When Box landed GE as a customer in 2014, it marked a turning point for the cloud content management company, giving them momentum ahead of their IPO. Three years later, Vera, a data rights management startup is getting a similar feeling, announcing GE's 300,000 employees would be using Vera to protect the company's intellectual property as it moved through the world.
"This is a seminal moment for us in a lot of ways. It brings together a lot of work we have been doing since the inception of the company three years ago," CEO Ajay Arora told TechCrunch.
While Arora made it clear this wasn't his company's first swing at a Fortune 100 company, the size and scope of the deal make it a different proposition. The needs of the company's different divisions are so dramatically different with GE covering everything from aviation to healthcare to energy and more, that as Arora points out, each one is like a large company unto itself.
"GE has every system under the sun. They have multiple cloud services, including obviously Box. The initial hook was, how do they create a central plane of security that they can manage across these cloud services and their traditional data stores, and protect data wherever it travels across services," Arora explained
What Vera is providing for GE is a way to protect data in motion, a problem every company, no matter the size, faces. Vera gives customers control over files as they move through the world by encrypting every one, then enabling customers to control who can see it and if they can print, copy/paste or forward a document. What's more, documents can be expired on the fly. The beauty of their approach is that security policy travels with the document no matter where it goes or what device is being used.
This problem is particularly acute for a data-driven organization as large and varied as GE where its IP is moving around constantly and it has struggled to protect it, Nasrin Rezai, VP, Global Chief Information and Product Security Officer at GE explained.
"When product designs and specifications are shared without continuous protection as part of our supply chain collaboration and technical processes, they’re susceptible to theft or illegitimate use in today’s digital economy. Vera addresses this problem because we know even when shared externally, these files are protected at the source,” she said in a statement.
Arora says with all of the recent highly public data leaks from Equifax, Deloitte and the SEC, this deal signals a shift in the way companies protect data. It's no longer about trying to keep data protected behind the firewall.
"Security exists to protect IP that companies have been spending billions of dollars to create. If there is no [effective firewall anymore], they have to apply security to the data itself," he said.