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CRN Exclusive: Attivo Networks Snags Ex-FireEye CTO Tony Cole To Accelerate Vertical Push

Attivo plans to redouble its efforts around technical training to ensure that partners are fully up to speed on the company's technology, Cole tells CRN.

Attivo Networks has named FireEye veteran Tony Cole as its CTO as the company looks to boost its presence in the government, financial services, and oil and gas verticals.

The Fremont, Calif.-based vendor brought Cole on board to help Attivo deliver more clarity to the market around how its platform is differentiated from competitors. Cole said he plans to take a deep dive into what the Attivo platform does and the capabilities it provides to ensure it's continually growing.

Cole started at Attivo March 5, following a 16-year run at Symantec, McAfee and FireEye, where he rose up the ranks from critical infrastructure security adviser to global government CTO. Cole's work at Attivo will be similar to what he did at FireEye, where he was responsible for strategy and external evangelizing and played a key role in shaping the company's product portfolio, and sales and marketing strategies.

[Related: CRN Exclusive: Attivo Networks Launches Inaugural Partner Program]

"I've always been fascinated with deception [technology]," Cole told CRN exclusively. "In my time at Symantec, McAfee and FireEye, I hadn't seen anything like [Attivo's platform]."

Larger organizations tend to be more bureaucratic, Cole said, with structured, rigid road maps and a long process to move capabilities up the stack. Working for a nimble company like Attivo adds a lot of joy to the role, Cole said, since the development team can very quickly add capabilities.

This adaptability makes it easier for Attivo to quickly solve problems for CIOs and CISOs, Cole said. Attivo also plans to redouble its efforts around technical training for solution providers to ensure that channel partners are fully up to speed on the company's technology, Cole said.

Government is the biggest greenfield for Attivo in North America, according to Cole, who said Attivo will be very successful as agencies and departments understand the new capabilities and the value the company delivers. Attivo is also gaining traction in the large financial services market, Cole said.

Attivo also expects to dramatically expand its footprint around critical enterprise infrastructure in North America and abroad as the company helps end users bridge the gap between IT and OT, according to Cole. The company's investment around critical enterprise infrastructure will cover water as well as oil and gas, Cole said.

Organizations are increasingly looking to move their large security infrastructure away from purely prevention and adopt a more balanced approach that also includes detection and response, Cole said. Quick detection is vital to mitigating damage and pushing the threat out of the system, Cole said.

Attivo has built a deception structure that spans the network and the endpoint as well as potential threat vectors like point-of-sale and the Internet of Things, Cole said. Although larger security vendors are now getting into deception, Cole said Attivo's offering is more mature since the company has been in the space for years.

"I love where the portfolio is today," he said.

Cole plans to spend his first couple of weeks on the job learning more about Attivo's technology and having conversations with the company's largest customers. Specifically, Cole said he'd like to gain a better understanding of what large customers like about Attivo, why they like it, what they're putting place around the offering, and what they'd like to see from Attivo going forward.

Nexum has worked with Cole as part of FireEye's Partner Advisory Council, and the company has always been impressed with his understanding of the cybersecurity industry as well as the challenges channel partners and end customers face, according to Brian Haboush, vice president of sales for the Chicago-based company, No. 215 on the 2017 CRN Solution Provider 500.

"It's a huge plus with him going to a company that's newer in the space," Haboush told CRN. "I think he's going to do wonderfully with them."

Cole's industry experience will make him a valuable asset as Attivo continues to establish and fortify partnerships with Palo Alto Networks, Splunk and ForeScout. Showing interoperability with established vendors already in the enterprise is vital to get the company's technology into the hands of more customers, Haboush said.

Haboush said Cole's experience should help with everything from explaining Attivo's value proposition and working with existing infrastructure players to knowing where Attivo's technology best connects to other vendors in order to enhance the relevancy of the partnership.

"Attivo has picked up an industry veteran as the deception market comes to the forefront," Haboush said. "It's a tremendous hire."

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