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From Past to Future: Why I Joined Netography

By Dave Meltzer, Chief Product Officer

I have been building enterprise security products since 1996. If you’ve ever worked in security at a large enterprise, odds are you’ve used one or more of those products – whether from Internet Security Systems, Cambia Security, nCircle, or Tripwire. In fact, I have met many CISOs who were admins for those products years ago. 

If you are still using one of those products today, I know their current owners are committed to supporting you and building a path to the future for their customers. But, the statute of limitations has expired on all the code I wrote and decisions I made at those companies. So, now I only watch from a distance and wish them all the success in the world. If you have moved on to new solutions since then, well, so have I.

I have built and launched products across multiple generations of security controls, through advancing models of software delivery methods, and the adoption of all types of IT infrastructure. I have had the good fortune to work with some of the world’s largest and most complex organizations on key aspects of their security programs. This has given me a real appreciation for the difficult jobs facing security teams as they grapple with evolving threats, limited time and resources, and a noisy vendor environment with thousands of companies vying to sell you the latest new thing.

I took much of 2022 off after leaving Tripwire following its acquisition, the fourth one I had been part of since I had founded Cambia Security. I didn’t turn on a laptop or step foot in my home office last year, and certainly didn’t get on any Zoom calls or respond to anyone on LinkedIn. For the first time in decades, I unplugged myself from security and corporate life.

I wasn’t sure if I was retired, on a sabbatical, going to start a new company, or what was next. Maybe it was my mom asking me at Thanksgiving dinner what I was going to do with my life that made me really reflect. Taking time off allowed me to appreciate how much it means to me to be part of helping protect some of the biggest organizations in the world. I decided if I could find a company where I could make a real difference in the future of security, that had a great product and a vision I believed in, then that would be the right place for me. 

Having experienced nearly three decades of security evolution, I know the attributes of a great product for this next evolution:  

Built by security experts, not rookies. They don’t teach the ins and outs of the real problems security teams face every day in large complex environments in any college course. I knew I wanted to work with people who have battle scars from having done this before and know how to build a solution to solve those problems.

Deployed and proven at large enterprises. I’ve seen enough marketing materials and slide decks from security vendors to know that it is much easier to make a slide than it is to build a product that works at scale. If I were to join a startup, I wanted to see real proof from serious large enterprise environments that it works and is valuable. I need to believe the product the company is building is solving a critical problem that security teams have today and is architected for the future.

SaaS-based and scalable. Security teams need to focus on their job, not on maintaining hardware appliances and software applications, so the product must deploy frictionlessly and scale up and down easily.

Built for a hybrid multi-cloud and on-premises environment. Large organizations are building the future in the cloud. Still, the existing environments for users and applications will remain for a long time, and some physical infrastructure will never be entirely in the cloud (like OT). Therefore the product needs to be built to work across an organization’s entire ecosystem.

I first learned of Netography from a LinkedIn post by Marty Roesch, about the future of the Atomized Network and why existing solutions, especially the deep packet inspection approaches that both he and I had built in the past, were losing visibility in the modern, encrypted, hybrid cloud networks of the future. I immediately thought, “Wow, that’s interesting. Marty is doing something new.” 

That piqued my interest enough to jump over to the website and take a deeper look. I found that it wasn’t just Marty, but also founders Dan Murphy and Barrett Lyon, who had been building network security in the DDoS space across many startups that I had known throughout the years. And they had assembled a group of people they had worked with before. I dug into the product, and I started to see this was a team that knew where the future of network security was heading and had already spent years building a great product aimed at that future. I also saw the best investors in Silicon Valley and the security industry agreed and backed the company.

As I got to talk to Marty and meet more of the team, I learned about Netography’s history, customers, and how they use the product. It checked all the boxes: everything I had been thinking about, from the type of people I wanted to work with to building the type of product I would be excited about, I found at Netography.

That’s why I am proud to take the role of Netography’s chief product officer today, and I could not be more excited to be here.