Winning with Cloud Native Security: Joe Sexton on Why He Joined Aqua's BOD
I’m thrilled to be joining the Aqua board of directors to drive the company’s aggressive growth and help enterprises all over the world accelerate their cloud journeys with a security-first mindset. Cloud native security is on a fast track to become a massive, important market, and I see Aqua as its clear winner. Leaving the CrowdStrike board of directors to take on my new role, I’d like to share what I think this extraordinary journey is going to be like.
My journey in technology
I first got into technology (scary to say!) almost 40 years ago. Throughout the years, I’ve been in the most exciting fields across the industry, including enterprise security, cloud innovation, and application performance. I’ve done both startups and large corporations, navigating hyper-growth, market expansion, acquisitions, IPOs, and more.
As a technology industry pioneer, I’ve been lucky to see firsthand how young tech companies grow and scale, disrupting the legacy industries and bringing groundbreaking innovations to the market. Today, enterprise technology is undergoing the next major shift — the rise of easy-to-use and nimble cloud native technologies such as containers, Kubernetes, and infrastructure-as-code (IaC).
What is this all about? In short, cloud native technologies allow teams to build and deploy applications much faster than before, and, in this way, they’re instrumental in digital transformation. Organizations can rapidly address shifting customer needs, launch and scale digital offerings in days rather than months, tap into new markets, and more.
Since the business impact is straightforward, the adoption of cloud native has been rapid and continues to rise. I call this “digital transformation on steroids”: Cloud native enables companies to achieve the next level of speed and competitive edge while driving business results.
As organizations are making cloud native applications a core part of their business, the ability to protect them is not just a nice thing to have — it’s essential. In the new digital era, security should be designed to remove any obstacles, allowing businesses to move fast and succeed in their digital transformation.
"As organizations are making cloud native applications a core part of their business, the ability to protect them is not just a nice thing to have — it’s essential."
Joining Aqua: The perfect match
For me, joining Aqua feels like a natural fit. It combines the two domains where I have a lot of subject matter expertise and insights: applications and security.
At AppDynamics and Mercury Interactive, I had the opportunity to dive deep into application performance management and learn all the intricacies of how modern applications work. My experience in security comes from McAfee and, most recently, CrowdStrike, where I’ve been a board member for the past seven years and helped grow the company from $25MN to over $1.5BN in annual recurring revenue.
As a pioneer in the container security space, Aqua was the first to bring full lifecycle security to this new cloud native stack. For the past few years, the company has been growing mostly organically, achieving and continually maintaining its market leader position. At the same time, Aqua — and the cloud native space as a whole — are very much just getting started.
Why I’m joining Aqua
The way I make decisions on where I join the board is simple.
One of the first criteria on my list is a big total addressable market.
As I said earlier, the market of containers and Kubernetes is going to be huge, as more companies accelerate digital transformation and move to the cloud. All the indications speak for themselves: This is where the industry is heading. In a few years, we’re going to see a dramatic surge in the number of cloud native applications being built and, as a result, an unprecedented boom in demand for security solutions. It’s already happening.
"In a few years, we’re going to see a dramatic surge in the number of cloud native applications being built and, as a result, an unprecedented boom in demand for security solutions."
The Aqua team has built a world-class security product that out of the gate solves the hardest problem, security in production. If something breaks in development, you can always fix it. But when something is wrong in operations, it’s a whole different story for the business. Getting the runtime part right is brutally difficult. And this is exactly where Aqua shines.
Aqua’s superior runtime capabilities are a huge competitive advantage. Because when it comes to security, it’s the active protection in production that matters.
"When it comes to security, it’s the active protection in production that matters."
As part of the Aqua team, I’ll be privileged to work with some of the best and brightest leaders and professionals in the industry. Dror Davidoff, the CEO of Aqua, and I go way back to the time when we acquired his company at McAfee. And I’ve known Chris Smith, Aqua’s chief revenue officer, for more than 18 years, since we worked together at Mercury Interactive.
People at Aqua are truly exceptional at what they do, and I’m confident they will stop at nothing to help our customers win.
Ultimately, my decision was based on a combination of these three factors: total addressable market, strong product, and leadership. For me, Aqua checks all of these boxes.
What I will do at Aqua
Going forward, I hope my extensive track record and expertise will be key in helping Aqua chart the next phase of hyper-growth and lead business innovation.
First of all, I’m aiming to ramp up Aqua’s go-to-market efforts. With a rapidly growing customer base, the company is already on a great trajectory, and the future never looked brighter.
One of the ways we’re going to scale is by amplifying what I call a “value selling” approach. It consists of clearly articulating how the technology will solve customers’ burning pain and benefit their business. Business people don’t necessarily need to understand what containers or Kubernetes are – which requires decent technical knowledge – but they are looking for the business outcome that these technologies provide.
Also, I’m bringing to the table an amazing talent network across sales, marketing, leadership, and other functions. I’m a big believer that adding the right people to the team is crucial to achieving the next level of scale.
In this time of accelerated digital transformation, security is absolutely core to the overall success of any business. That’s why the cloud native security market is on fire. As more applications are run in the cloud, Aqua is here to satisfy the huge demand — with the most comprehensive platform that organizations need to secure their diverse cloud stacks and environments.
I’m convinced: The time is right for Aqua. Joining its board of directors on this fantastic ride, I’m excited to see what we’ll be able to achieve. Given the excellence of the product, I’m confident in Aqua’s ability to beat any competitor and emerge as the next big winner in the next big space.