Chris Ross, newly promoted Chief Revenue Officer at Barracuda Networks, joined the cloud-first cyber security solutions provider in 2015 as Senior Vice President of International Sales. In his new role, Ross will be responsible for worldwide sales and partnerships with a focus on super-charging the company’s growth across all regions. Global investment firm KKR, which completed its acquisition of Barracuda from Thoma Bravo in August, is aiming to accelerate growth by expanding Barracuda’s capabilities in key areas such as managed detection and response, extended detection and response and secure access service edge (SASE) technology. At last month’s Secured.22 virtual customer conference, Barracuda announced a number of developments in these areas, notably the integration of the Barracuda XDR platform with Barracuda CloudGen Firewall, which will enable MSP partners to deliver holistic, 24/7 managed cybersecurity services covering a customer’s endpoints, email, cloud, network and servers. It also announced the mapping of threat detection rules against MITRE ATT&CK framework to address detection gaps; and the addition of Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR) capabilities to its Security Operations Center (SOC) for faster response times. Here, we ask Chris Ross about his life in IT.
Technology Reseller (TR): What was your first job in IT?
Chris Ross (CR): I worked part-time in Tech Support at CompuServe while at university. Most calls were from people travelling who couldn’t get a dial tone on their modem while using a hotel phone connection!
TR: Did you get into IT by accident or design?
CR: As part of my degree, I had arranged a placement with a pharmaceutical company that fell through. A friend introduced me
to the General Manager of a U.S. software company in Germany. I started there a few weeks later and ended up talking to partners. This quickly whet my appetite for the sales role I have today. The company took me on full-time after I graduated.
TR: Do you see IT as a career ora lifestyle?
CR: A bit of both. I love technology, and the security market is so interesting and fast changing that there are always new things to learn. If you’re good at what you do, the rewards are there too.
TR: What excites you most about working in IT today?
CR: Barracuda is a partner-first organisation and it’s great speaking to a broad range of channel partners and learning how they are adapting their businesses in this market.
We are also constantly challenged to find new and innovative ways to bring our solutions to market, and the pace of new threats and new methods of attack results in an ever evolving and expanding security solution portfolio. The speed of innovation we need to maintain keeps our industry exciting. Finally, I’m energised by the rate of growth of our business and our team; finding and bringing new team members on board at a global level keeps things exciting.
TR: And what are the biggest frustrations or challenges?
CR: Challenges include keeping partners informed and up to date on the latest security solutions and their value proposition and keeping pace with the rate and extent of change in the channel. Like many security companies, we find that recruiting the right talent is our biggest challenge.
TR: In what areas do you think the IT industry could do better?
CR: The IT industry needs to get better at attracting more diverse talent, and this applies to both technical and commercial roles. Things are starting to change, but it’s not enough and we need to do more. As an industry we also need to do more in terms of training and educating our professionals and finding better ways to keep up with the pace of change.
TR: What do you hope to achieve in your new role?
CR: Over the coming year, our partners can expect to see continued focus on everything channel, and a continuation and acceleration of our partner-first approach in our go-to-market. I am passionate about the channel and the opportunity it provides as we focus on accelerating our growth and scaling out our business even faster than before. We have some significant initiatives launching over the coming months that are designed to expand the market opportunity for the channel.
We will also remain focused on increasing the range of resources available to partners, both in terms of our team, but also in programmes and incentives, to ensure that Barracuda really adds value to their portfolios.
TR: What advice would you give a young person considering a career in IT?
CR: Go for it! Our industry is dynamic, exciting and challenging, but the opportunities are endless.