SD-WAN & WFH: security risks, operational lift, inefficiency

SD-WAN & WFH: security risks, operational lift, inefficiency

This episode of Tech Deep Dive was recorded shortly before the acquisition of CloudGenix by Palo Alto Networks. Max Clark talks to Ryan Williams, manager of Channel Sales at CloudGenix, about their approach to SD-WAN, and integrations with cloud-based security tools. Ryan talks about how time to innocence matters to IT teams globally. Given the timing, we look forward to having Ryan back on to talk about the acquisition and how it will benefit their customers going forward.

INTRO: [00:00] Welcome to the Tech Deep Dive podcast, where we let our inner nerd come out and have fun getting into the weeds on all things tech. At Clarksys, we believe tech should make your life better, searching Google is a waste of time, and the right vendor is often one you haven’t heard of before. 

Max: [00.18] Today I’m chatting with Ryan Williams. Ryan is the Senior Director of North American Channel at CloudGenix.

Ryan: [00.26] Yeah Max, thanks for having us! We’re excited.

Max: [00.29] So, I mean let’s get right into it, what is CloudGenix and why are you different?

Ryan: [00.33] So CloudGenix is the mid-market and enterprise leader in SD-WAN, and what makes us fundamentally different from all the other SD-WAN solutions out there is our architecture; it’s at the core of what we do, it’s our DNA, so to speak. So we are an application-defined fabric, meaning we’re a session and flow based architecture, defined at the architecture at layer seven, in contrast to being a router; a marginally better router, right? Packets and protocols, defining the network… We like to say we define networks around applications and the user experience associated with those applications.

Max: [01.09] So to make this a little more… Let’s say layman’s English speak… The comparison would be an SD-WAN appliance is taking and making decisions on — this network link receives more latency, or some jitter, or… You know, has more throughput, versus CloudGenix, where you’re looking at how fast is this application across link A from link B? 

Ryan: [01.34] Yeah, I think that was a great summary, I would even go one step further: how do we guarantee the performance of any application over any transport at any time? Certainly, we take into consideration link A, link B and how they’re performing, but there’s other things that if you’re only looking at link A and link B, you can’t account for… Things like, application response time from the cloud, that’s really challenging – virtually impossible to account for – in a router based mode. So for us, we live and breath applications, we understand applications, and we can make path selection decisions based on application performance; truly, natively.

Max: [02.11] So, CloudGenix… You have an appliance, and the appliance gets installed onsite, and this is what makes the decisions and determination of how to actually pass traffic between the branch and whatever central resource they’re getting to, whether that’s back to a datacenter or that’s back to a cloud. So, how do these things integrate? I mean, are you guys in front of, behind of, next to a firewall, are you a firewall replacement? What does this look like for somebody that’s looking at SD-WAN and thinking about CloudGenix?

Ryan: [02.40] That’s a great question. So, the first thing I would kind of point out there is a minor correction: CloudGenix is software. Right now, to your point, a vast majority of our customers consume us also with hardware, right? Because at the end of the day, an SD-WAN appliance is typically aggregating multiple links, it’s one of the major values of the product, but our core of our product is a software based product, which means we can deploy in an x86 box… Actually, when a customer does choose to consume us – in terms of hardware – it is an x86 gray box, it’s not proprietary hardware. That gives us some advantages in terms of standing up in a multi-cloud environment, or in a branch CPE-type model.

Max: [03.27] So how much of the software intelligence is actually running in what’s being deployed, whether it’s the customer’s… You know, cloud instance, or the branch and how much of that is actually running in your orchestration layer? What does this actually look like in terms of communication between software and the decisions the software is making, running in the branch, and the central environment?

