Barracuda Hires VMware NSX, Security Exec To Run Its Security Business

Hatem Naguib

Barracuda Networks this week expanded its management team with the hiring of two high profile executives, one who whom was heavily involved in VMware's NSX and security business.

The Campbell, Calif.-based company has appointed Hatem Naguib as senior vice president and general manager of its security business. Naguib came to Barracuda from VMware where he served as vice president for that company's security and NSX networking business.

A VMware spokesperson told CRN via email that Naguib's former position is now in the hands of Milin Desai, who serves as the vice president of product management for networking security.

[Related: Barracuda Closes, CudaDrive Services, May Be Looking To Sell Itself]

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Barracuda has also brought back a former exec, Ezra Hookano, as its vice president of channels. Hookano, who was with Barracuda for the company's first five years, returns to the company after working with several storage vendors.

Barracuda Networks has been a terrific channel partner during the 10 years that Benecom Technologies has worked with the vendor, said Gabe Raggio, director of sales and marketing at the New Orleans-based solution provider.

"Barracuda gets it," Raggio told CRN. "They're loyal to the channel. Barracuda tries hard to not compete with the channel, but when it does, they try to fix it as quickly as they can."

Raggio said he looks forward to hearing how the executive changes will impact Barracuda Networks' channels. He said the company changed its channel program a few years ago to add an additional level above what was then the highest level in the program.

"We were at the highest level before, but then Barracuda added another higher layer," he said. "They also cut commissions across the board. But the program is still better than channel programs from other partners. But I'd like to see the changes rolled back."

Barracuda, like any vendor, could do with a bit of light tweaking to its deal registration program, Raggio said. "But to be fair, they help me when I need it."

Raggio said he would also like to see improvements in how Barracuda works with channel partners on renewals. "They make it too easy to take renewals," he said. "But if I find a problem with renewals opportunities with my customers, Barracuda will try to fix it."

Ezra Hookano

Naguib told CRN that his 10 years at VMware helping to manage that company's NSX networking and security businesses were a great time to be with that vendor. However, he said, Barracuda provided an opportunity he could not pass up.

"I was looking for an opportunity to leverage my experience with VMware," he said. "In the past, few people thought much about the cloud. Now customers are optimizing their infrastructures for cloud and hybrid clouds. And a big part of that is security and storage."

Barracuda Networks has an impressive legacy in virtualization and infrastructure, Naguib said. "And when I looked at the IP [intellectual property] Barracuda has in security and storage, I felt this is a grand opportunity to take its architecture to the cloud."

Barracuda Networks has the kind of portfolio needed to help customers who are adopting the cloud and looking to more easily manage remote offices, Naguib said.

"For instance, we're seeing a lot of customers moving to Office 365 and to the Azure cloud managed by Microsoft, and it is important to manage the different pieces," he said. "It's hard to find another company with the capabilities of Barracuda. While a one-product company may see its fire burn very brightly for a short time, few companies have the long-term capabilities of Barracuda."

Naguib sees three areas as priorities for him in his new role.

The first is in security, specifically around network security, where Barracuda has lead with its NextGen Firewall. Naguib said that solution, which was designed to manage tens of thousands of users, is perfect for cloud environments. "Also, it's already one of the most successful products in the Azure marketplace," he said.

The second is continuing development of Barracuda's email security business, particularly as the market increasingly adopts Microsoft's Office 365 technology. "Barracuda email products, both on-premises and for the cloud, offer advanced threat protection well-suited for customers making the Office 365 migration," he said.

The third is to expand Barracuda Networks' best-of-breed capabilities with cloud-ready solutions, including full management, orchestration, and support capabilities with the ability to scale up and down as needed.

Hookano told CRN that he left Barracuda Networks the first time after five years with the company to help launch the storage product line and channel at Santa Clara, Calif.-based Drobo. He also said he spent time with Fusion-io during its revenue growth from $0 to $430 million before it was acquired by SanDisk last year, and then spent time with Sunnyvale, Calif.-based storage startup Exablox.

While Hookano has a long history in the storage industry, he said he has also been a security guy from the start, and returned to Barracuda to help the company as it looks at how to best bring security to the cloud.

Hookano also said he was excited about coming back to Barracuda as its technology helps move it to the cloud.

For instance, he cited Barracuda's 2009 acquisition of Austria-based Phion, which originally provided enterprise-class firewall security for the banking sector and has since became the base for Barracuda's NextGen Firewall solution.

"As customers move to the cloud and IoT, all the technologies we got from Phion are coming to bear on that move," he said. "We are significantly ahead of wherever anybody else is. I wanted to be here as we develop the hooks and scalability to work with the growth of the cloud."