Ep. 43 Hero S2 Ep43 Tim Prendergast

Decoding Digital Security: Tim Prendergast on Cloud Security and Infrastructure Access


27 min

Ep. 43 Hero S2 Ep43 Tim Prendergast

27 min

“No one ever gained a lot by risking next to nothing.” This is why Tim Prendergast has been so successful in everything he’s done, because without risk, there is no reward. Prior to his work at StrongDM, Tim was the principal architect for Adobe's Cloud Team and then became a seed investor in technologies that he truly believes in. Tim is an expert in all things cloud security, cloud infrastructure, building and scaling SaaS businesses, and legit barbeque. Today, Tim is CEO of StrongDM, a startup solving the problem of how to get people to access infrastructure in a safe and sane way. In today’s episode, Tim talks about how all great innovation starts with pushing the envelope of what’s possible, the transformation of the security industry over the past few years, and the power of teamwork within a tech startup.

Read transcript

"That's how all great innovation and transformations happen in human history. You have to go advocate for it, and then they look at it later on and they say, oh, in retrospect, it was totally obvious...And I think it's only obvious once someone's actually pushed the envelope and made it possible. And I had a lot of fun doing that."

Quick takes on...

Why Tim joined StrongDM

"A lot of people ask me like, what got you off the couch? The answer is amazing people and amazing technology. And I think that's a true statement for probably most founders who are passionate about tech."

The power of teamwork in a tech startup

"We're gonna unlock the power of what teamwork can actually do when we don't put the entire burden on either a sales team or an engineering team, but we actually have an entire company moving in a direction using their kind of digital infrastructure to power their business."

Meet your guest, Tim Prendergast

CEO of StrongDM

Spotlight S2 Ep43 Tim Prendergast

Tim Prendergast is the CEO at strongDM, a series-B startup solving the 20+ year old problem of how to get people to access infrastructure in a safe and sane way. Prior to this, he was the principal architect for Adobe's Cloud Team -- designing and scaling the elastic AWS infrastructure that created the well-known success story that is the poster-child for digital transformation. His primary areas of expertise are cloud security, cloud infrastructure, and building and scaling SaaS businesses.

Listen to the next episode

Ep. 44 Home S2 Ep44 Kurt Davis

Decoding Business Development: Kurt Davis on Closing the Big Deals


32 min

What can you do to catapult your startup over the chasm of early adopters into the land of new opportunities with trillion-dollar companies? Kurt Davis is here to tell you how to do exactly that. Kurt is a technology entrepreneur, world explorer, and expert in business development. The first 20 years of his career were spent between the San Francisco Bay Area and Asia working with technology startups in finance and business development roles. Since then, Kurt has started a business accelerator in an African refugee camp, launched a media company, and invested in companies in the southeast of the U.S. Today, Kurt is the CEO of the startup, Stealth Smiles. In today’s episode, Kurt talks about his book, Navigate to the Lighthouse: A Silicon Valley Guide to Executing Global Deals, the importance of preparation and organization when presenting a large deal, and how fostering these relationships is key to helping you ultimately close the deal.

Episode transcript

[00:00:00] Tim Prendergast: That's how all…

[00:00:00] Tim Prendergast: That's how all great innovation and transformations happen in human history. You have to go advocate for it, and then they look at it later on and they say, oh, in retrospect, it was totally obvious. And I think it's only obvious once someone's actually pushed the envelope and made it possible. And I had a lot of fun doing that.

[00:00:25] Dan Saks: That was Tim Prendergast. Tim is the CEO of Strong DM a startup solving the problem of how to get people to access infrastructure in a safe and sane way. Tim was the principal architect for Adobe's Cloud team and became a seed investor in technologies that he truly believes in. Tim is an expert in all things cloud security, cloud infrastructure, and building and scaling SaaS businesses.

[00:00:52] In today's episode, Tim talks about how all great innovation starts with pushing the envelope of what's possible, the transformation of the security industry over the past few years. And the power of teamwork within a tech startup. This is Daniel Saks, president and co-founder of AppDirect, and it's time to decode cloud security and the secrets to building a successful tech startup.

[00:01:21] Welcome to Decoding Digital, a podcast for innovators looking to thrive in the digital economy. I'm your host, Daniel Saks, and I'll sit down with other founders, CEOs and changemakers to decode the trends that are transforming the way we work. Let's decode. Welcome to Tim.

