Brian Shorland | BlueCat Networks | TechWeek18

Avatar Ben Fower | 19/12/2018

Brain Shorland from BlueCat Networks joined us at TechWeek18 in Frankfurt to discuss DNS and DHCP technology and what BlueCat are planning for the future. Hosted by Will Spalding.

Will: First up. I’m delighted to be joined by Brian Shorland of BlueCat Network who is the product director for BlueCat so Brian thanks for coming on the show. So BlueCat, tell us a little bit more about yourselves and what you guys are doing here at TechWeek.

Brian: So BlueCat ourselves we’re specialist in DNS and DHCP technology DNS being in the worst way described as the phone book of the internet it’s a critical network service. If you think about converting an IP address and a name and vice versa without this, nothing works if you try and go to and DNS isn’t working you’re just not going to get there. So, we specialize in helping some of the largest organizations in the world with their DNS infrastructure.

Will: Okay, so why would customers or new potential customers choose a company like BlueCat?

Brian: I think it’s the way we engage with our customers really a lot of the other vendors in this space they’ll traditionally just say we’re going to sell you a box to do this. They act in a very hardware centric mentality, a box for this, a box for that and they sort of see it as a commodity market. As I stated we work with partnerships. We want to give a best practice DNS which is going to help our customers with their digital transformation and their automation needs as they move into the cloud often and off-premise device.

Will: Okay. So, what can you say to customers who are a little bit sceptical about the idea of doing a DNS migration? What would you say in response to those?

Brian: I would say they are right to be sceptical straight away. It’s such a core network service, but the problem is it’s not treated like that and in a lot of organizations until it actually fails. Once it fails that’s it, it’s red alert straight away but you have to be very careful and phase in these migrations, especially in large organizations. And again, that’s something we specialize in with a full development plan for how we’re actually implement that, and we do this for, as I say, some of the largest organizations, the largest financial organizations and what they love about partnering with BlueCat on the DNS infrastructure is we de-risk this for them.

Will: So, I mean we spoke for a brief amount of time before we went live actually. So, tell us a little bit about BlueCat though and a little bit of history for some of the people who probably don’t know so much about yourself.

Brian: So BlueCat, I find is a very interesting company to work for we’ve been around for 18 years, so we’re not a start-up but we still have that startup vibe. It’s a really enjoyable company to work for. We’re known as one of the best places to work in Canada.

Will: That quite a record actually for Canada as well.

Brian: Yeah, we’ve won it for a number of years. We just won ‘best place to work for millennials’ as well in Canada. Best place women in technology in Canada. It’s a fun company to work for.

Will: So, you tick boxes in a good way. So, in terms of moving back on to talk about DNS again, what would you say people really get from the DNS response data? What are the main areas?

Brian: This is a really key thing because operationally people see DNS as just being this thing. I ask a question for, I get an answer. I don’t know what happens in the background, but that’s DNS. That’s the operational side of DNS and people really miss the fact that there’s such a gold mine of information in that DNS data. You have the query of every single device on your network. Everything it’s trying to do so, you can see the intent. It’s all very well having half the conversation if you know what they were asking “I want to look up this address” you need to know what the response was as well. If you don’t have the response data stored, you don’t have the whole conversation and the problem with DNS response data is because there’s such vast volumes of data being produced. And we produce a cloud-based service to store this information and analyze it in real time. If we don’t have that response data, you don’t have the story. You can’t tell you’ve been penetrated. You can’t find patient zero and it’s important that DNS is the sensor on the network because malware uses it for command and control you have tunnelling going on, so people trying to exfiltrate data using DNS and doing this is really used as a weapon by the modern attacker.

Will: Well, that’s really a conversation that we had quite a fair bit on Disruptive and we’ve had numerous guests coming on back home when we’ve been in the UK or other expos and really saying that a lot of time you should probably trust in automation anyway, because the fact that if an attacker is going to attack you or anything like that, you’re probably not going to know about it until afterwards anyway.

Brian: Well, this is the problem we try to make this proactive. We solve that problem with DNS as a technology to solve the issue. So, if you look at the way customers store this data at the moment, he’ll send it into an SEM-product. They have these terabytes of data and it’s only when they realize they’ve been penetrated, will they actually send a stock analyst to trail through terabytes and terabytes of DNS logging to try and find patient zero. So, they’re looking through the haystack and what we do at BlueCat is we analyze that data in real time and instead of sending everything to the SEM. What we actually do is we just send the alert. We send the needle in the haystack. Not the whole Haystack at once.

Will: Okay. So, what can we expect from BlueCat? I love the name, by the way, it’s one that does stand out, BlueCat Network. So, what can we expect from you guys the in the next sort 2-5 years what’s going to come out?

Brian: We really have already evolved our platform. So, it’s not just on premise which is old school. We’re now available in all of the public clouds, we operate in the private clouds as well and one of the things we’re doing at the moment is really containerizing our solutions. So, our service can actually be used absolutely anywhere whether it’s Cloud, premise whatever they want, allowing to have a mix of the service and really getting away from this hardware centric mentality of the past and just delivering a service which is what BlueCat great at.

Will: Fantastic. What are you most excited about seeing at TechWeek 18? It’s our last day here in Frankfurt? Is there anything particular you really looking forward to coming across?

Brian: For me in my role, it’s seeing a lot of what the other vendors are doing in this market space and talking to potential customers about what they’re doing with their DNS data are at the moment and see how reactive they are. So, there’s just such a great mix here, it’s a great insight into what’s going on in the industry.

Will: We’re just going to go off topic slightly here because I wanted to ask you a few quirky questions. Nothing to do with DNS fortunately for you. So, tell us one interesting fact about your hometown that you grew up in?

Brian: So, I live in Sandhurst so I think the only interesting fact. Oh, there’s 2, I can mention 2. They are tug-of-war world champions and the princes went to the Royal Military Academy.

Will: Oh, all right okay. So, William and Harry.

Brian: Yeah.

Will: One last question is why I know this is really good enough topic now real random questions that we just thought we would make it a bit more light-hearted. So, what is the worst movie you ever seen? Normally people say, what’s the best movie and normally Shawshank Redemption is up there.

Brian: I’ll make it nice and simple any video game adaption movie anything, Tomb Raider, Mario. They’re all terrible.

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