Trend Micro bets big on cloud business in India, focuses on secure data localization

Even some of the enterprises, which were hesitant that will cloud be safe or maybe it’s not required right now, they realize the importance that it makes business sense.

We are protecting their critical assets, infrastructure assets. Most of the products are now cloud-ready within India.

By Nikita Jain

FinancialExpress.com caught up with Nilesh Jain, VP South-east Asia and India, and Vijendra Katiyar, country manager, India and SAARC of Trend Micro and asked them how the pandemic has affected its plans for India. 

Cybersecurity solutions firm Trend Micro 

Cybersecurity solutions firm Trend Micro has been investing in setting up its Cloud One service in India, addressing the needs of an increasing number of companies looking to adopt secure cloud solutions, especially in the light of the governments call for increased data localisation. Here are excerpts from the interview. 

Nikita Jain: 

Congratulations. First of all, we are living in COVID times. And so I would like to start by something that we’ve, all adjusted our lives around for the past almost two years. What role did this pandemic play in making companies realize the importance of cloud-based solutions?

Nilesh Jain: 

I think for most of the enterprises, one thing was that they had certain plans in place. When it comes to adoption of cloud, the pandemic played a role of a catalyst. Right. So what was supposed to happen for them in 2-3 years, got shortened to just about a year or maybe months. What eventually happened is a 100 percent of the workforce working from home. So companies have to give access to the application for businesses to run for that to happen and make things easier. The best way was to adopt the cloud. Even some of the enterprises, which were hesitant that will cloud be safe or maybe it’s not required right now, they realize the importance that it makes business sense.

Vijendra Katiyar:

Whether it is for digital transformation, whether it is to support my daily operations so on and so forth. That is what happened in the last two years, specifically. Of course, a lot of industries are regulated. Especially banking and financial verticals, they have started moving to cloud. So a lot of you must be aware that a lot of banks openly came out and said that they are on cloud, which was unheard of before.  They move with the non-production applications. Now they’re talking about some of the core business applications, also moving to the cloud. So that is what has changed. People have started accepting, people started adopting, and are using multiple different services on cloud right now. How they want to secure it is very important. That’s where they start looking at somebody like Trend Micro as a partner. How can we help them secure their cloud services? That’s where Trend Micro has been a leader for almost a decade securing them and helping them move to cloud, making sure that their applications, and their workloads are secured.

Nikita Jain:

You just spoke about, adapting to change, but with change also comes challenges. What were some of the challenges that you saw in the business?

Nilesh Jain:

The first challenge was how to enable the workforce to work from home. I had all the infrastructure possible for my employees to work from the office. Right. But the moment the pandemic hit, nobody was ready for this hundred percent workforce working from home. So we started by providing them basic assets, to start working, which is laptops, that were not there for all the employees. So how to provide them overnight? Nobody was prepared. So they started moving to using their personal devices, with personal access to the applications and how they can adhere to different company policies. How can we ensure that data is accessed securely? What can be the medium, how do you ensure optimum uptime? So all these were different challenges, which, enterprises were dealing with. And now they have, I think in the last one and a half years, they’ve learned a lot. Now we talk about hybrid workforces here to stay.

Nikita: 

What are some of the new threats that you see emerging, especially, on the cloud-based, solutions?

Nilesh Jain:

If you address that from a security threat point of view, there are two kinds of threats. I would say number one is natural attacks, which are very cloud application native. So there are attacks that are created for platforms that are built for cloud only. And since this adaption of this technology has been so fast that most of the enterprises don’t even have a skill set or time to know how it works and what kind of security measure they should take. What are the vulnerabilities therein? Those are the threats, which are not visible to most people. The second threat, I would call it the human threat or manpower threat.

Vijendra:

Most of the organizations didn’t have manpower or skilled person who knows how security works there. If you ask me there are two basic threats we have seen in the cloud. Is it more secure in the physical or  virtualized environment? The only thing that makes it more vulnerable compared to physical is because for physical and virtual, it took 15-20 years for people to study it. And they kept on adapting here. The time of EPON is very small. Within one and two years, suddenly the company did not see where things had moved to cloud. On the native applications front, they’re still trying to learn what cloud-native applications are. So those are the two threats that I generally see.

