Video Transcript

So our first question is about what you actually do if it’s not related to agriculture.

Okay. Yeah, like he said, I do work for the Department of Agriculture. I don’t work with me or plants or anything like that, or dirt. But we’re a data center for the Department of Agriculture, for there’s a lot of agencies within the Department of Agriculture. So we provide data center services to them, as well as other federal agencies, so not just the USDA. So we’re basically we’re really like a cloud service provider. 

So the second question is, so your primary needs for your catalogs around provisioning for servers and D provisioning systems and related functions? What you’re doing?

Yeah, yes, I think I mean, it. That’s where we started. The primary reason we brought kinetic data in was for server provisioning, there were a lot of other things we could have used for that. But it’s the route we decided to go, mainly due to the ability to create handlers to API’s easily to for all the integration that has to happen. So primarily, when we first started, it was just server provisioning. So customer ordering a server is provisioning that server. And of course, now we use it for any request.

It was actually more than just provisioning to read all the monitoring stuff and deploying of software and applications it grew. It grew beyond just provisioning the system.

Yeah, yeah. After the servers provisioned, you know, if you were working with a different, a different tool that provision servers, you would also want to be able to increase or reduce resources, RAM, CPU, storage, all that stuff. So we then had to write that stuff in. But keep in mind that these are, they’re deploying systems that we are managing for them. Because it’s a, it’s a platform as a service environment, even though they’re pushing the button. I mean, it’s kind of what customers wanted, right?

They wanted to push the button, they didn’t want to have to say, Build me the server, they want to be able to push the button, say what they want it to look like and all that. But then the odd thing is, is that we still manage it, they don’t have the ability to or the permissions necessarily to manage those systems. We do that for them.

But so so they’re monitored by us. So we had problems with, you know, if customer did have those privileges, they would like shut the system down, they’d reboot it because their application wasn’t working. And then it would fire off, we’d get tickets because things were. So we had to build all that come back after the fact and build all that. And so that when they went to reboot a system, they use kinetic to reboot the system so that it creates a change, and it takes it into monitoring, and all that kind of stuff.

So when I first met you about four years ago, Scott and I came down into this POC, and I remember thinking, you guys are super competent, and really know what’s going on. What were you doing before that started? I’m sorry? What were you doing before we kind of brought kinetic in? Or before you brought kinetic in? How are you doing this stuff?

Well, we are still a remedy shop. So it was all Remedy Change templates. And we Oh, mercy, it’s it hurts to think about. So we had, I think 36 different templates, just based on just just to build Linux and Windows systems. It’s only two flavors of operating systems. But it depended on the our people that would manage those builds decided it was easier to have those templates already out there. Like did they want this additional thing? Like do they want extra storage? You know, network attached storage?

 If so there needed to be a task in there to go out to them. So instead of just saying, hey, just add this task, if they asked for that. We built 30 Some templates that and they’d have to pick the right one. When the customer said this is the they’d fill out a paper form, paper form. Solution engineers looked at it and said, I think this looks like they need this template. And then they would sit and wait for and bug people to do their job. And it took us on average three weeks to build a system.

So was that the impetus for change is just the length of time and that sort of thing or what was driving the need to look for different tools.

The time, the time and the and the and the the you know, you’ve got people who are doing kind of menial tasks that could be doing better things. If we could have the system do it for them then That would be better. And some people complained about that. And others realize that they actually could do more cool things with that time.

So were you looking at other tools at the time? Or did kinetic just like stand out? Like a big glowing?

Yeah, yeah, no, well, no, we weren’t, we had several other tools we’re looking at. As a matter of fact, we had one in house that isn’t necessarily a competitor. But it was it was a tool that there was designed for provisioning. But due to its in flexibility on the front end, and an inability to go grab data from other systems on the front end, I was able to talk them out of using it, and it costs a lot more than connected. So we ended up going this route.

And we thank you for that. All right, jumping ahead a little bit, you know, now you have that connect tool set, walk us through what that did for you What would like the outcome that you saw when you once you have that in place, and we’re using it?

Well, I think a big part of it is getting the people in the enterprise to recognize what capabilities we have now that we didn’t have before when it was, we were completely reliant on, on remedy templates to get things done. You know, sitting in a meeting with someone saying, Hey, this is kind of this, what we’re wanting to do with this. And people still stuck in this mindset of manual tasks and stuff and saying, Hey, have you thought about this, we actually have the ability to do this. And once they see that, now we’ve got, you know, our queue of forms that people in our enterprise want built as we can’t keep up because they’re realizing oh, you can, you can send an email for me, oh, you can change that data and remedy for me. So that’s been huge.

To know more recently, you’ve had another mandate related to like moving to the cloud, talking about what’s happening there.