[00:01:44] Tim Prendergast: Hey, good to be here. Daniel. Let's start

[00:01:48] Dan Saks: from the beginning and let's kick it. So where did you grow up? How did you get into cloud and security? Tell me about it.

[00:01:54] Tim Prendergast: Oh yeah, this is an exciting tale. So I grew up in Arizona in a small town called Gilbert, Arizona. You know, go Gilbert. It was a couple thousand people when I grew up there, and it was a cattle farm and it was a really awesome place to grow up, except it's in the middle of the Arizona desert.

[00:02:09] I'm this very pale, white-skinned, red-headed ginger guy whose mortal enemy is the big orange ball in the sky. And so what did I do? I decided to, you know, jump into a career that kept me indoors under fluorescent lights that got me interested in computers at an early age and learning to, you know, mess around with computers.

[00:02:27] As a kid you learn how to play video games, break systems, you know, make things work and figure out how they don't work. And that led me into a cybersecurity career, which was actually a lot of fun because you kind of get paid to break things. And so that ultimately led me out to the Bay Area and into what I would say is a fairly fruitful and innovating career in the security industry.

[00:02:46] Dan Saks: And did you have a stint in there as a hacker?

[00:02:47] Tim Prendergast: I did learn on systems that I did not own At some point. Yes. So you,

[00:02:53] Dan Saks: you can't confirm or deny the crazy things you did?

[00:02:54] Tim Prendergast: I wouldn't say any of it was crazy. I would just say it's always fun to kind of like, you know, figure out how things should work and find ways that they shouldn't work, and then help people fix them.

[00:03:04] And that's, you know, I think a testament to a lot of people in the industry who are curious and want to push the envelope on things and then contribute back to the community. And I think that actually powers our vulnerability management industry and bug bounties and all kinds of exciting things that have sprung up around it.

[00:03:19] Dan Saks: So for the youth out there growing up in small town America or elsewhere, what advice would you have for them in getting into a career in STEM?

[00:03:27] Tim Prendergast: I think it goes as such. Find the thing you're passionate about. Dive headfirst into it. Don't let anyone tell you you can't find a career doing it. And use a method like scientific method, powers so many things in our universe, and I think that if you apply some rigor and methodology to everything from the sciences, to computer hacking, to software development, to whatever it is, it'll lead you to an interesting career because. It's really how every business operates.

[00:03:51]Have a hypothesis. Test the hypothesis, get some new data, and make a new hypothesis.

[00:03:58] Dan Saks: Tell me about, I know one of your titles was Chief Cloud Officer. Can you delve a little bit more into what that is?

[00:04:04] Tim Prendergast: totally. And I think it could have been the first Chief Cloud Officer title out there, but I don't know if LinkedIn has history for us to search that up.

[00:04:10] In 2018, Palo Alto Networks acquired a company called Evident.io that I started. That was kind of the first CSPM company as we know that instrument today. And Palo Alto was really known as a traditional network and firewall security company. And they were smart and saw the market coming and wanted to get into the cloud space very early and drive success for their customers who had to adopt cloud.

[00:04:32] And so I became the first Chief Cloud Officer that we were aware of in the public markets. And my job was just to help them understand the strategy of what cloud meant to their customers, how they were gonna adopt it, and the areas of opportunity for us to innovate in security. And I think they've done a really good job executing against it.

[00:04:48] And so it was a lot of fun because I got to go talk to customers who I knew a couple years ago, were like, we're never going to cloud. We're gonna stay in our data center forever. And I got to see them transition and say, we're going a hundred percent cloud and we're gonna close those data centers and we're gonna invest in this kind of new modern paradigm.

[00:05:03] And it was really a transformational journey that a lot of customers, I think, aspire to. But it was a lot of fun because the cross section of customers I saw in every industry was unique because Palo Alto has so much reach.

[00:05:14] Dan Saks: Yeah, it's pretty incredible. I think those transformative roles where you're really trying to drive change and digital transformation is really inspirational, especially depending on who you interact with.

[00:05:22] And I know a lot of discussion we have on our podcast is like, How do you get bigger companies and smaller companies alike to innovate? How do you get people who may not be digital innovators at heart to overcome some of the barriers to adopt technology and adopt services? But you know, would love to kind of get your perspective on your definition of digital transformation and like what some of the objectives would've been that you would've had to overcome in your role as Chief Cloud Officer.

