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Technology vs. Practicality

By Adrian Lane

I am kind of a car nut. Have been since I was little when my dad took me to my first auto race at the age of four (It was at Laguna Seca, a Can-Am race. Amazing!). I tend to get emotionally attached to my vehicles. I buy them based upon how they perform, how they look, and how they drive. I am fascinated by the technology of everything from tires to turbos. I am a tinkerer, and I do weird things like change bushings that don’t need to be changed, rebuild a perfectly good motor or tweak engine management computer settings just because I can make them better. I have heavily modified every vehicle I have ever owned except the current one. I acknowledge it’s not rational, but I like cars, and this has been a hobby now for many years.

My wife is the opposite. She drives a truck. For her, it’s a tool she uses to get her job done. Like a drill press or a skill saw, it’s just a mechanical device on a depreciation curve. Any minute of attention it requires above filling the tank with gasoline is too many. It’s stock except for the simple modifications I made to it, and is fabulously maintained, both facts she is willfully unaware of. Don’t get me wrong, she really likes her truck because it’s comfortable, with good air and plenty of power, but that’s it. After all, it’s just a vehicle.

As a CTO, I was very much in the former camp when it came to security and technology. Love technology and I get very excited about the possibilities of how we might use new products, and the philosophical advantages new developments may bring. It’s common, and I think that is why so many CTOs become evangelists. But things are different as an analyst. I have been working with Rich for a little over a year now and it dawned on me how much my opinion on technology has changed, and how differently I now approach discussing technology with others.

We had a conference call with an email security vendor a couple weeks ago, and they have some really cool new technology that I think will make their products better. But I kept my mouth shut about how cool I think it is because, as an analyst, that’s not really the point. I kept my mouth shut because most of their customers are not going to care. They are not going to care because they don’t want to spend a minute more considering email security and anti-spam than they have to. They want to set policies and forget about it. They want to spend a couple hours a month remediating missing email, or investigating complaints of misuse, but that’s it. It’s a tool used to get their job done and they completely lack any emotional attachment their vendor might have. Cool technology is irrelevant.

It has been one of my challenges in this role to subjugate enthusiasm to practicality, and what is possible for just what is needed.

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Comments

Be weary of the CTO/car fanatic. Over-built engines=over instrumented, expensive networks. But they’re smoking fast!

By SmithWill


Tim,

Thanks for the comment, and for the link. Your dad made the right choice.  That LX Mustang was three hundred pounds lighter than the GT, and better looking to boot!

-Adrian

By Adrian Lane


So I attempted to comment on this article via twitter which can always be a challenge.

I recently wrote a blog post using the car analogy but with a different angle than Adrian. The post can be found here http://securitybraindump.blogspot.com/2009/06/two-pounds-of-crap-in-one-pound-box.html. I think its fine to get excited about technology. Who doesn’t love a muscle car right? But I also think a muscle car should be just that. It should have some muscle!

So any improvement in technology that can improve performance, stability, ease administration, security, etc… would be welcome to any security practitioner. The thoughts of setting it and walking away is not what security is about.

I guess my point in my post and this comment is you can still get excited about cool technology and have practicality. Just loose the fuzzy dice and spinners!

A silent (up to now) reader and podcast listener.

Tim

By Bugbear


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