By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
Cybersecurity threats are not imagined, these are real. With that, security providers are also sprouting giving the much-needed protection to preserve the integrity of the data of enterprises as they undergo digital transformation.
Fortinet, a global leader in broad, integrated and automated cybersecurity solutions, has seen the growth and potential of the Philippine economy. Thus, it is stepping up efforts in strengthening its presence in the country.
It selected no less than IT industry expert MARIO LUIS “Louie” CASTANEDA to run the Philippine unit to greater heights.
Louie noted that networks in the Philippines are undergoing dramatic change with the rise of BYOD (bring your own device), IoT (internet of things), private and hybrid cloud, the migration to SDN (software-designed networking) architectures, a highly mobile workforce, and geographically dispersed data centers.
“All these are transforming enterprise networks into an ecosystem of connected networks as the Philippines continues its vision of digitizing the economy. Philippine organizations are starting to realize the value of digital transformation, and in tandem with global trends, securing their IT systems remains one of the biggest components of Fortinet’s business in the country,” he says.
Digital transformation (DX) is the continuous process by which enterprises adapt to or drive disruptive changes in their customers and markets by leveraging digital competencies to create new business models, products and services.
As more companies go digital, security is also a top of mind. This means IT budgets allocated for cybersecurity are expected to rise as they more emphasis to securing corporate and network infrastructure.
Another observation, he made, is that more and more organizations are appointing Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs).
“CISOs are now highly regarded in organizations, especially that they are now considered at par with the Chief Information Officer (CIO) in terms of the importance of responsibility. These are the personalities that we aim to cater to. We want to work with them in securing their IT systems while digitally transforming their organization,” he adds.
With the growing sophistication of hackers and malware, cybercrime is a multi-billion dollar business and security is at a tipping point. The complexity of IT has never been higher as organizations adopt new network architectures, such as private, public, and hybrid clouds, to improve agility and ultimately deliver stronger business results.
Since Fortinet’s inception, its vision has been to deliver broad, truly integrated, high performance security across the expanding IT infrastructure.
“Years ago, we foresaw the move to IoT, BYOD and the cloud, and built a security strategy designed to address those unique challenges,” he adds.
Thus, Fortinet’s commitment to innovation and integration goes far beyond our wide portfolio of cybersecurity solutions and industry-leading number of certifications and patents.
They consistently challenged the traditional concepts of network security by focusing on a holistic approach that allows organizations to deploy a single, integrated solution across their entire distributed network, including mobile users and devices, branch offices, central campuses, data centers, internal network segments, and multi-cloud ecosystems.
“Our Fortinet Security Fabric architecture uniquely positions us to address the security challenges faced by enterprise customers today, including complex network ecosystems, public, private, and hybrid clouds and parallel networks encompassing IT, OT, and IoT,” he adds.
“We are also continuing to target high-end enterprises, where our Security Fabric’s high-performance, low-latency advantages stand out best,” says Louie.
Fortinet has built most of its products itself, from the ground up, with the idea of the Security Fabric in mind. Built on its own security processor technology, using a combination of hardware and optimized software, Fortinet technologies provide robust security that can support performance into the terabytes.
The Fortinet Security Fabric integrates security for the endpoint, access layer, network, applications, data center, content and cloud into a cooperative solution that can be managed, analyzed and orchestrated through a unified management interface. It intelligently and transparently segments the customer’s network, from IoT to the Cloud, to provide advanced protection against sophisticated threats.
According to Louie, more than 25 percent of enterprise attacks are predicted to target IoT devices by 2020. And siloed apps in multi-cloud environments make it even harder to respond to threats. The Fortinet Security Fabric delivers real-time visibility across all devices and applications.
Enterprises average more than 30-point security products within their environments, resulting in multiple time-consuming security consoles and lack of transparency. But Fortinet Security Fabric streamlines communications among the different security solutions, shrinking detection and remediation windows.
Sophisticated cyberattack technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are reducing the time from intrusion to attack. This means enterprises need to detect threats faster.
“With Fortinet Security Fabric, you can coordinate automated responses and remediation to threats detected anywhere across your extended network,” says Louie.
“We want to help CISOs in ensuring the security of their IT systems as their organizations digitally transform themselves.”
In fact, they held the Fortinet’s flagship 361-degree Security Symposium series, gathering more than 300 cybersecurity professionals across the country to present trends, insights and modern defenses that organizations can utilize to safeguard data across their extended network amid the wave of digital transformation.
“Fortinet has a sound business strategy in the Philippines and beyond,” declares Louie.
With the company’s strong technology advantage, it benefited from key secular trends such as security vendor consolidation, segmentation, IoT and the move to the cloud which necessitates increased level of visibility and security orchestration.
“We also have a comprehensive product range that can effectively meet the security needs of diverse enterprises. The ability of Fortinet to provide a level of support beyond the industry standard also accounts for the high adoption rate of our solutions,” he adds.
