Kamal Shah nostalgically remembers playing the Atari game Pong as a boy. It sparked his early passion for technology and set him on course towards a career in computing. His interest in gaming – and by extension, computers – led him to pursue computer science. “I was always intrigued by what you could achieve with computers,” he said. His first job was as a developer with FedEx.
Eventually he realized that his true passion was in building and launching great projects.
“What I really enjoyed doing was creating new things. I got excited working with a group of talented, committed, passionate people, identifying new and evolving needs, and then building great products that meet those needs. I love all the aspects of building a business.”
To supplement his experience, he worked for his MBA at Harvard Business School. Shah’s business savvy and affinity for technology led to him being part of the founding team at two companies, both of which were acquired by bigger companies.
Sometime in 2010 or 2011, during a conversation with 20 or so CIOs, Shah had an epiphany. Every CIO was excited about the cloud and the possibilities it offered, but they were also concerned about securing the data as it moved to the cloud.
Yet another concern was that employees were becoming increasingly mobile, accessing data while working out of coffee shops and bringing their own devices into the workplace. The value and importance of security captured Shah’s attention.
“The cloud needed a major change in how security was implemented. I believed that this was going to become a growing problem, and that is proving to be the case.”
“I owe my interest in security to those CIOs that I spoke with,” he says. “The conversation opened my eyes and guided me in this direction.”
Shah sees several trends happening in cybersecurity in the next few years.
Foremost, companies are now evolving their application development architecture. “You can no longer have monolithic applications that you change once every six months.”
Instead, companies are now breaking down these applications into microservices and smaller components. “They deploy them as containers and often update them multiple times a day.” As a result, companies gain tremendous agility, faster time to value, and greater productivity.
At the same time, however, the new infrastructure and processes create the need for a new approach to security and to protecting those applications.
“It’s a massive fundamental shift. The opportunity here is bigger than the CASB [Cloud Access Security Broker] opportunity,” Shah says, noting his previous company’s product focus. He adds “This is the future. This is where every organization will be.”
Another trend he sees is artificial intelligence. There has been a lot of hype about AI, and the jury is still out on whether it has yet meaningfully addressed security. “I think, however, AI will fundamentally transform security as we know it today,” he says.
And then there is information warfare. “What we are seeing are large countries or entities waging sophisticated attacks and information warfare, and that is going to become a major area of tension and challenge over the next few years.”
Through it all, Shah, a serial entrepreneur and businessman, knows what security should not do. “We can’t slow down our businesses – we can’t get in the way,” Shah says. “We must enable the shift to the digital transformation that’s driving growth and profits.”
The valuable things
Shah starts his day by running or exercising. He does these even before he checks his mail. As someone who is deeply grateful for the support he has received from family and friends, Shah is a big believer in being active in the community.
“Giving back is something you don’t start doing when you are 60,” Shah says. “It has to be part of your life from childhood. It has to be part of your DNA.”