Nozomi Networks continues to address IT/OT convergence issues with Schneider Electric partnership

This global deal, which is a very significant one for both companies, also has implications for Nozomi Networks’ strategy of bridging the gap between IT and OT, and for their IT vendor partners like Cisco and Fortinet and their joint channel partners.

Nozomi Networks’ Chet Namboodri (L) and Schneider Electric’s Gary Williams (R) at the S4 conference Tuesday

Nozomi Networks, which provides operational technology [OT]  industrial control system [ICS] cybersecurity, has announced a major new global partnership with Schneider Electric.  Schneider Electric will resell Nozomi’s SCADAguardian platform as a bundle with their own EcoStruxure Industrial Internet of Things process automation and industrial control solutions, and will work on integrating the solutions as well.  Schneider Electric has also trained its own consultants as Nozomi Networks Certified Engineers, and will demo the SCADAguardian platform in Schneider Electric service centers worldwide.

Nozomi Networks has been reacting to the increasing convergence of IT with OT by broadening their footprint into IT, which they see as the inevitable winner of such convergence, as it has been in every other industry where convergence has taken place. This strategy has included the development of strategic partnerships with IT companies, which include Fortinet and Cisco. Schneider Electric is clearly on the OT side of the house, but Nozomi sees this partnership as a key part of their convergence strategy.

“Our strategy regarding the marketplace is very much bridging between IT and OT,” said Chet Namboodri,  Nozomi’s VP of Business Development. “Each one of our alliances is unique, and this is oriented more to the industrial automation side of things. I would characterize it as a foundational alliance that emboldens our OT offering around the threats around Industrial Control Systems [ICS]. This is particularly the case because one of the beauties of Schneider Electric  is openness. We regard them as the most open of the industrial automation players.”

Namboodri stated that this partnership still has strong implications for the convergence with IT.

“The convergence between IT and OT happens where business networks interface with automation networks,” he said. “We have a place in helping to bridge that. We are a bridge in recognizing threats that may be pertinent in one realm, one SCADA [supervisory control and data acquisition] system – that bridges on the OT side of thing in terms of threats. NotPetya also found its way over to the OT networks. This partnership improves our visibility into industrial control systems and automation networks,  and helps boost our converged IT strategy.”

On one level, the deal significantly extends Nozomi’s reach.

“Schneider Electric is in practically every space,” said  Gary Williams, Senior Director, Cybersecurity Service Offer Leader, at Schneider Electric. “We provide the components but also the services to support those, with my specific role being the cybersecurity and how we protect the hosting architecture. We work extensively in data centres to support large companies, but we also work downmarket in focused areas like oil and gas, pharma, and food and beverage  looking at all aspects of physical and components.”

The relationship developed because of requests from Schneider Electric customers.

“The initial driver for this partnership came from Schneider Electric clients who identified us as a best-in-class cybersecurity provider,” Namboodri said. “That was really the initiation of it. This is a customer-driven partnership.”

“We tested a number of different vendors, and Nozomi came out on top,” Williams indicated. “Traditionally, we tend to create our own solutions, but it is no longer feasible to create every solution, so we look to companies like Nozomi to help us mitigate the risk. Weve always monitored networks, but Nozomi has a portfolio including anomaly detection, which would take us 12 months to develop on our own. The Nozomi SCADAguardian solution provides 24/7 coverage, which is essential, and lets our clients be compliant there. SCADAguardian also  learns the system, tells you all the assets, and will tell you about unusual activity. It’s automated and warns you if anything changes on the system. That’s huge.  This lets us better protect our client base, and brings them so much value. They will help us addrss threats we cant even quantify.  We are looking to the future, and will work with Nozomi as a trusted partner to understand what the new threats are and how to mitigate them.”

Namboodri said that the Schneider Electric partnership has significant implications for their IT strategic partners and resellers, which includes Atos, IBM, CGI and Optiv.

“This is relevant for SIEM players and firewall players because of our open REST APIs we’ve always had,” Namboodri said. “We’ve always emphasized that muscle with IT-oriented firewall and SIEM companies. This partnership enables more visibility through those tool. It opens those addressable markets for the IBMs and Ciscos of the world who have those traditional IT components like SIEM and firewalls. IBM’s QRadar is suddenly much more capable.”

Williams said that the deal also helps Schneider Electric’s own channel as well.

“Schneider Electric  has a wide variety of system integrators and supplier partners,” he indicated. “It’s key that we help them. The systems integrators all know that the the biggest threat in this space is threats from the enterprise network going down to the operational network. Nozomi directly addresses this, while also reducing complexity and giving a real time view of the network. That cuts partners’ costs.”