EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

‘The End of the Old’: Q&A With CA Technologies EVP George Fischer

At this year’s CA World 2010 event in Las Vegas, the company unveiled its cloud management road map, along with a working plan for a family of new solutions that will form its CA Cloud-Connected Management Suite in the months to come. That’s not the only change that CA Technologies brought to the agenda.

With a new CEO on board, aggressive acquisition activity, revitalized branding and a solid commitment to the future of cloud services, the new CA Technologies is ready to take on the world and become the infrastructure service provider of choice, said George Fischer, executive vice president of global sales, client services and marketing.

CA has laid the groundwork to gain leadership in its key markets — identity and access management, IT Management as a Service, virtualization management and cloud computing — as 2010 progresses, Fischer believes . The company is also committed to maintaining its market-leading mainframe business.

The E-Commerce Times had an opportunity to speak with Fischer shortly after CA World 2010 about the company’s transformation and its recently unveiled cloud management strategy.

E-Commerce Times: Tell us about CA Technologies’ activity in 2009.

George Fischer:

2009 was a great year of transition for us, despite the fact that the first half was very tough on our customers and businesses. However, we emerged from a completely lackluster economy because of our strong financial model that maintained us throughout the downturn. The second half of the year the IT economy “awakened,” and customers were doing large projects and spending again.

ECT: What has your new CEO, Bill McCracken brought to the company?Fischer:Bill [McCracken] brings a good clarity of vision and a strong management culture. He believes in building leadership capacity and understands markets very well. He sees how CA can grow with alternate channels to market. [He] has not only created a vision for us — he is building a performance culture that is breaking down silos and helping us move forward as a team.

ECT: What has the company been doing to prepare for the next stage of IT?

Fischer:

We saw early on how applications were becoming reliant on the network, whether Web-based or on devices. Over the last five years, we’ve put a lot of investment [into] building a product portfolio that we feel is very relevant to our key markets. We have also spent a long time building our network management strategy and heterogeneous management skills. CA is now strongly positioned to leverage our strengths in security, network management and virtualization to deliver a very powerful value proposition for anyone trying to scale their operations and increase velocity.

ECT: Where do you see cloud computing heading?

Fischer:

Cloud is not a new technology — it is an enabling technology that is being used in a new way. Cloud is about driving agility and adding power so organizations can meet their business objectives.

What is different today is that there are many organizations out there focusing their resources on their core competencies and using cloud IT to manage their company. In fact, we have met a number of emerging companies at this event that were moving all their services to the cloud.

I don’t believe there has been a time since the Internet that we have seen such a disruptive model. There is a huge demand for harnessing and managing this technology, and we are committed to providing technology solutions to enable the acceleration power cloud has to offer.

Keynote speaker James Cameron told us that when he envisioned “Avatar” 15 years ago, the technology simply wasn’t ready. The same thing has happened with cloud. It is the transformation people have always wanted to drive their businesses forward. Now we are finally seeing a perfect storm of opportunity for IT organizations to be dramatically more effective in a way that will make a real difference. The goal has always been there. Now the means are as well.

ECT: How will CA Technologies meet the cloud computing requirements of today and the future?

Fischer:

CA has been engaged in some key acquisitions as a means to open up new market segments in emerging markets like cloud. Our recent Nimsoft acquisition, for example, gives us a breakthrough architecture for systems management, performance and availability, as well as a strong route to markets through a network of 300 MSPs. NetQoS, for another, allows us to offer customers service-centric insight into network, systems and application performance across all environments. Oblicore strengthens our ability to set, measure and optimize service levels for both enterprise and cloud environments.

We have also announced an industry first with the launch of Cloud Commons. This is a new vendor-neutral collaborative community and website for IT professionals seeking insight into how to best use cloud computing and meet their business objectives.

ECT: What do you see as the major challenges with cloud computing?

