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Jeff Nevins, Simeon Cloud: “new collaboration platforms represent entry points for hackers”

Even though a significant part of the population has been working remotely for the past few years now, organizations still struggle to configure their collaboration platforms.

The global switch to work from home forced numerous companies to not only provide cybersecurity training, and equip their workforce with VPN solutions but also adopt platforms that would help collaborate and manage the workload. While the use of such systems increased rapidly, our guest today emphasizes that simply installing the platform is not enough – companies need to make sure their digital environment is configured properly.

To talk about the importance of configuration and maintenance when it comes to business platforms, we caught up with Jeff Nevins, the CEO of Simeon Cloud – a company specializing in Microsoft 365 configuration management.

How did the idea of Simeon Cloud come to life? What has the journey been like?

Simeon started with the idea that there must be a better way to manage Microsoft 365 with the same benefits that software developers are used to having via Infrastructure as Code tools – consistency, repeatability, scalability, implicit documentation, recoverability, change history, and review/approval processes associated with using these tools in a Continuous /Continuous delivery process. The challenge is that most Office 365 tenants are managed by network engineers who have extensive knowledge of the Microsoft Portals and prefer to use them instead of writing and maintaining code. Our journey was inspired by this challenge and Simeon evolved from there to bridge this gap. We have been growing very fast for two years now, building a solution that brings all the benefits and power of Infrastructure as Code to the underserved population of Microsoft 365 engineers.

Can you introduce us to the Simeon platform? What are its key features?

Simeon is a low-code/no-code Configuration as Code platform. What this means is that our users get all the benefits of Configuration as Code without having to be a developer. This is possible because of two key differentiators in our product. First, our bidirectional synchronization allows our users to continue to work in the Microsoft portals that they are familiar with and integrate those changes directly into Simeon Cloud. Second, our friendly management interface allows our users to view and search across their tenants in a single pane of glass and perform cross-tenant operations.

What are some of the most challenging issues surrounding cloud collaboration platforms?

The main challenge is around hardening the platforms with security best practice settings and ensuring that configurations do not drift from the desired state and expose vulnerabilities in the network. Companies have rapidly migrated to Intune/Endpoint Manager, Azure AD, and Office 365 for their endpoint management, identity management, and cloud collaboration, platforms. These new platforms represent entry points for hackers to access sensitive company data. The problem is that these new platforms come with many new and complex settings and policies that need to be manually configured and maintained in numerous administrative portals. Prior to Simeon Cloud, there had been no unified single pane of glass reporting and management, meaning companies cannot holistically report on and remediate security configurations for these numerous platforms.

How did the recent global events affect your field of work? Were there any new challenges you had to adapt to?

COVID-19 accelerated the work from home trend, rapidly increasing the adoption of cloud-based business platforms by companies across the spectrum and the world. Now more than ever, businesses must empower a remote workforce with secure access to collaboration tools wherever their data is stored and from wherever their employees are working. This means managing hundreds or even thousands of new settings across the Microsoft ecosystem. Our solution was built for this as we have the first Microsoft Office configuration tool that provides essential governance and automation of Microsoft’s cloud-based identity management, endpoint management, and productivity/collaboration platforms.

What are the best measures companies can adopt nowadays to ensure not only smooth but also secure remote operations?

Companies should focus on becoming physical location-agnostic via work-from-anywhere cloud platforms. This requires careful security consideration, moving from a secure-the-network mindset to a secure-the device and even a secure-the-content mindset. This is what Zero Trust Architecture is all about.

What issues do you notice most often when it comes to companies that don’t have quality endpoint management and collaboration tools?

Companies are relegated to a legacy mindset where things need to be within the walls of their office. They are not accustomed to a modern digital workplace where users can access the tools they need securely from wherever they are working.

What types of attacks do you think are going to emerge as a result of the growing use of the cloud and other advancing cybersecurity measures?

Attacks are going to have to change and adapt as Zero Trust Architecture becomes more prevalent. In turn, Zero Trust Architecture is going to need to mature and rise to meet these new forms of attack.

What do you think the average workplace will look like in the next few years?

Boundaryless. Users will be able to securely access the content and tools they need to do their job from any device and any location.

Would you like to share what’s next for Simeon Cloud?

We believe there is an opportunity to expand our no-code/low-code Office 365 configuration tool to cover more of Microsoft’s cloud offerings, including Infrastructure as a Service, as well as to support multiple cloud platforms such as AWS, GCP, and Salesforce. There are many cloud platforms out there with complex configuration management. Simeon is coming to simplify and automate that management!

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