Governance & Risk Management , Security Service Edge (SSE)

Skyhigh Brings on Cloudera, Splunk Vet Vishal Rao as New CEO

Rao Replaces Gee Rittenhouse, Who's Now Amazon Web Services' VP, Security Services
Skyhigh Brings on Cloudera, Splunk Vet Vishal Rao as New CEO
Vishal Rao, CEO, Skyhigh Security

Skyhigh Security snagged longtime Cloudera and Splunk executive Vishal Rao as its next CEO to capture more opportunities in the growing security service edge market.

See Also: The Forrester Wave™: Security Service Edge Solutions, Q1 2024

The San Jose, California-based vendor praised Rao for his quarter century of work at cloud and software-as-a-service companies as well as his experience helping previous employers carry out successful initial public offerings. Rao replaces Gee Rittenhouse, who left the Symphony Technology Group-owned company Feb. 29 to become Amazon Web Services' vice president for security services (see: AWS Snags Skyhigh's Gee Rittenhouse to Run Security Business).

"Vishal has an outstanding track record of strong leadership," Symphony Technology Group Managing Director Marc Bala said in a statement. "His entrepreneurial style, strong client focus, global experience and proven track record of driving innovation and growth uniquely qualify him to successfully lead Skyhigh Security into the future."

From Rittenhouse to Rao, With an Interim CEO in Between

STG Operating Executive John DiLullo served as Skyhigh Security's chief executive from March 1 until Rao's appointment Thursday. DiLullo spent 22 months as chief revenue officer at Francisco Partners-owned Forcepoint and served as CEO of Lastline Security and LiveVox before they were acquired by VMware and Nice Systems. A Skyhigh spokesperson declined to make Rao available for an interview.

Rao most recently spent more than five years as CEO of technology intelligence vendor Snow Software, which was acquired last month by IT asset management vendor Flexera. Prior to that, Rao spent more than three years spearheading field operations at enterprise data firm Cloudera and five years leading worldwide field sales at security and observability firm Splunk. Both companies IPO'd during his tenure.

"After over five and a half years having had the privilege of leading an incredible multipronged transformative journey, my time with Snow Software concluded last week," Rao said on LinkedIn today. "I am excited to see the impact the combined organization will have on the market, and will be cheering on from the sidelines!"

Skyhigh Security has eschewed a network-centric approach to security service edge and instead is focused on applying consistent policies around how data is treated across its ZTNA, SWG and CASB offerings. The company under Rittenhouse focused on safeguarding data as it migrates from a centralized data center to cloud platforms and the shift by users from working on corporate-owned devices to unmanaged devices (see: Skyhigh Security CEO on Taking a Data-First Approach to SSE).

"With the security service edge market predicted to be worth around $9 billion by 2028, we have an exciting opportunity ahead," Rao said in a statement. "The company's proven SSE portfolio and global and diverse customer base make them a true contender in the market."

How Skyhigh Security Compares to Competitors

The Skyhigh Security brand debuted in March 2022, and the company was recognized by Gartner later that year as a leader in security service edge alongside Netskope and Zscaler. But Palo Alto Networks replaced Skyhigh atop Gartner's security service edge leaderboard in 2023, and Skyhigh joined Forcepoint and Lookout in the visionaries category as its execution ability declined.

"Skyhigh Security today is not represented on many Gartner client RFPs and shortlists."
– Charlie Winckless, senior director analyst, Gartner

Gartner said Skyhigh's presence in the market and channel program was weaker than competitors and that the company hadn't demonstrated significant advancement in its portfolio. Gartner lauded Skyhigh for excellent data security capabilities, a robust and mature set of security controls, a large catalog of risk-rated SaaS apps, and for adding SaaS security posture management.

"Skyhigh Security today is not represented on many Gartner client RFPs and shortlists despite the feature set of the solution," Gartner Senior Director Analyst Charlie Winckless said in April 2023. "The split of business from McAfee Enterprise into and between Skyhigh Security and Trellix has disrupted Skyhigh's sales motion and has had an impact on its growth."

Forrester on Wednesday recognized Skyhigh Security as the seventh-best SSE firm, putting the company behind Netskope, Palo Alto Networks, Zscaler, Forcepoint, Cloudflare and Fortinet. The technology analyst firm praised Skyhigh for its data classification and cloud access security broker tools, but it said the company delivers features too slowly and is attempting to catch up to the market with its road map.

Skyhigh's headcount has fallen to 611 employees, down nearly 6% from 647 workers last year, according to IT-Harvest. About 45% of Skyhigh's staff is located in India, and 27% are in the U.S., 10% in Germany, 6% in the U.K. and the rest are spread across Australia, Japan and France. Skyhigh generated $159.5 million in revenue over the past year, and sales are slated to grow by 10% over the next quarter, IT-Harvest found.

About the Author

Michael Novinson

Michael Novinson

Managing Editor, Business, ISMG

Novinson is responsible for covering the vendor and technology landscape. Prior to joining ISMG, he spent four and a half years covering all the major cybersecurity vendors at CRN, with a focus on their programs and offerings for IT service providers. He was recognized for his breaking news coverage of the August 2019 coordinated ransomware attack against local governments in Texas as well as for his continued reporting around the SolarWinds hack in late 2020 and early 2021.

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