Network-access-control start-up ConSentry Networks has filled its long-vacant CEO position with Joe Golden, a partner in Accel Partners, a ConSentry investor. Golden was a partner in Accel Partners' London venture-capital office from 2001 until ConSentry hired him; before that he was Cisco's managing director of business development and strategic alliances for Europe, Middle East and Africa. With NAC in flux and with some start-ups having failed, Golden spoke with Network World Senior Editor Tim Greene about ConSentry, its strategy and the future of NAC.
Why would you leave Accel for a start-up?
I love start-ups, I love the teamwork. Frankly, venture capital is not a team sport. It's more like a bunch of silos. I fell in love with NAC technology and where this market is starting to head.
What's particularly appealing about ConSentry?
We're one of the leaders at getting the access-control space going, and we think there's a heck of an opportunity here to integrate that with switching. It's taken them a while, but now Cisco and Juniper Networks are making noises about intelligent switching. We think that's good.
How would you describe the intelligent switching competition out there right now?
It's a very nascent market. There's a lot of Powerpoint and waving about intelligent switching. One way or another, we've been talking about Layer 7 switching and intelligence for the last 10 years; but when it comes to what's actually integrated and doing that, it's very little. The recent moves by Cisco and Juniper do endorse that space, and that is good for us.
What are the best things about ConSentry to exploit short-term?
We have a strong customer base using our boxes in different ways. We're a small start-up; we don't have a tremendous amount of resources; and we're going to focus in on a few market segments as a way to building our credibility, not just in market segments but in particular solutions.
What do you have planned to attract more customers?
One thing I want to point at is opening an API into our box and starting a third-party software development community around this. There's a huge number of things you can do in control- and role-based policy management. To think that we could sit down and write all the software for that would be crazy. But it's also a heck of an opportunity for customers. The product could be optimized for different customers in different market segments if we did open that API. I think it could be huge for the channel.
Can you give an example of how a third party might make use of the API?
Compliance. There's been an awful lot of hype about compliance [the Sarbanes-Oxley Act] in the United States and there are a tremendous amount of companies building software solutions for this. Very few of them have a hook to the networking layer to collect or report that information and, more importantly, control it. To bite off all the software that goes into compliance would be kind of silly. What we would want to do is provide the hooks for other people's software to run those complete solutions.