Below is our recent interview with Cliff Duffey, Founder and President at Cybera:
Q: For those who haven’t heard of it, what is the best way to describe Cybera?
A: Cybera has been around ever since we founded it in 2001. Our mission hasn’t really changed much over that time, even though our methods and technologies have changed quite a bit. The company initially offered wide-area network and cloud security services for customers who weren’t the best fit for carrier or enterprise WAN solutions.
As the industry has evolved to be more software-focused, Cybera has become a software-defined WAN Edge technology and services provider. Everything we do is based on our secure SD-WAN platform called the CyberaONE Solution, which has been our core offering since 2011. We primarily focus on the needs of highly distributed enterprises with multiple business locations—especially smaller-footprint remote sites.
Q: You’ve recently announced that you will provide a comprehensive network solution to prepare for outdoor EMV across the Shell national branded network; could you tell us something more?
A: This solution is a great example of the kind of IoT and network challenges that are starting to converge at all types of businesses. When you look at where the petrol market has been in regard to payment at the fuel dispensers, it used to be relatively simple: you pull up to a pump, swipe your credit card, and then that pump had pretty basic communications to request the payment authorization.
Today, the industry is facing a mandate by the chip card vendors to support chip and pin systems in their fuel dispensers by October 2020. This mandate is driving a pretty complex set of network and security challenges, because it requires the pump to communicate with a variety of Internet-based destinations to meet PCI compliance. That means the pump can function only if it’s network enabled.
So that’s just one example of this new world of IoT-enabled applications and systems, and one byproduct of this change is that these dispenser pumps are becoming smart devices. They’re beginning to generate data such as how much fuel is sold, what consumer behaviors or trends exist, and so on. That opens up a Big Data type of analytics opportunity for cloud-based systems to investigate the payment and fuel dispensing behaviors of petrol store patrons, ultimately helping stores deliver a better customer experience.
For instance, some petrol station operators have been able to refine their accuracy of fuel inventory and sales tracking by one percent. Now that might not seem like much, but if they’re charging $4 per each gallon sold, a one percent improvement in the efficiency of fuel dispensing can add four cents to their bottom line. In a thin-margin industry, that’s an enormous improvement in profitability for their business.
One of the most interesting benefits to Shell is that, by enabling chip and pin card payments at the pump, they’ve been able to reduce their fraud by an enormous amount. In fact, the cost of card fraud losses at fuel dispensers is much higher than what the businesses would otherwise pay for networking security solutions that companies like Cybera provide. Moving to chip-based payments should eliminate nearly all card fraud at the pump, so that’s a really big step forward for the entire industry.
Q: Can you walk us through other use cases for your solutions?
A: This IoT phenomenon isn’t limited to just retail. We’ve seen similar challenges in healthcare, for example, when we handle the networking in hospitals and clinics. These locations all have IoT devices like imaging machines, MRI machines, pill dispensers, and surgical robots that all need to be monitored and updated—some from remote locations. All of these systems require different network and security policies than what the underlying network was initially designed to provide. Trying to add these outside devices onto an existing WAN can pose a significant challenge, not to mention a security threat in an industry that’s highly regulated to protect data.
We also see kiosks popping up in all types of industries—often at unstaffed remote sites. Overlaying those kiosks with an existing corporate WAN or another network isn’t always a safe, or prudent, approach. We’re going to see a lot of creativity from new applications, services, and IoT devices that bring more value, but they all also bring a certain level of network and security challenges. That’s where secure SD-WAN plays a major role in empowering businesses to act on these new trends.
Q: How exactly do you redefine SD-WAN?
A: If you look at the first wave of SD-WAN solutions, they quite simply mimicked or looked like traditional WAN topologies. Instead of having a single MPLS or WAN, many enterprises are now opting for SD-WAN.
The beauty of moving to SD-WAN, or any kind of software-based networking, is that you’re no longer limited by the rigid architecture of traditional networks. So you can now build on an app-by-app or device-by-device basis. Cybera has found a lot of advantages to building logical networks centered on a single app or device. If we’re building a network to serve the needs of a single device, user, or app, it’s a lot easier to scale out while customizing both the network and individual security policies.
Q: I read something about your partnership with KFP Total IT Solutions – how did that happen?
A: Cybera has had an eye toward Europe as we move to increase our global footprint. Like many other companies, we’ve found that having highly skilled partners with local expertise is a smart way to scale up quickly.
I think we share a similar philosophy with KFP and how they go about solving some of the most complex challenges of the digital age. You have to find the right balance of innovative technology, proven solutions, and the skills to deliver exactly what the customer needs—even if the customer sometimes doesn’t realize what they need. Understanding the customer’s challenge holistically and then tailoring a customized solution is a strong point of KFP, and that’s a primary reason we’ve wanted to partner with them.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: We’re in the technology space, so staying ahead of the technology curve is paramount. But it’s not just about innovation for innovation’s sake. We’re at the forefront of the digital transformation that’s impacting distributed enterprises, both positively and negatively. So we need to make sure our customers can leverage new technologies to succeed in increasingly competitive markets.
For us, that means doubling down on our focus at the edge of the network, where much of this change is happening. How do we help our customers meet rising consumer expectations? How do we simplify their networks without forcing them to choose between security or cost? How do remove the management burden so they can focus on delivering new revenue-generating apps and services?
It all starts with highly flexible, cloud-based networks that are agile enough to quickly adapt to emerging business trends. That’s why we consider the SD-WAN Edge a real area of opportunity for both Cybera and our customers.
Q: What advice can you give companies that are struggling with IoT?
A: We have several tools and white papers as resources on the Cybera website to check out. At the highest levels of the organization, the main thing that I’d advise companies to think about is their strategy for supporting IoT devices and how they’re going to add them to their network environments.
There have been several breaches where IoT devices or systems were to blame, or they became a point of risk for allowing a threat into the network. No one wants to be the company that allows that mistake or breach to happen. That’s why I would encourage companies to look hard at new IoT devices and consider how they will securely segment them from the rest of the network. Doing that will dramatically improve their odds for long-term success.