Two megatrends for 2019 and beyond is scale and automation. The identity management space is a perfect example. Considering all of the IP-enabled devices (machines) coming online and the billions of people and their identities, managing these billions and billions takes systems that will redefine scale and, almost by definition, have to be automated.
Enter ForgeRock. The company is a leader in identity management for both consumer brands, IoT devices and more. In this DevOps Chat, we speak with Peter Barker, chief product officer, about the challenges to scaling at this level and how important identity management is.
As usual, the streaming audio is immediately below, followed by the transcript of our conversation.
Alan Shimel: Hey, everyone, it’s Alan Shimel and you’re listening to another DevOps Chat. Got a nice chat lined up for today. I’m joined by Peter Barker, who’s the chief product officer at ForgeRock. Peter, welcome to DevOps Chat.
Peter Barker: Hey, Alan, good to be here.
Shimel: Thank you. Thank you for joining with us. So, Peter, let’s jump right into things ’cause time’s limited. ForgeRock is a company that I think a lot of people have probably heard of, but I don’t know if people are solid, you know, as a rock, on what exactly they do, so why don’t we start with that? Give us just a quick kind of “Who’s ForgeRock?”
Barker: Yeah, so ForgeRock is recognized as the most visionary and market-leading identity and access management platform, and we serve the largest logos on the planet, solving a variety of use cases. We provide simple and comprehensive solutions for brands to serve their customers, with identity and access, to deepen their relationships with those customers. And as well to provide access management and identity solutions for employee and partner use cases as well, to really allow better productivity and connectivity in the employee base.
Shimel: Excellent. And, Peter, I always like to ask my guest to give our audience a sense of your own personal journey. How did you come to be chief product office at ForgeRock?
Barker: Yeah, it’s a great question and I think back on this journey I’ve been on for the last 25-plus years of my career. I originally started out on the customer side of the house in IT, doing systems development, application development for Kinko’s and FedEx, who acquired Kinko’s, but, later, the last 15 years, I’ve been in product companies, focused on enterprise software and security solutions. And that spanned mobile and mobile security, with good technology. I was at Oracle as well, running their identity and security business for a few years. And then, most recently, now with ForgeRock, over the last year, as their chief product officer.
Shimel: Excellent. So, Peter, you spoke a little bit about ForgeRock’s mission and what’s going on, but one of the things that – I mean, it’s almost intimidating when we think about it. It’s just the sheer scale. You know, we look at ForgeRock and, I mean, you guys are doing everything from managing and working on identities of consumers coming to large consumer brand websites and applications, through to IoT devices. I mean, not to get all _____ and honest, but it’s billions and billions, right? I mean, it almost seems like an impossible job. How do you chunk that up? How do you go Agile on it? How do we manage it?
Barker: Yeah, no, it’s – yeah, first of all, you’re absolutely correct. The world of identity, digital identity, is just exploding. It used to be, in the early days of this industry, it was around modeling identities of your employees and providing access and having governance around that access, but, as the world has shifted to consumer and business transformation around digital and having to know your customer across your digital channels, then scale started to explode in that direction because you have millions of consumers versus just thousands of employees.
And now, in the world of things, where you have this entirely new economy that’s emerging, where things are interacting with the world on your behalf or with you, whether it’s smart devices, smart cars, smart payments, smart everything and the gig economy, it means that identity systems have to model the identities of all of those objects that are interacting in this new world we find ourselves in. And that is causing a massive need for scale.
And, at ForgeRock, it’s been a really rich heritage and history for us to provide massive scale in our products. And we are, today, already solving some of the most demanding use cases globally, around scale and serving customers in this new digital economy.
Shimel: A hundred percent. So let’s try to – Peter, you probably – I mean, as part of your responsibilities at ForgeRock, you probably have some metrics to put around this. Can you volunteer a little bit without divulging any _____ _____ –
Barker: Yeah, for sure. I mean, right now, some of our largest customers are already scaled into the hundreds of millions of consumers and associated devices with those people. We have use cases defined right now with a lot of these customers that are pushing north of the billion-user mark – we’re proving that out in our labs – but, as we know, to meet the demands of scale, it really requires a new approach to the software deployment and how software supports the scale needs and becoming much more elastic and on-demand, as well as horizontally scalable, because it’s the only way that really, truly will continue to serve this need, as it continues to grow.