Fischer:

Over the last two years, cloud has become the obvious disruptive technology. Everyone has been building massive networks. Yet is has become pretty clear that management is and will be a challenge. Yes, the basic trends of infrastructure management have been around for a while — but cloud is driving those trends a lot faster. And while CEOs are interested in having applications deployed a lot faster, at the same time, they’re concerned about security and reliability. These are still unresolved issues.

As an infrastructure provider, we see security and the advancement of network management as key. There are tremendous opportunities for companies like CA Technologies to help businesses manage these very large networks so they can take things to the next level.

ECT: What’s next for CA Technologies?

Fischer:

Five years ago, we were not a growth company and not in a very good place in terms of our customer relationships and driving innovation. Over the last five years, we have massively increased our credibility and added innovation. We now have a strong balance sheet, have expanded our channels, created new product opportunities, and improved customer relationships. That’s why we’re here today talking about a growth strategy.

We’ve done a lot of very hard work and are now ready to grow moving forward. We’re finally seeing the end of the old. Now it’s time to watch the transformation. It’s a great place to be right now.

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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Cryptocurrency Custody Concerns: Who Holds the Digital Storage Keys?

cryptocurrency wallet

Got Crypto? Make sure you own and have access to it in a secure digital stronghold.

Having self-custody of your crypto keys and managing your digital assets can help stave off digital bankruptcy or loss through theft, warns cryptocurrency storage provider CompoSecure.

Cryptocurrency is an increasingly familiar term since Bitcoin emerged in 2009. Since then, numerous cryptocurrencies have joined the digital asset marketplace and, despite the recent decline in valuations, the cryptocurrency market value has skyrocketed.

Market watchers valued the global cryptocurrency market size at $1.49 billion in 2020. Some project it will reach $4.94 billion by 2030, rising at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.8 percent from 2021 to 2030.

The cryptocurrency market represents the start of a new phase of technology-driven markets that can potentially challenge traditional market strategies, longstanding practices in business organizations, and determined regulatory perspectives, according to Vantage Market Research.

Control of Crypto

Cryptocurrencies have the innovative potential to allow people access to a global payment system in which participation is barred only by access to technology. It could replace traditional standards based on having a bank account or a credit history.

However, buying and selling crypto coins and using digital currency to pay for products in the physical world is not the same as opening a bank account and depositing a paycheck. An announcement by Coinbase may have dislodged the elephant in the crypto storage room.

Coinbase is an app that lets people buy and sell various cryptocurrencies — Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and many others — and lets users convert one cryptocurrency to another. Users can also send and receive cryptocurrency to and from other people.

In its 10-Q filing last month Coinbase disclosed that it would have the right to hold crypto assets of its retail users as property of the bankruptcy estate, if the company were to file for bankruptcy.

So, what about crypto providers and digital storage centers that hold your crypto funds?

That disclosure is driving awareness and highlighting the importance of self-custody, according to Adam Lowe, chief innovation officer of CompoSecure and creator of Arculus.

“As cryptocurrency is becoming more mainstream, many people are jumping in feet first and not properly researching and educating themselves. It’s important users know how their cryptocurrency works, who owns it, and what control they have with their digital assets,” Lowe told the E-Commerce Times.

Crypto Cold Storage Solution

CompoSecure is a pioneer in the premium payment cards industry. The company also developed and provides an emergent cryptocurrency and digital asset storage and security solution it calls Arculus.

The new cold storage wallet solution approach for securing crypto uses the name of the ancient Roman god. Arculus was considered to be the guardian of safes and strongboxes the Romans relied upon to ensure the protection of their cherished possessions.

The company applies that same nomenclature today. Arculus is the contemporary incarnation of this vigilant deity, ensuring the safe, strong security of critical digital assets and identity.

Think of this storage solution as a token, much like the physical device some people rely on to keep their computers under lock and key. For crypto, ownership is directly linked to the owner’s private key.

For example, if you purchase crypto through an exchange and leave it there, you are trusting the exchange to give you your digital assets when you ask. But since they keep ownership of the private keys, the exchange has full control to comply or not comply, Lowe cautioned.

