T-Cetra Discusses Disruptive Technologies and the Benefits and Mobility of Cloud Infrastructure
Gus Hashem - Columbus Tech Power Player Honoree
Co-Founder and CIO
Founder and President
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The Co-Founder and CIO of T-Cetra, Gus Hashem, discusses disruptive technologies and the benefits and mobility of cloud infrastructure.
BK: Hello! We are here today with Gus Hashem, who is the Co-Founder and CIO at T-Cetra. T-Cetra is an organization based in Dublin, Ohio who supports the US phone carriers with a technology platform. My name is Bryan Kaiser, and I'm the Founder and President of Vernovis and also part of the executive host committee of comSpark, and I will be your guest moderator today. And let's get started. Gus, good to see you today.
GH: Nice to meet you.
BK: Thank you. Uh, in your opinion, what is one of the most exciting disruptive technologies that is beginning to impact our work or lives?
GH: Uhm, this is a large question, uh, that you could see a lot of technologies that have impacted over the last few years, but the most obvious is the evolution of the cloud as a hosting service for, for servers, for businesses and environments that used to rely only on private client, uh, clouds or on on-premise applications, uh, implementation. So the, the cloud base is really where the offering has surfaced, which made a big difference for smaller startups and for also, uhm, growing companies to be able to compete with the larger companies. Uh, so the cloud offered, uh, pay-as-you-go platforms. As you need to expand you, you were able to say, “My business is at x and within the year I need to be at x plus 10.” Um, so you were, you were able to pay for the extra 10 as your business needs to expand.
Uh, other things that impacted, were impacted – part of the cloud initiative is to look at the security aspect of the cloud. So the cloud itself offered additional securities that you did not think about, uh, being available in that platform, that you had to hire so many people in-house to be able to do that level of security they needed to achieve for your, for your platform.
BK: So, so it's almost as if, if you have a great business idea, if you have good technology, any technology that you feel will be helpful, you don't have to go out and buy all this equipment and purchase all this stuff and build it in-house anymore, necessarily, and you don't have to secure it, necessarily. There's other options here that can help you be more nimble and more cost effective.
GH: Yeah. So, so the point of entry for a small business or startup business – which, you know, Columbus and Dublin, of course, is a bed for, uh, incubating newer technologies coming into the market – um, you can get into the market that you need to be in if you have the right application with a very simple implementation, either Amazon Expedient, uh, Microsoft Azure, you know, the technologies are offered, uh, pay-as-you-go and a la carte as you need to add the services in place.
BK: That's super nice to be able to be that nimble back and forth.
BK: Um, so how has cloud technology changed the way you manage your infrastructure?
GH: Well, um, the latest, the latest impact has been with the way that we moved over to the new building that we, uh, we just moved into in Dublin. In the, the new location, basically we had to, we had to get brand new equipment to be able to support the 110-plus employees that we have moved within Columbus. Uh, so we, uh, we took initiative and we researched the latest in CISCO Meraki's technologies and uh, we built an infrastructure that is redundant and cloud-based. Instead of having the old legacy CISCO implementation from, or the firewall implementation and the switches to be only on-premise and managed within, within the infrastructure or in-house, in the building itself, uh, as an infrastructure now we are able to, from my phone as an administrator, be able to view all the health points of all my switches, my firewalls, my redundancy of the pipes coming into the building, the security aspect, who got attacked, um, is there a phishing attack coming in the building? Um, is our client that went to a website they're not supposed to – uh, this is all that something I can manage across the world from anywhere with just my cell phone as long as I have the right permission to actually be able to do that.
So, I think the cloud, uh, infrastructure, uh, units – it's becoming more resilient to environment changes, which is very important to us as a growing business. You need to be able to manage more end points with, uh, less people or less processes. Just make sure that the policies that are, uh, in compliance to what you're wanting your business to be able to achieve.
BK: Well, that's a good point. And kind of segues into my next question. You brought up security a couple of times, uh, in your answer. So what, what would you recommend to a company that has no security or governance plan? Where do you even start?
GH: I really think that the security is something that has to be in the DNA for everything that you do in life at this point. Um, you know, anywhere from your kids having a device at home to your wife, you know, using your laptop for surfing, for equipment or anything else that she needs to be looking for. So, if you extend that over to the corporate environment, I mean, those same individuals are making it to corporate America, the Millennials and Generation Y and so forth, where they want to be able to access everything really quick and be able to achieve a return on what they're looking for. So, uh, you need to be able to protect yourself with a relatively, uh, good policy procedures. So, you need to start with the policy and procedures of what you really want to protect. Do you really want to protect your laptop being in the building? Do you want to protect the laptop being on the street, outside your environment? Is it only within the VPN tunnel that you need to protect it? You have to take a look at, see where your weakest point is, because that's where attackers can actually, um, take over control over your valuables or your life aspects, or your, um, your environment access points.
So, let's, let's be very specific. So, an example would be a laptop going to, uh, with an employee, a sales rep, going into an environment out in Florida, and we're in Columbus, Ohio, and we're saying, “Okay, you can take the laptop with you, but you need to be careful when you join a network. I need to make sure that, you know, you're not discoverable over the network. You're using a VPN tunnel according to our company policy, um, that you're not giving your laptop to your kids so they can surf on an unsecured environment.
Um, there is some ports that we need to close, so, uh, you know, that's part of our policy. We close it inside the building. Why should I allow to use it outside the building in the first place?” So, we need to protect your data no matter where you are. So your weakest link sometimes is not necessarily only in the building, but also as well, um, your device sitting at home or somewhere remote. Uh, so you want to think about a whole holistic approach to security.
BK: And with the mobility of devices now it's easy to, you can take them anywhere. So this makes that even a greater point that you're making.
GH: Correct. Yeah. I think, I think that, you know, the mobility is an extension. And a lot of corporate America users don't necessarily, uh, as a company, I don't deploy my own devices out to, always to the end users, to the developers or to, uh, to the sales reps that have their own cell phones they want to use on the street. So, do you want to say, okay, I know that this is not my device, but if you're going to use my resources, uh, or if you want to access my environment, or if you need to be able to use your email within the ecosystem that is corporate base, then you need to be able to say, “I have some policies in place that you need to follow. I need to protect you and the rest of your team from actually getting an attack or a hack or a, um, unprecedented accident that you don't know what's going to happen in an airport. So, if you lose your device, can I wipe that device out? Do I have information on there that I need to protect for you and myself?” Um, so again, the weakest link is where, where your device is and where the users are using it for, you know?
BK: Well, that’s a good point. Clearly you have some knowledge and wisdom around this space, so I'd be curious – open slate, what keeps you up at night?
GH: Um, what keeps me up at night is the, um, is thinking of what I have not thought of. Um, the, uh, the environment is changing quite a bit. Um, it's rapidly changing, to the point that you're seeing phishing attacks to, uh, individuals that are part of your organization but not necessarily inside the, uh, inside the equal system that you're supporting. Um, you need to be able to think in a way to say, “Okay, maybe I should not allow password resets to be done by end users. Certain end users should be protected by a second person.” Um, so the environment is continuously changing from a security point of view, from a cloud point of view. What keeps me up at night is making sure that the technology that we're implementing does not open up a security issue or, um, guarantees an uptime for our vendors, for our customers and so forth.
BK: Well, folks, you heard it first and foremost from Gus Hashem with T-Cetra. And this is Bryan Kaiser with Vernovis. To learn more about us, visit comspark.tech. Goodbye, and have a wonderful day.
GH: Thank you.
BK: Thank you.