[00:05:48] Tim Prendergast: Digital transformation to me is when a company realizes that they might be a shoe company, they might be a beverage manufacturer, they might make widgets on a factory line, but technology is what powers their business and makes that possible. It's a raw material that goes in the goods you make, and as soon as people have come to that agreement or that realization, they see and perceive technology differently.

[00:06:07] It's not like a big, expensive thing. It’s not scary, and it's not a waste of money for like the nerds in the bat cave to play with. It becomes a vehicle for them to power their business and get new reach and new markets they couldn't achieve otherwise. Right. For me, I think the thing that's daunting about it for a lot of people, and I even saw this at Palo Alto Networks, you could scream at the top of the mountain, like, people need this, they gotta have it.

[00:06:27] And they gotta, unless others have seen that or have the pattern recognition to pick it up, they look at you like you got three heads and it takes a lot of gusto, I would say, to put yourself out there and be willing to be so passionate about something and try and educate people on it pretty aggressively, even though they look at you like you're weird and they think you're wrong and they think you're crazy.

[00:06:47] Because ultimately that's how all great innovations and transformations happen in human history. You have to go advocate for it, and then they look at it later on and they say, oh, in retrospect, it was totally obvious. I think that's a classic technology story. Many of us would look at things like Netflix and go, oh yeah, I would never want to go into a movie place and hope my movie was there on a Friday night.

[00:07:05] Like I'd rather just be able to point, click and get it. And I think it's only obvious once someone's actually pushed the envelope and made it possible. And I had a lot of fun doing that.

[00:07:15] Dan Saks: Yeah, that story arc we've seen is true. And last year we commissioned a report. We did some qualitative, quantitative research on uncovering what was like a digital hero or a digital transforming innovator.

[00:07:26] We found it was done with Gerald Kane, who's been on the podcast before, but he was a professor at. Boston University and used a data set from MIT and wrote a book called The Technology Fallacy. But what our kind of finding was, which was interesting, is that there's certain intrinsic characteristics of a digital innovator, and oftentimes it was like exactly what you talked about.

[00:07:44] Like how do you have the vision, the tenacity, the foresight? How do you overcome barriers? But what we also found is that there were organizational characteristics that enable a digital hero to be successful. And oftentimes like organizations didn't have that. And if you're in your role as Chief Cloud Officer, working at a pretty innovative company, I mean, Palo Alto Networks crushed it in stock price.

[00:08:06] I mean, you guys were pervasive. But to see so many legacy companies that may be fighting you uphill and looking at the organizational challenges and the lack of embrace of innovation, that can sometimes be a really big challenge. And it's not just the CEO where I found it's like you could have a board or CEO that's very supportive of cloud, but the leadership team's not gonna push it through or vice versa.

[00:08:27] You could have some really great talent that are on the entry level, but you don't have support of the board. And I find like in big companies, you have a lot of organizational change. And when that change happens, you could have had someone who's an incredible champion of doing this cloud transformation and then when they leave the project just dies on the vine.

[00:08:44] Is that kind of what you observed as well? And any thoughts?

[00:08:47] Tim Prendergast: Yeah, I think so. I think there's a couple of impedance factors to it. One of them, like this organ transplant rejection where like the idea is so foreign or so antithetical to the core business of the company that they see it as a threat and not an opportunity.

[00:08:59] And anyone in the decision tree that has that often stifles or slows it down, and converting those people into champions of something radically different is very hard. I think it has to come from the top, and you have to have leadership who is self-aware and has pattern recognition for market trends, and they may not know the exact answer, but they're willing to place bets.

[00:09:19] I think that's where you get really strong leaders who are gonna say, Hey, look, we got our business here. And like, look, Palo Alto stock was 200 bucks a share or so at the time. Like they didn't get to $500 a share by making safe bets. They went and they really aggressively tried to blow up parts of the market and do new things.

[00:09:34] I think that's a true story for every company out there. We have leaders who are willing to kind of be a little gutsy and make some unpopular, but validated and well thought out decisions based on data. And roll the dice now and then, like you see great successes, right? No one ever gained a lot by risking next to nothing.

