Delphix Data Masking: Interview with Mike Logan
Delphix made its first acquisition recently, Boston-based Axis, the leader in data masking. The two companies had previously partnered on many enterprise sales. I spoke with Mike Logan, the co-founder and President of Axis, about the merger.
Here's my notes from our conversation and my comments in [square brackets]: - About the merger, he says there was some anxiety among the team at first but now everyone is busy and doing things. Being busy is always a good sign. - He says his prior experience of a merger that didn't go well was because the company cultures didn't mix well. - I asked if our culture was too West Coast here in the middle of Silicon Valley compared with the grittier urban Boston culture. He laughed and said no, the mix has been good from the beginning of the partnership 18 months ago.
Axis was very impressed with how quickly Delphix sold the first 100 licenses. - Mike is an ex-Oracle guy, and an entrepreneur since 2000, starting a company with a business partner focused on markets for data warehousing and enterprise portals. - He has always been very interested in enterprise portals because he believes that if employees could get the right information at the right time, the entire business would profit. [Portals are an early form of Data as a Service!] - Axis grew out of a data masking project for Fidelity in 2006.
Mike realized that many other companies needed data masking and so Axis was founded as two companies: one software and the other providing consulting services. [Delphix acquired only the software company.] - Business was good at first but tanked in 2009 in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Nobody was buying. But then business boomed with the Dodd Frank legislation that mandated security for financial institutions.
He says that banks have long understood the need for securing money but that "banks didn't see data as money -- now they did." - Axis grew organically without the need for investors. - Axis was selling with a security focus. Nearly all of its staff have security industry backgrounds. - He says he sometimes uses the analogy of data masking as being the water filter for the data in the enterprise. [Making the data safe to "drink" is a great analogy for DevOps. Data by Delphix: Fast, Fresh and Safe.]] - Mike spoke about the strategic potential for data masking in the enterprise, sitting on top of all other enterprise apps and databases. [It would return an incredible amount of control over data back to the enterprise.]
Foremski's Take: Mike is right about the strategic potential for data masking in the enterprise. And now with Delphix, there is a "mask once, copy many" efficiency that secures sensitive production data and creates an unique offering. But I'm sure it must be hard to sell your company because of all the emotional investments you've made.
The startup life can be a bi-polar roller coaster, a rocket ride up into the heavens where you can see the world before you, followed by a plunge into the darkest and most hopeless of places. And the people you've worked with, your comrades in the trenches, all create unforgettable experiences and super-tight connections.
When I worked at the Financial Times, a top Wall Street investment banker told me he had sold many companies to Cisco Systems. "I tell the startups, don't look at it as Cisco acquiring you -- you just acquired Cisco's global sales force, which would have taken you years to build." Axis just acquired a world class engineering team and the best IT sales force in Silicon Valley.
It is a winning combination -- four out of five Delphix customers cite data masking as a top priority.