Well, so we are a cloud service provider, ultimately. So we have our own internal cloud. But we also have been mandated to move or start providing services to the same customers for them to be able to provision systems out on what we call third party cloud, but it’s just AWS, Azure. Those will probably be the only ones for a while and a Google Digital Ocean. But so we, I’m a member of a team that’s kind of looking towards getting that done. And for us, it’s a two pronged approach.

 One is doing it the way we’re doing it, now they come through kinetic, they come through request, and provision systems just like they would on premises for us. And also the ability for them to use the native cloud tools, like you would go to AWS and build a system or build a group of systems or whatever. And then the ability for for those. We are, we’re we’re a federal facility. So we’re FedRAMP and FISMA.

For any of you who understand some of that stuff, we there’s a lot of security around it. So customers, federal customers can’t just go out to Amazon. Right now they can, the more recently they’ve been able to, but it’s really hard to go out and build systems in the commercial cloud, and have it be compliant and able to get what we call an authority to operate, you can’t stand up an application without being secure. So we, that’s what we provide.

So what we’re also working on is giving them the ability to go out to Amazon, or AWS, or Amazon or Azure, sorry. And use those native tools to build but then call back to the kinetic task engine, make API calls back and do all the stuff that we do well, that we kind of wrap around and get it into DNS, get it into our scanning, get into the monitoring, you know, get the get it compliant. So that’s a big one.

And there’s a special thing that we had to do for the task. And that kind of helped make that work and talk a little bit about that wrapper, we had to build around that I say we meaning one specific person in this room who built that.

Can I can I tell that story? Is John in here. Okay. So I love telling the story. So we, I had put in an RFP for the task engine to become synchronous, and I actually I sent it in. And then I had another idea that I thought would make it easier, or I thought I knew what I was talking about, you know, to the developers, or you could just make it do this. Can we just do that? And so the RFP was in but I knew that nothing that it it was going to be too hard to do once they explained to me how the task engine work there, like it’s going to mess things up if we tried to do that. So Okay.

Well, so then, fast forward about a year later, I’m in a meeting with our, with some of our management and they’re saying, hey, we want to move to the cloud. We want to move, you know, we don’t want to be managing a data center anymore. We want things to move to the cloud. So I thought, Oh, crap, if we don’t have that asynchronous or the synchronous task engine or host, it’s just not going to work. Because we know that customers are going to want to go straight to them.

So I thought, okay, so this is really the same day of the meeting. I’m going to call kinetic and I’ll talk to surely the admin assistant secretary or something like that I can talk to and maybe have them put me in John’s voicemail, and I’ll just plead my case and say, Hey, this is really important to us. So I called someone picks up the phone connect it says, John, I’m like, John, John Samberg. Yeah, he’s speaking like, Oh, okay. I guess I don’t need to ask for your voicemail know what’s out, you know. 

So, I explained to him who I was, he remembered me from CAG, a couple years before, but so I explained what was going on. And he said, you know, you’re right. We do need that. Give me a week. And a week later, he had provided something to me, that was a wrapper around the task engine. I don’t want to go into great details, because it’s, it’s simple, but it’s complicated at the same time, but it’s basically a way for us to call this other this, this API that then talks to task and runs whatever tree I wanted to run, and then have that tree return data back here so that I can retrieve it. Because by default, if I call that I can call the task tree, I can create an API on the task tree and send it the data that I want. But I’m not going to get anything back.

That’s of any use to me, this bridges that gap, and allows us to our desire really is to make the task engine almost like an enterprise service bus. So if you want to do something in remedy, don’t go talk to remedy. If you want a DNS record created, don’t go hit the DNS API directly come to me, I’ll create it for you. And if you want to change record to occur when that happened, I can do that for you too. So does that make sense?

It does to me, okay.

It was the craziest thing.

How would you assess the impact Connecticut’s had at Nitze in general terms like, but the done for you?

I couldn’t hear her. Oh, no, no, I mean, I could just barely hear you. Sorry.

Sorry. What would you say the impact has been of kinetic to Nitze itself? I mean, what have you been able to do? Because of it like scale bigger, handled things faster? What are the kinds of things you’ve been able to do?

Yeah. Gosh, that’s a there’s there’s a lot. I mean, I think the provisioning thing was huge for us, because it took us from waiting three weeks to build a system to we built a Linux system in 30 minutes, a Windows system and an hour and a half. Now, that’s that sounds like a long time. If you go to AWS or Azure, it’s a few seconds, right? But take into account that when that system is delivered, it’s completely hardened, it’s monitored, it’s in our DNS, it’s in our CMDB. There’s been changed records, you know, all these things that have happened. It’s been patched to the latest patch levels, all these things. So in that regard, it’s a big deal. So that in itself was huge. But kind of going back to what I said before just kind of transforming the enterprise as far as them recognize the ability to do these things. These things that they used to have to go do manually, that they now can ask us to automate things for them. I mean, that’s the biggest.


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