[00:09:51] You always have a risk gain factor you're balancing. So I think leading from the front is really big, where people who wanna drive change and wanna see something exciting unfold, have to kind of be willing to take the leap first for people to follow them. And then that inspires the rest of the team to have trust and faith that they're gonna get across the finish line.

[00:10:10] I think if you have leaders who don't do that, you have a lot of people underneath them who will be more conservative in their decision making, will do things like kind of stifle change or see things as threats, as opposed to opportunities. Uh, and that's true from the first two employees at any company to, you know, employee 400,000 at really big companies.

[00:10:27] It's really a leadership inspirational opportunity in my opinion. So

[00:10:32] Dan Saks: I'm all about taking bets and trying new things, but in a higher interest rate environment where the economy's getting a little crunched, I feel like every CEO or leader right now is thinking like, how do we really double down on the core?

[00:10:43] How do we focus on preparing for scale? How do we make sure that we prevent a hacker or security breach, you know, doing things that are more about risk mitigation than, let's say risk taking. So in your view, do you think you can do both at the same time or do you think that as you know, economies, shifts, people go from a year of like, take those big bets, now's the time to do it, you know, let's go.

[00:11:05] Versus this is a time to actually like pause methodically and really try to mitigate risk.

[00:11:10] Tim Prendergast: I think it's a prioritization thing. I think it depends on what part of the lifecycle a company's in. I think you absolutely can do both at the same time. Right? There are great foundational security things you can do for next to $0.

[00:11:21] There are great advanced security things you can do for moderate dollars. Right? At the same time, those same companies are deciding how much money do I deploy to my go-to-market team to go out there and market and do events and try and connect to my customers? How much do I invest in R&D? That's always a balancing act for any CEO, and you know this as well.

[00:11:39] And so part of the measure of how good your executive leadership team is, is how well they balance those things and they adjust those knobs during uncertain times. And I think there's a difference between totally closing the purse strings to any purchase and just very moderately doling out investment in the areas that you actually need the most help.

[00:11:57] And I know people think compliance is boring. I think compliance is a great measure for saying these are the bare minimum criteria your company should meet. And if you're not meeting any of them, at least investing, getting to a starting foundation and then how much you innovate beyond that, that's up to you.

[00:12:12] But you'll mitigate 99% of the threats by having 80 percentile mapping to security controls that are just foundational to every business.

[00:12:21] Dan Saks: So it's like too often that you know, someone has an issue, a breach, a hack, something, you know, IP theft, and then they try to go patch that and mitigate the risk.

[00:12:29] But how do you educate your customers to kind of think much more forward looking around like how to take those basics and mitigate risk?

[00:12:36] Tim Prendergast: I mean, I think it goes back to challenging the assumptions. I think we've gone so far down the security industry that we haven't ever gone back and said, how did we get here?

[00:12:44] And like, I'm a guilty party as well. I've built a lot of security products in my career, including some of the ones that are probably equally bad offenders as we view them today. That we would never do if we had a chance to do 'em again. And so you look at this and you say, what does my company actually need to be secure?

[00:12:57] And how do I store my data and my customer's information and how do we access it? And all those kinds of things. And then what are the right controls to put around it? Not what we did five years ago, just cuz we wanna maintain the status quo, but like what's the right way to do this? And challenging the assumption that you have to do what everyone who before you showed up did.

[00:13:14] It's like you don't have to go by the old Cisco VPN concentrator and firewalls. Like just cause that's, you had them at the last company. Every opportunity is a chance to reevaluate and figure out do I redeploy those dollars into a different way of doing things? And we see it right now what's called kind of zero trust.

[00:13:28] It's a big buzz in the industry right now, but it really is are we're moving away from network-based security, meaning IPs, ports and firewalls saying this office can talk to that data center and moving more towards what can Daniel do because Daniel is who he is and we've strongly authenticated him.

[00:13:44] And then what else can he do if he were to get further authorization? And so it moves the model away from inhuman models, which is like, Whoever's at the end of that terminal can access that database to only Daniel can access that database cuz he's the right person at the right time who has those rights.

[00:14:01] And as people have made that shift and have been challenging those ideas, we're seeing a lot of innovation. We're seeing actually people save a lot of money because you're not duplicating lots of legacy infrastructure that was very hard to set up. And it's not just saving money on what you spend.

