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VMblog Expert Interview: ALTR Talks Automated Cloud Data Control and Security


ALTR, an innovator of automated cloud data control and security solutions, recently announced the promotion of James Beecham to Chief Executive Officer.  VMblog had the opportunity to connect with Beecham and get his thoughts on the cloud data control and security market, as well as find out what the next phase of expansion for the company looks like over the next 6-12 months.  

VMblog:  Can you provide a sense of where the market is going or maturing when it comes to automated cloud data control and security?

James Beecham:  Automation of almost every aspect of data is a growing trend, especially in the face of company layoffs. We are seeing data projects continue to receive funding, however, the teams tasked with carrying out the data mission are starting to reduce in size. In order to do more with less, companies are looking at software which can help replace many person-hours with simple automated systems. Discovery and classification of cloud data is trending with automation as are data access and security.

VMblog:  What type of manual tasks does automated cloud data control address and alleviate?

Beecham:  One of the biggest areas automation is helping is reducing the number of times you get an email or a phone call which states, "did you know xyz group put customer PII into a Snowflake database for use by a third party?" These type of scramble drills can be reduced or removed completely with automation. By combining discovery and classification automation with tag-based access policy automation, new sensitive data can be discovered and properly policed without ever needing human interaction.

VMblog:  In general what are you seeing in terms of the data warehouse market ecosystem, what is becoming of importance to companies?

Beecham:  We are seeing a couple of interesting trends related to data warehouse which you might not expect. First, the rise of data companies building their products directly on top of a platform like Snowflake. According to Snowflake, the four fastest companies to grow from $1M in ARR to $100M ARR are all built on top of Snowflake. Another trend is the consolidation of tooling and re-centralizing of decentralized data. Data from every corner of the business is being consolidated into a platform like Snowflake, but then the business copies and sends that data into many different systems. With the advancement of Python support for Snowflake and programs like Snowflake Native Apps and Streamlit, data can stay in Snowflake and application development can occur directly on top of the data.

VMblog:  What challenges do organizations face when properly securing their cloud data?

Beecham:  There are two major challenges faced by data and operations teams today-both can be solved with automation. The first is knowing which data needs to be secure and controlled with access policy. There will certainly be some data sets which can be marked public and openly consumed by anyone in the business. There will also be some data sets which need to be in masked or obfuscated form for most, but plain text access is required for some. Then there are certain data sets which are extremely sensitive and must only be accessed by a select few people or processes. Knowing which data sets fall into which category can be a challenge without automated discovery and classification. Combining that with an automated tool for access controls can make the two systems work hand-in-hand to provide immediate access controls for data, reducing risk and time to value of data.

VMblog:  What are some of the misconceptions security or IT leaders have regarding data control or security?

Beecham:  One misconception, or learning if you will, that we have noticed is the belief that it's possible to manage and scale a homegrown access control or security solution. We have seen extremely talented teams build an initial version of a security and access control automation solution only to learn the maintenance and expansion use cases will take too much time and effort. The cloud data platforms do provide powerful and enticing features for security and control, but thinking about the steady-state use of these features, and the investment involved, can sometimes be overlooked.

VMblog:  When evaluating the need for automated data access control and security solutions, what is important for decisions makers to consider?

Beecham:  It will be very difficult to find a one size fits all solution to automate security and access across all data platforms. The vendors that claim single-pane of glass are genuinely trying, but we have seen the varying differences in data stores lead to unfinished deployments. Finding solutions that work for most use cases and supplementing with additional solutions where the data store is either older or less capable will lead to the company having the quickest success.

VMblog:  Can you discuss the nature of your relationship with Snowflake?

Beecham:  ALTR has been one of, if not the most, innovative partners with Snowflake in the data governance and data security space. We are a Premier partner within their organization and lead the charge of integrating natively within the database vs external proxy-like solutions. We are still the only true SaaS platform available for data governance and data security, and we continue to invent new and extensive data security solutions for Snowflake including data tokenization, data access rate limits, and, soon to come, biometrically authenticated Snowflake queries! All of this leads to Snowflake sellers, solution architects, and the market In general adopting ALTR at a rapid rate. Our Free Forever pricing plan continues to put ALTR software in the hands of more users every day, giving us the best chance at building exactly what the market is looking for with an automated data governance and access control solution.

VMblog:  Can you discuss the ALTR's next phase of expansion over the next 6-12 months?

Beecham:  ALTR is continuing to get user feedback every day from our Free version of the platform. Using this feedback we are improving the current offering faster than any other platform and adding new features the market requires rapidly. Also, look for ALTR to very rapidly expand our footprint in the cloud data warehouse space to ensure our customers have coverage where they need it most.


Published Thursday, November 17, 2022 7:31 AM by David Marshall
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