The current situation with so many working from home has shined a spotlight on potential security issues with many of our collaboration solutions. Adeya, says they have the answer, offering Swiss, simple collaboration on a military grade scale.
I sat down with Francois Rodriguez of Adeya’s executive team to discuss what makes Adeya both simple and secure, as well as what the offering is all about. This is more than video conferencing by the way. This is a well developed and tested collaboration suite that has been in use by the Swiss military and others for years. Have a listen and check out Adeya.
As usual, the streaming audio is immediately below, followed by the transcript of our conversation.
Alan Shimel: Hey, everyone, it’s Alan Shimel for DevOps.com. You’re listening to another DevOps Chat. We’ve got a new company to introduce you to on today’s DevOps Chat, and the name of the company is Adeya. I hope I didn’t mispronounce that, but my guest will give us the proper pronunciation. I’d like to introduce you to Francois Rodriguez, he’s the chief growth officer at Adeya. Francois, welcome.
Francois Rodriguez: Thank you for hosting us.
Shimel: Thank you. So, Francois, did I get the name right?
Rodriguez: Yeah, correct. The pronunciation is correct. Americans tend to say Adeya, but yes, Adeya is correct. [Laughter]
Shimel: Okay. Well, you know, I always thought I had a little bit of a French accent. [Laughter] But I’m glad I got it right, then. So, let’s start with the obvious, Francois. Our audience may not be familiar with Adeya. Why don’t you, if you don’t mind, give us a little background?
Rodriguez: Yeah, the background of the company is the following. So, it is a spinoff from EPFL. EPFL is one of the top five universities in technology in the world, based in Lausanne, so next door. So, for those that don’t know where Lausanne is, it’s next door to Geneva. And from that spinoff, the ask was for encrypting voice communication for the Swiss Army at that time, using a Symbian Operating System. At that time, Nokia was the leading mobile phone operating system, and that was the foundation of the company.
With the advent of the smartphones, the application has been enriched with messaging and then the mobile application becomes, as well, a desktop application, a tablet application, enabling as well file sharing, instant messaging and we’re introducing as well video conference calling, end to end encrypted. So, that’s the most important element of the suite is the encryption layer, initially deployed and developed for the Swiss Army, so we are using the highest grade of encryption, so called military grade. And we are bringing that technology to companies and small organizations as well.
Shimel: Excellent. So, the Swiss Army is already a customer, is that correct?
Rodriguez: It’s the historical customer.
Shimel: Okay. And then, at this point, has the company raised venture capital? Is it self-funded? What is the situation?
Rodriguez: Yeah, it’s a venture capital, which is important in this type of business. You certainly have heard the news of cryptogate that was having some links with governments. So, these days, it’s very important when you provide this type of technology that you don’t have strings with any organization state owned or having any back door.
Shimel: Sure. Sure, I mean, everyone’s worried about that. And, you know, as—well, before we jump more into that, Francois, what about your personal background, your journey? How did you come to be chief revenue officer—excuse me, chief growth officer at Adeya?
Rodriguez: So, I started my career in telecom. At that time, I was in charge of developing the multimedia content for the youth and student populations. Before the advent of the smartphones, multimedia was games, ring tones. I don’t know if you remember these days.
Shimel: Sure, I do.
Rodriguez: And then we developed the music content, the early days of .mp3s. And moving forward, I professionalized my expertise in multimedia, transforming application into more professional applications. With the arrival of the tablets, we develop more and more professional application for enterprise, and then I joined a brand new spinoff from Airbus Enceda to bring connectivity on airplanes. The company used to be called OnAir.
Rodriguez: You’ve got Gogo in the U.S., so it’s a similar company, providing connectivity to passengers, multimedia and content to passengers, but as well, professional application for the cabin crew, electronic flag backs for the pilots, and more recently, IUTs connecting landing gear, engines, and any data that the airplane was generating.
Shimel: Sure. Fantastic.
Rodriguez: I joined Adeya in 2016.
Shimel: Also, how long has Adeya been around for? I didn’t realize. When was Adeya founded?
