterprises, has the company incepted in 2003 found its Moment of Joy? “AirTight Networks was well recognized name but it was very security centric. The thought process of the management resulted to rename the company to Mojo Networks that sounded right in 2006 and till date,” replies Kiran Deshpande, Co-founder and President, Mojo Networks in extensive interaction with ComputerWorld India.

Edited Excerpts.

How will the face of Wi-Fi evolve in India market in 2018 and beyond and how will Mojo Networks ride that wave?

Broadly there is an internal deployment at enterprise and small medium where people will pay for that infrastructure. The second one is public Wi-Fi with variations like hotels, hospitality and cities where Wi-Fi is lit up and then there’s rural Wi-Fi where each village must have Wi-Fi as per India’s Prime Minister. We can complain about the shortage of spectrum in India with most of the 1.3 billion people logging in. Hence Offloading Wi-Fi without inconveniencing the customers based on the policy would be the third way. We would be riding all three trends. With Jio, we will ride this off load infrastructure and there is now some pull factor for us from other ISPs.

We will play some role in the public Wi-Fi too in the last year and a half, some government entities have been approaching us for our solutions. Most of the public Wi-Fi that is happening, will come through Jio. We have won projects in many IITs across India and hence we see schools and colleges to be a good vertical for us.  Mojo Networks will go after all possible routes to Wi-Fi market - some through channels like Jio and some through enterprise IT channels.

What is your company’s value proposition in the competitive world of networking and security companies?

Wireless security is our Mojo or value prop. With respect to Wi- Fi security each mobile phone has minimum 3 radios - cellular wireless radio, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. And there may be one or two radios more based on the model. Radio waves are invisible and therefore is possible to sneak in to somebody's radio network from outside and from inside to outside. The security technology networking assumes physical perimeter as a barrier because you are not going to get in to anybody’s Ethernet/ internet unless you are inside the perimeter. This coupled with the fact that Wi-Fi requires a different approach to security. We took the same radio that people were using for the access points and we put a sniffer onto it. Now you have to first figure out who is inside who is outside now that has to be a logical call because the device may be outside but it is visible inside and vice-versa. Accurately figuring that out was our key pattern for users as well as network. Sorting those keys for infrastructure and users both was our first IP. While scanning and tracking out with some technologies and standard techniques like triangulation the location of the device can be nailed down. This is the core system around which we built the business.

Check List for CIOs and C-suite Execs : Kiran Deshpande

1

Realize that security of network is critical especially Wi-Fi Security.

2

Scalability becomes important aspect for distributed enterprise.

3

Train your IT teams very well to the new technology world.

4

The value doesn’t reside in end point device but data collected.

5

Wi-Fi might to be integral part of 5G and enterprise will have both.

6

Understand radios well as they become default communication tools.

That’s quite a niche space to operate in the wide networking market.

That’s correct. Till 2008 - 2009 we realized that our business was a very niche solution for the security conscious enterprises like banks and large firms. In 2007/ 2008 when there was a breach at retailer T.J. Maxx through a Wi-Fi route, it created lot of fear around retail networks. We built India business alongside with US organizations as early adopters. Typically it is Silicon Valley company coming to North America and then to Asia. But ICICI bank in India was our first early customer along with everybody else. TCS was also an early customer. India has always been played an important tier-1 market for us.

In 2009 Yum Foods selected us for wireless security primarily for PCI compliance as they had over 15,000 properties and devices. They said that company owned properties will put PCI devices but their branches will resist as nobody will spend thousands of dollars for 2 to 3 reports a year. With access on same devices for the branches to turn on WIFI and connect with PCI looked like bigger business model for us. On the access point we had one radio device so we shared radio device for both access and security. We later designed a dual radio in a combo device with one radio access and second radio dedicated to security.

Cisco, Aruba (HPE), Ruckus have been doing great business in wireless networking domain.

Unlike Cisco, HPE, Ruckus and others built a controller base architecture. We got rid of the controller. Wi-Fi was always considered as built in wireless but now Wi-Fi is used for multinational multi city or smart city. To make sure that deployment, operations, resilience was there we split the data plane and the controller plane together. While others claim to put 10000 access points, with Jio we are putting more than 1000 access points every week. For enterprise with hundreds of locations, it’s all run from single console. Each virtual machine that manages a set of access points has the ability to spin off multiple consoles and machines. All these many-to-many relations are very sophisticated in cloud and that's what we have built. The way companies would do is built the business around manageability. We actually put our hard appliances in the cloud before we have got the access points because nobody in SME space that requires two to three devices would pay 12,000$for the entire appliance. That’s an over kill.

We moved our appliances to the cloud and we rearchitectured the cloud very differently. The genuine virtualized console for wireless and security from the same device.  Now we have 3 radio devices – two for access and third for security put in single enclosure and making sure it’s within interference limit or radio signals. We started building that business and today if you look at it Mojo Networks, very large enterprise and distributed carriers define our business.

A challenge however we see is putting Secure Wi-Fi into one bucket because companies are looking for unified solutions. We often try to split the RFP into wired and wireless. As we play Wi-Fi very well and we ask them to choose separately. Our main hook is security. We were not a threat to tech giants until we won Reliance Jio project. Our value proposition varies like it can be sometimes secure Wi-Fi, sometimes scalability of our solutions, sometimes word of mouth. In each of these vertical sectors, for internal deployment, the CIOs know each other. When we deployed networking solutions in Bali Towers, everybody in the Indonesian market knew it has not gone to the usual names but it has come to us. Word of mouth is very powerful.

