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VMblog Expert Interview: Fortanix Talks Confidential Computing, Top Priorities in Security and Predictions for 2022


The confidential computing market is growing and it is projected to grow to $54 billion by 2026.  To learn more, VMblog reached out to industry expert Ambuj Kumar, CEO and co-founder of Fortanix.  Fortanix's confidential computing success is anchored in the simplicity of implementation, ease of use, and ready-to-run applications. 

VMblog: To kick things off, give VMblog readers a quick update on the company since we last spoke.

Ambuj Kumar:  Fortanix is a data-first multicloud security company solving the challenges of cloud security and privacy. Data is the most precious digital asset of businesses, but this data is spread across clouds, SaaS, applications, databases, and data centers. Security teams struggle to track, much less secure it. What Fortanix is doing is empowering customers to secure all this data with a centralized solution. We are leading the adoption of Confidential Computing technology to help ensure data remains protected throughout its lifecycle - at rest, in motion, and in use, keeping it secure from even the most sophisticated attacks. The confidential computing market is projected to grow to $54 billion in 2026.  

Fortanix has just crossed a significant landmark by booking its 100th confidential computing production customer, the first company to do so in the industry. Fortanix Confidential Computing was first developed on the Intel SGX enclave platform. We are now announcing an expansion of our technology ecosystem to support AWS Nitro and AMD-based confidential computing solutions, as well as an expanded set of practical, real-world use cases. Together, these announcements reinforce Fortanix's leadership in a market.  

Our company was founded on the vision of what confidential computing can offer, and it gives us great pride to cross this milestone. More importantly, we are excited to unlock the benefits of this transformational technology for our customers, at a time when data security and privacy have never been more important and impacting people and enterprises around the world.

Fortanix counts amongst its customers some of the largest and best-known brands around the world, including financial services, healthcare, government, fintech, energy, and professional services customers.

VMblog: What is confidential computing and what can it be used for? Why is this technology needed and what industries will benefit the most from this technology?

Kumar:  Confidential Computing protects applications and the sensitive data they process from unauthorized access and tampering during processing. The strongest demand today is coming from highly regulated industries like fintech, financial services, and healthcare that have both huge quantities of very confidential information and a real need to safely use that data.  

The growth of Confidential Computing has been driven by real-world, practical applications that can benefit from the power of the technology. In general, these are projects in organizations whose work has been constrained by strict regulations, compliance requirements, and individual privacy, such as in healthcare. Let me give you a couple of examples.

BeeKeeperAI, a Fortanix customer, created at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Center for Digital Health Innovation (CDHI), accelerates the development and deployment of AI algorithms in healthcare. With Fortanix Confidential Computing technology, BeeKeeper is able to remove the barriers to accessing critical clinical data which is essential to developing, validating, and deploying high-quality, impactful algorithms resulting in optimal health and healthcare.

Fortanix financial services customer, Consilient, is an innovator bringing federated machine learning technology to the fight against financial crime. Consilient's DOZER solution transforms how organizations discover threats like money laundering and fraud by allowing financial institutions to collaborate across institutions, industries, and geographies, without the challenges and risk of moving data. Financial institutions have a challenge with their inability to share data, which hinders the industry from effectively managing the risks from fraud and money laundering. However, with Fortanix Confidential Computing technology, Consilient's federated machine learning solution, DOZER, moves across financial institutions securely, allowing each to leverage industry insights while enhancing data security or data privacy.

Fortanix also works with multiple Fintech companies and crypto platforms seeking to revolutionize the financial services landscape with blockchain, crypto wallets and NFTs. The volume of highly sensitive information involved in these businesses drives a core need for data security and privacy. Fintech companies use Fortanix confidential computing to tackle challenges like data sovereignty, cloud key management, and proliferating compliance regulations.

VMblog: How big is the market for confidential computing? What are the drivers that position confidential computing for aggressive growth at this time?

Kumar:  Research firm Everest Group recently published a report projecting that the Confidential Computing market could grow to $54 billion, in a best case scenario, in 2026. The exponential growth is being fueled by enterprise cloud and security initiatives, expanding regulations especially in privacy sensitive industries like healthcare and financial services.  

