Archive for August, 2019

Innovating on the Edge

August 13, 2019


FountainBlue’s August 9 VIP roundtable, on the topic of ‘Innovating on the Edge’. Please join me in  our gracious host at Intel and to each of you for your input and advice. Below are notes from the conversation. 

There are many factors which lead to the emergence and growth of Edge computing, including: 

  • the volumes of raw data generated by the exploding number of devices, processes, and programs;
  • the complexity of data available makes it more difficult to process, filter, understand; 
  • the users are demanding powerful, personalized, complex solutions which are secure and private; 
  • the imminent arrival of 5G solutions will push executables down faster to the ‘edge’, the device itself; 
  • the tremendous need for energy and power (and the associated expense) if everything is processed on the cloud itself;
  • the urgent need for quick responses, especially when safety and lives are on the line; and
  • the immediate and ongoing need to protect the privacy of users, the security of systems and devices and networks.

But it’s no easy task to innovate on the Edge.

  • Each solution must be able to efficiently filter out data, focusing on the ‘real’ data, the ‘relevant’ data for the problem at hand.
  • There’s a challenge to make strategic decisions around technology and business, while also not getting stuck with the decision made, in case things don’t go as planned.
  • The current investment environment is pro-software and less bullish on hardware in general. 
  • Each solution must navigate the technical, business and regulatory objectives and constraints, while also solving the problem.
  • The speed of change is mind-boggling, and innovating in that environment is difficult at best. But things also keep evolving and changing, which makes things even more difficult.
  • Memory and storage bottle necks may arise with the rise in volume and complexity of data and processing.
  • It’s a sobering thought, but devices and solutions on the edge which might be turned into weapons (including cars) have additional security and operational requirements.
  • Companies must also protect itself from financial, legal and brand exposure should a solution on the Edge cause unintended damage to users.

Below are some thoughts on how to keep that innovative edge.

  • Be strategic. 
    • Know what your customers need in the short term and for the long term and plan accordingly.
    • Work with an ecosystem of partners to deliver tailored solutions efficiently.
  • Adopt a set of Open Source tools which would help rapidly develop, deploy and manage solutions on the edge.
  • Develop hardware-agnostic solutions which are more versatile and adaptable. 
  • Adopt self-maintenance systems to ensure validity of solution and ongoing maintenance. With that said, do not delegate on management to automation. Know when the scenarios when you need proactive leadership and management and respond accordingly.  
  • AI will take you far – understanding the relevant data. ML can take you farther – it could help you understand the trend and make predictions beyond the historical data. Both are necessary and essential. Progressively more of the AI will take place closer to the edge. 
  • The speed and accuracy for data processing is essential for Edge Computing, as it is for just about everything else involving data. The ability to process unstructured data and video and the ability to focus on the deltas rather than the raw data will help solutions better manage and filter data.
  • Collaboration is key as there are so many players involved.
    • Carriers need to invest in 5G.
    • Cities need to adopt the infrastructure for 5G.
    • Each solution is a combination of hardware, software, processes, etc., Partnering with others in non-core offerings is essential.
    • Privacy and security must be maintained. Having ecosystem partners focusing on these areas will help companies focus on delivering on their core value.

In conclusion, our leaders agreed that innovators in the Edge Computing space must create an ecosystem of players and connect with players across the ecosystem at many levels.


Keeping Up with the Bad Guys

August 13, 2019


FountainBlue’s August 9 When She Speaks event, on the topic of Keeping Up with the Bad Guys. Please join me in thanking our panelists and our gracious hosts at Palo Alto Networks. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such a technical and articulate panel of leaders to speak on the Intent-Based Networking topic. Our panelists represented a wide range of educational and professional backgrounds, but they had much in common:

  • They have deep business and technical expertise that they leverage in their day-to-day activities.
  • They are continuous learners, making sure to apply new learnings to improve professional and personal outcomes.
  • They have a customer oriented mindset, and strategically focus on growing the ecosystem.

They each spoke eloquently on the cyber security opportunities and challenges ahead.

