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System Sentinel: A Personal Note About My New Job!

IBM i (OS/400, i5/OS)
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I've always believed that everyone should have a job that they're excited about going to when they wake up in the morning. Since we spend so much of our life at work, it just doesn't make sense to work at job that doesn't really jazz you up! So in July I changed jobs within IBM. I joined the Rochester Client Technology Center (CTC) to start the eServer Security Architecture and consulting services practice. I'm really jazzed up about it, and I want to explain why.

As some of you may know, for many years I was the lead security architect for OS/400 and i5/OS. I was responsible for security in the operating system. I loved that job because it allowed me to address technical security issues for our customers by architecting and implementing new solutions or enhancing existing ones. In addition to the technical aspects, I also got to interact with customers, Business Partners, and ISVs. In every release, we added some cool new technology or functionality to the system.

About two years ago, I was asked to take the leadership for the security architecture within IBM's Virtualization Engine product--a Web-based cross-platform systems management solution--as part of the eServer security team. That job was very technically challenging and fun, too. It was a nice change of pace because it dealt with security across a large number of systems, applications, and programming environments. I'm especially proud of the highly automated, single sign-on capabilities that we built into the VE product.

But something was missing. After reflecting for a while on those things I liked and didn't like about my previous jobs, I realized what it was. My interaction with customers has primarily been in approximately one-hour chunks of time. In one hour, I would try to convey whatever I knew about very specific pieces of the security puzzle. I realized that one hour was not enough time to really help customers understand, solve, and implement solutions for their security problems. One hour was normally just about enough time to convince them that there might be at least one possible solution for a specific problem.

Architecting security into a specific product (whether an operating system or an application) forces you to focus on the entire customer set, not just individual customers. Based on conversations with customers, I've had this nagging feeling that many understood individual details but not the bigger security picture. I realized that I wouldn't be able to help individual customers solve difficult security problems by continuing to work as a security architect for a specific product.

That's why I decided to join the Rochester CTC.

The CTC is a "services for hire" organization within the IBM eServer development organization--essentially, a "lab services team." Our mission is to help customers exploit and integrate their eServer platforms in their environment to the fullest extent and in the most cost-effective way. The idea, from IBM's point of view, is that if we help customers fully exploit their systems, they're much more likely to buy more from IBM.

The CTC has skills in virtually all areas of all platforms. And being based in the development labs, the people with those skills have worked with and maintain direct access to the operating system developers.

But one skill they didn't have was cross-platform security architecture and implementation--that is, skills for helping customers deal with integrating security on their eServer platforms into an entire network (what I call "big picture security"). How one chooses to protect a specific asset on one system is directly affected by how the rest of the systems and the rest of the network are secured (or not). How much it costs an organization to manage security is a function of the entire network, not just the sum of the cost for each system. These are the types of challenges and problems that I find most interesting and fun.

Therefore, in July, I officially joined the CTC as the eServer Security Architecture and Consulting practice leader. In this position, I get to build a security services team, impart whatever knowledge and opinions I have about the subtleties of security, and work directly with customers on an entire problem from determination and definition all the way through the implementation of a solution. This is really fun stuff that has a direct, positive impact on customers!

In this role, my team and I get to learn much more about security from the trenches--real-world problems--not just from the technology point of view. We also get to help customers improve security in general and reduce the cost of managing security in the whole network. And perhaps the coolest part of all this is that part of my time is allocated to the iSeries security architecture and development team that I left two years ago. Not only do I get to learn a whole lot more, but I can directly apply that new-found knowledge to specific projects in i5/OS!

We have already worked on a few complex, network-wide, single sign-on architectures. I'm eating my own dog food: putting all that theory and rationale for securing an enterprise to practical use and also figuring out how to help customers exploit all that cool--and not as cool as it could be--function that I helped design and implement.

Single sign-on isn't all we get to do, either. We've also helped customers design security for WAS-based applications that access back-end iSeries systems. My team does security assessments for iSeries, z/OS with RACF, and WAS-based applications. We do general security consulting tailored to whatever level of the organization you want. We provide a "retainer" service that gives you access to security expertise to handle those day-to-day quick-hitting questions that you need help with as well as expertise to back up your position. We help customers with encryption implementation and implementation of security policies related to government or industry security standards. We can also develop security-related applications or tie together disparate security functions. We can even be your advocate with those third-party security auditors who don't know a whole lot about your eServer platform. In short, we can help with just about any security-related question, architecture, design, implementation, or disagreement that you run into. Now that's what I call fun!

So if you want to find out if my team can help your organization, if you'd like to have a quick chat about security, or if you just want to help me have even more fun, feel free to send me an email. You can find out more about all of the CTC's services at http://www.ibm.com/eserver/services.

Here's hoping that you all have as much fun with your job as I'm having with mine! Life's too short to do otherwise.

Pat Botz is the eServer Security Architecture and Consulting practice leader for the Rochester Client Technology Center (CTC). You can email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Pat Botz

Patrick Botz, an internationally known information security expert, is the President and CTO of Botz & Associates, a firm specializing in information security services for IBM i, AIX, UNIX, and Linux environments. 

With decades of experience in key system security positions, Patrick's expertise includes security strategy; security policy enforcement; password management and single sign-on; industry and government compliance; and biometrics.

As Lead Security Architect at IBM and founder of the IBM Lab Services security consulting practice, Patrick worked with IBM customers worldwide and achieved intimate knowledge of system security capabilities and pitfalls on a broad spectrum of platforms, with special emphasis on IBM i (formerly AS/400), AIX, Linux and Unix operating systems. He architected the SSO solution for OS/400 and i5/OS, and he holds several security-oriented patents. 

Early in his tenure at IBM, Patrick lead the AIX workstation tools team for CAD/CAM systems in Rochester, MN. Previous to IBM, he worked for Control Data Corporation with responsibility for CDC's Basic compiler, and for ETA Systems, Inc., a wholly owned supercomputer manufacturing subsidiary of CDC, where he was the team leader for the distributed, Unix-based Electronic Computer-Aided Design (ECAD) tools.

Patrick is the author of numerous trade press articles and a co-author of the book Expert's Guide to OS/400 and i5/OS SecurityIn addition, he is a worldwide speaker on various platform-specific and general security topics.

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