“This is why self-custody wallets are important. By storing your private keys in a self-custodied wallet, such as a hardware wallet, only you have full ownership and control of your cryptocurrency and other digital assets. As we say, your keys, your crypto,” he explained.

Fuss-Free Ownership and Access

Dealing with digital assets is not the same as walking into to your local bank. Crypto security works much differently. When a traditional bank is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), if the bank is robbed, defaults, or goes bankrupt, deposits are protected up to at least $250,000 per depositor.

Not so with cryptocurrencies. Those digital assets belong in an unregulated asset class that does not have the safeguards of traditional fiat currency. Crypto is currently not subject to FDIC protection, noted Lowe.

“As of now, if your cryptocurrency is hacked, it is gone. This is the main reason why properly securing and protecting your digital assets offline is important,” he advised.

No holistic regulations governing cryptocurrency exist. That is why cryptocurrency is a highly volatile asset.

“The Biden administration is discussing U.S. regulations. While we expect to see movement in that direction, it could be a while until widely accepted regulations are in place,” he added.

Holding the Right Card

CompoSecure’s recently launched storage hardware wallet enables consumers to have self-custody and manage all their digital assets in one offline place. This approach gives ownership of the crypto keys only to the user.

Arculus Wallet NFT support
Arculus Wallet product capabilities now include NFT support. (Image Credit: Business Wire)

The company’s innovative solution is the Arculus Key Card which uses a CC EAL6+ secure element to encrypt and store your digital keys. It is not connected to anything. If you lose it or it gets stolen, no one else can use it.

When a crypto owner makes a transaction in the Arculus Wallet App, it requires the user to tap the key card to his or her mobile device. This is an important security step in the three-factor authentication that Arculus uses to keep crypto keys safe and secure.

The card communicates with the wallet app to authorize a tap-to-transact secure near-field communication (NFC). It involves no Bluetooth, no Wi-Fi, no USB, and no cords.

CompoSecure on Tuesday announced the same approach for non-fungible token (NFT) support.

Cashing In on Crypto

Dealing with cryptocurrency issues can become much like a rabbit hole. The more your dig, the further into a financial abyss you fall. To ease the transition into crypto banking, we asked Adam Lowe to shine a light on the subject.

E-Commerce Times: Do crypto platforms provide digital protections?

Adam Lowe: Some cryptocurrency platforms do provide types of cyber or crime insurance, but like most insurance policies there are limitations and loopholes.

So, must consumers understand about the basic guidelines for digital asset ownership and who owns the keys to the crypto?

Lowe: The most important thing to understand is who owns your keys owns your cryptocurrency. Consumers need to educate themselves on custodial versus non-custodial assets.

Additionally, utilizing exchanges or hot wallets that use a continuous internet connection keeps the door open to threats of hacking and theft.

It is also vital to utilize multifactor authentication (MFA). Three-factor authentication is extremely valuable because it ideally looks at something you are such as a biometric, which can be a fingerprint or facial recognition. It requires something you know, such as a personal identification number or PIN.

Lastly, it needs something you have, such as our Arculus Key Card. This added step of security is crucial to ensure only you have access to your assets.

How does self-custody work?

Lowe: That means you own your private keys. The keys are what grant access to full control of someone’s digital assets instead of trusting a third party to be the custodian and arbiter of your digital assets.

Utilizing a hardware wallet, such as Arculus, will provide self-custody as only you can access your private keys and manage your digital assets.

What makes this method different from other custody arrangements with crypto brokers?

Lowe: Crypto brokers and centralized exchanges are third-party custodians. They have control and access to your private keys to purchase, move, and invest your digital assets accordingly. Non-custodial agreements hand over the keys and limit the layers of protection to the end-user.

How can self-custody protect consumers from online hackers and retain their digital assets even if they go bankrupt?

Lowe: With self-custody, no one can access your digital assets without your consent. This provides the necessary level of protection from hacks.

