Heather Newman interviews Spencer Harbar

Heather and Spencer discuss SharePoint migrations and hybrid scenarios at ESPC19.

Video Transcript

Heather: Hello everyone from ESPC19 Heather Newman here from Prague with the lovely and talented Spencer Harbar hello.

Spencer: Hello everybody welcome.

Heather: Yeah so, we’re at the end of day what date day two date you yes you know when you take three oh thanks Shane. Day three they blend together a little bit long day yeah; they have been long days. So, Will you tell everybody what you’ve been doing while you’re here.

Spencer: Yep so I’ve been I’ve been giving one presentation at the event as that was requested from the audience last year and then I’ve also done some booth duty with asking attempting to answer at any rate customer question that’s around predominantly SharePoint migration to office 365 or I should say SharePoint migrations SharePoint Online and the hybrid scenarios as my main area focus at the event not necessarily what I’m doing day-to-day but at the event and also basically you know meeting everybody reconnecting and you know working on the relationships keep their relationships alive and creating some new ones.

Heather: Yeah that’s awesome and you mostly you play yours you’re a specialist in identity.

Spencer: To a certain degree I mean that’s kind of a happy accident I’m probably known for you know SharePoint profiles and authentication of things like that but before I work to a SharePoint I was part of a team that built the first deployment in the United Kingdom of what became forefront Identity Manager. Which was a Canadian product that Microsoft acquired so I have a I did a period of security consulting and so on and so forth and so yeah I have you know quite a large portion of my career has been dedicated on the security side effects or the identity space more accurately.

Heather: Yeah and when you when you talk identity versus sort of like cybersecurity or do, they play in the same thing it’s an umbrella really?

Spencer: Yeah very much related very tightly right it indeed all of computer science should be tightly related to the principles of security yes confidentiality integrity availability is the mantra of information security discipline in the early days of IT and that still underpins basically all of the common scenarios that need to be protected against so anything from conditional access to rights management and all of those types of things fundamentally intrinsically linked to those principles and if you don’t understand information security from a technology perspective you can’t be successful in Identity Management.

Heather: All right yeah that makes sense um what do you think if you were gonna tell everybody one thing that you must do that sort of you know not maybe as admin or you know like just one thing that absolutely everybody should do as far as identity and security what is that?

Spencer: Understands the risk. So okay don’t think about things from a technology perspective right model the threat and understand the risk because if you don’t understand the risk you can’t possibly choose how to either insure against the risk, mitigate the risk, remove the risk and so I would actually give that advice in a better in a more understandable language to for example my elderly mother who we you know the way we keep in touch we live very far apart and the way we keep in touch of course is via Skype. But I have to continually educate her to not you know not sign up to Amazon. Not answer weird Skype calls. Exactly yeah you just get some random freak show from out of nowhere you have that kind of stuff and so the only way you can actually get that message across to that user and my mother in this case is to describe the risk yeah. It’s not a question of frightening them right you know if you understand the risk then you can mitigate it or you know and it is the case particularly with IT and till very recently it’s always an option to ignore the risk and that is a valid strategy in some cases and shouldn’t be overlooked but yeah so.

Heather: That doesn’t sound like I get you but that doesn’t sound like the right wave.

Spencer: But yeah again it all comes down to what that individual risk is and there are some situations where if you don’t you know if you’re not even aware that you are at risk or so for example let’s say you have a set a small SharePoint farm and you’re not doing any kind of governance on that platform and then three months down the line you realize that actually there’s like 30 or 40 external accounts well you didn’t know right you know that’s the ignore the risk.

Heather: Are you talking about my tenant? Do you like the board game Risk?

Spencer: Yes, I yeah, I used to play that in old games have risk sixth-grade study hall in high school was risk you know at that point.

Heather: Do you have you seen that documentary the great hack.

Spencer: I yes I did see that okay and a lot of those types of show that have come about recently are a little bit to kind of almost that they’re very interesting but they’re very kind of long-winded very verbose I actually preferred the there was an essay that was the input into that and I prefer to you know that’s personally my preferred way to consume those things it was a very interesting coverage of the individual that was being followed around you know I don’t think that really contributed to it but yes I mean very accurate.