Ryan: [03.46] Another terrific question. I feel like you teed up awesome questions today Max, I love it. It’s a great point because it does differentiate us. If you look at a lot of our competitors, they have an orchestration plane and their SD-WAN takes place in a POP, right? A point of presence, or a multi-tenanted plane, where many customers live in that space. CloudGenix, our SD-WAN actually takes place at the branch, right? So our software at the branch, that’s where the SD-WAN takes place; the only data that we send to and from the branch to our – you know, what we would call our orchestration plane or our control plane – is metadata. So it’s completely stripped of any headers associated with private customer information, and that’s really, really important when you think about customers that are compliance-driven, right? So one of the largest banks in the world, as an example, wouldn’t let a lot of our competitors sit at the table, because if you’re going to take data from this bank at the branch, and then route it to any point of presence, any multi-tenanted plane, that’s a complete non-starter for an organization like that that’s compliance-driven. So, we would argue that’s a pretty significant advantage for us, to put a button in the answer of your question – the SD-WAN takes place at the branch, and we leverage aggregated intelligence in the cloud, and we leverage the ability to run analytics in the cloud and make good decisions there, that’s where the scale comes from, but there’s no customer data that ever gets into our control point. We’re literally separated, church and state, between the customer plane and our control plane.

Max: [05.17] So we talk about application performance… I mean, is that the key problem that CloudGenix has started to solve? What really was the inception and the idea behind what CloudGenix is and where it came from? What’s the background and what was the starting point?

Ryan: [05.30] Yeah, so our guys – from a product leadership standpoint – come from just a tremendous amount of pedigree, much like some of our competitors, right? There’s Cisco-based guys that have spent careers developing branch-routing products. The idea came from was… How do we — they saw an immediate opportunity for the WAN, right? They saw the ability to provide scale, ease of use and ease of deployment, because managing a large enterprise WAN – which is really where we play, the mid-market and the enterprise – managing a very large WAN infrastructure is extremely time consuming, and much of your audience probably has done that for much of their careers, including you Max – I know that. So you know that the time and effort it takes to actually get networks deployed and then maintain large enterprise branch networks, so the first thing that kind of was the catalyst was how do you provide scale? Second, we saw two paradigm shifts coming; the first one was that bandwidth was becoming commoditized: less expensive, highly available, and it was going to drive customers into this commoditized bandwidth model. The second was that applications were increasingly delivered in the SaaS world. So users were consuming applications from everywhere and they’re being delivered from everywhere through a SaaS model. When those two things happen, traditional hubspoke router architecture just starts to break down, right? It becomes really problematic. And as we started seeing those trends – I put myself in the ‘we’ category, but I’ll give full credit to our product leadership team, who started this thing – you know, they started seeing those trends there in terms of those two major paradigm shifts, and then looking at the problems their own customers were facing. Remedying problems with applications, the network teams are always blamed. Whenever there’s a problem with an application, who gets blamed? The network team – always and forever. Now, you call any major SaaS provider, and I won’t pick on one – you’re laughing at me, Max – but I won’t pick on any major SaaS provider, but when you call them and you say, “Hey, I have a problem,” the response every time is, “It’s your network,” right? We always say IT is kind of the dumping ground and they’re getting blamed for application issues and the reality is that that’s not always the case, and we wanted to give users the ability to build networks and manage networks the way it should have been done in the first place, right? And that’s our story. 

Max: [07.44] I’m laughing because for twenty years plus now, as a network engineer, I mean you can never escape the… “It’s the network problem,” when you’re troubleshooting something. What does that mean in practice though? What does reporting actually available, how does this actually come from a remediation standpoint of… fill-in-the-blank cloud hosted SaaS application is slow, and it’s your fault. What does that actually mean for somebody in practice, troubleshooting and managing that? 

Ryan: [08:09] Perfect example, because that is the example, right? It’s the reason we exist – IT gets a trouble ticket and it says, “My phone doesn’t work,” or “My ABC application doesn’t work,” and then we go through the series of things we’ve always done as network practitioners, right? We start to try and duplicate the issue, and we spend an enormous amount of time digging into potential issues, and half the time, by the time we’ve figured out what the issue is, it’s resolved itself. Do we stick it to the back of the pile and pretend it never happened, or are we going to try to prevent that in the future, and then life gets in the way – and that’s just a vicious cycle. So what it means to us in practice is kind of in two folds. First, we don’t just provide historical analytics, and that’s really important, because that is what a lot of competitors do and what IT is traditionally relegated to, is this idea of historical reporting, and then dumping that data that you get into some tool that can help you aggregate different data sets, and then go hopefully figure out what the problem was and course correct in the future. It’s very reactive by nature and it always has been. In our world, the first thing we do is try to remediate the issue in the first place, by making better pass selection decisions, by understanding the applications, we can many times remediate the issue in the first place, and then send a – you know, it’s nice when you’re in IT and you get an alarm that says, “Hey, something’s broken but don’t worry, your users aren’t sending in tickets, let’s just go in and fix it when this link is back up, or when this application server starts responding from ABC SaaS provider,” right? So that’s really nice. The second thing is in our dashboard, in our GUI – we have the best GUI on the planet – and I’ll put that right here, I’m putting it on record, we have the best GUI on the planet. When you dig into it and you really see it in practice, we present a lot of data in real-time, we do so in a very dynamic manner. So you can look at specific windows of time, both in real-time and historical, up to seven days standard in the GUI, so you can kind of rewind your network to look at particular issues or problematic times. We present that information in a very consumable way, and actually one of our best customers, customer number one for us, Mr John Spiegel, Columbia Sportswear – so you’re on the west coast, you probably know that brand – John is actually on record stating that we provide time to innocence for his team, right? I love that term.