[00:14:15] Imagine like a steeplechase where at one side there's, you know, Daniel and at the other side there's something he has to do for work and you have to go through all 26 obstacles to get to do that thing for work. You spent more time climbing obstacles than doing the actual job. That's a reality for a lot of companies, because enterprise security traditionally has just built more moats and more pits and walls to climb over to get to do your job and hasn't actually solved some of the core problems.

[00:14:37] So I think companies can redeploy capital and resources in smart ways and actually gain efficiency as opposed to lose efficiency, which is kind of a net new win for the organizations around the world.

[00:14:48] Dan Saks: Before we get into strong dm, pretty cool, but you went from being the first Chief Cloud Officer to the first Chief Couch Officer.

[00:14:56] Can you explain what that's all about?

[00:14:58] Tim Prendergast: I do want to stake claim to that, and if the Guinness Book of World Records would take my call, I'd try and get that ironed out into a plaque or something. But when I stepped back, one of the things I didn't quite regret, but I felt like I could done a better job of was just more presence in my kids' lives.

[00:15:14] I have three daughters. They're fantastic. They're all like super into stamina things, and so I was like, I have a lot I could teach them about everything from security to video games, to how to barbecue, all these things you want to transmit into your progeny as a parent. And so I had the opportunity to step away from the industry for a little while, decompress, but I loved the CCO acronym that was on a business card.

[00:15:35] And so I kind of said, what could I do? And so I made, if you haven't seen it, you can go on LinkedIn, look up tprinder as my short ual and just see the comedy I tried to put into LinkedIn to brighten people's days. Like I had a stack of like video games that I bought and never unwrapped outta the plastic.

[00:15:48] And I had a bunch of board games I wanted to play with my kids. We never got to. And so I got to start spending time with them learning more about what they're doing in school and helping them with it. Teaching them concepts about stuff, everything from entrepreneurship to security, to computers, and really trying to give them a step up foundationally from where I started, which is learn it all by myself as a kid.

[00:16:06] And that then kind of coincided with the pandemic that hit. And so we got to sit there and go through virtual school with them and just really be part of that experience with them during that time. And it was a blast. It was one of the more rewarding things I've done in my career and I've done a lot of stuff.

[00:16:21] But Chief Couch Officer was 50% entertainment value in playing games and kind of being a little bit of a loaf and taking a break from a long career back to back to probably part, creating new psychotherapy bills for my children when they're older and wanna send them to me in mail.

[00:16:36] Dan Saks: So what about gaming really do you think is beneficial or helpful to you in your career?

[00:16:41] Tim Prendergast: Oh man. You know, if you've ever played games going all the way back to like the original eight bit Nintendos and Contra and things like that, everyone always has memorized like, what's the cheat code? How do I skip this part of the level? How do I, you know, beat this game on a speed run without losing any hit points?

[00:16:54] It's all trying to find ways to get around the system and the way it was intended to be, and I think that's a direct corollary to security once again. How do you find the ways. that are there and can be used, but we're never intended to be used? And what are the effects of that? And so like for video games, one, I think it's part humility.

[00:17:11] It's like golf. It teaches you as you get older, your reflexes get slower and all of a sudden you're not as good as you used to think you are anymore. But I think the other thing is you always are thinking about like, Hey, can I exploit this? Can I do that? Is there a way around this, can I do this a very different way?

[00:17:26] I think that's exciting about video games because. Life's not linear. You don't just go from point A to point B in a straight line. There's always bumps in the road and things that happen to pop up. And I think it's true in video games too, things don't always go as planned and you get to kind of adapt on the way and it's a lot of fun.

[00:17:41] And so it's a good way to spend time and entertain yourself and like the kids like doing it. You say, Hey, let's play solitaire. The kids are go away. You say, Hey, let's play a video game. Like sweet, and you get a multiplayer game going and it's a lot of fun.

[00:17:52] Dan Saks: That’s great. What else did you do professionally in that time?

[00:17:55] Did you Angel invest? Did you advise other founders or CEOs?

[00:18:00] Tim Prendergast: Yeah, I did some advising. I did some evaluating of investments for venture firms that I was closer to. I did some angel investing alongside some of those in companies that I believed in, and so I think it's just a good time for me to give back.

