February 3rd, 2012

Security in the Clouds: The IPT Swiss IT Challenge

Scott Morrison in GstaadProbably the best part of my job as CTO of Layer 7 Technologies is having the opportunity to spend time with our customers. They challenge my assumptions, push me for commitments and take me to task for any issues -  but they also flatter the whole Layer 7 team for the many things we do right as a company. And for every good idea I think I have, I probably get two or three great ones out of each and every meeting with the people who use SecureSpan to solve real problems on a daily basis.

All of that is good but I’ve learned that if you add skiing into the mix, it becomes even better. Layer 7 is fortunate to have an excellent partnership with IPT, a very successful IT services company out of Zug, Switzerland. Each year, IPT holds a customer meeting up in Gstaad, which I think surely gives them an unfair advantage over their competitors in countries less naturally blessed. I finally managed to draw the long straw in our company and was able to join my colleagues from IPT at their annual event this January.

Growing up in Vancouver, with Whistler practically looming in my backyard, I learned to ski early and ski well. Or so I thought, until I had to try to keep up with a crew of Swiss who surely were born with skis on their feet. But being challenged is always good and I can say the same for what I learned from my Swiss friends about technology and its impact on the local market.

The Swiss IT market is much more diverse than people from outside of it may think. Yes, there are the famous banks but it is also an interesting microcosm of the greater European market — albeit run with a natural attention to detail and extraordinary efficiency. It’s the different local challenges that shape technology needs and lead to different emphasis.

SOA and Web services are very mature and indeed are pushed to their limits but the API market is still in its very early stages. The informal, wild west character of RESTful services doesn’t seem to resonate in the corridors of power in Zurich. Cloud appears in patches but it is hampered by very real privacy concerns and this, of course, represents a great opportunity. Secure private Clouds are made for this place.

I always find Switzerland very compelling and difficult to leave. Perhaps it’s the miniscule drop of Swiss ancestry I can claim. But more likely it’s just that I think the Swiss have got this life thing all worked out.

Looking forward to going back.