Shimel: Oh, really? So, it’s been—so, this is not some fly by night, started yesterday company. You guys have been at this a while.
Rodriguez: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, the brand awareness is really recent, because the typical client of Adeya used to be governments that are quite shy to do any marketing around, and it’s really when I joined the company that we started the blocking and enterprise product.
Shimel: You know, in some ways this reminds me of—so, I’m a little older than you. [Laughter] But, you know, back when we had the AOL message rooms or chatrooms, whatever—they called them meeting rooms, maybe, before then. It was a rather innocent time on the internet where people didn’t realize you can’t let your children go online and just go into some chatroom with people you don’t know and what can go on there. And of course, we saw horror stories of what people were writing in chatrooms being made public or used the wrong way or predators, you know, preying on women and children and stuff. And because—well, it’s the reason why we can’t have nice things, right? There’s always bad people trying to take advantage of things.
And then, as a result of that, you know, we saw a locking down, if you will, somewhat, of a lot of that kind of technology. But then, I guess it’s just human nature, people want to communicate, right? People want to communicate—even, God knows now, when we’re all locked in our houses, right, people want to still communicate. Being alone and isolated is just kinda foreign to the human condition.
Rodriguez: Yeah, you’re right. So, I used to put an application on my daughter’s phone to lock the phone after an hour. These days, we’re up to three hours, because, you know, they need to communicate. They don’t go to school any more, so they need to be connected to friends, they need to chat, they need to send pictures, to send videos, to do video calling. These days, video calling is very important for the youngsters. I’m usually not a very big fan of video calling, but they are, so those are—
Shimel: No, they’re native. They’re native to this, right? To us, we look at it and—actually, I was having this conversation with my COO this morning, talking about, we both have children who are in high school, college now and in university.
Shimel: And, you know, they’re net native people who, the idea of doing video calling, the idea of listening to podcasts and so forth, this is how they’re used to consuming, right? And [Cross talk].
Rodriguez: They’re used to the technology, they’re used to the technology and they’re also very tech savvy in terms of what features and functions those tools can bring, and they are very, very, I would say, picky on which tools they’re gonna use. And we’ve seen that in certain companies that there is a kind of step back when they propose traditional tools that are quite clunky, quite difficult to use, very slow that you need to put the VPN around and all these old fashioned or traditional tools have been rejected by the young population of workers.
Rodriguez: And more so now with these days of remote workers where you have, you know, a layer of Bring Your Own Device on top of it where people are installing their own favorite applications, too. It’s very difficult to control. It’s very difficult to put security around when you don’t have a clear policy on what is allowed, what is not allowed, and more so when you don’t bring options. People are starting to download their favorite tools online. Obviously, security is not their top priority, it’s to make their work easy and fast and provide agility to the organization. So, that’s a real issue.
Shimel: I agree. And you know, I mean, but this is a classic security conundrum, which is, if we just think we’re gonna lay down on the tracks and say, “Stop!” the train runs us over, right? We can’t stop that, so what we need to do is, instead of being the people who say no, we need to be the people to say, “Yes, you can, but here’s a secure way of doing it that maybe isn’t too cumbersome, too expensive, and still allows them to do what they need and want to do from a communications perspective.”
And I guess, really, that’s what the whole Adeya thing is about, right, is—hey, you wanna video or do voice calls or, you know, messaging, you can still do that, and we understand it’s important. But here’s a way of doing it in a more secure fashion.
Rodriguez: Yes, security is important, but what we’ve been putting at the heart of the development is the user experience. Because there is a lot of tools in the security space in the market, but very few of them are really providing a seamless experience for the users, and more so when they’re not IT people. Because IT people will always tell you, “That’s very easy, you go in Settings, you configure that, and you put the VPN around and it’s working,” when in fact, nobody knows how to do it.
So, what we’ve been doing is to bring in one unique application, I’m calling the Adeya like a Swiss Army knife. In one tool, you have got different features. You don’t need to have, you know, upswinging. You don’t need to have configuration. The security layers are ___, you instill it in your device, and you start triggering the feature that you want to use.