Max: [10.22] I’m going to start to use that: time to innocence… That’s fantastic.

Ryan: [10.24] Steal it and give John credit though, but we love that and it’s such a compliment because what he’s really saying is, “I have a problem, let me dig into this GUI,” you know the physical stuff – which, most SD-WAN providers, being fair, can demonstrate: “Here’s what your links look like.” That’s not rocket science, right? We’ve been able to do that for many years as network practitioners, but in the context of the application layer, it’s always been very, very difficult. We can present things like server response time from SaaS providers, or round-trip time issues between the branch and the destination. We measure very specific application statistics, like the three way handshake from a user to an application, and did that even complete, and what’s the status of that part of the transaction? So, we can look at that in a really interesting way, and you present that in a very consumable way to our clients.

Max: [11.09] Actually, let’s back up a second, I want to dig into that a little bit more. So you’re talking about being able to measure and report on the actual application itself, and a three way handshake between the client and the server. So this is not just that you’re looking at… Is the server responding to a ping fast, but this is, is the server – the destination – actually respond to the client and actually serving data back to the client in a fast way? So not is the network performing —

Ryan: [11.34] That’s exactly right.

Max: [11.35] — but is the application performing?

Ryan: [11.37] That’s right – it’s not, can I see you, right? I can see the front door of somebody’s house, but I don’t know what’s going on inside. It’s really challenging to do it in the way we’re doing it, where you don’t have to be bookended, because some of our competitors – which you know, Max – will offer a bookended solution and provide a little more context to how those applications are behaving. We can do so just by understanding the nature of how applications behave, right? So, we’ll stick with the three way handshake example in this case, and we can understand how much data is passing back and forth; is it a reasonable amount of time, because reasonable is relative. You know that, I know that, network engineers know that. So, based on – we apply context based on what application it actually is… Reasonable is going to be different if I’m a – let’s use a real-time voice/video call like we’re on right now – reasonable is a lot different than SharePoint, as an example, right? So, you have to be able to understand things on a per application basis to apply context that makes reasonable effectives. 

Max: [12.33] So let’s talk about like, deployment models a little bit. Actually, before we get into that, I’m curious what you’ve seen recently, you know? A lot of SD-WAN was targeted around this idea of eliminating MPLS and private circuits. And you know, in your view, is MPLS going away, or are we seeing a variation of MPLS and private circuits, or is there some other future state we should be preparing for? I mean, what has been happening with CloudGenix customers, and what are you seeing coming down that pipe? 

Ryan: [12.59] That is a great question. So, I think when I started my journey at CloudGenix, almost three years ago, I would say that the message we’re delivering was exactly that, right? Reduce significant cost and get off your MPLS – it’s not a hundred percent needed anymore… It’s interesting what we’ve seen. A lot of our enterprise customers still maintain some private connectivity, for many reasons. There’s a huge host of reasons why, so I wouldn’t say MPLS is dying, I don’t think that’s the right way to put it. I would say the relevant use cases for MPLS are certainly declining. So, as applications leave the customers four walls, I think you are seeing a decline in use case. What our customers love – again, many of them would keep some private connectivity – what they love is that we’re not forcing them one way or the other, we’re allowing them and providing them rich application behavioural statistics around how each application is performing over private and public connectivity, and we’re doing so and allowing them to make really good decisions on what type of connectivity they actually need, how much of that connectivity they need, and I think it gives guys like you – strategic advisors in the space – a huge advantage, right? I mean, I sat on your side of the fence for a few years, running an MSP practice in the past, and one of the things that I always struggled with was that bandwidth educated guess would make an inference, right? What kind of circuits do I need? I don’t know, how many users do you have, and what are your applications? Then we make some arbitrary kind of math equation. Honestly, they were good educated guesses; I would argue most of us get pretty close, but it wasn’t real context, right? It wasn’t… Here’s exactly what you need and how it’s behaving. So I think that’s an interesting thing. So I guess to come back to your original question; I wouldn’t say it’s dying, I say the relevant use cases are definitely declining, I think that’s why you’re seeing a lot of providers really embrace SD-WAN as their go-forward strategy, right? They see it too. But, it doesn’t mean it’s dead – there’s still certainly use cases.