When it comes to an individual user going bankrupt, cryptocurrency is not considered income but rather property. Bankruptcy law is complex and very fact-specific, so I cannot give you guidance on what could happen to cryptocurrency in a user’s bankruptcy.

Is crypto investing for everyone or just those who can afford to lose?

Lowe: Cryptocurrency is currently being adopted at a faster rate than the internet. It is becoming mainstream. For some, it is their first investment venture. But like any investment, there is a risk of loss. As long as people understand the lack of regulations and high volatility, they can invest according to their level of comfort.

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open-source technologies. He is an esteemed reviewer of Linux distros and other open-source software. In addition, Jack extensively covers business technology and privacy issues, as well as developments in e-commerce and consumer electronics. Email Jack.

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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

The Business Case for Clean Data and Governance Planning

Do you know if your company’s data is clean and well managed? Why does that matter anyway?

Without a working governance plan, you might not have a company to worry about — data-wise.

Data governance is a collection of practices and processes establishing the rules, policies, and procedures that ensure data accuracy, quality, reliability, and security. It ensures the formal management of data assets within an organization.

Everyone in business understands the need to have and use clean data. But ensuring that it is clean and usable is a big challenge, according to David Kolinek, vice president of product management at Ataccama.

That challenge is even greater when business users must rely on scarce technical resources. Often, no one person oversees data governance, or that individual lacks a complete understanding of how the data will be used and how to clean it.

This is where Ataccama comes into play. The company’s mission provides a solution that even people without technical knowledge, such as SQL skills, can use to find the data they need, evaluate its quality, understand how to fix any issues, and determine whether that data will serve their purposes.

“With Ataccama, business users don’t need to involve IT to manage, access, and clean their data,” Kolinek told TechNewsWorld.

Keeping Users in Mind

Ataccama was founded in 2007 and basically bootstrapped.

It started as a part of Adastra, a consulting company, which is still in business today. However, Ataccama’s was focused on software rather than consulting. So management spun off that operation as a product company that addresses data quality issues.

Ataccama started with a basic approach — an engine that performed basic data cleansing and transformation. But this still required an expert user because of the user-provided configuration.

“So, we added a visual presentation for the steps that enable data transformation and things like cleansing. This made it a low-code platform since the users were able to do the majority of the work just by using the application user interface. But it was still a thick-client platform,” Kolinek explained.

The current version, however, is designed with a non-technical user in mind. The software includes a thin client, a focus on automation, and an easy-to-use interface.

“But what really stands out is the user experience, which is built off the seamless integration we were able to achieve with the 13th version of our engine. It delivers robust performance that’s tuned to perfection,” he offered.

Digging Deeper Into Data Management Issues

I asked Kolinek to discuss the data governance and quality issues further. Here is our conversation.

TechNewsWorld: How does Ataccama’s concept of centralizing or consolidating data management differ from other cloud systems such as Microsoft, Salesforce, AWS, and Google Cloud?

David Kolinek: We are platform agnostic and do not target one specific technology. Microsoft and AWS have their own native solutions that work well, but only within their own infrastructure. Our portfolio is wide open so it can serve all the use cases that must be covered across any infrastructure.

Further, we have data processing capabilities that not all cloud providers possess. Metadata is useful for automated processing, generating more metadata, which in turn can be used for additional analytics.

We developed both of these technologies in-house so we can provide native integration. As a result, we can deliver a superior user experience and a whole lot of automation.

How is this concept different from the notion of standardization of data?

David Kolinek
David Kolinek
VP of Product Management,
Ataccama

Kolinek: Standardization is just one of many things we do. Usually, standardization can be easily automated, the same way we can automate cleansing or data enrichment. We also provide manual data correction when solving some issues, like a missing social security number.

We cannot generate the SSN, but we could come up with a date of birth from other information. So, standardization is not different. It is a subset of things that improve quality. But for us, it is not only about data standardization. It is about having good quality data so information can be properly leveraged.

