Liran Eshel, CEO of CTERA Networks, emphasizes privacy, security through the cloud

Liran Eshel saw the digital transformation that cloud computing would bring to enterprise IT. (CTERA Networks)

Liran Eshel, CEO of CTERA Networks, is out to make it safe for companies to store and share their data.

The former officer in a technological unit of the Israel Defense Forces co-founded CTERA, believing in the digital transformation that cloud computing would bring to enterprise IT, and seeing the challenges this transformation presented for infrastructure management, data governance, privacy and security.

CTERA Networks is an enterprise software company that provides a secure and unified file-sharing and data-protection platform. It allows customers to manage how their files are stored, accessed and governed through the cloud.

“We ride on top of cloud infrastructure and modernize file services through enterprise customers,” Eshel told FierceCEO. But the cloud “has inherent limitations in security and performance,” Eshel said. “We solve this by providing a platform that encrypts the data before it is sent to the cloud and accelerate access from remote locations.” It is necessary “because enterprises that want to move data to the cloud are vulnerable to data leakage,” he said.

The approach comes as traditional hardware systems have at times proven unable to handle massive bundles of data and have also been increasingly hacked. Eshel said the majority of IT spending is still on traditional applications, but it will shift to the majority being cloud-based over the next several years.

“This is the most exciting space in IT right now, the fastest moving space,” Eshel said.

The company’s clients are a broad mix, including McDonald’s, financier The Carlyle Group, the U.S. Department of Defense and the state of Texas.

He sees CTERA “continuing to grow significantly” as the cloud approach continues gaining traction. The company has some heavy-hitting venture capital backers behind it, including Bessemer and the venture arm of Cisco. In total, CTERA has raised $70 million in VC capital.

Going public “is on the road map,” Eshel said.

A challenge in running the business is its requirement for “advanced, very complex technology” that must always be up to date, Eshel said. Another challenge, he said, “is the responsibility of balancing between employees, customers and shareholders.” He does this by “clear communication and making everyone part of the same team.” But he said he thrives on “the technology challenge and the satisfaction of solving the problems of clients.”

Fast Five with Liran Eshel

When did you know you wanted to be a CEO?

It was something that came naturally to me following my experience being in the Army at a young age.

What is a trait of a strong leader?

The ability to drive other people to action.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 lowest and 10 highest), how much of a priority do you place on the following things at your company: people, process and technology?

  • People—10
  • Process—8
  • Technology—9

What is a tip for motivating employees?

Make them feel part of the mission.

How important is culture to your organization?

Very. That’s what drives excellence and is the glue that keeps people together.