MID-ROLL: [14.58] Hi, I’m Max Clark and you’re listening to the Tech Deep Dive podcast. At Clarksys, we believe tech should make your life better, searching Google is a waste of time, and the right vendor is often one you haven’t heard of before. With thousands of negotiated contracts, Clarksys has helped hundreds of business source and implement the right tech at the right price. If you’re looking for a new vendor and want to have peace of mind knowing you’ve made the right decision, visit us at to schedule an intro call.

Max: [15.24] Let’s talk about the branch, so the edge, or what was the traditional edge, let’s talk about… What does a deployment model look like? Are enterprises deploying CloudGenix and keeping firewalls, are they removing firewalls; what actually happens to the branch when you guys start getting into the picture?

Ryan: [15.41] So I’m assuming that just given the word firewall, I’m assuming you want this answer in a security context, is that a fair assumption? 

Max: [15.47] Yeah, I’m kind of curious. I mean, let’s say a bank would have probably a very different security posture and compliance posture than a large retailer, or you know, distributed enterprise. So, broad strokes, what does this actually mean? We see some SD-WAN advocate for, you know, you put our box in and you don’t need a firewall, or we can code this with a firewall, but the firewall goes away, and I don’t think that’s an all-or-nothing conversation with a lot of enterprises… People are a lot more specific in how they want things to work. I’m just kind of curious what you’re seeing and how you actually deploy, and what you know, a typical CloudGenix customer looks like; day one, day ninety, day five hundred, you know, what’s that evolution?

Ryan: [16.30] You’re exactly right, it is not the conversation we’re seeing in the distributed enterprise – in any of those examples that you’ve mentioned: large retail, distributed enterprise… I personally wouldn’t want a SD-WAN provider being my security enforcement provider, right? I would want my SD-WAN provider defend the edge, right? So, become the edge of the security posture. Let’s put it this way: we look at distributed enterprises, I’ll give you an example – what we see with most customers is they have an existing firewall architecture, obviously. We typically insert inline with them, right? We typically sit behind them, we allow them to maintain that existing architecture, but what we do see at a huge margin is that all of them are moving towards some sort of CASB-type solution, right? They’re all moving towards the cloud-delivered security model, I think we’re all seeing that. And Gartner’s out there broadcasting, and many analysts are out there discussing and we’re a big proponent of SaaSy, right? So there’s this idea of the secure access service edge, right? The idea that there’s a convergence taking place between the wide area network, and security from the cloud, and there’s a number of advantages to that. There’s a lot of scale there, right? You get a lot of intelligence in the aggregate, there’s less branch CPE to manage, so our story there is a product we call CloudBlades… So, we never really touched on this, but another advantage of our core architecture is that we’re based on an open API, and that’s allowed us to develop next-generation API integrations into best of breed providers, across what we’ve defined as the five key areas of the branch, so I’ll just quickly touch on those. That is the WAN, obviously, which is where we sit; collaboration, so think UCaaS and contact center as a service; the multi-cloud world, so that’s your GCPs, your Equinix, your AWS, your Microsoft Azure services; branch operations, so that’s your splunks of the world, right, the ServiceNows of the world. Then the biggest one that we’ve seen and the quickest adoption of all of this – I would argue the quickest too – would be UCaaS and certainly security. So, as we see security move to the cloud, the biggest problem that all these security providers have is, how do I get my traffic securely to the enterprise edge of the network and back, right? What creates that connection, and most of our competitors’ solutions is, nail up a VPN. Okay, well I’ve reduced a little bit of the value of that cloud security platform if I’m now single threaded, and I have really no visibility into what’s going on on the security provider’s side, right? So what am I actually doing, other than actually kind of just nailing up a tunnel? And our solution is very different, so it’s next-gen APIs in some of the world’s leading cloud security providers – many of the names you already know, and I don’t want to go into too much detail here – but literally four of the top five that exist today in our platform, and there’s no cost to our customers to use it, and it’s an automated deployment mechanism. So the idea is, if I’m a distributed enterprise and we have many in the Fortune 500 that are actually leveraging this across big providers, like Zscaler, Semantec or Palo Alto, and they are – they have found that they started with that security posture of sitting behind a firewall, because that investment may already be there, but what they’re looking forward to is that cloud security platform, and they’re trying to solve for what does that migration path look like? So we insert, seamlessly inline, we can work with the existing firewall, and then we can start migrating branch locations as maybe those devices sunset, or as the customer decides they’re no longer relevant, we can create the API, a direct connection into any leading cloud security provider, and then become the enforcement point at the edge of the network. So the security posture is still in the cloud, but we become that enforcement point at the branch, and we become a single piece of CPE that manages all five of those areas of the branch: operations, multi-cloud, collaboration, security, and then obviously the WAN.