Shimel: Absolutely. Francois, if you could share with our audience, you know, how easy and how much does it cost if you wanted to use the Adeya solution? Let’s say—look, I’m a little worried about our use of Slack and/or Zoom for corporate communications; you wanna use what you wanna use with your kids or whatever, that’s one thing. What does it take to stand Adeya up?
Rodriguez: So, we’ve got four packages, depending on the security layer that you want to activate. So, the starting price point is $4, the $4 is already, you know, the starter package that provides you one to one video calls, security voice over IP, instant messaging, and as well, you know, all the Dropbox and Lockbox where you can store some documents.
If you want to have the video conferencing with multiple users, you have an extra option, and if you want to install everything on premise on your own data center, and this is what we do for governments, there is an extra cost to deploy the system, but it’s your entire system, okay? You have no backdoors, no cloud act to open up your data center to foreigners, and you have everything in your house. So, that’s the model that we do.
So, we’re starting with a very easy to set up cloud solution based in Switzerland and we use the strength of the cloud infrastructure in Switzerland with the data sovereignty, and we go up to deploy your own system on prem.
Shimel: Really, okay. So, there’s sort of a cloud-based system, if you will, SaaS or cloud-based, and then you have a choice of on-prem. Because I know in many government situations, as you mentioned, they don’t want to share public infrastructure, right?
Shimel: And so, that’s a real requirement. So, Francois, I’ve got to ask you, I mean, it seems like the Adeya system would find a very fertile ground in today’s environment with what’s going on with COVID, with people working from home and everything else—how has this affected, or how has Adeya responding? What are you seeing in the market recently now, just in the last couple weeks, as a result of the pandemic?
Rodriguez: So, what we see is a variety of demands coming from the historical clients which are government administrations that are really expanding the fleet. It’s not, you know, just to secure a certain special project, but it’s really to provide everyone the tool to work from home, and in the most important security layers. Because, as soon as you leave the government institutions, you need to be connected from whom, with high level security, because then you bring the formation outside the typical firewalls, and this is what the governments are fearing.
Now, the diversity that we’re seeing is that we start having—hello?
Shimel: No, no, it’s okay. People are blogging, I have a meeting coming on.
Rodriguez: Okay, understandable. What we see is, enterprises now coming to equipping their entire organization and not just the top executives that used to travel a lot or go to countries where they need to shield their communication, but as well to protect their messaging, to protect their messaging, to protect the documents that they’re sending, avoiding sending them over e-mail because even though e-mail has been encrypted for several years, it’s very difficult to have the IPs working because the systems are not interworking together, depending on the operator that you use. If one side is using Gmail, the other side is using Microsoft, you don’t have interworking with encryption, for instance.
Rodriguez: This is the—we try to ease the experience with this type of situation. What we see now is the remote workers as well, the employees themselves are contacting us to, “Hey, I heard about your solution. Give me some documentation that I can bring to my IT people.”
Shimel: Well, that’s the way it always comes in. You know, it’s almost that open source mentality, but very good.
Rodriguez: Exactly. So, that’s the number—
Shimel: Francois, as I mentioned to you when we started, the time goes really quick, here. I apologize, but we’re way past 15 minutes.
Shimel: I wanna thank you for introducing Adeya to our audience. I wish you will in these uncertain times, both personally and with the company. And as I mentioned to you, maybe we could do a video interview for our TechStrong TV—
Rodriguez: Yeah, sure.
Shimel: And have you join us. Maybe we even could use a day or we could record the video through there or something, show people it in action.
Rodriguez: Yeah. Okay.
Shimel: Sounds good?
Rodriguez: Yeah, perfect. Looking forward.
Shimel: We’ll work on that. Alright.
Rodriguez: Thank you, Alan.
Shimel: Thank you.
Rodriguez: Pleased to meet you. [Cross talk]
Shimel: Chief growth officer for Adeya, Francois Rodriguez, here on DevOps Chat, this is Alan Shimel, and you just listened to another DevOps Chat.