Google has hired Gerhard Eschelbeck, former CTO of enterprise security firm Sophos, as vice president of security engineering, hinting at the web giant’s potential plans to move into cloud-based software defined security.
Google spokesman Matt Kallman confirmed the hire, first spotted by an SDNCentral tipster on Eschelbeck’s LinkedIn profile, which lists his Google start date as last month. Eschelbeck could not be reached for comment.
A SaaS security veteran, Eshelbeck had worked at U.K.-based Sophos since 2011, overseeing cloud security strategy. Prior to Sophos, he was CTO at SaaS security service Qualys and was an early pioneer in subscription-based enterprise security software.
In a statement, Sophos says it has launched a search for its new CTO, adding that Eschelbeck’s other duties had been assumed by Sophos executives Bryan Barney, Dan Schiappa, and Nick Bray. “This transition has been in the planning process for several months and is unrelated to Gerhard’s decision to accept a position at Google,” the statement reads.
Google has made recent moves to bolster its enterprise offerings, including a reported partnership with Ruckus to build an SDN Wi-Fi service targeted at small businesses. In June, the company added security auditing features to its Drive at Work platform, and announced a global load balancing feature for Google Cloud Platform.
Following recent security-feature announcements from competing cloud providers Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM, Google’s latest hire could simply be a move to bolster its offering in the white-hot cloud services market, says IDC analyst Pete Lindstrom.
On the other hand, says Lindstrom, “there’s a chance that Google is looking to expand its reach in security as a service, pointed outward.”
“I could easily see them getting into that space,” Lindstrom added. A move deeper into enterprise security could throw Google’s substantial weight into the path of incumbents such as Cisco, Juniper, and Palo Alto Networks, as well as high-profile startups like Zscaler.
“Gerhard is great as an evangelist,” says Lindstrom, who has followed Eschelbeck’s career. “The real question is, what’s he going to be evangelizing — internal stuff, or product stuff?”