An interview with Jonas Falck, the CEO Halon Security.
According to Per Stenman, a VC at Chalmers Innovation Seed Fund, Halon Security solutions are considered the best alternative also when compared to the giants in the field. If everything runs according to plan, you can count on hearing more from Halon Security in the future as a big player on the world stage
Jonas Falck is the CEO Halon Security a Swedish software company that opened the US operation in San Francisco about three month ago. We chatted at Cloud Expo West in Santa Clara, California last week
JONAS: I am always interested in technology . It is always good to build things. Like other technologies in other markets, or newer, that can be incorporated into our own products. With the right support, Halon Security is a given worldwide success,
MIHA: What are the products that you have?
JONAS: We developed a security software platform for hosting providers. We provide (1) a security router (SR) which is a network operating system and software distribution based on OpenBSD , (2) a secure load balancer and (3) an email security product. We offered these capabilities as part of appliances, but today, 90% of our offerings are software only.
MIHA: What the customers say about your product?
JONAS: The reflections we are getting from the customers are amazing. We sometimes get questions like "Where have you been?", "Why didn't get here before?" We are grateful for these clients who found us, outside Sweden and outside Europe. When talking to hosting providers, they like the idea of a security platform, rather than individual products
MIHA: Do you have these testimonials on the web site?
JONAS: Most of our testimonial are from Europe. Since August 2013 we have some documented user cases in US with VMware customers, who like the combination our firewall and load balancer for virtual nodes
(Miha's Note): Here is a sample testimonial from the company web site
“ A typical customer with our old solution, which was based on SpamAssassin, handle up to 100 spam messages a day. Now the same client, has at most one spam mail per day.” — Anders Aleborg, CEO Binero., Sweden's leading hosting provider
MIHA: I see you use open source software...
JONAS: Very much so, we are a BSD shop, and our engineers make frequent contribution to the code. We use OpenBSD , FreeBSD as flavors. But in addition we develop mixed Open - Proprietary code for our products.
MIHA: How do balance the Open Proprietary development, and why?
JONAS; We have our own script language and APIs that talk from the Kernel to the administrative interfaces of our products. We believe not only our products alone protect the customers, but also the design , the architecture are meant to enhance this protect ion. Many competitors' product, once they are hacked, there is free way wide open into the Kernel. We have three layers of protection , before a hacker can reach the kernel, and so far no hacker was successful, as far as we know.
MIHA: This is terrific. Do you say as a testimonial?
JONAS: We are very careful to keep an undertone and protect our customers privacy. But we are confident to say that so far our support did not handle any situation where hacker got through
MIHA: I am trying to be the devil advocate, Why should a US based customer buy Halon Security software, when there are so many US based security software vendors? What is the point of difference in Halon? Not all decision makers are at ease coding. They are impatient to listen to technical descriptions.
JONAS: Scalability is something we touch when we speak with our clients. We are very open, very honest.. We are not addressing very often the CXO's , we are talking to the engineers and technologists
MIHA: That's a geek to geek sale?
JONAS: Pretty much.. Halon does not have - yet- the recognition as a brand in US. Our points of contacts are the people who understand the technology we offer. I am not saying it is easy. But that is what it works best for us. The CTOs understand what we are doing , they like what we are doing and we are getting a lot of traction.
MIHA: Nice.. How hard, or how easy is to use your product? How do you make the customers to love your product?
JONAS: This is a good question. I think you mean: "How can you have usability, yet at the same time deliver a pretty powerful technology underneath the hood?" You can download our products and install them in less than 5 minutes. We have a live demo showing it how to do it. We provide different types of hypervisor images for most popular cloud and virtualization product, we can also provide you with experimental ready to use hypervisors that can adapt via scripting and integration to your specific hardware. Out Getting Started section on the wiki is very clear and easy to follow.
MIHA: Do you provide training courses?
JONAS: It is easy to get started, as we provide a default configuration that works for most customers. But some clients want to do more. For example integrate Halon with a couple of LDAP servers.
MIHA: Do you offer this as a service?
JONAS: We are talking with Hosting Providers and they are able to do these customizations themselves. We do have savvy resellers with their own internal technical resources who help customers without in-house engineering.
MIHA: How do you price your products?
JONAS: We offer license-only products (no support included), subscriptions, and free community edition versions of our software. All products are available for a free trial. The most common way is by user with an annual subscription , but for the ISV (hosting providers) we negotiate a special annual subscription which is not user based. All updates and support are included in the price. We can work also with monthly or quarterly licenses. We try to adapt to the needs of each customer, whenever possible.
MIHA: Do you have any investors?
JONAS: The company was founded ten years ago by my brother Peter and I. In March 2013, Chalmers Innovation Seed Fund and AlmiInvest Western Sweden have invested in Halon Security to support our growth on the international market.
(Miha's note: see the Chalmers Innovation press release here)
MIHA: Where do you see company in a year from now?
JONAS: We already have a couple of thousands of customers in Sweden, Europe, Brazil, Australia and Asia. US is a very important market for us and we see already some traction. We did our homework and we identified a number of champion accounts. We know exactly who they are. Our initial target are hosting providers. We will start with tier 2 and tier 3, before we get to tier 1.
MIHA: How many people will work in San Francisco office
JONAS: We plan to hire more staff for the San Francisco office.. US is a new world for Halon. We need to get some orientation and decide how to best operate in this huge and dynamic market, - while making some sales at the same time.
MIHA: Do you sell person to person?
JONAS: Yes, as part of many other approaches. We have a lot of experience from our Swedish office and we know what it works. We use resellers and distributors, We will create a sales team specific for the US market. We select the Hosting Providers, because we developed from the beginning our solution working closely with them.
MIHA: Are you cash flow positive from revenues alone?
JONAS: (Smiling) Yes. We do not have cash flow problems and we manage our finances to stay that way. We have been successful doing this for ten years.
Forrester research predicts the"cloud computing industry could lose as much as $180 billion by 2016 due to the spying disclosures." There is enormous amount of money to be made, simply stopping this staggering predicted loss.