OT security vendor Nozomi Networks looks to deepen IT, channel relationships

Nozomi Networks is an ICS startup with a lot of momentum, and in a world where IT and OT are increasingly converging, is deepening its IT strategic and channel partnerships to wind up on what they think will inevitably be the winning side.

Edgard Capdevielle, Nozomi Networks’ CEO

Nozomi Networks, which provides industrial control system [ICS] cybersecurity in the operational technology space, is looking to broaden out more into an IT market which it sees as the eventual top dog as IT and OT technologies converge. The five-year old startup, which just completed its third funding found, has landed multiple lighthouse customers for its ICS solutions, including a major deal with GE Power last week.  They also recently inked a strategic partnering initiative with Cisco, joining earlier ones with Fortinet and FireEye, among others.

Nozomi Networks was founded five years ago, and immediately engaged with Enel, a utility company which is now the largest in the world.

“That focused us to build a very scalable product,” said Edgard Capdevielle, Nozomi Networks’ CEO. “We were originally co-founded in Switzerland, and after our third year of business, we did an A round of funding, moved to San Francisco, and have since done two additional rounds of funding. We just announced that GE Power, a huge global company that operates in 180 countries, has just selected us to  provide their ICS cybersecurity solution. They decided to kill their own solution that they were using, and selected us to replace them.”

The GE Power deal actually went into effect three months ago, and is just being announced now. Nozomi has been making announcements around both customers and strategic partners all year however. Two weeks ago, they announced that they have integrated their ICS security solution with the Cisco Security Technology Alliance [CSTA]. That will allow Nozomi to integrate with Cisco’s APIs and SDKs across the Cisco security portfolio – deepening a move into the IT space that has become an important strategic priority for the company.

“We also have more strategic partnerships that we will be announcing,” Capdevielle said. “The larger story is the increasing mainstreamness of OT and IT convergence. We have many strategic IT partnerships. The only one that predates my tenure [October 2016] is Fortinet. That has been there almost from Day One.  All the others are newer.”

They are also critical to Nozomi Networks’ strategy going forward.

“Our strategy is to be where the market is going to go,” Capdevielle said. “We have seen convergence with IT before in other industries, and any convergence movie ends with IT winning. We want to be aligned on the side of IT.”

Integration with IT vendors like Fortinet and Cisco is massively complementary, he stressed.

“IT security is an expert in dealing with the bad guys,” he said. “In OT, that doesn’t make any sense. You need to focus on this physical process. It’s a radical difference. We can apply our deep process level of identifying anomalies. Then, when we detect something, we can use an IT solution to block it.”

While these partnerships are designed to embed Nozomi Networks in the IT side of the Internet of Things – ironically, Capdevielle does not like the term.

“The term IoT is like the term ‘periperals,’” he said. “It can mean anything from a drone to a thermostat. IIOT [Industrial IoT] is a much more descriptive team of what we do, since we are really talking about industrial control networks. Within that space, we have a broad range of customers, from Enel, which has 65 million customers, to small utilities like Vermont Electric, which serves 35,000 customers. We save Kris Smith, Vermont Electric’s Manager of Operations Engineering, 20 per cent of his time. The time savings of what we provide is especially valuable for smaller customers.”

Nozomi Networks is also strong in oil and gas, with customers ranging from large global  companies to small specialty players.

“We are also strong in chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and transportation, although manufacturing is actually our largest vertical,” Capdevielle said. “Anyone who has an ICS can use us.”

While Nozomi Networks initially sold direct, they have also been expanding their channel to scale their business – including IT resellers.

“This year, we completed implementing a layer of distribution, and we are now 100 per cent distributed everywhere,” Capdevielle stated. We have some OT specialists as resellers, but we also have reseller partners, like Atos, IBM, CGI and Optiv. The IT channel is also looking to extend their footprint, from IT to OT. To do that, they need an OT expert, and that’s what Nozomi does.”