He cited the Fortinet Security Fabric, which is the result of almost 20 years of innovation, organically built from the ground up. The Fortinet Security Fabric segments the entire network — from IoT to the cloud — to provide superior protection against sophisticated threats.
These innovations have earned them the top network security vendor in the country holding 24.8 percent of the market share in the cybersecurity industry according to Frost & Sullivan.
Fortinet’s global revenue last year was $1.49 billion, up 17 percent compared to 2016. For the fiscal year of 2018, Fortinet expects revenue in the range of $1.695 billion to $1.715 billion. Just last month, Standard & Poor added Fortinet to the S&P 500 Index.
“This milestone is an important reflection of Fortinet’s consistent profitability and double-digit year-over year revenue growth in every quarter since becoming public in 2009,” adds Louie, who graduated from Don Bosco Technical College with a degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering and also completed the academic requirements for his MBA in De La Salle University.
While he cannot make public financial projections for the local unit, Louie shared that they have a high market share of 24.8 percent according to Frost & Sullivan’s network security market tracker for Q2 2018.
“This makes us the No. 1 network security vendor in the country. We have great traction across all verticals in the Philippines, and are constantly looking for ways to grow market share and mind share here,” says Louie.
Fortinet Philippines currently caters to hundreds of corporates, including the biggest organizations, across various key segments. Worldwide, more than 360,000 customers trust Fortinet to protect their businesses. In fact, 70 percent of the Fortune 100 are Fortinet customers.
Globally, Fortinet remains the market leader in network security. Its large installed base of network security customers and a number 1 position in the number of appliances delivered worldwide provides a solid foundation for expansion into new markets and consolidate existing markets.
Fortinet’s key markets are financial services, utilities, telecom, retail, education, and government, and manufacturing.
The Philippines being one of the largest and fastest-growing countries in Southeast Asia is a very important market to Fortinet.
“We see a lot of potential in it and are investing heavily to grow Fortinet here. If we look at the market, it is also growing in terms of digitalization,” he adds noting that local firms are now undergoing digital transformation.
As it happens, organizations need to secure their data and technologies more. With the rise of the tech-savvy, millennial market, which demands a more immersive customer experience, it is imperative to transform organizations and create digitally-enhanced, customer-centric business models.
With over 30 years of solid and well-rounded experience in the IT industry, having assumed and performed various roles like systems engineer, sales and marketing, enterprise, commercial and public sector, channels director and even anti-piracy/license compliance, Louie is the man to beat.
He led and run top IT MNCs like Cisco as country manager, and as Microsoft’s director of small and medium business, solutions and partners.
Louie just moved into Fortinet in September last year because, “I saw a shift in the industry, with enterprises focusing towards securing the enterprise infrastructure. From my conversations with my top customers and colleagues, the direction is really towards improving and upgrading their security posture, how they must embrace digital transformation, comply and get ready for data privacy regulations. More and more organizations are also creating a CISO (chief information security officer) position. So, the most logical thing for me is to join the leader in the cybersecurity industry in the Philippines – Fortinet.”
He now leads a much leaner team compared to my previous teams. He welcomed the change and the flexibility that comes in a small organization.
“The exciting part is building and growing this team to be the most formidable security experts and professionals in the industry,” he says.
For the next five years, Louie sees Fortinet significantly increasing its revenue for products and services in the country. This means growing its sales team, channels and services professionals.
“Fortinet will remain the market leader with a greater share than today, and will be the most preferred and trusted brand by the top enterprises, commercial companies and government agencies in the country,” says Louie, who is both authoritative and participative in managing his team.
“I value the opinion and ideas of my team, and I also encourage them to speak out and have a say in how we grow our business. We are in this together and it’s not just myself who can make Fortinet successful but all of us working together,” he adds.
He loves to coach and mentor people to ensure success for each in his team.
“Of course, you also have to deal with different egos and working styles, and that is where the authoritative style comes in. I believe in making everyone the best they can be, and letting their imagination be the only limit to what they can achieve,” he adds.
There is no one in particular that he looks up to among the successful business leaders in the country, but he has only admiration for people who rose from the bottom and able to build a very successful career and business for their family and themselves.
“I can think of the Filipino-Chinese taipans who are the most dominant families/business leaders in the Philippines. You can see the values they have instilled in their children and the organizations they lead which focus on simplicity, hard-work, loyalty, delaying self-gratification, frugality, love of family, service to the country and professionalism,” he adds.
But more than the rat race world, Louie is an advocate for work-life balance.
“You need to strive to achieve balance between work and play. Go and spend time with your family. Enjoy trips and vacations with your spouse and kids. Have a healthy social life with colleagues and friends. Join professional organizations. Invest in developing yourself through seminars and leadership courses. Live a healthy lifestyle – eat healthy, exercise regularly, get enough sleep and take occasional breaks. Last but not the least, have an active spiritual life as well – join a community, and have a support system that can help you grow in your relationship with God,” he concludes.