We sat down for a Q&A with Lisa Frankovitch, CEO of Uplogix. She explains why the future of IT management and troubleshooting involves remote deployed A.I. robot generated IT management working alongside human, manual IT network management.
- Describe what your company does in 256 characters (a Tweet’s length)
Designed for the challenges of remotely managing enterprise network infrastructure by leveraging automation to reduce cost, complexity, and downtime, Uplogix goes Beyond Out-of-Band by providing an intelligent network management platform that acts like an automated network administrator.
- How did you get involved in this industry?
I was working for a venture capital firm at the time that was the primary investor in Uplogix and helping the team from an operational perspective. I was stunned to learn that enterprises were still sending people out in trucks to fix network infrastructure issues and had not yet embraced automation. I really enjoyed working with the team and realized that there was a real market opportunity for the technology to provide value to customers.
- What made you think of the idea/what inspired you to create your technology?
Surprisingly, traditional network management tools rely on the network itself to be operational. This means that when these tools are needed the most—when there is an issue with the network infrastructure—they are incapable of identifying or fixing problems.
The inspiration was a device called a console server, which is a simple piece of hardware that sits at the remote site with the network infrastructure and can provide network admins with a way to connect to gear over a separate network—an out-of-band network connection—over a phone line connection.
The “lightbulb moment” for our founder was when he experienced these limitations of network management tools firsthand and thought “what if we add processing and storage, plus network management software to a console server?” The network independence that comes with an out-of-band connection plus onboard management software opens new options. This technology could serve as an automated network admin for monitoring and reliable automation of routine network management.
- How is this going to benefit people/society?
With the increase in the digitization of business operations, network resiliency is critical, and networks are the backbone of every enterprise today. A business office or manufacturing floor is useless without a connection to email, ERP systems, and factory management software. Not only do networks need to be up, but they also need to be operating as designed and that requires continual maintenance and upgrades. Network admins are chronically overworked and tasked with meeting these network demands across increasingly complicated architectures while meeting cybersecurity requirements. Automating more network management functions also reduces opportunities for human error, which remains a leading cause of network outages.
Uplogix’s out-of-band design ensures that it is a secure and reliable platform for making scheduled device changes and upgrades by leveraging automation as well as responding in the heat of the moment when there is an outage. Whether through automated actions or by providing network admins with triage information and secure access to gear, Uplogix makes networks stronger and more secure.
- What’s innovative about your company and technology?
We really took a basic tool, like a wrench in the network admin toolbox, and turned it into an advanced platform for automation, cybersecurity, and network infrastructure management. This took years of software and hardware development to get to where we are today on v6.1 of our software and deploying the fifth generation of hardware. We are providing the automation that network admins need to keep up with the demands on the network.
Our product solves problems that exist in all networks, which is why we deploy across a wide variety of industries—from the federal government (both civilian and DoD) and finance to healthcare, pharmaceutical, and energy. If it’s an enterprise network, Uplogix likely can add value for the network team.
- How, in your opinion, has your industry changed in the past 5 years?
Every new trend, from the Cloud to SD-WAN and the Internet of Things (IoT), all rely on the network to deliver on their promises. So, as expectations rise with each shiny new tech trend, it comes down to ensuring the network can meet the new demands. That means more automation and greater cybersecurity, and less human troubleshooting and truck rolls.
- What has COVID done to your company/industry? Has it been affected? Does your solution assist with the pandemic?
As awful as the pandemic has been, it has highlighted the need for not only remote management of network infrastructure as network admins worked from home, but also the importance of network-reliant systems like VPNs to work as designed to support remote workforces.
One particularly prescient customer story from the pandemic was Brooklyn Hospital. As COVID sent patient numbers climbing, the IT staff faced challenges supporting network gear deployed on each floor of the hospital, even in areas with highly contagious patients. Network admins were able to remotely manage their gear using Uplogix, avoiding potential exposure to the virus and limiting use of scarce PPE resources. This was relevant for gear in the main hospital as well as the management of the network at clinics around the city without the need to travel.
- Describe the future of your industry. What does the future hold? What is society going to look like?
Clearly, the sky is the limit. More and more devices online are contributing to every aspect of our work and home lives. That means an even greater reliance on networks that are up and running securely and as designed. Cybersecurity will continue to be a core concern, and one of the best ways to ensure security is to remove humans from unnecessary management. Human error is a leading cause of network downtime. There will be far fewer issues if routine network management becomes automated and humans stick to where they can contribute the most—driving innovation and solving complicated problems.
- What plans do you have coming up?
We are expanding our customer base and responding to requests for more places we can deploy in the network. We released a new hardware platform at the end of 2020, and we will continue focusing on software innovation and responding to market demands while supporting customer needs. As all organizations navigate through the new work environment, we anticipate that secure remote management of networks will only become more critical.
- What would your advice be for people trying to get into your industry?
Technologies and network architectures are only going to continue to change, so you must have a tolerance for the unknown and a willingness to problem-solve in real time. It’s just not about a simple Ethernet cable or wi-fi connection anymore. The network is more complicated and constantly evolving to drive business value, which makes it more important and visible within organizations. There has never been a better time to bring creative thinking and problem solving into the network management space.
Ms. Frankovitch is a corporate development and executive management veteran, with global experience growing early stage companies. Most recently, Frankovitch was with Adams Capital Management (ACM) as the director of corporate partner strategy where she worked with ACM portfolio companies, like Uplogix, to identify partnerships and opportunities for improved revenue, distribution channels and potential liquidity opportunities. Prior to joining ACM, Frankovitch started several business units and served in multiple management roles for iGATE Capital where she was as a member of the executive team that lead two successful IPOs of iGate subsidiaries. Some of the other companies that Ms. Frankovitch has worked with are GE Capital, Warburg Pincus, Apar Infotech, Flashline, BEA Systems and Revenue Technologies. Ms. Frankovitch holds a BS in Business Administration and Accounting from West Liberty State College and has taken part in executive management programs at Carnegie Mellon University and Harvard Business School. She also serves as the Education Committee head for the National Venture Capital Advisory Board.