[00:18:12] Being a founder is one of those things where you never realize how important the community around you is until you actually need to lean on them and like, Being able to go give back to that community is the testament of respecting that community. And so I got to go back and advise some founders on things that I had been through.

[00:18:29] And you never go in and say, Hey, this is what you should do. Because there's no playbook that can be repeated twice by startups or there would be a finite number of successful companies. But you absolutely can go say, in my journey, this is what happened and how I dealt with it. And you can give them the anecdotes and the data points to then draw their own conclusions.

[00:18:43] And I found that rewarding. So Strong DM, ironically, is one of those companies that when they got their seed round in 2015, joined a portfolio that Evident.io, my former company, was in. And so I got to meet the founders early on and we met annually at this founder camp event they put on, and it was founded by three great individuals who saw a real problem at their last company.

[00:19:05] And that problem was someone stood up a copy of a production data store on the public internet without proper authentication, authorization, and it severely damaged and eventually kind of killed the company they were working for. And so they asked a question that all of us have asked, but no one really set out to solve.

[00:19:22] And that question was, Why do we give everyone the keys of the Kingdom just to do their job, right? You have the root login and password to a database, like who knows what happens if someone else gets that? And we see it day-to-day in the news. And so Strong DM is what we call a people first access company.

[00:19:37] It's what happens if companies could give anyone in their organization access to the things they need to do to their job and infrastructure, but they never had to give them root logins or SSH keys or credentials or cert files or any of that authentication material. That could fall into the wrong hands and really harm the business irreparably.

[00:19:54] And so it's a really exciting organization. The tech's amazing and I got an opportunity to join in the fun, which like I couldn't say no to. And if a lot of people ask me like, what got you off the couch? The answer is amazing people and amazing technology. And I think that's a true statement for probably most founders who are passionate about tech.

[00:20:13] Dan Saks: I think one of the things that we know is that a lot of employees, technical people, they'll use keys for AWS or for other credentials, and sometimes that can create risk and vulnerability in the model if they're shared. Or if a bad actor gets access to those keys, what do you do to address that problem?

[00:20:28] Tim Prendergast: Yeah, so the way Strong DM works is we create a model where, You show up for work for the day and you log in, you're Daniel at App Direct, and it goes out to your single sign on provider, your IDP, and it authenticates you, right? So it's like the DMV, here's your driver's license, this is who you are. It's legally proven.

[00:20:45] Once you have that, Then what do you do with it? And strong DM answers that question. We help people map what actions and authorizations users have to systems and resources, and then we let them connect those without ever having to have those actual, what I would consider kinda like radioactive credentials.

[00:21:01] The things that if you were to lose them to somebody else could really be harmful to the security of your business. We move all that management to the right side of the equation and the infrastructure, so, right before your connection to the database, the credentials are injected into the session and you're dropped into the least privileged role that gives you the rights to do what you need and no extra rights, right?

[00:21:21] So you don't end up in a situation where everyone's logged in this admin, which we all remember from years ago as a problem in a lot of organizations, and you don't go knocking cubicle to cubicle asking people if they have the login to this database or that Kubernetes cluster or this Windows box, because you are who you are.

[00:21:36] The system will actually map the rules that matter right now. And let you do your job when you need it. And it's as simple as that. And it just works. It lets people use whatever tool to connect to the resources they want and on the backend, security teams love it cause they get all the auditing they need to actually prove who had access to what and what they did with it.

[00:21:53] And so it's a very symbiotic relationship for the first time where users get access to do their job without all the pain. Security teams get the proof they need without having users hate them. Everyone ends up happy and it's just a better way to work.

[00:22:04] Dan Saks: So what's next for the security industry?

[00:22:08] Tim Prendergast: Oh, that's a good question. I think you're gonna see a huge push not only towards more identity-based security and like, that's a no-brainer, but like look at. Thoma Bravo buying Ping, ForgeRock and SalePoint and forming like kinda what I think is probably one of the first IAM pure play companies. I think you're seeing Okta, Microsoft battle it out for who's the biggest directory of authentication for users and organizations.

[00:22:31] I think we're gonna see a lot of movement in this space. I think we're also gonna see the traditional enterprise security players try and foray into this because you have the Ciscos and the Palo Altos and all these companies who have network-based security, like firewalls and all these things that operate at a totally different paradigm.

