Saturday, November 19, 2016

My Hat's Off to Soltra

Normally when a company doesn't work out the way we'd hoped, we criticize and critique, and we Monday morning quarterback and we talk about all of the things they did wrong to make them go away. And certainly, my own company struggles like every other company out there with those competitive pressures, so I don't criticize. I look for the lessons, and the good that came from the experience and we drive on.

In this case though, when Soltra was announced as being discontinued, and Aaron Chernin's name showed up on LinkedIn with another company behind it, I thought to myself "What a shame"; and then I thought, Wow. These guys really made a difference.

Many of us have been fortunate enough to have had our fingerprints in tools, technologies, ideas, and processes that have stayed well beyond our initial participation. Soltra will be one of those ideas that I look back on and think to myself they left their fingerprint all over this...

Look, between the FS-ISAC and DTCC, the idea of Soltra was in my mind BRILLIANT. While I don't necessarily agree on all of the implementation decisions, there's one thing for sure. There needs to be a way to automatically share indicators in a way in which analysts at both end of the sharing stream can understand their importance, rack and stack confidence by source, and automatically ingest the information into a device that can use it without further manipulation, cut and past, or additional human man-hours.  I'll admit, we were a late adopter. As a cashflow operated company I wanted to wait until the dust settled. And even today, the idea of moving STIX from XML to JSON means many folks are going to have to do a bit more work... but...

Soltra Edge really pushed the ball up the hill. 

I believe at last count, Soltra had over 11,000 downloads. I'm certain many of those were not paid accounts, but at the same time, the idea that over 11,000 application downloads by 2900 organizations, who did something with it is absolutely amazing to me. And more, the idea that those users were primarily in the Financial Services and Security industry is even better.

There's power in numbers, and when those numbers are offered a solution by two trusted organizations, the FS-ISAC and DTCC, backed by the knowledge that many of the other financial institutions in the world will be downloading and using it, and then that many of the trusted security companies in the world (us included) will be using it... the sheer volume of warm potential users, all in one industry, supported by the security companies who with to sell into STIX/TAXII enabled environments made the viral spread of Soltra in the financial sector possible. And while it wasn't meant to be this time there are several options out there that will now take Soltra's place in the market; filling the hole that was left; but wait --did I say that there are several others who've taken on TAXII servers? I did, yes.

Being an entrepreneur is really hard. Being a tech entrepreneur is even harder. But being a tech entrepreneur who was selling a disruptive idea? Holy cow. You (Soltra) guys didn't just take someone else's stuff and make an improvement, you created a whole new way to share information! Ok, there were flaws. So what! We all fail sometimes. But sometimes even in failure we advance ideas that paved the way for even greater things. Soltra was one of those things.

And so, as I close, I come back to my original statement. Mark Clancy, Bill Nelson, Aaron Chernin, and all of those other names that I'll never know, My hat's off to you all!  

With Respect,
Bravo Zulu.