Palo Alto Networks CEO Arora: ‘Eventually Great Products Win’

Palo Alto Networks has built out capabilities around endpoint, cloud and security management over the past two years that allow the company to deliver best of breed tools in five different areas, according to CEO Nikesh Arora.


Palo Alto Networks CEO Nikesh Arora said the company has expanded its leadership position from one product to five products thanks to an aggressive acquisition strategy.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based security vendor was in the top right corner of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for only its next-generation firewalls when Arora joined the company in June 2018. But over the past two years, Arora said Palo Alto Networks has built out capabilities around endpoint, cloud and security management that allow the company to deliver best of breed tools in five different security fields.

“Something I learned in my prior life at Google is that eventually great products win,” Arora told Presidio Chairman and CEO Bob Cagnazzi during a webinar hosted by Presidio Wednesday. “As much as I hated that thought because I ran all the business side of Google, my boss taught me that great products will eventually transform sales forces.”

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Palo Alto Networks has made eight acquisitions during Arora’s tenure as CEO, and Arora said the deals have allowed the company to build out an unparalleled seven integrated security modules in the cloud. The integrations allow Palo Alto Networks to reduce total cost of ownership for customers while not compromised the quality of security provided, according to Arora.

“We’re not saying, ‘Take an average product, take a mediocre product.’ We’re saying, ‘Here’s the best the industry can offer,’ and we give you an integration with the best standards to go out,” Arora said. “Because in security, if it’s not best, then you’re exposing yourself to risks.”

Over the past three years, Arora said Palo Alto Networks has built out Prisma Access to provide the same policies and same capabilities of its firewalls in a cloud-delivered fashion. Prisma Access competes head-on with Zscaler, according to Arora. Within Prisma Access, Arora said the company’s acquisition of CloudGenix will most likely make Palo Alto Networks the leader in secure access service edge (SASE).

Arora said Palo Alto Networks’ Cortex XDR detection and response platform has been developed over the last few years and went head-on and beat CrowdStrike a couple of weeks ago in Round 2 of the MITRE ATT&CK evaluations, which looked at how the products did against the tactics of Russian threat actor APT29.

There is not an industry comparable to Prisma Cloud, said Arora, who believes Palo Alto Networks would be in the top right corner if Gartner were ever to put out a Magic Quadrant for cloud branch security. And Splunk Phantom is the only competitor in the market against the SOC (Security Operations Center) automation delivered by Cortex XSOAR, which Arora said builds upon the tool acquired from Demisto.

“We believe we are trying to stay ahead of the curve,” Arora said. “Now, the reason we're more excited about it is that we've connected them all.”

CrowdStrike said it is leading in the MITRE evaluation with 100 percent detection across all 19 attack phases and is ahead of all vendors in contextual detections. That is the metric that matters most for today’s busy SOC teams, CrowdStrike told CRN in a statement. Zscaler declined to comment while Splunk didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Arora said he’s worked hard during his time as CEO to keep the amazing innovation Palo Alto Networks was already known for in place while accelerating the company’s skillset across multiple capabilities.

The “amazing, motivated team” at Palo Alto Networks has done a great job of engaging with customers on high-impact projects, with Arora noting that he had applauded some employees last night for their work helping the City of Minneapolis bring up their security to address existing needs. A DDoS attack temporarily disabled a number of city websites and systems following the police killing of George Floyd.

Palo Alto Networks did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment on their work with the City of Minneapolis.

“People are out there working hard with the customer,” Arora said. “You couple great products with amazing passion in security to serve your customers, I think that’s the golden ticket.”