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AppDirect Removes the Pain of Manual Access Management with strongDM

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AppDirect simplifies subscription commerce by enabling its customers to sell recurring digital services. Customers are empowered to monetize and manage their digital customer relationships and create new revenue streams by selling first- and third-party products on any device, through any channel. When AppDirect implemented strongDM for access management, it removed time-consuming, tedious manual processes while still keeping its databases secured.

“Being able to match simplicity with security is a very hard thing to do, and strongDM nailed it. It’s easy to deploy, simple to use as an engineer, and simple to use for managers with the Slackbot integration. If innovation is your thing, strongDM is a must-have.”

Steeve Bisson
Director of Data Engineering

Manual Access Management Costs $500K Annually

Manually managing access through Jira caused pain to radiate throughout the team, from engineers to managers. Whenever engineers needed access to a database, they had to create an internal ticket. Often, managers would log in Monday morning to find over 30 requests for access, and they would have to click each and every ticket to approve. The average wait time to manage access for Software Engineers was 30 min per week. All Combined, this cost $500,000 per year in wasted personnel hours in salary alone.

Auditing also proved to be a challenge. The complexities of their ticketing system, Jira, made it difficult to answer who accessed a specific database. It was possible but painful, and AppDirect had no visibility into what queries were being run after access was approved.

“The time spent was mind-boggling,” said Steeve Bisson, Data Engineering Manager.

strongDM’s Simplicity Seals the Deal

Steeve had initially heard about strongDM before joining AppDirect while listening to a podcast. While he was unable to implement strongDM at his former company, during his interview at AppDirect, he learned that the company was evaluating strongDM, among other solutions.

Steeve told them, “If you want me to implement strongDM on day one, you’ve got me. I’ll accept the position. I want to innovate in this space..”

AppDirect chose to implement strongDM because it offers support for multiple databases, including MongoDB and is easy to deploy.

“It’s always complicated when you talk about security; it’s never simple,” Bisson said. “strongDM was able to make it simple, so simple that we want to remove the VPN from our database access management.”

strongDM Saves Time, Improves Visibility, and Earns Praise from Engineers

The time savings alone makes using strongDM worth it for AppDirect. Instead of spending hours to manage access, all it takes is a few clicks. And it’s a scalable solution, the same effort is needed for 50,500,1000 Engineers on the platform. AppDirect is using strongDM to manage database access and plans to extend its use to SSH, Kubernetes and AWS access as they expand the scope of strongDM to the DevOps team.

“I’ve done a lot of work at AppDirect, and the only time I’ve gotten feedback is with strongDM. An engineer sent a personal message to tell me that they couldn’t believe how much it helped them out,” Bisson said. “I got a ‘thank you’ for simplifying their workflow.”

strongDM provides granular-level audit logs that AppDirect can view in a Datadog dashboard. These logs are important for compliance and also provide visibility that did not exist before strongDM. Knowing the who, what, when, and where gave insight into repeated processes that could be streamlined with back-office tools. Now engineers can be more proactive with code and architecture review for added value to the company.

Bisson said, “It’s so valuable to me that if I need to find a new job one day and hear that they’re not using strongDM in my interview, I will ask if I can deploy it. It’s that impactful.”

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