2020’s Wild Ride: further faster
In early 2019, before we had written a line of code, our seed investor Gili Ranaan connected Gil and I with nearly 50 CIO/CISOs to discuss the problem of remote enterprise access. This was not a sales pitch, but a unique opportunity to ask questions, listen, and learn.
The stories we heard were remarkably similar. Across the board, regardless of industry, these executives realized that current VPN infrastructure was a struggle to maintain, that it was not a great user experience, and it was risky to bring people onto the network.
Despite knowing this, not one had the appetite or desire to rip and replace. The message was clear, VPNs were considered “good enough” and other priorities were considered more important, like cloud migrations and data center modernization. Instead they were interested in augmenting what they had with a new approach for specific use cases, like third-party access or M&A scenarios.
A Focused Launch
With this insight, we set out to build our solution and develop the roadmap with these use cases in mind. Our longer-term vision for a zero trust access platform for all users and all applications would be dependent upon the success of the launch.
We had done our research, and we had a plan.
Axis Security launched March 17, 2020. Three days later California, and much of the world, went into lockdown. I was quickly reminded of a Winston Churchill quote from World War II, “Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential.”
Change Comes Quickly
We knew our initial use cases were solid, we also knew that everything had changed. The well understood concerns about VPN infrastructure were coming to fruition, and quickly. Even Cisco had to ration VPN access because they could not scale the infrastructure fast enough to accommodate all work-from-home (WFH) users.
A better solution for enterprise access had gone from a ‘nice to have’ to a business continuity issue that could not be ignored during a pandemic of uncertain length.
Almost immediately after launch, we took a look at our roadmap, adapted, and accelerated the delivery of specific use cases on our roadmap to meet the acute needs of businesses at this moment. We significantly accelerated our plans to build a single platform to provide secure remote access for all, from any device and any location.
So here we are, eight months after launch. Like everyone, we have been in and out of lockdown learning to balance family, kids, home schooling, all while building a business. None of this has been easy or expected. Nothing has gone according to plan. Churchill, he was on to something.
In some ways, that is a blessing. We have been tested early. We have shown the ability to compete and win from day one. And like all businesses, we have learned to change and adapt.
I think this is a great lesson for young leaders. Yes, you must prepare and carefully plan, but you cannot be dogmatic in your approach or in your thinking. We quickly recognized things as they were, not as we thought they would be.
In April, Microsoft CEO Sanjay Nadella said he has seen two years of digital transformation acceleration in two months. That feels right. For us, that meant doubling down on delivering on the long-term vision of a zero trust access platform covering any user, app, device, or location.
We focused on what customers needed, and what we could deliver to help them get there. In September it was an integration with industry leaders Crowdstrike, Okta and Splunk. We also delivered new policy controls based on device security posture and dynamic directory integration, disarm and reconstruct capabilities, and application layer visibility for incident response investigations.
Today, we have delivered on the full vision. With Axis Application Access Cloud, enterprises can connect any type of user to all the cloud or on-premises applications and resources they need with one centrally managed solution that’s faster, simpler, and more secure than all other remote access methods.
- Agentless access expanded to add database, git, and kubernetes access to existing web app, remote desktop, and SSH
- Access to any TCP or UDP application, including support for VOIP, video, and peer-to-peer apps
- Access to public SaaS apps
- Access to isolated network segments
- Support for server-initiated use cases
On the one hand, this was our plan all along. In reality, never did we think we could accomplish this in the same calendar year as our launch, Series A round and Series B round. To say that I am proud of the team for what they have delivered would be an understatement. Welcome to the future of enterprise access.