Heather: Yeah and do you think in I so I saw that documentary so if you haven’t seen it good the great hack it’s about Cambridge analytic and all of the sort of different elections and data and all of very interesting documentary around Amazon Prime or whatever and but I also in looking at you know just data in general and speaking of Microsoft and companies like Facebook or you know Twitter I mean Microsoft we saw software and hardware you know and I think as a company you know we’re not necessarily relying on the selling of people’s data necessarily right and we have very strong privacy and security and that’s something actually to be really proud of I think.

Spencer: Absolutely I mean the you know obviously commercial organization there’s no mandate or you know to necessarily take these leadership positions on these type of issues and yeah I think it’s incredibly important that there is not just Microsoft but there in the perfect example of somebody who takes their corporate responsibilities as you know with absolute conviction and they’re also extremely good at changing at pace just think to the you know new threats the new scenarios which you know not to kind of deliberately criticize some of the competitors they seem to be slower but also much more reactionary. Microsoft does take a leadership position in these spaces and it’s done from the context of because it’s the right thing to do not judge not because it’s the way the best way to brand themselves to sell their product yes yeah. We need that leadership because the other the other parts of our society that are supposed to be providing that leadership are failing us so massively at this time. Not that we want to turn it into a sci-fi movie where this you know this big bad terrible corporation that takes over but leadership role is extremely important and to do it with compassion and empathy is yeah really nice to see.

Heather: Absolutely I love that about it too. Do you think that as far as sort of talking about security and data and privacy and all of that like at the end of the day we’ve got these things that are called terms and conditions you know do you think we in the software industry and also like are we doing a good enough job but like you do you read them I guess do you read them?

Spencer: Unfortunately I do read some of them and I have actually written some as well okay not recently but yes I mean we I guess what you’re driving towards is you know are we taking that side of things seriously enough and I think the answer to that is unfortunately no. A good example of that here in Europe is the general data protection regulations and a confusion about what we are allowed to do with personal data and there’s a kind of blanket or week that’s too complicated you can’t deal with that so we just put a we’ll just put a web page up that says if you’re coming from the European Union and I’m sorry you can’t read my terrible news article great. Well that’s an example if somebody who doesn’t really truly understand that all the organization needs is a policy that defines how they deal with the situation it doesn’t mean you can’t do something and that’s an example of where we we’ve created a policy that is correct but we’ve made it too complicated and that’s the terms and conditions or their end user License Agreement you know all those kind of things. We’ve moved towards quite significantly in terms of if I install an application on my phone you know I just do the retina thing with the fingerprint or the eyeball yeah but you know what are you actually agreeing to at that point you know we’re very good at complaining about people misusing our data after we’ve already given them permission implicitly to misuse it yeah so whose fault is it you know we’re all in this together and we’re all part of the solution.

Heather: Yeah well it’s sort of like those car commercials on TV you know we’re like the cars and then all of a sudden at the end of it it’s like and and two point font in the bottom of the it’s like your mom isn’t gonna read the terms and conditions my mom isn’t but she sure as heck loves posting all over Facebook and posting where she’s at here and there and somebody I’m like mom I know I taught you how to do this and I love you very much but like but you know at the same time I’m like I need you also to be careful and understand what you’re doing.

Spencer: Absolutely yeah we certainly you know we often get into a situation where we’re overlooking just how bewildering the modern world is to anybody over the age of about 60 so if you think about the automated machines at the airport that scan your passport well you know we can get all pent up and angry because the person in front of us doesn’t know how to work the machine but for an elderly person that is a bewildering it and completely confusing experience. So of course you know having an automated scanner is progress but we should also do it with enough compassion to simplify it and make it accessible to everybody regardless of their abilities yeah you know their background etc.

Heather: So yeah you know we’re talking a little bit before we got on camera about kindness yeah and compassion links into kindness obviously and I think that you touched on something I think it’s really important because it is all levels of people that are at any given time in an organization doing you know creating administration or rolling out software or Identity Management you know and all of that and you know obviously you want people who know what they’re doing to do these sorts of things but I think we all are learning at any given time and things are changing so fast on us how do you keep up I mean you’re I mean you’ve been doing this a long time you’re wicked smart so it’s like but do you find sometimes you’re like can you keep up?

