How did we get here?
On the morning of our exciting Application Security launch, it’s a good time to reflect on the road that has got us to this point. It has been an interesting journey, for those of us who have been on it, with it’s various points of stress and exhilaration along the way. To understand how we got here requires a bit of a Waratek history lesson.
From R&D to the Cloud
Waratek has had a commercial product in the market since the first product release at Java One 2012, that puts the commercial company at a bit under two years, but it was years of deep technical research that had got us to that position in the first place. Things began in 2006 as John Matthew Holt (CTO) and Vincent Liu (Development Lead) met in Australia. Based on a mutual interest in super computing technologies they became interested in seeing if similar techniques could be applied to the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). This led to some grant funding to pursue their research as a purely academic endeavor.
Following several years of research Waratek emerged in 2009 with a view to finding a commercial application for the technology that had been developed. While the research had taken place, some pretty seismic changes had also been taking place in the external world of technology. Over this period Cloud computing had emerged as one of the dominant paradigms for thinking about computing at scale. This had been linked to the growth of virtualization in data centers, through multitenancy in applications and fundamental changes in the scale and technology of databases.
As it happened, one of the key changes John Matthew and Vincent had wrought within their JVM was the virtualization of that machine itself (the introduction of Logical PARtitions or LPARs in mainframe speak). There was a realization that this not only allowed a much simpler approach to creating multitenant applications but it also brought all of the benefits that virtualization had promised to the data center to Java. One of the issues of virtualizing Java applications was that the JVM locked away large amounts of memory, breaking the virtualization tools ability to improve Java density. As the majority of enterprises ran on Java this was a big problem for those running large Java Estates. So with this in mind the Waratek CloudVM for Java was introduced to the world at Java One in Oct 2012.
Fintech Innovation Lab, taking us from 0 to 60!
So how did Waratek go from a virtualizing offer to where we are today? The catalyst for this was an early opportunity to enter the first ever Fintech Innovat Lab held in London. The Lab is a finance focused annual competition for start-ups that had been running successfully in Wall St., NY. Run by Accenture and supported by many of the top global banks, the focus is on selecting a handful of innovative companies through the competition process and then the banks mentor them and evaluate their offers. Waratek applied and while not a retail or back office banking product per se, the adjudicators themselves could see how Waratek could significantly alter the economics of their data centers… we were in!
The first three months of 2013 were a blur of activity as we met with most of the top global banks in the City of London and worked very deeply with our four selected mentors. The whole experience allowed us to consolidate and refine our message and understand the sort of extra capabilities and use cases an enterprise would have around our product. Another result of this was our selection to pilot the product in one of the banks in order to help drive cost savings and stability. In the months after Fintech, the offer was taken across the globe and the work to build the pilot was underway.
Finding hidden value
Fast forward another three months. By now the message was well and truly out there and the Application Security Department of the bank took an interest in our offering.
One of the core ways in which the Waratek technology works is by containerizing the Java application. These containers completely isolate the application and the hypervisor we introduce then gets to inspect every move the application makes. Already everything the application does is inspected and we ask two key questions:
- Will this break the isolation?
- Will this use a resource not allocated to this application?
When we went to meet the security team we were very confident the isolation would stand up to scrutiny. However they wanted to know was there any way we could extend this isolation to some how limit or secure the applications? Fortunately John Matthew Holt was at the meeting and an idea was born. Yes we could, by adding a third question:
- Will this break any of our security rules?
From this insight we went away and over the last few months have been working with our customer to truly realize the potential of this capability… leading to what is now Waratek Application Security for Java.
At the same time the technical work took place we began to ask our network what they though of this concept.
Runtime Application Self Protection
An early analyst enquiry call with Gartner Fellow Joseph Feiman, placed us in a category that Joseph had identified asRuntime Application Self-Protection. He classified it as ‘A Must-Have, Emerging Security Technology’ stating:
“Applications can be better protected when they possess self-protection capabilities built into their runtime environments, which have full insight into application logic, configuration, and data and event flows.”
As the first company to place security within the JVM, Joseph was excited to learn about our technology. Other customers, analysts, consultants, partners and friends gave resoundingly positive feedback. So Waratek Application Security for Java was born.
Over these last few weeks there has been manic activity across the company, marketing to build, technology to finesse, manuals to write, reviews to take place, demos to do, papers to complete… this list goes on. So it’s great to be able to take a few minutes, step back and think about how we got to launch day today.
It also reminds me of just how many people it takes for us to get to where we are. All I can say now is thanks to everyone who has helped to get us to where we are today, take breath… because now the real work begins!