Scaling Up

By Baselinemag  |  Posted 2006-09-21 Print this article Print

Noonan, president and CEO of Internet Security Systems, says he never imagined the day would come when he'd sell the company—or, as he says, "walk my baby daughter down the aisle." But that's what Noonan is doing, with a pending $1.3 bill

Scaling Up

Q: Where will you be growing ISS?

A: We've got to expand our sales force. The sheer volume of leads we're getting from IBM… IBM is really great at opening the door. But they don't know security like we know security. They're already beginning to place demand on us. They have about 43,000 sales account executives. We have 300. So we are being deluged. We are expanding our sales force, and we've already expanded R&D.

Q: Do you have a headcount target?

A: I don't right now. My headcount for next year was going to have us going from roughly 1,350 to right about 1,410. I'm redoing my 2007 plan now, and my guess is you're talking in the neighborhood of 1,600 to 1,700. That's a lot of juice. It's almost like we're going to have a bubble here at the beginning of this.

Q: IBM has asked you to accelerate your product-delivery cycle.

A: Absolutely.

Q: What's on that product roadmap now?

A: One area I would tell you is scale. We've got 100-gigs [gigabits per second], in-line multilayered protection in the 2009 timeframe. We are aggressively bringing that in for next year. Additionally, [we will be] broadening the Proventia portfolio even further, so you'll see a Layer 4-through-7 Proventia application security appliance coming to market next year. You'll see a fully integrated NAC [network access control] capability across the whole platform—desktop, network—just a layer. We're bringing in a handful of the lower-end products, so intrusion prevention boxes are being requested in the tens of thousands by our telecom partners, because they just want to throw them out there on the network. It scrubs all the bad things off the network. All of these things we're pulling forward. We'll be hiring a lot of engineers to get this done.

Q: Where do you make the sale? The CIO, or the chief security officer?

A: You have to include the chief security officer, and typically the networking executives. It varies by account. We have a wonderful relationship with CSOs. We're built on the same fiber as them. We haven't always had a wonderful relationship with executives—CIOs and CEOs—because they didn't fully understand this problem. But they're becoming much more knowledgeable about this because of regulation and regulation… I've probably presented at 20 board meetings last year of Fortune 500 companies. They say, "Come in and educate us. How should we be looking at this from a governance perspective?" This is becoming boardroom stuff.

Q: How long do you plan to stay with the company?

A: Officially, I have committed to three years. Unofficially, I hope it can keep going and I can keep growing this. I think I can put up with Lotus Notes. One of my employees said, "Oh, geez, we're going to have to use Lotus Notes now." I said, "Who cares?" If they force Lotus Notes on us and leave all the rest of the stuff alone, what do you care?


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
eWeek eWeek

Have the latest technology news and resources emailed to you everyday.