Spencer: Yeah it’s interesting I mean that I have a slightly different perspective on the pace of change because one of the one of the downsides have been doing it for so long as you know yeah you kind of you’ve always got that in the back of your mind you know oh god I need to you know I need to keep and basically forever studying a whilst I’m working but at the same time particularly when it comes to software and them and the move towards the software as-a-service in particular it’s actually a cycle. So things are repeating themselves right so thank you like everything yeah exactly rights management would be the perfect example of that which was something that was actually launched in Europe in tech ed 2002 maybe 2001 and of course that never really took off because of the you know the investment and impact on premises but now that spear basically the forefront of the Microsoft 365 platform right. So in terms of keeping up I struggle with one aspect of it individually which is everything these days seems to be a video as we are doing right now and I prefer to read that’s not you know I can learn quicker that way I don’t need to I don’t want to spend three minutes being told to smash the like button and all that kind of stuff before you actually get to the information so that’s one struggle for me in terms of keeping up but I’m pretty good sort of or been let’s say I’ve been lucky in terms of being able to kind of predict well I think is coming next. Mainly based on the gaps so if you know the gaps you can see okay, we know they’re going to invest in that area in the next 12 months. I don’t really again one of the things that I tell the people joining the business may be out of university or college right is that if you learn if you truly study the fundamentals of computer science you’ll be ok it doesn’t matter if it’s JavaScript now and yeah and whatever comes along in the future of that you know whichever framework it is those principles will you know serve you well just like any other science discipline or any other discipline which is based on science yep if you truly study and understand and internalize the fundamentals so higher the higher level changes will not impact you also it’s helpful in career term in most cases you are going to be selling to somebody who has a vastly more experience than you do and the sales pitch isn’t going to work unless you have that degree of credibility and again that’s where you know if you understand like for example the suppose of acidity of a relational database then you can work with any relational database platform right in the market.

Heather: Yeah absolutely. Well it’s always a delight to talk to you and I got to visit this one in Scotland was that two years actually sitting in here as well that was a delight by the way so thank you for that yeah it was super fun. So yeah brilliant thank you for sharing all of that I think that this you know privacy and data and I didn’t hate all that it’s really important and it’s and it’s not just for it is for us who are in technology and technologists as it were because technology runs pretty much everything we do but it is on a personal it’s a really it’s a personal thing and I think it’s important to address it on a personal level.

Spencer: Yeah absolutely and do it again you know not to kind of drum the beat the drum but in with compassion and empathy for you know what could be a completely different situation you know even just like 200 miles away could be something completely different yeah as we as we haven’t sort of inevitably ended up in a situation where basically everything we do is via some form of computing device the importance of privacy and identity increases but at the same time we should need to simplify it yeah because if we don’t simplify it we’re just basically contributing to a problem which inevitably at some point is going to explode and you know not only commercially will that hurt us but prevent us to keep in a moving forward. You know Uber is a classic example of that where certain cities you know have got their you know removed the license for some spurious reason there may be other good reasons why you might argue for and against there’s not really the point but that’s the fact that even that conversation becomes very complicated which leads then to the coverage of that issue to be vastly sort of binary you’re either for them or against will no actually there’s 15 different opinions and that yeah.

Heather: And that absolutely like it’s like either we’re in or out yeah, we don’t like you or we like you and this there are so many shades of gray.

Spencer: Absolutely yeah, we are not we don’t live in a black and white world it’s irresponsible to put things in that context because the context is invalid yeah, we need to yeah shades of gray.

Heather: Yeah rainbow absolutely.

Spencer: The colours of unity.

Heather: Yeah exactly isn’t he great. So, thank you first for having me yeah thanks for chit-chatting and always being so lovely. Everybody that’s ESPC19 are we the last one of the day nope okay never mind we’re not the last one of the day so you got one more joining us keep joining us on YouTube here and lots more live streaming and hanging out with lots of different folks I’m gonna be on a chunk in the morning tomorrow. So, if you want to catch me with a bunch of folks come back tomorrow morning and Thank You Spencer.

Spencer: Thank you very much enjoy the rest of the live streaming

Heather: Absolutely bye y’all.

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