The two key markets for Mojo Networks are India and North America.

India, North America and parts of Europe will pick up, and the next two three years we will see traction in Africa. Indonesia is picking up as it is 1/4 size of India is an economy, twice the GDP.

India as the economy is growing throws lot of Greenfield opportunities for us.  It is very unlikely that a bank will start with a fresh banking license without wanting to have hundreds of branches which are first time wireless. We tell them unless you do the way Mojo Networks solutions do it, you do not have the security. You will misjudge and once you misclassify you cannot launch a prevention of a legitimate connection. The most important thing it is going to shut down the neighbor’s connection and that’s a violation of Indian regulations regime.  For multi branch organization, the level of security can be achieved by a combo device of access device and security device which we offer. Automakers, banks in India are our customers and they have extended our solutions to their operations in US and Europe topo.

We have large number of deployments at Jio which is the world's largest Greenfield Wi-Fi internet. Infact if you look at AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, they were all a bit pessimistic but now many of them are approaching us to replicate Jio success story.

Our value proposition against competing technology vendors varies: secure Wi-Fi, solutions’ scalability and sometimes word of mouth. The word of mouth across CIO community has proven to be very powerful for our business growth.

KD

 

Kiran Deshpande, Co-founder & President, Mojo Networks

What are the typical pain points of Indian CIOs of large companies, if you're talking about internal consumption? Your suggestions to them.

We solve the networking pain points for end user connectivity for Wi-Fi. CISCO, Ruckus, everybody does that but what we do different is the simpler architecture at our end. Tata Motors brought one appliance in Pune branch. And then Bangalore, Lucknow and even UK. Those who are concerned about security approach us. Those who don't know, we have to tell them emergence of a new threat like - will you allow your employees to access outside network without firewall? Why are you putting Wi-Fi without proper security? We have reached a stage, now that we have many customers who talk to each other and give our reference. Three years back, it was tougher, but now it is easier.

CIOs are the key decision makers for our technologies, but even CISOs do come into play. C- Level officers get the story faster than the network people. CISOs and CIOs should understand that security especially Wi-Fi Security is very important. If you are distributed enterprise then scalability becomes another important aspect. They should get the team trained very well. And lastly the value is not in the end point device but the real value lies in the data you collect.

I have observed a fact that India will be a driving economy for Digitization. Somewhere LTE and Wi-Fi will come together. There is a battle between 4G/5G and Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi might become an integral part of 5G and the enterprise will have both of them. You have to understand radios very well as they are becoming the default communication tools.

How difficult has it been to build company’s indirect route – through channel partners – in India as most tech vendors have well-entrenched channel base?

Our first channel in India was IBM. And then we worked with TCS, Wipro and other Tier 1 GSIs who helped us make inroads in large banks, auto companies, banks Besides the tier1 level of channel partners and SIs , we have re-sellers too. In US, we have also launched MSP program – Managed Service Provider.

Since past couple of years we have started consciously building partner ecosystem in India. First set is infra sellers dealing in networking, firewall etc. in India unlike other places channels do everything from programming, hardware etc. We have someone who opens the door for us as we close the deal with them including fight the competition. We have some geographical nuances like partners in NCR who understand government department exhaustively.

We have launched partner programs in Bangalore, Mumbai, NCR, Chennai and other cities also. We have over 100 authorized partners in India out of which 25 are active. Our key channel partners are in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Bangalore wherein we have three to five partners in each city. Some are VARs and some are SIs as we also have Pan India channel partners. We are targeting Tier2 and Tier 3 cities in India. In tier 2 space we intent to add at least 1 partner in Indore, Bhopal, Patna, Lucknow, Coimbatore. In Gujarat we are building in Ahmedabad, Baroda, Surat especially there is a big requirement for Wi-Fi in Surat’s diamond market.

Kiran’s Top Priorities for India

1

Build momentum on India business

2

More footprint into public sector banks

3

Accelerate ongoing Reliance Jio project

4

Innovate more in Wi-Fi Off load areas

5

Strengthen channel partner ecosystem

We are aiming for good partners but not many partners. The typical credentials we see in channels is their commitment to evangelizing to new technologies compared to large companies. Their ability to invest in technical resources for our technologies. And of course their connects with CIOs and end-customers.

The partner obviously makes money with the product sale but there is more money in services. If an OEM makes ‘X” the partners can make 2 to 3X. We work very closely with partners to train them right from joint planning to all the deployment. We will move faster like other big networking giants as we built alliances with large channel partners. I don’t want to go there but we will become as ruthless as any other large technology company.

What kind of enterprise-size organizations fit your company’s vision? Your priorities for India market for 2018?

It is mostly the large enterprises like BFSI, Manufacturing, Professional services. BFSI tends to hog the higher percentage of our revenues. We are able to compete with the likes of CISCO, HP, Ruckus and win over most of the times. While actually we fit very well with SMBs I don’t really see is we have resources to build it this year.  There are small enterprises and within SMBs in India like garment shop, jewelers, cafes which needs secure Wi-Fi in real time. Around the world, the security conscious enterprises are taking longer time to go to cloud. Many of them are conservative. Many want us to create cloud on their private network. Moving to cloud is happening and we do have Indian customers on cloud. Education institutions are easy to move to cloud compared to large enterprises.

The first priority of course is to continue building on our business in India and other countries. We hope to get into public sector banks more aggressively because that’s a big vertical. We will accelerate ongoing Jio project significantly. We will continue to innovate in Wi-Fi Off load areas.