Shimel: Sure. You know, Peter, I had an interesting conversation this morning with a CEO founder of an Israeli-based startup around AI. And what he was saying is the kinds of scale issues that you’re tackling at ForgeRock, it’s almost too big for the human mind to wrap around. Right? I mean, let alone at the speed. I mean, humans just can’t operate at that speed to conquer that scale. We just – it’s almost as if you need to invent or implement some sort of AI, machine learning, whatever you wanna call it, intelligence, that allows you to operate at that scale. And is that something ForgeRock is kind of building in, do you think, or is it still –
Shimel: Go ahead.
Barker: Yeah, definitely. And we have a framework in our product called “Intelligent Authentication,” and it’s designed exactly to do what you’re describing, which is enabling our customers to continue to not only meet the current needs of scale, but the customers, they want to make the authentication and authorization function of their architecture be much more adaptive, much smarter, much more dynamic, to a conditional and contextual world that may exist.
And, for example, our customers think about security and fraud pretty interchangeably. And if you just think about the scale problem around fraudulent activity, so, if you look at these large brands with hundreds of millions of consumers who they’re trying to provide services to, of course, there’s always some element of fraud that goes along with being in that type of business. And so they have to put in some very complicated algorithms and logic and what have you to continuously be evaluating whether a transaction that’s attempting to happen is actually fraudulent or, on the other hand, maybe it’s something going on from a malicious actor perspective, who’s doing something around security or attempting to breach.
And so this is causing the sophistication of the techniques being used to go after these problems to really continue to elevate. AI and ML is a big part of that. Being able to integrate multiple services, who are all providing these functions into, essentially, a fabric that is evaluating the risk that’s occurring, and being able to do that at massive scale is how our customers are looking at this and they’re demanding requirements around that.
And our Intelligent Authentication framework in our product really enables that to happen. We have the scale in the core engine. We have the framework to allow our customers to create these very sophisticated approaches to dealing with these problems that they’re dealing with, out there in the Wild West of their businesses.
Shimel: Sure. Excellent. So, Peter, it’s December. We’re starting to look towards next year and everybody and their mother-in-law has a prediction and an opinion about what this next year’s gonna hold for us. What do you – if you had to make your best guess and place a bet, what do you think the big story is for ForgeRock and the whole identity community, in the next year or short term? Let’s say 18 months.
Barker: Yeah, so I’ll just cover a few things that I think inform my answer. First of all, there’s some very interesting challenges that our customers are facing, that apply broadly within the market. First is really a skills gap. So, a few years ago, I started tracking a stat around cybersecurity job openings and how many of those are going unfilled and how many are projected to stay unfilled in the future. And the most recent estimate is that, by 2021, 3-and-a-half million cybersecurity jobs are going to be unfilled.
And, if you think about that, that’s just a massive challenge for enterprises who are gonna have to continue to deal with and advance their security programs and their security capabilities, when there is a labor shortage, in essence, in the market. And what that’s requiring is vendors to provide solutions that increasingly automate their security program and to provide the security solutions in a much more automated way, so that’s one big area.
The other is obviously cloud. You know, the most recent prediction by Gartner is that 75 percent of organizations, by 2020, will be running in multi-cloud or hybrid cloud environment, so that just keeps on marching on and forward, as we go on in time. And then, finally, our customers continue to wrestle with security and ease, where that balance between consumer convenience and security is always – it’s very delicate and it’s something that our customers are always trying to find the right balance for. And so they’re increasingly looking for solutions that both increase security but also increase the convenience for consumers.
And so what all of that is really driving, from a prediction standpoint, over the next 12, 18 months, is our customers, they have many of the features that they really need right now and today. What they’re looking for, increasingly, is solutions to solve those problems. And so we at ForgeRock continue to innovate and deliver new, powerful capability, like Intelligent Authentication, as I talked about earlier, but the big, new element of the equation that customers have been looking for is “How can they transform their software delivery model to much more DevOps? How do they transform their identity program to be much more multi-cloud and multi-cloud approach, where they can be protecting workloads no matter where they are? And how can they do that in an environment where they have less people, less skilled people available to do the job and to do it in a much more automated way?”
