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As businesses seek ways to address the heavily reported technical skills gap, automation is playing an increasingly big role in their efforts. This is perhaps no more evident than it is in the cybersecurity fray, which has a longstanding skills shortage that is only widening, and which has been embracing AI and other automated tools.
It’s against that backdrop that Tines is setting out to grab a slice of the $153 billion cybersecurity market, with a rules-based no-code platform that helps enterprise security teams automate repetitive workflows. To help, the company today announced a fresh $26 million investment led by Addition, with participation form Accel and Blossom Capital.
Automation for the people
Tines can perhaps be best summarized as something like IFTTT for cybersecurity teams, insofar as it enables personnel to pre-build what the company calls “automation stories” that trigger specific steps whenever a particular event occurs — for example, this could be to carry out a log and threat intelligence search to figure out whether a security alert requires further action.
For context, most enterprise-level companies employ security professionals that are dedicated to spotting and responding to cyberattacks. They will typically use various automated tools to help them, though these tools can create a lot of noise and false alarms. And this is where Tines shines, as it helps teams automate many of the manual steps that follow after an alert is triggered, freeing security personnel to focus on more mission-critical work. A drag-and-drop interface also opens things up to non-coding team members such as security analysts.
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Tines is built upon a visual storyboard where users can access seven agents, or “action types,” to construct their automations. They can be combined in any number of ways to create complex automation flows — for example, the webhook agent and email agent can be configured so that the relevant on-call personnel is automatically notified whenever a change is made to a GitHub repository.
“When we launched Tines, our core product principal was that every single enterprise process could be broken down and automated using just seven types of action,” Tines cofounder Eoin Hinchy told VentureBeat. “With Tines, you take the process you want to automate, break it into steps, and decide which of these seven action types is best suited to perform that step. This makes the platform extraordinarily easy to learn — there are only seven things you need to know — and once you know them, you can automate anything.”
Tines also serves up a bunch of prebuilt sample agent configurations to support some of the more common requirements — for example, to automatically send a Slack message whenever a specific type of security alert is triggered.
Tines sports dozens of integrations out of the box, including CrowdStrike, Snyk, PagerDuty, Gmail, Box, Datadog, Okta, Facebook, Freshdesk, and more. However, Tines can in fact be integrated with any tool that has an API, something Hinchy says separates it from other players in the security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR) space — its users are not restricted to the integrations it has created.
Sign of the Tines
The Dublin-based startup has amassed an impressive roster of clients since its founding just three years ago, including Box, Databricks, Sophos, OpenTable, Canva, and soon-to-be Okta-owned Auth0. At the time of its series A raise back in 2019, Hinchy said that while security would remain its core focus, some of its customers were already using the platform to support other workflows across IT, developer operations (DevOps), and even HR, raising the possibility that Tines could broaden its horizons in the future. Some 16 months on, Tines for now remains focused on the security realm. But with a fresh $26 million in the bank, the company is well-financed to expand its product “beyond the scope of security automation” over the next year or so.
According to Hinchy, roughly one-quarter of its customers are using Tines outside of security, in places where “there’s a mission critical process that’s complex and time consuming,” he said. “Tines is flexible enough to support any workflow.”
While Hinchy added that they were in “no hurry” to officially open the floodgates to the broader enterprise automation market, it will meander down that road. “We will stay focused on security for the next year while being opportunistic and selectively working with teams and companies in other parts of the enterprise,” he said.
A typical example outside the security sphere might involve removing user-generated content that breaches company policy, updating help desk tickets, and employee onboarding. It’s worth noting that some of these use cases are supported by existing tools, but if a company is already paying to use Tines to orchestrate their security, then they may as well use it to automate other workflows across their business. Or to liven things up in a virtual office environment, they could also use Tines to randomly send dad-jokes to their colleagues as this user did — replete with SMS alerts.
We have @tines_io, a security orchestration tool, at work. I put together a workflow to send dadjokes to my coworkers at a random time every day.
Today, I added sms alerts. Muahahaha! pic.twitter.com/rcYdifNpq5
— Yaxis (@yaxisbot) February 1, 2020
In terms of pricing, Tines offers a basic free “community” edition, while its main hosted cloud product starts at $2,999 per month with support for 10 users and 250 actions. Elsewhere, the Tines platform can also be deployed on any public cloud or on-premises.
“Tines can run anywhere,” Hinchy said. “Although the most common deployment mechanism for Tines is our hosted cloud, we have customers that run in Google Cloud, Azure, DigitalOcean, AWS, bare metal, private datacenters, and even FedRAMP-compliant facilities.”
Tines said that it more than tripled its revenue last year. While it’s not clear how much of that can be directly attributed to the pandemic, Hinchy thinks that the increase in demand he’s seen for Tines is down to the fact that companies are trying to be more efficient. “They want to use their resources more intelligently and reduce margin for human error,” he said. “This has never been more true than in the last 12 months.”
Moreover, as remote work has emerged as the “new normal” for millions of workers, this has perhaps created a more competitive landscape for technical talent. Jobs that are more rewarding and which involve fewer tedious tasks are likely to be more appealing, which is where Tines can help.
“The sudden rise in remote, flexible work means that top talent can work for any company from almost anywhere,” Hinchy said. “As a result, we’ve had conversations with an increasing number of CISOs and CIOs that want to empower staff with the tools they need to automate their manual workloads end-to-end, allowing them to refocus on higher-impact, more rewarding, engaging projects. Ultimately reducing risk of burnout while also increasing job satisfaction.”
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