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Intrusion Protection: Sanctum's CEO Leads The Way

To succeed, Sanctum's Weigle has to convince business execs that they need more security than most think they do.
Peggy Weigle took a roundabout path to the post of CEO of Sanctum Software Inc., a Web intrusion-protection vendor that market-research firm IDC recently called the de facto leader.

The farm girl from Massachusetts is a cum laude philosophy graduate of the University of Massachusetts who spent her college years raising show dogs. In her late 20s, her passion turned to classical music, and she became the executive administrator of two classical music organizations in Boston. Eventually, she faced up to the brass ceiling that limits anyone in that field who isn't a musician by training. "If you ever wanted to be the executive administrator at anything like the Boston Symphony Orchestra, you had to be one of them or you wouldn't get far," she says.

Weigle shifted her attention to technology, taking a telephone sales job in 1985 at Pilot Executive Software. She knew nothing about technology or the competition, but she learned that she loved to sell. "It's creative, competitive, and different every day," she says. "Sales is a quantitative game. I killed the numbers."

After Pilot, Weigle held executive positions at several technology companies, including Arbor Software, which merged with Hyperion Solutions. She was named general manager of that company's performance-management division. In 1999, she became CEO of what today is Sanctum Software, making her a rarity in the male- and military-dominated world of information security.

Privately held Sanctum is well-positioned, considering the intrusion-prevention market for Web applications is poised for growth. Sales were a paltry $65 million in 2001, but IDC is predicting 60% annual growth through 2006.

That kind of growth attracts a crowd. Sanctum, which was founded by former members of the Israeli defense forces, had virtually no competition when Weigle joined. Today, it has 10 direct competitors, and roughly 30 more are edging into Web intrusion. To succeed, Weigle has to convince business executives that they need more information security than most think they do. "CEOs think they're safe slapping firewalls on their networks. Well, they're wrong," she says. "You have to bolt on an application firewall in addition to your network firewall."

Weigle is banking on Sanctum's head start in the highly competitive market. "We have 300 customers and cash in the bank," she says. "The newcomers with only 15 or 20 customers will have a hard time surviving today's lengthy sales cycles." Sanctum still faces long odds, but don't bet against Weigle killing the numbers again.

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