Simon Townsend, AppSense CTO Interview

Simon Townsend Interview

Simon Townsend is AppSense’s Chief Technologist and an all round expert when it comes to the management of physical, virtual and cloud based environments.

We picked his brains for a few minutes following his presentation at Define Tomorrow™ on things ranging from security to desktop transformation.

What would you say are the biggest challenges facing IT departments today? And how can they be alleviated?

“That’s a great question. I think there’s two things in fact. I think first of all the rate of change at the moment from a technological point of view is causing IT and organisations a really big challenge. If you just look at Microsoft alone, they’re trying to make you run significantly faster than ever before and they’re trying to update their systems faster than ever before. This rate of change means we are in what I would call ‘a constant state of migration’ and that is a challenge to organisations.

Secondly, and in addition to that rate of change, security and in particular end-point security is probably IT’s biggest worry. There has been significantly more ransomware attacks in the last six months than there have been combined in the last three years. A lot of those attacks are specifically targeted at users and organisations for financial gain. And, it’s pretty simple to become a victim of cyber security threats.”

I think both you and Joe touched on this, in terms of security, is the greatest weakness always the end-user?

“I don’t think it’s always been the case, and I don’t think it always will be. Right, lots of people are now beginning to look at the Internet of Things for instance and how they can build security in devices from the ground up, and what potential dangers there would be in the future with regards to securing IoT.

However, in answer to your question… I think today yes, it is the user. It’s the end-point and the user who are the weakest link. I think we need to look at that now from a slightly different angle, because technology can help secure an end point for example. But this is also about a cultural change, this is about an educational change, we need to allow and protect our users, not just the devices they use.”

What benefits has Landesk’s acquisition of AppSense bought to the table?

So, AppSense has been around for about 15-16 years, and the first product they came to market with was an application control, an application white-listing technology. Just so happens that application control and white-listing technology is extremely relevant today in a world where you need to protect yourselves against the unknown.

So, the AppSense technology out of the box simply secures an end-point, to protect against things like ransomware and end-point security. However, the Landesk acquisition earlier this year in April has expanded for instance our capability set, it’s allowed us for instance to, in addition to do application control to privilege management, and to expand out into operating system and application patch management.

It’s also allowed us to look at not just prevention, but also detection and ways in which organisations can remediate once they have had an attack.”

This is a Define Tomorrow™ event, but what about next year? What do you think we will be talking about at events like this in 12 months time?

“That is an extremely good question. I would like to think that next time year there will be a lot more organisations who have started to look at how they’re going to upgrade to the latest version of Windows. There’s Windows 10, Windows server 2016, I would like to think that the majority of IT and organisations would have adopted some type of patching and end-point security system.

I think visibility is going to continue to be a key point within any organisation, as users become far more mobile and we start to use more devices, user-based analytics and business information will become important so we’ll be talking about that.

I think we’ll be talking a lot more about the EUGDPR – the data protection regulation that’s coming in, in May 2018. That’s the elephant in the room at the moment, they’ve put in a corner and perhaps not worried about it or have not set any budget aside. So I think regulation and compliance will become a big topic next year.

Finally, why do you like working with ComputerWorld?

“I think fundamentally when you look at a value-added reseller or a partner like ComputerWorld for instance, you look for a number of things, you look at their culture, how they operate, how they work within the eco-system in terms of the other venders in the market, you also look at how that culture goes down to their customers and how they work with their customers. And with ComputerWorld as opposed to treating them like customers it’s about a partnership and it’s not about a short term partnership, it’s about a long term one, and that is instilled from the top down in ComputerWorld.

I also think technical capability can be seen and shines through with ComputerWorld. They’ve got some very experienced professional services consultants, their architects that design and implement these solutions are extremely au fait with all of the technology and the venders. Not just about how each technology works but also how each technology can complement and work with each other.

But also their sales teams as well are far more than account managers and sales people, these are experts in their field that are talking to customer’s day in and day out and providing solutions to meet the challenges of both today and tomorrow.” 

Check out Simon’s presentation from November 2016’s Define Tomorrow™ here.

The rest of the content from Define Tomorrow including other keynote presentation, webinar recordings, a solutions exchange and more, head over to our on-demand virtaual event.