IT Life – Flying High

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Code 42’s Andy Hardy talks planes, clouds and the rise of ‘Shadow IT’

Tell us about your company and your areas of expertise.

Code42 leads the market for endpoint data protection and security. These days, with the abundance of cloud services and the freedom to connect devices outside of the corporate firewall, many enterprises find that it has become increasingly difficult to protect all corporate data in the data centre–because staff doesn’t store it there. Code42 solves this problem globally for more than 37,000 businesses.

Andy Hardy code42We restore IT’s visibility and control of business information held on laptops and desktops while providing secure mobile access for end users. With Code42, enterprise IT and security teams mitigate a range of security threats, deal with data breaches and compliance challenges, keep data secure and private, and enable users to access their business information anywhere, anytime. I lead Code42’s business in EMEA.

What’s the favourite IT project that you’ve ever worked on?

My favourite projects have always been those that returned the most business value. Back in the 90’s when I was an IT Director in a global bank, we saw a huge change take place empowering users in the front office, and freeing them from the constraints of rigid legacy systems. Client/Server computing evolved as more intelligence came onto the desktops, and I loved projects which enabled the business to better itself. It’s hard to imagine now, but at the time, rolling out Microsoft Office and Outlook to empower traders to do more of their own computational work really freed the front office, and enhanced business.

We’ve seen this trend continue further with the consumerisation of IT. We now have access to yet more powerful, more mobile mobile devices which are increasingly sucking data out of our data centres and into a world where there is no longer a perimeter behind which we can hide our corporate information. Business has become free and more porous–but as a result, risks have increased.

What technologies were you involved with 10 years ago?

Ten years ago I was working in venture capital and private equity, investing in innovative IT infrastructure technologies that could have a transformational impact on the cost of business operations. In 2005, I was busy assessing a new wave of storage technologies, mostly from US venture-backed startups that promised to transform the costs and constraints of delivering high-performance enterprise storage in the data centre.

One of the companies in which I was fortunate enough to invest was an early leader in virtualisation within a software based storage array–Compellent Fluid Data. I later quit private equity to join the business as its first non-US employee to help bring this product to a global market. We had great results, and after a successful IPO we eventually sold the company to Dell, where I then stayed for three years. I still get a tingle when meeting Dell Storage customers today who tell me how Fluid Data continues to fulfill the promises we made a decade ago!

Micro Chip © ktsdesign - FotoliaWhat do you expect to be using in 10 years’ time?

Who can say?!  Rather than try to pick a set of products or technologies from a crystal ball, and given the convergence between IT in our work lives and our personal lives, I’ll tell you what I expect as both a businessman and as a consumer. I imagine I will be able to use more advanced, albeit similar mobile devices whenever and wherever I am, as we can today (in fact, I am typing this at 30,000’, no longer a surprising feat!).

But whatever devices, software and/or or cloud technologies I may be using, I will expect to be able to trust that my business and personal data will be kept secure and private. Too often we hear that this expectation has not been met. Data and security breaches occur all too often. I expect, and hope, that we will have an increasing array of invisible solutions to these challenges.

What do you think is the greatest challenge for an IT company or department today?

The rise of “shadow IT.” Information workers no longer accept constraints from IT policies, rules and restrictions if they get in the way of their jobs, working flexibly at home or at work, or using devices of their choice. Most people can do their work today without using corporate IT services. The corporate network is becoming optional as the impact of IT consumerisation and mobility provides ready access to office applications, data processing tools and services needed to get stuff done.

So where does this leave corporate IT, who remains responsible for somehow protecting corporate data as users “opt out” and rely on this “shadow” BYO/DIY alternative world? Thankfully, solutions that we and others are delivering to the market are emerging to bridge this gap; these solutions enable maximum freedom and flexibility for business users, while still empowering IT to deliver on our security, compliance and data governance responsibilities.

To cloud or not to cloud?

Cloud is unstoppable because cloud business models such as SaaS provide more flexible, convenient and cost-effective solutions than the previous capex-intensive, data centre-centric model for enterprise IT. I think the debate now is around the right mix of public, private and hybrid cloud solutions, and the best ways to ensure security, privacy and compliance.

As the EU rolls out ever more stringent regulatory requirements–such as the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) expected in 2017 (which will carry fines for data privacy breaches of up to €100m), corporations are increasingly concerned about cloud security models and effective ways to monitor, assess and mitigate data breaches should they occur.

Who is your tech hero and who is your tech villain?

Sun Microsystems’ one-time CEO Jonathan Schwartz is my tech villain. Sun was a great company, and it developed great hardware and software solutions, and ultimately found its business in trouble when its finance-heavy customer base tanked in the GFC—they were sold to Oracle the following year. The business model seemed to be to give away awesome software to help sell expensive, low-margin hardware.

But that’s not why he’s my villain. It’s because he chose to fight an unnecessary “religious war” versus Microsoft. I recall an RSA conference in San Francisco in which he spent his time attacking a company that most of his customers worked with, rather than focus on what his company could bring to its customers. Negative selling and attacking your competitors in lieu of focusing on how you can help is never smart, comes across as arrogant and just leads to alienation.

As for tech heroes, there are so many to choose from. Larry Page and Sergey Brin for the most-effective and market-transforming web search algorithms brought to us by Google. Tim Berners-Lee for the insight that led to the World Wide Web. Linus Torvalds for showing us that an Open Source OS can deliver quality and value.

However, if I had to single one person out–himself outspoken and some might say arrogant–it’d have to be Marc Benioff for showing us that cloud-based Software-as-a-Service is a powerful business model for customers and vendors alike. Salesforce.com took on the incumbent giants, including the likes of SAP, Microsoft and Oracle, all who now have Cloud/SaaS offerings. And I’m proud to be associated with a successful SaaS business, Code42!

What’s your favourite device ever made and what do you use the most?

Apple’s iPad, coupled with SkyDemon and JeppView flight navigation software. I used this combination to fly my own light aircraft all the way from London to Sydney and raise money for my favourite charity, Oxfam. This technology eliminates the need for paper charts (which can be like folding origami in a cramped cockpit!) and makes the whole process of global navigation both safer and easier.

Apart from your own, which company do you admire the most and why?

Again, so many to choose from, and I’m tempted to extol the virtues of Google, Apple, Microsoft and the rest—but I’m going to go with Salesforce.com. This is partly because they pioneered the SaaS business model at a global scale. Also, because as a sales leader they provide us with an invaluable tool that makes it so much easier to stay focused on the most important business relationship of all–our customers.

What did you want to be when you were a child?

A pilot–and now I am one!

Andy Hardy is EMEA managing director at Code42

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