A Series of Forbes Insights Profiles of Thought Leaders Changing the Business Landscape: Andre Durand, Founder and CEO, Ping Identity…
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“Twelve years ago, I was sailing with a friend from High School and blogging about new business ideas. One of these ideas revolved around the notion that as devices became more networked, their utility increased exponentially, yet the Internet hadn’t solved a way to identify the devices or the users behind them in any universal way from a security perspective,” says founder and CEO Andre Durand on how the idea was born for his company Ping Identity. More than a decade later, the world is headed in Durand’s direction.
Technology trends such as cloud and mobile adoption have blended to transform IT and connected devices are making work-from-anywhere a true reality. As more applications move to the cloud, the thing that binds our new highly distributed reality together from a security standpoint is identity. Add to this trend, the move toward cloud based services from the likes of Salesforce, Google and Microsoft and Ping Identity is well positioned to become a leader in this fast-growing segment. In fact, Ping Identity was named one of Forbes Most Promising Companies this year.
Think about how many apps you use each day. How many log-ins, how many passwords do you need to remember? How many devices do you use them on? Now multiply that by thousands of employees and it’s pretty quick to see that the security issues enterprises face today, along with the opportunity for solving them is a big deal. “Everything about the traditional approach to security is breaking,” says Durand. In the old days, we put our users and apps on the same network behind a firewall. With cloud and mobile, the apps and the users are now outside of our walls, and so the notion of where to put our perimeter needs to shift. Identity is the new perimeter Durand contends.
“As we’ve moved into an increasingly virtualized world, identity, is now in the spotlight. It’s an issue today only because it wasn’t built into the network 30 years ago at a more fundamental level. As a result, we’ve had to build identity into every app and device independently, creating enormous redundancy, complexity and friction (passwords) along the way. We were at least 5 years early in 2002 and lucky to have survived those early years. Now after 12 years, it’s ironic that we’re being recognized as an ‘instant’ success,” continues Durand. “Our growth is fueled by enterprises needing to deal with their growing security and integration challenges as businesses become increasingly federated,” says Durand. Today, the enterprise identity business is $4-6 billion and is projected to double over the next 4-5 years, according to Durand.
In a world of multiple identities and passwords, Ping Identity provides a single sign-on, cloud security and identity management solution to enterprises and their ecosystems and helps companies secure users. For employees using cloud applications, Ping Identity has a cloud single sign-on solution that can be setup and running in less than 5 minutes. For big enterprises looking to integrate applications and users for employees and across partners and customers, the company claims to have one of the most advanced and most widely deployed identity management solutions on the market, helping enterprises with their federated identity, single-sign on and access management challenges. “Unlike any stack vendor (CA, Oracle, IBM etc.), we provide a best of breed Switzerland of identity integration,” says Durand.
Durand has been observing the characteristics of networks for nearly 20 years. “Back when Bryan Field-Elliot and I were building bulletin board software in 1993, it became obvious to us that networking was a one-way street. Things never un-networked as the efficiency gains became simply too addictive,” says Durand. “After years of observing this behavior, I woke up one day with my first ‘identity aha moment’ and the beginning of my love affair with identity,” continues Durand.
Ping Identity’s success and fast growth trajectory wasn’t always so. “I’m lucky that we didn’t starve in those early years. The Cloud arrived in 2007, driving applications out of the data center. Smartphones and tablets arrived shortly thereafter in the 2009-2010 time frame, taking the user and their devices out of the office and on the road,” says Durand. With each shift came an even greater need and interest for Ping Identity’s services. Today, the Denver-based Ping Identity now has 340 employees and is growing 50% year over year. “We’re seeing adoption from the largest enterprises in the world all the way down into the SMB market,” continues Durand.
Durand’s journey to running a high-tech business is somewhat unconventional, but his is a classic entrepreneur’s story. “I’ve always been an entrepreneur. I was born to build,” says Durand. He was the kid with the paper route and a desire to hustle and succeed. “I can’t say it’s always been easy, but it’s been natural to who I am and I love it,” Durand continues. Ping Identity is Durand’s third start-up company. Along the way, he also began two industry conferences, the first being Digital ID World back in 2002 and today the Cloud Identity Summit, now in it’s fourth year and gathering in Monterrey in July 2014. “I didn’t plan to be in the conference business, but three months after starting Ping, I realized we had started a business in an industry that didn’t exist. I recall calling my first investor and telling him the grim news, but not to worry, because together we’d create a conference to define the industry,” says Durand. So he had to create the industry himself through the conference business and the community he established around the topic.
As far as to what the future holds for Durand and his Ping Identity, “I do see a point where consumer and enterprise identity converge, perhaps in the next 4-5 years. In the consumer world, our identity is being stripped from us so that it can sold back to us. Five years from now, I envision a world where we have the right controls in the hands of the right people when it comes to identity. For enterprises, that means giving IT control over securing their distributed reality and for end-users, it means giving them control over how their identity is used,” concludes Durand.
Bruce H. Rogers is the co-author of the recently published book Profitable Brilliance: How Professional Service Firms Become Thought Leaders now available on Amazon http://amzn.to/OETmMz