Inside Tanium: Naveen Goela’s Mission to Mature Security and Operations with Science
How a chance meeting on a plane led to carving out a new position at Tanium, innovating tech, and the chance to present at conferences worldwide
As the world of cybersecurity matures, technologists in the field are finding leverage in new places. While data science itself is not new, companies applying the discipline to advanced cyber solutions are now leading the industry. With a background in statistics and computer science from UC Berkeley (Ph.D., 2013) and MIT (M.E. 2004, B.S. 2003), Naveen Goela is well equipped to hold the position of Tanium’s first data scientist. We chatted with him to learn more about his journey into this challenging domain.
Could you briefly describe your journey to Tanium?
Naveen Goela: I graduated from the doctoral school at UC Berkeley in statistics and information theory, which is a field in applied mathematics. In my past jobs, I contributed to engineering teams in machine learning and data science and worked as a software developer for a startup on the east coast. I’ve been a member of both academic and industrial research labs.
After learning about Tanium from Todd Brydon — current senior director of research and development (R&D) at Tanium — on a plane in 2015, I joined the team in 2018 as a data scientist. What really drew me to Tanium was the self-organizing linear chain network that differentiates it from other companies. Beyond the tech, learning from different people in diverse departments has been extremely worthwhile.
Currently, I am part of the Global Technology Office (GTO) team within Tanium R&D which focuses on technology partnerships, and the process of validating new products.
As a data scientist, in what ways have you seen the field grow, both in and out of Tanium?
Naveen Goela: When I was hired, I was the first data scientist for the company. Since Tanium is a software company, the primary roles in engineering pertain to software development. While our technical account managers (TAMS) do a lot of data analysis and our sales teams look at Salesforce data, I focus on product data science.
I believe the industry is evolving and now data science is at the forefront, the cutting edge. Data science and algorithms are becoming more important as our software, and the industry, matures. Tanium, founded in 2007, is still a software company — cybersecurity, and operations management at scale — but we’re investing more in data now, especially having launched Tanium Data Service (TDS) to cache data enterprise-wide at scale.
Have you worked on any notably exciting projects?
Naveen Goela: Yes! I’ve been fortunate enough to work on Tanium Map 3.0, Tanium Impact, Tanium Reveal, and Tanium Risk. I’ve spent time prototyping new algorithms and technology, building demos, designing new product features, and innovating and patenting new technologies for Tanium. So, I’ve worked on four products over three years, with all four being the newest ones to market. It’s been very exciting to see that process.
I’m also currently trying to get artificial intelligence partnerships as well as Tanium’s own efforts to analyze data for artificial intelligence. This is what I really appreciate about working at Tanium: we have lots of diverse projects to bring our ideas to.
How has Tanium supported your growth as a data scientist?
Naveen Goela: There’s never a shortage of exciting and impactful work to do. If you chart your accomplishments in your career at Tanium, there will be a lot of “firsts,” and that’s extremely rewarding.
For example, Tanium Data Service (TDS) was a first at Tanium. I was there to see the first Tanium data storage system, where we can analyze data in bulk. Another example is the Tanium Cloud and watching it become a larger portion of our customer base. We can now install Tanium for our customers much faster than we could years ago. These are big changes not only at Tanium but across the industry as well. I see these mini developments within Tanium, which reflect changes and advancements within the larger tech world.
I see things start evolving at Tanium over time and I think, “Wow, our software is really maturing.” It’s exciting, especially because the environment allows any driven employee to contribute and influence such change.
You’ve also traveled the world to present papers you’ve worked on. Tell me more about that.
Naveen Goela: We presented a paper this past August on Tanium’s Reveal product at the 47th International Conference on Very Large Data Bases (VLDB), where tech companies like Facebook and Google also attended to learn and present their own systems. Reveal is like a search engine that allows you to ask any question on large enterprise networks. It can parse files and data on each of the machines. Now, you can ask questions about any file on any computer in an enterprise network. Typical search engines take all the data and put it into a large data center and then index it. But we do it on each endpoint and Tanium’s fast API gathers the results.
Reveal was an exciting product to have the privilege to present. The timing of the convention was impeccable as the Log4J vulnerability hit during Christmas. Suddenly everyone wanted Reveal to solve that problem. We hit a huge milestone for Tanium Reveal — we were able to process one billion files for one of our customers for the first time.
With all the brilliant minds working in Tanium, has anyone in particular impacted your career?
Naveen Goela: Well, firstly, I learned about Tanium on an airplane when I met Todd Brydon, who worked in sales. We talked about engineering, math and science. The rest is history, and I must thank him for that.
David and Orion Hindawi also encouraged my innovative endeavors, including the publishing of an academic paper mentioned before.
There are just so many creative and technical minds to learn from every day; the list never ends. I’ve learned an immeasurable amount from working with senior VPs, product managers, and software developers of the engineering (ENG) and Global Technology Office (GTO). Tanium has some very talented software developers.
“Inside Tanium” is part of a series that highlights the people and culture of Tanium. To learn more about Tanium and explore our range of career opportunities, visit our Tanium Careers page.