"Don't work for recognition, but do work worthy of recognition" - H. Jackson Brown.
A friend sent this quote to me after I explained to her my ambivalence about being recognized by Gartner as a "Leader" in their Web Application Firewall Magic Quadrant. I had mixed feelings because I wanted to believe that I knew the market, I knew our competitors, and I certainly already knew what our customers were telling us about our Web Application Firewall. Our customers are happy. The product is getting better. Market share is growing in a growing market. I didn't need someone else to tell me we were a leader! In other words, like most - if not all - of my colleagues and friends, I want to feel intrinsic pride in the work that I do.
If I am honest with myself, though, I also crave the respect of my peers, my managers, my customers, and (deep breath) yes: I also crave the respect of our industry's most respected analysts - those at Gartner. So the news from Gartner was a relief, and a vindication, a bit of a cause for celebration and even a hug from a co-worker. And the very same day that I got the news, I also had an opportunity to meet one of our Web Application Firewall customers in person - and it was that meeting that helped me fully realize a sense of accomplishment.
Gartner's just released Web App Firewall Magic Quadrant evaluates our product suite and names us a leader. API protections are one of the features we added to Kona Site Defender this year. The customer I met with that day, an online seller of computer hardware, asked specifically about our API protections because they had plans to unify their website's back end infrastructure to support both their mobile and desktop websites. I told her that we parse JSON to look for malicious code, and that we allow customers to use both positive and negative security models. I received a quick head nod - both points seemed to land well and directly address her concerns. That kind of instant feedback is priceless and added to my sense of satisfaction that day.
Likewise, Akamai has added skills, resources, and technical qualifications to our Professional Services (PS) department over the past 5 years, but it wasn't until I asked the room full of representatives from that same customer if our PS team had already upgraded their protections from the ModSecurity ruleset to the Kona Rule Set, and I received another quick nod, that I felt the same sense of pride and satisfaction.
Perhaps most importantly, when I talked about Akamai's Cloud Security Intelligence data analysis engine, the petabytes of data it analyzes, and the closed loop WAF test framework that it feeds, and the resulting low false positive and high true positive scores that Kona Site Defender achieves, I again was relieved to see the almost instantaneous feedback in the form of nods of recognition and appreciation.
On what felt like a momentous day, the meeting brought home an important realization: I appreciate our Kona Site Defender customers. Our customers have offered positive feedback as we've improved our product over the past 5 years, and, perhaps more importantly, have provided us with constructive feedback in meetings, through e-mail, and at our annual customer conference. That feedback has led to a cavalcade of features and benefits that we are proud of and the market has recognized. And while Akamai doesn't really work for recognition from analysts, it certainly feels good to be recognized. Thank you, Gartner, for selecting Akamai as a leader in the 2017 Web Application Firewall Magic Quadrant.