[00:22:46] Those businesses are gonna get cannibalized by this identity security business. So you're gonna see them start to make a move in here. There's gonna be a lot of really cool innovation that's gonna come in. I'm hoping we also see kinda just the death of the password in general for all of us. I don't know about you, but I have like 42 billion passwords that I need to log in for everything.

[00:23:01] From my own personal health insurance and banking credentials to, I don't know how many sites for work and other things. So I would be happy to see if there's a better way for us to just continue to authenticate and move our way in there. And then I think you're gonna see the security industry grappling with how do we actually transform and start delivering more value with less headcount and less budget than we ever have before?

[00:23:24] That's gonna be a lot of platforms and a lot of automation really making its way into security. We see it in engineering teams right now. Things like SOAR and other orchestration platforms and security have never really lifted the burden.

[00:23:37] And I'm excited to see if we can actually make that stick in the next year or two as security teams can transition to more automation, more AI and ML helping make decisions so you don't have to have an army of people in the bat cave looking at screens, pushing buttons to try and keep the bad guys out.

[00:23:55] Dan Saks: So a decade ago or so, you know, there were two big security companies. You had Symantec and Norton, and then you had McAffy and they dominated. And then seemingly overnight, those companies started to struggle and they were replaced by endpoint security and other cloud technologies that it seems like there's an endless landscape of different security vendors and solutions.

[00:24:14] Do you think that there'll be consolidation as there was in the past, or do you think that, you know, there's just so many needs for different types of security that people are gonna have to navigate all the different types of security that they're gonna need for their business?

[00:24:26] Tim Prendergast: I think you're always gonna see the big guys trying to consolidate and inorganically, acquire market share, right?

[00:24:33] That's gonna be a standard. I think what you're gonna see more often is more of the smaller and mid-market kind of startup size organizations that are growing and wanna take on the big guys, kind of forming alliances and teams that integrate neatly together to build better stories for customers. I think the Palo Altos and Symantecs and all these more established companies, they'll do it too, but they're gonna be a little bit slower.

[00:24:52] And so if you can imagine an endpoint company and an infrastructure access company and an IDP getting their story really clean, the integration value really nailed down. So a customer doesn't think about how things flow or have to do much setup.

[00:25:08] That's a huge win for customers who have two or three security admins and a million projects to tackle. They don't have to keep going back to the well and revisiting and getting professional services and having all kinds of issues and not changing between three different screens every five minutes to try and figure something out.

[00:25:23] As we see more of that security and data and more of that tight integration, I think it's gonna be better for the industry and it's gonna eliminate the need to have all these things kind of roll up under one logo. Big companies love to have one throw to choke, don't get me wrong, but I think best of breed products will win, especially when they can play nice together.

[00:25:40] Dan Saks: Just before we conclude, what's one thing that you're super excited about in the landscape today?

[00:25:43] Tim Prendergast: I'm super excited about what Strong DM is doing to help people work, and here's why. I think it's absolutely true that we have more people working with infrastructure than ever before. We'll continue to see it outside of engineering on clouds, so you're gonna have marketing teams using big data infrastructure like Google BigQuery to do campaign analytics.

[00:26:01] You'll have finance teams using Hosted and cloud SAP and things like that to help manage their financials of business. You're gonna see all these organizations that are not traditionally tech consumers of infrastructure using that infrastructure to power their business through data intelligence.

[00:26:15] I think that's really exciting for us because it means we're unlocking a world where everyone contributes to the bottom line of a company. Everyone can actually help leverage infrastructure and return on investment that to the CFOs who are always looking for the best ROI on those. And then I think it also just means we're gonna unlock the power of what teamwork can actually do when we don't put the entire burden on either like a sales team or an engineering team, but we actually have an entire company moving in a direction using their kind of digital infrastructure to power their business.

[00:26:40] And I think we get to be part of that story, and that's the most exciting thing to me.

[00:26:45] Dan Saks: Amazing. Well, Tim, we covered a lot of ground from Chief Cloud to Chief Couch and now really transforming the world of security, so I appreciate you joining me here on Decoding Digital

[00:26:54] Tim Prendergast: Anytime. Thank you, Daniel. Take care.

[00:27:00] Dan Saks: Thanks for listening to Decoding Digital. Make sure you never miss an episode by subscribing to the show in your favorite podcast player. To learn more, visit decoding digital.com. Until next time.