  • Plan ahead in case there’s a security breach. Train your people, adopt your processes, be aware of implications, etc.,
  • Be customer focused – whether you’re serving internal or external customers. See the challenges through their eyes and make it easy for customers to help themselves.
  • No matter where you sit at the table, communicate clearly and transparently, and manage projects and people collaboratively.
  • Leverage automation and AI to handle standard cyber security challenges, but don’t stop there. Assume that threats can’t be addressed through automation alone.
  • Regardless of whether you’re directly in charge, learn from each breach (whether it happens to your company, your team or someone else’s) and integrate these learnings into new plans and processes.
  • Critical elements for proactive cybersecurity management include: Proactive Risk Assessment, Strategic Continuous Management of Access, and Ongoing Authentication and Validation.
  • Security is a team sport. It’s everyone’s job at some level to Protect, Detect, and Respond to cyber security threats. 
  • Adopt tools and processes which would allow your company to manage possession, custody and control of assets.
  • With all the data out there, it’s important to quickly sift out the anomalies – as these events are much more likely to be problems.
  • Cybersecurity involves many overwhelming tasks. There are so many things to oversee and manage, so many things to control and configure, so many people to track and communicate with. 

Our panelists were bullish on the opportunities ahead in cyber security, and encouraged each of us to seriously consider how we could each contribute to a burgeoning industry.

They concluded that leaders and managers must stay on top of policies, requirements, training, as well as ongoing management and proactive planning and support. Nobody can do everything right all the time. Hence, it will take an ecosystem of partners to stay ahead of the bad guys. Collaboration is key.

FountainBlue’s August 9 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Keeping Up with the Bad Guys. Please join me in thanking our panelists and our gracious hosts at Palo Alto Networks.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Julie Cullivan, Chief People and Technology Officer, ForeScout 
  • Panelist Vaishali Ghiya, Senior Director, Security Sales Systems Engineering, Cisco
  • Panelist Katrin Jakob, Co-Founder, White Hawk Software
  • Panelist Jocelyn King, CMO, Encryptics; Managing Partner, Vonzos Partners 
  • Panelist Archana Muralidharan, Principal, Technical Risk Management, Palo Alto Networks

See bios and invitation at

The Why, The What, The Who, The How

August 1, 2019


I’m a world-changer… always have been. Now I’m ‘seasoned’ enough to embrace the label, not caring who thinks I’m ‘sappy’.  This post is for other world-changers out there.

Below are my thoughts about changing the world, based on my experience.

  1. If you want to change the world in a specific way, ask yourself the ‘why’ question. This ‘why’ question includes many sub-questions, including:
    • Why do you want to do it? What’s in it for you and others?
    • Who will it benefit?
    • What happens if you *don’t* do it?
    • What are the consequences for doing it?
  2. Do the market research to decide Whether you should adopt this problem.
    • Is solving the problem worth the time and energy?
    • Is solving the problem a top priority, given current needs and circumstances?
    • Who/what is solving the problem now and in what specific ways are they lacking?
    • How could an existing alternate solution support your requirements?
  3. Once you’ve satisfactorily answered the why and whether questions, and the sub-questions related to them, vet your responses to your trusted network.
    • Find or grow a broad, diverse, trusted network.
    • Know who will mentor and support you in which ways.
    • Recruit those with expertise in your areas of weakness.
    • Know the motivations of the participating parties.
  4. With the input and approval of trusted others, socialize for funding and resources for the project.
    • Ask your trusted network for their input on who would care most about the problem, who would most likely approve the solution, who feels the most pain, who would have the greatest opportunity if a solution should arise, etc.
    • Think outside the box. Who would be interested in supporting the project, but has not yet been approached?
    • How would the solution be in alignment with short-term and long-term goals for your product, for your team, for your company, for your industry?
  5. What will you do specifically to address the problem?
    • How will this new approach better address the problem than current alternatives?
    • What are the costs in money and resources?
    • What are the milestones and timelines?
    • What happens if it doesn’t work?
  6. Gather the input from a broad range of stakeholders on how to resolve the problem. From the network, select WHO will do WHAT to solve the problem, and why he/she/they are the best alternative.
    • What are the motivations of each potential partner?
    • How will each entity collaborate to deliver results?
    • Who will keep everyone on track?
  7. Work with all partners to decide HOW a solution will be implemented.
    • What does success look like?
    • How will success be measured?
    • In what specific ways will the new solution be improved over the old? Will it solve the pain-point?
    • How will results be gathered and reported?
  8. Assume that there WILL be problems and obstacles and hiccups. Persevere. But only if it still makes sense.
    • Adopt the mindset that what you get is what you wanted in the first place, even if it wasn’t.
    • Manage, lead, communicate, motivate . . . keep leading the way.
    • Proactively change your plans based on the problems you’re experiencing. Release your attachment to plans, people, processes, vision…
  9. Regardless of whether problems and obstacles occur, continually review and revise your plans to improve the likelihood of success.
    • How will successes (and challenges) impact your vision? your projections? your plan? your timeline? your stakeholders?
    • Leverage your trusted network to stay motivated, centered and unbiased.
  10. Rinse and repeat. Keep saving the world.