All segments of confidential computing are poised for growth including software, which is expected to be the largest and fastest, hardware and services. Regulated industries are expected to dominate the adoption of Confidential Computing with over 75% demand driven by regulated industries like banking, finance, and healthcare.

Customers want to leverage all of their data, even their most sensitive data, for their own use and to collaborate with other businesses. This is data that can bring advancements in critical research and the development of new solutions for health, productivity and improving people's lives. Confidential Computing provides new and better ways to use even the most sensitive data in highly regulated industries without compromising security or compliance.

VMblog: Who are some of the strategic partners Fortanix is working with to grow the Confidential Computing market?

Kumar:  Fortanix Confidential Computing was first developed on the Intel SGX enclave platform, which continues to provide the highest levels of security for the most secure applications. Fortanix also continues a long-standing partnership with Microsoft in the development, and deployment of confidential computing in Microsoft Azure. However, enterprises today operate in a multi-platform, multi-cloud world. In recognition of this, Fortanix has announced an expanded Confidential Computing ecosystem with support for AWS Nitro Enclaves and AMD Secure Encrypted Virtualization (SEV) confidential computing technologies. Fortanix also continues to work with Google to expand data protection available for Google Cloud and with IBM to power their IBM DataShield solutions.

The new platforms are in addition to continuing support for Intel SGX. As these industry leaders expand their own partnerships and new platforms become available, Fortanix will likewise expand support to increase the choices available to customers in a "multi-everything" world.

VMblog: What are some of the key benefits of your solution that readers should be aware of? And what sets you apart from the competition?

Kumar:  Fortanix's confidential computing success is anchored in simplicity of implementation, ease of use, and ready-to-run applications. Cloud-native technologies and comprehensive APIs enable easy integration of advanced data security and confidential data processing into almost any application environment. Our key benefits can be summarized as follows:

  • Multi-cloud, multi-enclave powered: Fortanix Confidential Computing offer customers the widest choice of multi-cloud, multi-enclave powered options that include the industry's best such as Intel SGX, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, AMD, IBM and AWS Nitro. 
  • Comprehensive data security: Customers can choose from a broad set of solutions that are readily available, quick to consume and can meet specific enterprise use cases.
  • Simple to deploy and manage from a single pane of glass: Renowned for their simplicity of deployment and use, Fortanix Confidential Computing solutions are easy to manage centrally from a single pane of glass.
VMblog: What are some top priorities and best practices that security leaders should consider this year?

Kumar:  Data teams and decision makers are grappling with the challenges of data privacy and regulatory requirements, especially in sensitive industries such as healthcare, banking and financial services. While traditional technologies enable the security of data at rest and in motion, the vulnerability of data in use can only be alleviated with Confidential Computing. The projection of market growth reflects the potential of Confidential Computing to solve a big piece of the puzzle and should be seriously considered by enterprises of all sizes when building out data infrastructure and security strategies.

VMblog: Any predictions for 2022 in this space?

Kumar:  In 2022, a wide swath of organizations around the world will start to realize how important it is to comply with privacy regulations and secure their sensitive data by decoupling security from infrastructure. Leading analysts have projected that in the next two years, 75% of the global population will be covered by personal data privacy protections as a result of regulations. Decoupling security from infrastructure will help ensure that even if the infrastructure is compromised, inadvertently or maliciously, private or sensitive data can still be kept secure.  

Traditional security has been about putting all the defenses on the perimeter and making sure that your infrastructure remains secure and safe. But in today's distributed cloud world, that premise is broken -- there isn't one defined place where you can draw a line and say "everything inside this line is trusted, and everything outside is not trusted." Data is everywhere in public clouds, data warehouses, data lakes, SaaS clouds, datacenters etc.  

With that backdrop, we believe that 2022 will be the year of confidential computing. Why? Because organizations need to keep data secure across its entire lifecycle regardless of where it is located. Confidential computing fills a very important gap in that regard by keeping data protected, whether it is being processed or shared, within secure hardware enclaves that cannot be breached even when the infrastructure around it is. While the privacy sensitive industries are leading the adoption, all enterprises will need Confidential Computing in the not too distant future.


Published Thursday, January 27, 2022 7:33 AM by David Marshall
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