How does Ataccama’s data management platform benefit users?

Kolinek: The user experience is really our biggest benefit, and the platform is ideal for handling multiple personas. Companies need to enable both business users and IT people when it comes to data management. That requires a solution for business and IT to collaborate.

Another enormous benefit of our platform is the strong synergy between data processing and metadata management it provides.

The majority of other data management vendors cover only one of these areas. We also use machine learning and a rules-based approach and validation/standardization, which, again, are often not both supported by other vendors.

Also, because we are technology agnostic, users can connect to many different technologies from the same platform. With edge processing, for instance, you can configure something once in Ataccama ONE, and the platform will translate it for different platforms.

Does Ataccama’s platform lock-in users the way proprietary software often does?

Kolinek: We developed all the core components of the platform ourselves. They are tightly integrated together. There has been a huge wave of acquisitions lately in this space, with big vendors buying smaller ones to fill in gaps. In some cases, you are not really buying and managing one platform, but many.

With Ataccama, you can purchase just one module, like data quality/standardization, and later expand to others, such as master data management (MDM). It all works together seamlessly. Just activate our modules as you need them. This makes it easy for customers to start small and expand when the time is right.

Why is a unified data platform so important in this process?

Kolinek: The biggest benefit of a unified platform is that companies are not looking for a point solution to solve just a single problem, like data standardization. It is all interconnected.

For instance, to standardize you must validate the quality of the data, and for that, you must first find and catalog it. If you have an issue, even though it may look like a discrete problem, it more than likely involves many other aspects of data management.

The beauty of a unified platform is that in most use cases, you have one solution with native integration, and you can start using other modules.

What role do AI and ML play today in data governance, data quality, and master data management? How is it changing the process?

Kolinek: Machine learning enables customers to be more proactive. Previously, you would identify and report an issue. Someone would have to investigate what went awry and see if there was something wrong with the data. Then you would create a rule for data quality to prevent a recurrence. That is all reactive and is based on something breaking down, being found, reported, and then fixed.

Again, ML lets you be proactive. You give it training data instead of rules. The platform then detects differences in patterns and identifies anomalies to alert you before you even realized there was an issue. This is not possible with a rules-based approach, and it is much easier to scale if you have huge amounts of data sources. The more data you have, the better the training and its accuracy will be.

Other than cost savings, what benefits can enterprises gain through consolidating their data repositories? For instance, does it improve security, CX outcomes, etc.?

Kolinek: It does improve security and mitigates potential future leaks. For example, we had customers who were storing data that no one was using. In many cases, they did not even know the data existed! Now, they are not only unifying their technology stack, but they can also see all the stored data.

Onboarding new people onto the platform is also much easier with consolidated data. The more transparent the environment, the sooner people can use it and start gaining value.

It is not so much about saving money as it is about leveraging all your data to generate a competitive advantage and generate additional revenue. It provides data scientists with the means to build things that will advance the business.

What are the steps in adopting a data management platform?

Kolinek: Begin with the initial analysis. Focus on the biggest issues the company wants to tackle and select the platform modules to address them. Defining goals is key at this stage. What KPIs do you want to target? What level of ID do you want to achieve? These are questions you need to ask.

Next, you need a champion to advance execution and identify the main stakeholders who could drive the initiative. That requires extensive communications among different stakeholders, so it is vital to have someone focused on educating others about the benefits and helping teams onboard the system. Then comes the implementation phase where you address the key issues identified in the analysis, followed by rollout.

Finally, think about the next set of issues that need to be addressed, and if needed, enable additional modules in the platform to achieve those goals. The worst thing to do is purchase a tool and provide it, but offer no service, education, or support. This will ensure that adoption will be low. Education, support, and service are very important for the adoption phase.

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open-source technologies. He is an esteemed reviewer of Linux distros and other open-source software. In addition, Jack extensively covers business technology and privacy issues, as well as developments in e-commerce and consumer electronics. Email Jack.

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