Interview: Illumio, Security Excellence Awards finalist

'We are one team, delivering one platform, on one mission to ensure that organisations can realise a future without any high-profile breaches'

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Michael Adjei, Director, Systems Engineering, EMEA, Illumio
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Michael Adjei, Director, Systems Engineering, EMEA, Illumio

With the increasing reliance on digital technologies and online services, cybersecurity has become an indispensable aspect of ensuring business continuity and mitigating cyber risks that can harm reputation, financial stability, and customer trust.

Computing's Security Excellence Awards recognise and celebrate the best in cybersecurity innovation and excellence.

This year's winners will be announced at a live awards ceremony on Thursday, 2nd May in London.

Illumio, this year, is a finalist in three categories: Enterprise Security Solution Award, Network Security Award and Security Project of the Year.

We caught up with Michael Adjei, Director, Systems Engineering, EMEA, Illumio, to ask him more about the company's priorities for the next 12 months.

Michael is responsible for overseeing the EMEA pre-sales team and delivering technical product oversight. He has over 20 years' experience in networking and cybersecurity and, prior to working at Illumio, worked in various roles within the channel in Europe. Michael is an accomplished public speaker, regularly speaking at conferences and webinars. He holds an MSc in Network Systems Engineering and a BSc in physics in addition to several industry certifications.

Computing: Please provide some background on your company for our readers. What makes you different from other companies?

Michael Adjei: Illumio is an innovative cybersecurity company and the leader in Zero Trust Segmentation, which is microsegmentation using the principles of Zero Trust. Our Zero Trust Segmentation platform is the first and most comprehensive platform for breach containment, providing organisations with an easy, scalable, and consistent way to see, segment, and secure their whole estate – from cloud to endpoint to servers and containers. We also provide unprecedented levels of visibility and control right down to the workload level.

Illumio also has a unique set of values and company culture that means we move as ONE! We are one team, delivering one platform, on one mission to ensure that organisations can realise a future without any high-profile breaches.

What one company achievement in the last 12 months are you most proud of?

MA: The great thing about working for a high-growth cybersecurity company is that there are always lots of achievements to be proud of. However, perhaps the biggest and most important achievement for me is the launch of Illumio CloudSecure – our latest cloud security solution and part of the Illumio Zero Trust Segmentation platform.

Illumio CloudSecure not only gives organisations the ability to see how workloads and applications are communicating in the cloud, but more importantly, it enables them to apply the same uniform set of Zero Trust security principles across hybrid and multi-cloud environments, no matter the complexity. What this means in practice is that organisations can enforce the same security policy across cloud providers as they do on their on-premise estates and across endpoints, all from one platform. It's a game changer for cloud security that will really simplify security for organisations.

Why are events like the Security Excellence Awards important to the IT industry?

MA: I think events like the Computing Security Excellence Awards are important for two reasons. First, it's important that we take a step back to recognise and reward the achievements across the industry. Working in cybersecurity is fast-paced and challenging and there's a lot of media attention on when things go wrong, but not so much on the successes. Events like these really provide that platform to honour and celebrate the great work that is being done.

Second, they are a great way for us to also showcase the successes of our customers. We are fortunate to work with some amazing security leaders and innovators and it's a chance to ensure they get the recognition they deserve too.

What have been the biggest challenges of 2023 so far and how have you overcome them?

MA: One of the biggest challenges has been the unprecedented rise in cyber incidents that organisations' face while at the same time going through the cost of living and budgets. And this shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.

At Illumio, we're fortunate that we can really demonstrate strong return on investment from our security solution. A Forrester Total Economic Impact study of Illumio has shown our Zero Trust Segmentation solution reduces the blast radius of an attack by 66% and decreases the cost and impact of downtime by $3.8m. This combined with our ease of project delivery using our immediate team and our partner community has really helped us continue to drive success.

What do you see as the main opportunities for the IT industry in the coming year? How do you plan to capitalise on those opportunities?

MA: For me, I think there are two main opportunities for the industry; artificial intelligence (AI) and proving return on investment (ROI).

The commoditisation of AI with the launch of tools like ChatGPT will revolutionise the way we interact with technology and provides huge opportunities to drive efficiencies. For the first time ever, we are going to have the same 'employee', aka AI, joining the workforce of a lot of organisations. This will present new ways of learning, new services options and the possibility to enhance efficiency. Of course, everything that can be used for good can also be used for bad, so the need for safety and security will be key.

The second is the opportunity to develop services and solutions that can offer more bang for a buck for customers, and those vendors that are able show and then deliver value will be more successful.

Computing's Security Excellence Awards will take place on Thursday, 2nd May in London. Click here to view the shortlist and here to book your table.

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