Apex talks to Steve Giovannetti, the CTO and Founder of Hub City Media, a software integration and development consultancy. Giovannetti has worked in information technology since 1988 and was creating commercial applications based on Internet technologies as early as 1995. Here, Steve discusses how he has been and continues to navigate the post pandemic landscape within ML/AI, Cloud, and more at Hub City Media!
Q: What are the roles and responsibilities of the CTO within your services organization?
A: In an organization like Hub City Media, I wear a few different hats. Ultimately, I’m asked to make decisions and research new Identity and Access management technologies and products nearly every day. More specific parts of my job include:
- Looking at new products or services we might develop in house.
- Researching and developing new technologies we can apply to our service delivery like devops, cloud or AI.
- Coming up with creative solutions to client problems. One of the most common has been helping them deal with the challenges presented by COVID-19.
Q: What sorts of challenges did COVID-19 cause for your clients?
A: The most prevalent challenge was navigating from working in an office to having their entire staff working remotely. Most organizations had access infrastructure like VPNs in their office networks, but these infrastructures weren’t stressed like they were when their entire staff I started working from home. We helped our clients navigate through shoring up capacity, as well as implementing more secure remote access authentication technologies (like multi-factor authentication). This allowed them to connect securely to their on premise or even cloud Applications.
Q: Have you found new vendors for your organizations that are now needed in this time of COVID-19 and remote working?
A: Maybe not new vendors, but there certainly were existing strong authentication vendors that saw a jump in activity once companies wanted to grant more access to applications from remote locations. We saw colossal interest and activity with Access Management, multi-factor authentication and passwordless authentication.
Q: Did you have specific projects or initiatives that have been shelved due to COVID-19 and current realities?
A: Very early at the start of the pandemic, we saw some projects get put on hold; however, that
changed once companies resolved the remote access issue. Then, oddly enough, it was business as usual, and companies even started new initiatives on how to improve remote work. For example, we had one client ask us to help them completely automate their hiring process via their Identity Management system, which was only partially automated at the start of the pandemic.
Q: Where are you in the journey of utilizing hybrid cloud and DevOps? What challenges are you facing?
A: Hub City Media was a very early adopter of public cloud, and immediately grasped the importance of DevOps as a practice and as a set of technologies. We spearheaded early efforts to deploy Identity and Access Management systems using Docker and Kubernetes. That practice is quite mature now, and we are constantly improving our techniques. We’ve been doing a lot more with Infrastructure as Code and automating the provisioning of cloud services where we then deploy products. This has allowed us to decrease time to value for our clients, so we spend less time on infrastructure and more time delivering the functionality they are looking to leverage.
Q: Are you seeing more organizations deploying “Enterprise AI” to address Identity and Access Management or just security in general?
A: Yes. AI is becoming more prevalent in Identity and Access Management systems, especially in Identity Governance, where a lot of the burden is placed on members of an organization, specifically managers, to certify the access of their teams. This is a tremendously tedious task that can mostly be delegated to AI. We are also seeing the application of machine learning to deal with identity role engineering in large enterprises. This is another task where humans get overwhelmed in the data analysis to properly define birthright roles – a perfect task for Machine Learning.
Q: What is the current state of Big Data and AI investment? Do you sense the pace of Big Data and AI investment changing?
A: I see it accelerating in the Identity and Access Management sector. The new products on the market make it fairly easy to prove out value in a quick proof of concept. I would expect using AI for Identity Governance to become quite commonplace, and for it to extend to using AI/ML to make Access Management decisions in the future. That will be driven by analyzing access behaviors of users over time – again, an impossible task for a human to perform or even to codify rule sets in advance, but a perfect application of AI/ML.
Steve Giovannetti – CTO & Founder of Hub City Media
Steve Giovannetti is the CTO and Founder of Hub City Media, a software integration and development consultancy. Giovannetti has worked in information technology since 1988 and was creating commercial applications based on Internet technologies as early as 1995. He specializes in the analysis, design and implementation of distributed, multi-tier, applications, and heavily focuses on containerized solutions and running Identity in the cloud. Since 1999, Giovannetti and Hub City Media have been deploying production identity management, directory, and web access management systems for commercial, government and education customers.