Trust is a must. When you’re designing, building, managing, and modernizing mission-critical systems that run the world economy, it’s important to have a sense of safety and security in your tools.

Kyndryl, an $18 billion giant of a start-up spun off from IBM IT infrastructure services in 2021, now serves 75 of the Fortune 100. Their impressive client roster includes all five of the top five airlines, four of the five largest retailers, and systems that touch 61% of assets under management by the top 50 banks. And yes, that list goes on.

From customers’ personally identifiable information to payment card data, intellectual property, and beyond, it should not come as a surprise that the amount of sensitive data running through organizations is massive. As Jeff Becraft, Kyndryl’s Data & AI Practice Sales Leader for the US, shared in his recent session at Airside LIVE, “These are huge organizations with extremely complex IT landscapes, business models, and global footprints. They do things that are quite challenging to do without that trust at the core…so we need to make sure that from the beginning we plan security into everything we do.” 

Of course, the size of these organizations, coupled with the explosion in the threat landscape doesn’t make it easy.

Today’s Trust Challenges

In 2021 alone, data security compromises were up 68%. Jeff attributes this steep rise to several factors: organizations are supporting hybrid and remote workforces on a larger scale than ever before. They’re also continuing to move more systems and workloads to the cloud, resulting in “an incredible number of endpoints” and “expanded attack surfaces.” 

“Hybrid, multi-cloud landscapes are [the foundation of] pretty much everybody we serve. Almost all of our customers have significant on-prem footprints. They at least have one public cloud, probably several private cloud footprints and data residency issues,” Jeff shared. And, let’s not forget that this evolving landscape brings even more challenges, including: 

  • An accelerated need for integration, interoperability, and data management, and data democratization
  • Versatility due to expanding and changing security, compliance, and resiliency requirements
  • Consistent governance requiring automation and decentralized policy enforcement

Jeff goes on to explain that “When you think about those challenges, they bring additional issues of trust and data flow. How do we get things where they need to be, make sure the right people see them and the wrong people do not – and govern all that? There’s a lot of complexity to these systems.”

Fortunately, there’s an obvious first step.

Simplify for Success

When things get too complex, as they inevitably do in these enterprise environments, Jeff says clients are “Looking for ways to simplify and consolidate. We’re really seeing this need to make sure that we are simplifying everything wherever we can.” Clients may look to modernize by moving from one platform to another or simplify how they handle data to ensure everybody—individuals, users, analysts, or applications—can get what they need.

Kyndryl follows four principles for simplification. They:

  • Prioritize the experience to ensure it meets end-user expectations
  • Run workloads where it makes the most sense for the business
  • Include automation wherever possible
  • And orchestrate so that everything works together

Jeff says that fine-grained, dynamic data access governance is another essential part of simplification. He believes that “If people actually move forward with a more modern access control plan or authorization plan, that will allow them to reduce the number of systems they need and be leaner and move faster.”

The Foundation of Trust

In their work, the Kyndryl Data and AI team moves clients along a trajectory toward data fabric architecture. Their goal is to help take advantage of artificial intelligence and machine learning across all the major clouds, on-premises environments, and various data centers Kyndryl manages.

“Foundational to that [belief] is [the ability] to trust that data will be handled properly. Data has to be secure from the beginning so we can actually achieve that,” explains Jeff. “When we are working with our customers on a data-related initiative, we are looking to…design the data access policies as early as possible in the flow…but also be aware that there’s going to be a need to be dynamic…so that we don’t have to go back and retrofit everything. So that dynamic ability to apply policy is huge.”

Partnership for the Win

Like all exceptional organizations, Kyndryl knows its strengths. They are “flat, fast, and focused” to keep up with the digital world in which they live and play.

“Focused means we’re going to do certain things exceptionally well, and we’re going to rely on an ecosystem of partners to help us with the rest,” said Jeff. “And so we work with partners like Okera to make sure that we deliver the kind of value the customer needs without having to invent everything ourselves or manage our own software. We incorporate the best that’s out there.” 

“This concept of being able to be flexible, adaptable, fine-grained with dynamic enforcement… It just gives us so many options for doing it right. That was [what was] really exciting to the team [about Okera],” Jeff went on to share. “I think the migrations alone, just the fact that [Okera] can protect at both ends; get [clients] through that migration safely, [knowing they’re] secure the whole ride. That’s important. A lot of people are extremely nervous about that. And I think it just gives us the ability to give them the peace of mind they look for with us.”

Watch Jeff’s Airside Live session for deeper insight into the topics explored in this article.