Max: [20.19] You know, about five, six years ago I had a customer, and we were in a conversion, and he was relating his remote locations as fancy Starbucks, and his view of the world was… You know, our office locations are a place for our employees to come and work and congregate and have meetings and have community, and my responsibility from an IT infrastructure is to give them very fast, very stable performing internet access, with access to our resources, in a way that was better than what they had at their house. So they want to come to work, because we’re screaming fast, but I don’t want to have anything at the office. What is the bare minimum of the equipment that I have to have at the office to support this goal of just being a fancy Starbucks, and how do I manage that as easy as possible? I mean, it was a very interesting and illuminating conversation for me and it really helped push me down this path farther… Coming from a network engineering standpoint, where I was building networks and typing on keyboards, and plugging fibre into devices… You know, I look at the road down, I can’t imagine that anybody who’s ever actually built any of this wants to maintain this course forward.

Ryan: [21.22] No doubt, no doubt! 

Max: [21.23] It seems to me like the worst idea ever is to have more things you’re responsible for, versus, you know, really the scale and the efficiency of leveraging service providers that are cloud-based, that you know, can be elastic and scale up and scale down. I’ve always loved the CloudGenix story with CloudBlades, the integration that you offer there, I think it’s way more powerful than a lot of the security competitors and telcos that are coming to market saying, “We have a single, big firewall box on the west coast, and all of our customers that are within this donut of region have to tunnel into this firewall in order for them to have this managed instance.” I think all of those things are… I think all those platforms are already DOA – it’s just how long before people actually understand that and make that change, and you mentioned this earlier, it’s… I do feel like it’s a lot of, what is your maintenance and support subscription schedule, you know? As maintenance starts tailing off and comes up for renewal, it becomes a very big point for companies to evaluate, and say, “Are we doing something we want to change?”

Ryan: [22.32] I’ll just tack on to what you say, because I agree with everything you said and I appreciate your perspective because you are out there actually doing the work. You know, I think we’ve been trying to solve for this as an industry for a while, right? I look at NFV and deploying to the branch and saying, “Okay, I’m going to get away from five boxes, and I’m going to get to one box,” right? I’m going to virtualize everything there. Well, the problem is that that becomes really dense, expensive, bulky, CPE that is really hard to manage, and I think we can – most, I would think – most network practitioners can agree that NFV hasn’t quite lived up to the promise, right? So in principle, think about it – in some fashion the same way, CloudBlades is actually really interesting… Marketing term that we use, Max, I don’t know if you know why the name is derivative, but it comes from the idea of in the old ISR router model, you would add blades for individual applications, so the idea is deliver these services, it’s a service creation model to the branch that is efficient, and again we’re running on an x86 box, right? We’re just this software edge of the network that allows for really interesting integrations, and then we haven’t even touched on the fact together, we haven’t even wallowed in the fact that, even if you have this unicorn deployment, and you’re a distributed enterprise, and you go and deploy this minimalist approach… Let’s argue you got in and if you write at… 1500 locations – and I think we could debate this all day – but let’s say you did, and you did so in a cost effective manner… As soon as any of those providers change up something in the cloud, there’s a lot of more manual intervention and integrations – it is impossible to keep up with that, and I think that’s really the downfall of NFV; it’s this inability to keep up with dynamic service creation from the providers, and I think that we solve for that really well, because the API integrations, it just happens, right? So if one of our UCaaS providers releases a new definition, it’s just applied – it’s instantaneous. There’s no manual lift there; I think that’s really important to highlight. 