Nikita:

From an investment point of view, how much have you invested and in what areas in your cloud business? Especially in India.

Nilesh:

There are two areas where we have invested; one is in people. Since we saw that this makes sense for us because we have been leaders in data security and with cloud, one with multiple different services. We are working with leading cloud service providers, from August, 2012. It made sense for us to invest in India to ensure that, one, we are taking care of data mobility. So any customer, any enterprise, any government body can adopt security from cloud, which is without worrying about data and second is in people. So we have built a team that is now focusing completely on cloud one business, working with customers more closely and who understand different cloud-native, cloud services, which are offered. The whole culture and the whole model of how it can be offered to the customer as a service. These are two areas where we are investing heavily.

Nikita:

Specifically for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are still getting to grips with technology. How are you reaching out to them?

Vijendra:

That’s a very good question. I’ll tell you,  to be very honest, for a lot of upcoming SMEs or cloud-native companies, we might not even have visibilities. There are new companies, which doesn’t show up anywhere in our database. The best way we found is to hook ourselves with someone who is a veteran, who are the enablers for them to do the business, which is AWS. We have a very tight integration and good go-to-market engagement with AWS for many years now. We are one of the largest partners and vendors for AWS globally. We have a separate team in India, which we call the cloud team and it’s expanding quickly.

Vijendra:

This team’s job is to work with AWS, get the visibility of those born in cloud companies and new eCommerce companies, FinTech companies, and even the traditional enterprises. We work with them so that we get visibility, we understand challenges they’re facing, and then we get to know them and then we start working. So that is one thing we are doing, which has been extremely successful. We are still working very closely with Microsoft and Google globally. We are yet to work closely with them here, but AWS is keeping us busy anyway.

Nikita:

Data privacy and cybersecurity is now a growing concern in India as is data localization. What is your view on what the government should do? Should data privacy follow GDPR or is the Indian context unique?

Nilesh:

The Indian context is unique. We have a culture as enterprise, we look across the enterprise, right? Not only the government. In enterprise also, there is a lot of unstructured data. So the problem starts from there. When you have unstructured data, it becomes very difficult to classify. Which data is sensitive data? Has it been secured? How it has to be handled. And, we have been dealing with that. So, I think problems start from there. And then we talk about how to make sure that we classify the data and then  put more controls around it. So when you talk about what government needs to do when it comes to data privacy, I think a lot has been discussed a lot. One thing which we feel for sure is India is one country, which has been always hot when it comes to cyber attacks.

Nilesh:

So, we have been targeted a lot. More awareness is still required across enterprises and government bodies. More awareness in terms of what kind of measures and guidelines we need to take to ensure that at least basic hygiene is in place. We do see probably two years back when we were hit. However, the impact in India was not big, but still there was some safety, some data centers, which were impacted. This can be a good checkpoint to realize that at least,  when it comes to basic security, we need to take certain steps. Some of the data centers, some of the government bodies that we work with are very mature in terms of cybersecurity.

Nilesh:

I think when we are working with them, when we are talking to them, one thing which always comes to mind is how proactive we can be. How we can be ahead of those bad actors. That is where we are also working with a lot of these bodies and then ensuring that right kind of information is passed to them. So,  I think across the country we have good policies in place. We have got good policymakers who are going to make sure that there are regulations.

Vijendra:
Let me give you a little bit of insight on what India means for us globally. We are a $2 billion company globally. We are one of the largest cyber security companies in the world and India is among the top 10 revenue earning countries for Trend Micro. One of the biggest penetrations that we have seen is in big banking and BFSI. We are protecting their critical assets, infrastructure assets. Most of the products are now cloud-ready within India.

Vijendra:

As we talk about data sovereignity from a government perspective, the government of India’s working on making sure that data doesn’t move out of India. We knew this is coming and we knew this is very critical and we are committed to this market. That’s why we ensure that we got our cloud, our XDR all the data build up locally here. So none of the data goes out of it. This looks small, but it’s not. The biggest investment is an organizational commitment because we have to rearchitect the entire product to be scaled up for local operation.

Vijendra:

We are very proud that when we launched Cloud One, which is our cloud security,  data center outside US for the first time ever, the first country was India. That itself says that how important the India market is for us. And now we are building up our local support center here, building up a big team.

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