panagenda Product Manager Interview – Julian Robichaux
This series of blogs should introduce our products to you from the perspective of those closest to them, their developers, product managers and consultants. Statistics and features are available on the product pages of our website but who is actually behind them? Today it is my pleasure to introduce Julian to you!
What does your role require you to do?
I’m the product manager for SecurityInsider (SI), which is an application that tells you who has access to what data in your IBM Domino environment. I took over the product last year — it used to be called GroupExplorer — and I’ve been working very hard on adding features that our customers have been asking for. I’m also the lead developer on this product, so I get to write a lot of code.
On what idea is SecurityInsider based?
It’s surprisingly hard to get a list of all the people who have access to a Domino database, or all the databases that a person has access to, and what kind of access those people have. Access is usually managed with groups, and you can have groups within groups within groups, and trying to explode all that information out into a list and combine it together properly is much more difficult than you would think. So we started with the question of “who has access to what?” and built a product around that.
What challenges had to be overcome during its development?
The biggest challenge is that you can do a lot of things “wrong” when you set up your Domino directory structure, and Domino will silently work around it. While that’s certainly a strength of the platform, it also means that you can accidentally give people access to data simply because of the way everything fits together. It wasn’t as easy as I thought to code around all the special cases and exceptions and things that look like they should work but they don’t. We also have a lot of customers with very large directories, and dealing with large amounts of data quickly and efficiently can be difficult.
Who benefits from using SecurityInsider?
Anyone who wants to know who has access to specific databases, or what databases specific users have access to. This could be important to administrators, line-of-business managers, and especially security officers and auditors. Companies want to know exactly who can see specific data sets.
Which aspect of SecurityInsider is your personal highlight?
I’m a programmer, so I love working with the code to add features and make it faster. One of the things I added recently was the ability to log changes in the environment, so not only can you see what kind of access people have right now, but you can also see how it’s changed over time. That way if you want to see who had access to a database last month, or what data a specific user had access to, you can find out.
Can you describe what SecurityInsider does as an analogy to the hotel industry?
In a hotel, SI would be in charge of all the room keys. It would know which keys can open which doors, and who each key belongs to.
What does your typical day at work look like?
Since I’m in the US and most of the rest of panagenda is in Europe, by the time I start my day most of the company has been working for at least 6 hours. So every morning I am greeted with lots of Skype messages and emails. Once I work my way through those, I can prioritize the rest of my day, which usually involves a lot of coding and testing. There is always more code to write!
What optimizes your day?
Mostly coffee. I go through a lot of coffee in the morning. Otherwise I need silence to work effectively. I’m not the kind of person who has to listen to music or who loves to work at Starbucks; I want to be in a quiet room with just the soft hum of a laptop.