Max: [24.32] So let me actually… I’m going to unpack a little of this. So, NFV network function virtualization is really a technique – in my opinion – it’s a way for hardware manufacturers that are selling to telcos, and specifically telcos that are supporting that through ethernet, so the MES functions, but the telco will then say, “We’re going to create additional services and we’re going to use NFV as the gateway to level this service.” In many physical boxes deployed in NFV, there… You know, think of it like a switch or a router that has some sort of hypervisor and virtualization running on it, so then when you can put an application on the edge in this box, and now you an orchestrate it and you can manage it, but this isn’t really – NFV isn’t really solving a customer-centric problem, it’s solving a service provider-centric problem; how does this service provider sell additional things to that customer and you know, we don’t have a firewall strategy, so we can use this NFV to create a firewall strategy for a customer. And I think part of the reason why NFV never really – hasn’t materialized, like you’ve said, is it’s not a customer-centric solve, it’s a service provider solve. So now you have a customer that has a need and an enterprise that has a need, saying we want to solve this problem, and the service provider can say, “Oh we’ve got this solution,” but the solution might – you know, it doesn’t really line up with what the customer wants and what the enterprise really needs. 

Ryan: [25.52] That’s really, really well said, and it’s the most relevant obviously in the large enterprise environments right, at scale, to your point, but I think that was said really well, I completely agree.

Max: [26.02] We should talk about living in a post-COVID world, now, and we’re still waiting to see what this actually means for business and for the planet going forward. You know, roughly a month in the US here, what do you see changing with your customers, what’s the effect of this, how has CloudGenix responded to – as this massive shift to working from home has taken place, where do you think this is going? 

Ryan: [26.33] God… That’s a deep question, and I love it – I think it’s really important, I think it’s really relevant. I tell you what, I’m going to stay completely away from a lot of the business implications here, with the exception of kind of one statement. When everyone moves to working from home, you’ve introduced a tremendous amount of security risk, operational lift, you know, inefficiency that maybe had been solved for in the past, and I think that a lot of organizations are really struggling for that. They’re struggling for ways to solve that, and I think guys like you are critically important to helping them navigate that. Now, I will say we’re being extremely cautious at CloudGenix, we are not opportunistic here, we’re not trying to be opportunistic, we don’t want to be opportunistic – this is not the time for that. And our view – and I can say this as leadership from the top down, I work for some of the best people on the planet, these are very human leaders that really recognize the human element of this problem. I think that we as an organization are doing that very well; we’re being there for our customers, we’re talking through looking at distribution, making sure we can take care of our customers, number one, but number two – as an example – we’re prioritizing gear shipments and distribution for healthcare and healthcare related providers – customers of ours. We’re making sure that if we have a customer that is helping solve health challenges, we’re going to prioritize that customer at any cost, and we have put several of our large enterprise customers on an investor hold and shared with them that we are prioritizing other healthcare-related customers and prospects that are really asking us for that. They have responded, Max, with warm hugs and smiles – it’s been really touching, because it’s not an easy thing to do right, make that call? I think it’s a testament to how great our customer communication is, because they’re right in line with us. There are some things we’re doing internally that I’d love to share with you and the rest of the world because I’m really proud of it, is as a team we are embracing the body, the mind and we’ve created Slack channels for our entire team. So we have workout of the day channel, and our entire team posts something that they did for that day, working out, and you know, obviously people have varying levels of what they’re doing physically. I mean, we have guys and gals that are incredibly fit and do these insane workouts that just make me so envious, and mine might be wrestling with my four year old, right? So there’s kind of a – and that can be exhausting, he’s a big boy – so there’s certainly a sliding scale. We have an eat healthy channel, and then we have a book club channel, so we’re just kind of sharing with each other in real time, things that we’re doing to stay sane, we’re doing town hall meetings and daily kick-offs, just to keep the team feeling like there’s a sense of community and that everyone’s got your back. I think we’re all a little scared right now; I’m a father of two, and this hasn’t been an easy thing, right? Forget the adjustment and forget the work thing, I think people are pretty understanding. I bet you’d laugh right now if my four year old came up here dressed like a ninja, and jumped on my back, right, because that’s just – that’s the reality of this situation we’re in, I think people are pretty understanding of it. For me, it’s on a personal level, you know I’m scared as a father, and I’m sure other people are, and we’re trying – as an organization – just to remain very human here, and listen to our customers and what they need, and what our partners need, and just answer calls, and be empathetic, and help do anything we can do make this easier on somebody else. That’s genuinely what we’re trying to do.