So we, on November 30th, we released a big, new release of our software, Release 6.5, which really addresses these three key things that we’re seeing with our customers. With that release, we’re now able to allow customers to dramatically increase their productivity and their competitive advantage and reducing their cost by deploying our software in these new methodologies.
We’ve begun surveying our customers and, right now, the consensus is that customers can save as much as 25 percent on their implementation cost of software just by adopting our next release, which is a dramatic improvement over what they’ve been seeing before. And this release allows them, by providing some very simple cloud installation packages, to rapidly deploy production-ready software into a multi-cloud environment, in minutes, supporting hundreds of millions of identities. And so we’re just really excited and customers have been receiving this release very well ’cause it’s solving so many of these challenges that I talked about.
Shimel: Absolutely. Absolutely. Peter, I know ForgeRock recently came out with some new announcements around product and so forth. Why don’t you share with us a little bit?
Barker: Yeah. So I think, just continuing on with what I mentioned just a moment ago on Release 6.5, what we’ve done to really support the new deployment model that we’re providing to our customers is we’re giving our customers turnkey, complete DevOps-capable software to run in multi-cloud environment. And we’re providing not just images for our customers, but we’re providing all of the artifacts necessary to really do this successfully.
That includes – we’ve standardized in Kubernetes for orchestration. We provide our customers the Helm’s Charts. We provide our customers not only that, we provide the reference architecture. We provide the reference configuration for them. We also do performance benchmarking and not only do the performance benchmarking but give our customers the performance testing tools and methodologies so that they can integrate that into the DevOps pipeline as well.
And, finally, we give our customers all of the cost profiles of these various cloud providers – AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, and Red Hat, OpenShift are the environments that we’re supporting with this release. We’re dramatically accelerating what it takes for a customer to deploy these platforms to support the mega-scale requirements that we talked about earlier on this call.
And the other thing we announced is that we have now surpassed 50 strategic partners in our trust network partner ecosystem. And what this does is allows customers to rapidly integrate some very innovative solutions around strong authentication or biometrics or identity proofing or risk analysis or fraud detection into their programs very rapidly because we’ve already pre-integrated, pre-certified, and pre-tested that they’re gonna work for our customers. So a very exciting release for us, here at ForgeRock, and, again, just having some tremendous response from customers on it.
Shimel: Very cool. Excellent. Excellent. So, Peter, I think, when we started, I mentioned to you, once we start talking shop, the time goes. And we’re about out of time already, but I’m gonna let you have the last word. So I think we’ve educated some people; we’ve opened some eyes; we’ve talked about sorta what the issues, challenges are; and I’m sure there’re people listening saying, “I’m dealing with this challenge. I need this solution.” What’s the takeaway here? What’s the one thing people, if they’re gonna learn one thing, what do they need to remember out of this?
Barker: Yeah, I think the one thing I would really encourage the listeners to think about, when it comes to identity, is, for employee identity, that’s a space that’s been very well supported and served for a long time now. But what we’ve seen is, as enterprises and brands are transforming their businesses to digital, they’ve taken identity – some have had good forethought around identity and really have put the necessary identity platform in place to support their transformation, but many have just sorta run ahead on their digitization. And they’re starting to discover that the way in which they’re supporting their customers – the customer journeys, in their digital channels, is just not seamless, and it’s because they didn’t think about the identity challenges that they’d be facing.
And so the takeaway I’d really encourage is I think almost all brands on the planet, at this point, are in some stage of journey around digitization, digital transformation, business transformation to the new economy. And really take a look strongly at the need to bring in an identity platform to really support that because, if you don’t, you’ll find quickly that you’ll be underserving your customer experiences and your customer journeys. And, in this new world, customers really vote with their feet in the digital world, in terms of brands that they’re doing business with. And so we highly encourage folks to take a look at this.
Shimel: Excellent. Peter Barker, chief product officer, ForgeRock, thanks for being our guest on this episode of DevOps Chat. Continued success with ForgeRock and we’ll have to have you back on soon to check in on the progress, but, in the meantime, keep us safe out there.
Barker: I look forward to it, Alan, and thanks for having me today.
Shimel: All righty. This is Alan Shimel for DevOps.com. You’ve just listened to another DevOps Chat. Have a great day, everyone.