How SailPoint Technologies is reinventing identity management

by Stephanie Sims
February 24, 2015

Mark McClain has been around the block when it comes to security and access management. He's CEO and founder of SailPoint Technologies, Inc., an identity and access management software company and has over 20 years of experience founding, developing and leading various tech companies, all under the same umbrella of management software, but with different products. In fact, SailPoint is a continuation from another company he previously founded, Waveset, which was acquired by Sun Microsystems in 2003 (Oracle acquired Sun Management in 2010).

Although the identity management space is a crowded one with competitors, the company has the unique advantage of being small enough to focus on customer service and experienced enough to compete with heavy-hitters. SailPoint has been ranked the No. 1 consistently by the Austin Business Journal in various categories, including Best CEO, Best Place to Work and Top Software Developer, as well as ranking among Deloitte's Tech Fast 500 the past two years, and has garnered analyst endorsements in identity governance and access govnernance. But less than awards and accolades, the company's core values – four I's: Innovation, Integrity, Impact and Individuals – are at the heart of what SailPoint is passionate about. Mark McClain told us SailPoint's story. 

How did SailPoint start?

MM: After Waveset was acquired, we realized there was still a problem in the identity and access management space. Waveset was software that helped track and report on productivity from a security standpoint, but there was still a problem of making security and access processes efficient. When you start work at a large company, on your first day, you most lkely don't have everything you need to do your job – passwords, access to accounts, etc. The process of transferring these over can be pretty bad, and it's similar to the processes that happen when someone leaves the company or companies are acquired. We started SailPoint to specifically deal with the pain point of transferring access, passwords and security aspects and its compliance and legislation issue. 

We started out catering to high-end, global 2000 companies. We hired enterprise salespeople who had a knowledge of the IT processes. Eventually, we broadened our target market. We still cater to high-end, global 2000 companies, but also smaller businesses who may have less than 100 employees. 

How does the company differentiate itself from its competitors, whether big name companies or small start-ups?

MM: Our competitors are mainly big companies – IBM, Oracle, Qwest – because the smaller start-ups that start out in this space are either acquired by big tech companies or they die. And big companies are not as responsive or catering to the needs of customers. Sure, they'll start out addressing the needs of the customer at first, but because they're a bigger, more mainstream company, it becomes harder to really cater to customers as time goes on. Systems are complex, and things can get screwed up easily. It helps to have someone who understands your business systems helping you implement this type of software and who is able to be readily available for any help. 

Another aspect of our business is addressing identity from the cloud. Some companies don't want to deploy their software, and would rather rent space within the cloud. In this field, we're competing with a new set of vendors. To differentiate ourselves, again, it comes down to customer service and being able to efficiently explain how to segue processes to the cloud. For large corporations, they're not the best at adapting to cloud technology. Most of these companies also use 30-year-old systems. It's a challenge, getting used to new technology and systems when you're used to old ones. Being able to help all our customers is key with all of our products and systems. Our company is resilient and flexible enough to be able to respond to all customer inquiries and provide great customer service quickly.

How do you stay on top of industry trends to help you in turn stay ahead of product technology and trend curves?

MM: I conduct primary research and secondary research. Secondary research is reading, listening and hearing what people are saying about the market, and watching what's happening. Primary research is talking to people at competing companies in our space, customers, going to trade shows and talking to people – primary research is about having our finger on the pulse of the market and field directly. 

Is maintaining a strong company culture something you do to help ensure a competitive advantage?

MM: Yes, and being a great place to work isn't just a “beer business” – it's not just about fun parties. It takes more than parties to create a good company culture. The company has to be healthy enough to respond to changes and adapt. As long as our core values – Innovation, Integrity, Impact and Individuals – are at the heart of this company, we can adapt to any changes in the field. We hire individuals who are passionate about working with integrity, being innovative and making an impact. We have landed on Austin Business Journal's “Best Places to Work” for years, and that's because we've created a place where our employees enjoy coming to work and providing value, working on a high-quality product they're passionate about. SailPoint has corporate offices in Australia, South Africa and Germany now, too, so our culture plays an even bigger part in the company's long-term success since we need to maintain it across countries. 

What are some of your goals for SailPoint Technologies?

MM:  We could go public as early as next year, but we'll keep growing and building our foundation in technology until one of two things happen: we go public or are bought by a bigger company. My main goal for us, however, is always to keep growing and strengthening.

 

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