Max: [29.57] I hate reading… People refer to this right now as work from home, you know, a work from home experiment, because really it’s not. As you’ve just pointed out, most people that were in a work from home beforehand with children, you know, their children were at school, there’s activities, there’s daycare… There’s other structures, I mean, there’s not this pressure, finding the balance and maintaining exercise and fitness and mental health. It’s been a challenge for me, I mean I was – you know, I came into the year, I started my new year’s resolution early… I was a four day a week gym guy going into March, and it’s been full stop, and trying to figure out how to replace that’s been very – I haven’t been very successful yet, you know? Hopefully this week we get through this, people stay home, we flatten the curve, we see treatments come out that are effective, we get a vaccine, and we can all go out and eat sushi and – or not, again – but depending if you like fish or not, right?

Ryan: [31.03] Well, you’re a California guy, I know you eat sushi, that’s what we’re going to eat when I come see you, but we – listen, I appreciate you sharing that, that’s a personal thing to share, and you’re right – keeping that balance in mental and physical health – we are, I’ll tell you what, I’ll commit to sending you a couple of the workouts of the day – I think you’ll like it! We have a really fit organization, and there’s – you don’t need anything other than a box for some of them, right? They’re designed that way, people are sharing – all you need is a five pound weight in each hand and you can do this, and you need a box jump for this, and… I’ve tried some of them, and I’ll tell you, I almost died on a couple of them, so I’m… I may not be able to keep up with my whole organization, they’re pretty rock solid, but I’ll commit to sending you some of that, and I appreciate you sharing that with me, that was a nice thing to share.

Max: [31.48] So, before we wrap here, is there anything we haven’t touched on that you’d like to talk about? 

Ryan: [31.56] You’ll see some big announcements coming – so we’ve recently announced that Palo Alto has an intent to purchase CloudGenix, which is a really exciting time for us. A large part of what we talked about was CloudBlade and next generation cloud security paradigm, and I think everyone understands the market’s going to a SaaSy-type model, and that’s really exciting to be a part of. I can’t really comment on anything other than what you’ve seen, so please check that out, but in general… The last thing I’ll leave with is, we believe in solving for business outcomes, and I think the thing that’s most reflective for us is how our customers have responded to us. So, I’d love for you to encourage your listeners and you to check out Gartner Peer Insights, which is a forum for customers to go discuss how their experience has been with any particular vendor, and it’s the good, bad and the ugly on everybody, including us – you’ll see that some of our early customers had issues with global distribution because global distribution is really hard when you’re a young company, and that’s a fair assessment, right? It’s all out there, and we’re so proud of some of the responses we’ve got, and we’ve recently got the Gartner Customer’s Choice Award for the SD-WAN marketplace, so we felt very proud of that, very humbled by the response from our customers, and it was just absolutely outstanding. I would encourage everyone to go take a look at that, because it’s something… We certainly wave that flag very proudly.

Max: [33.14] Well Ryan, thank you very much for your time. It’s always a pleasure chatting with you.

Ryan: [33.18] I enjoyed it, thank you so much for having me, stay safe and keep the family safe, and I’m sure we’ll have a chance to eat some sushi soon, when we’re all allowed back at airports.

Max: [33.26] I’m looking forward to it! 

OUTRO: [33.30] Thanks for joining the Tech Deep Dive podcast. At Clarksys we believe tech should make your life better, searching Google is a waste of time, and the right vendor is often one you haven’t heard of before. We can help you buy the right tech for your business, visit us at to schedule an intro call.