Interview with Richard Piasentin

“It’s never been a more exciting time to jump into the cybersecurity conversation”

JAXenter Editorial Team
© Shutterstock / Yurchanka Siarhei

Richard Piasentin, Chief Strategy Officer at Accedian, spoke with us about cybersecurity, network management solutions, the growing adoption of edge computing and its use cases, and more. Learn how to proactively focus on security in order to avoid unnecessary downtime.

JAXenter: Can you tell us a little bit about Accedian? How can it help with cybersecurity and network management solutions?

Richard Piasentin: Accedian is a provider of a leading network and application performance management solution, Skylight. In today’s digital age, the network is the backbone of all connectivity – between businesses and consumers alike. So a tool that provides complete visibility and analysis into network traffic is a critical part of any enterprises’ or telcos’ toolkit.

Because of the state of remote work that resulted from the pandemic, any plans or forecasting for network traffic were effectively void. In-person meetings turned into Zoom chats, and enterprises, in particular, found increasing pressure was put onto their network resources. As such, many companies turned to the practice of overprovisioning, or adding additional capacity to the network, to combat the traffic influx. But there’s a serious security risk with overprovisioning, in that it adds additional infrastructure (enlarging the attack surface, increasing the attack vectors, and enhancing the opportunity for misusing tools). More simply put, continuous overprovisioning practices put your enterprise at a greater security risk.

Our platform, Skylight, can help enterprises better manage their network traffic without turning to overprovisioning. By offering full visibility into network traffic and both real-time and predictive analytics, enterprises can better plan for changes in network traffic, effectively canceling out the need to overprovision.

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JAXenter: Let’s discuss the growing adoption of edge computing. What role does it play in delivering the promise of 5G and IoT? What might the use cases be?

Richard Piasentin: Edge computing allows data to be processed as close to the source as possible, effectively enabling the lower latency and enhanced reliability that 5G can provide. Together, with IoT and 5G, edge computing can support numerous exciting use cases across a diverse range of industries.

In gaming, for example, the technologies will not only better guarantee performance but also decrease latency down to the millisecond. In a sector where every moment of lag can mean (virtual) life or death, this will completely transform the gamer’s experience.

There’s more mission-critical use cases as well, such as in healthcare. The guaranteed connectivity and performance will enable extremely time-sensitive activities, like robot-led surgeries, or even just make sure that the remote healthcare experience is as real time as an in-person appointment.

The most near-term use case, however, is in manufacturing, an industry that is largely reliant on the connections between machines and technology. Real-time data sharing will allow for an almost entirely autonomous factory setting; in addition, new technologies like augmented reality (AR) and drones can be successfully adopted into the factory toolkit.

JAXenter: How can we proactively focus on security and avoid downtime?

Richard Piasentin: Secure connections begin with a deep understanding of your network. Knowing the normal traffic patterns inside out allows IT teams to quickly identify abnormalities in behaviors that can be immediately identified and managed. Every single potential degradation in today’s age of security threats needs to be understood and investigated, and not written off as a test being run, or downtime that’s the fault of the service provider. With a strong foundational understanding, good network administrators will be able to manage abnormalities seamlessly.

5G will also make it easier to secure your network, not only because of the enhanced visibility but also because of the ability to isolate performance. Getting more granular with where those traffic abnormalities may be will make it easier to identify the root cause and diagnose the issue.

JAXenter: How can communication service providers (CSPs) compete against commodity cloud giants to claim edge computing – having conclusively lost the first trillion dollar race for the public cloud to Amazon, Microsoft and Google?

Richard Piasentin: When CSPs look to understand where their competitive edge may be in the edge computing race with cloud giants, they should focus on performance. Currently, businesses and consumers alike are too reliant on big cloud vendors such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google, without demanding a higher performance standard. So, when an email server goes down, the WiFi connection is blamed, an assumption made without investigating the end-to-end performance of the applications. Given the downtime of these applications can result in major productivity and revenue losses for businesses, looking to other options that offer better performance should be a top priority for enterprises. CSPs can and will deliver on this, better than the cloud giants.

SEE ALSO: “The average downtime due to a ransomware attack is 21 days”

JAXenter: What are the security challenges associated with edge computing adoption in the age of COVID?

Richard Piasentin: Ransomware attacks are on the rise; hackers are getting smarter and more sophisticated, and the prevalence of remote/hybrid working environments feed into the potential for networks to be compromised. But many of the problems associated with network security are actually alleviated by adopting edge computing. Network slicing, for example, gives IT teams and network administrators better insight into exactly where the root cause of issues may be, so they can diagnose it faster, security issue or not.

It also gives more visibility into network traffic, so teams have a better understanding of what can be deemed “normal” behavior, and what isn’t. What’s crucial for the modern enterprise is adopting a more cyber resilient technology toolkit, meaning, integrating solutions that allow IT teams more visibility into every part of their tech stack, so that they’re equipped to defend themselves against any abnormalities that may arise.

JAXenter: Do you have any advice for people who want to have a career in cybersecurity? What should they know about the industry?

Richard Piasentin: Cybersecurity is a wide ranging industry, and for anyone who wants to get involved, there are numerous ways to do so depending on their interest. You can join an IT department at a company and become the security expert on the team, or maybe take a more formal approach and enter a program to study the laws around cybersecurity, or the psychology behind hackers. The good news is that there are more and more free resources becoming available online, like hackathons or capture the flag activities that can help build up your cybersecurity muscle in a more extracurricular way. So, identify the angle that’s most interesting and appealing to you and find the path that makes it the most seamless to turn it into a career. And start now – it’s never been a more exciting time to jump into the cybersecurity conversation.

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