Skyport Systems Names Former HP Exec As CEO

Skyport Systems came out of stealth in May, launched a channel in July, and Wednesday named a former Hewlett-Packard executive as its new CEO as the hyper-secured server vendor prepares for its next stage of growth.

Art Gilliland, a former vice president of enterprise security products at HP and before that an executive at Symantec, told CRN his appointment at the helm of the Mountain View, Calif.-based startup signals that "now we're going full speed."

Stefan Dyckerhoff, a partner at Sutter Hill Ventures, which has bet big on Skyport, will withdraw from the interim CEO position he held throughout the startup's early years. Dyckerhoff, once an engineering manager at Juniper Networks, will stay on as Skyport's chairman but return to his previous duties at the VC house.

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Skyport's hyper-secured servers, with security best practices engineered from the physical hardware ports through all layers of the software stack, went into general availability in August.

"Now is the time to really scale up the business, develop marketing infrastructure, create more opportunities for partners and really go prove the market," Gilliland told CRN. "We want to build a marketing and sales engine to drive more demand for our channel partners."

The startup has signed about 10 partners so far and is pursuing more. The company's plan is to drive all business through its channel, the new CEO said.

"We built our solution to be a subscription service so our channel can have more reliable revenue over time, and own revenue over the life of the customer," Gilliland told CRN.

Skyport's customers are diverse and geographically varied, from enterprises hosting mission-critical workloads or sensitive customer data to edge servers deployed in areas prone to hacking intrusions.

Awareness of the need for the technology increases with every high-profile data breach.

The larger companies Skyport talks to "are more sophisticated and tend to have departments that understand and are focused on security," Gilliland said. "Those people understand what we're doing at a very technical level."

But the converged servers offer midsize businesses -- those that might have a small IT staff but no dedicated security expert -- an "easy button" to implement best practices for protecting vital data and realizing compliance goals.

"They don't necessarily understand all the depth of what we're doing. But they can deploy our application in their system, from the hardware BIOS all the way up to the firewall, and they can understand they're protected."

That completeness of the solution yields a "channel-friendly" technology, Gilliland told CRN.

"You can deploy your workload in our box, plug in the Internet and you're done. And if you want, a partner can do that for you," he said.

Sycomp, a solution provider with extensive security expertise based in Foster City, Calif., partnered with Skyport in May.

Chris Elgaaen, director of security solutions at Sycomp, told CRN that Skyport has proven itself an extremely engaged partner, one "willing to do education, work jointly on accounts, be creative on programs and interested in our feedback," Elgaaen told CRN. "I've seen them being nothing but a positive partner to work with."

While he hasn't met directly with Gilliland, Elgaaen said he believes the CEO's experience at HP can olnyhelp him navigate the startup's growth.

Skyport's solution "bridges the gap between infrastructure and security teams," Elgaaen said.

"His experience with security over at HP is going to be very valuable as Skyport grows as a company. He understands this space, obviously," Elgaaen told CRN.