Microsoft automates cloud access management for engineers

Powered by SC Magazine
 

Office 365 support 'democratised'.

Microsoft has deployed a new rights management system to improve the way the company handles cloud outages.

Lockbox began development in 2010 to automate rights management for engineering, allowing them temporary access to higher-tier privileges to fix outages more quickly.

It was the brainchild of Raj Rajagopalan, a then greenhorn Office 365 engineer who, like many others starting out, was lobbed with the on-call graveyard shift for the cloud software as a service during his first week in early 2010.

The idea was born sometime after his alarm blared around 3am. A customers’ Office 365 installation had crashed and Rajagopalan needed to reboot the systems.

But he lacked the authorisation for the disruptive fix, so he phoned on-call operations asking for a reboot.

They too lacked the privileges to do so, and called the incident manager.

Operations were eventually granted the right to reboot the systems, and services were quickly restored.

But the sluggish management process meant the performance benchmark by which engineers are measured — mean time to recovery (MTTR) — had blown out.

Project Lockbox, built during Rajagopalan’s weekends in Microsoft’s Garage prototype lab, slashed the measurement within Microsoft’s Office team.

It was showcased in September last year as a prototype at one of the lab’s eight annual science fairs, winning approval for development and staff resources.

Lockbox went live internally across Microsoft’s Office engineering team in January this year.

“MTTR of issues is much faster now because we cut out a lot of processes like triage,” Rajagopalan said.

Department staff were stripped of access rights and given base-level access, with temporary elevated privileges afforded on-demand through Lockbox.

Requests for elevated access deemed to be abnormal by the automated systems are flagged by Lockbox and sent to a manager for manual approval.

“It could be said we democratised the model,” Rajagopalan said.

Minimum privileges mean engineers can only see customer data when they request access, which is logged.

A mobile phone app was also built for Lockbox on Windows Phone.

Prototyping the future

Many more projects have born and died in Microsoft’s Garage, but its manager Quinn Hawkins doesn’t shed any tears.

“Ideas are a dime a dozen. It’s the execution that’s hard,” he said.

Engineers use the Garage in and out of work hours and pitch their projects to department heads on science fair days.

Good projects, Hawkins said, came from prototypes and not brain-storming maps or voting polls.

“You get whims, not innovation; for instance you could have a great idea for the Windows kernel, but only a few people get what that is, so it doesn’t get the votes. Idea sites are where ideas go to die.”

About 50 tools are produced in the Garage every month, with successful ideas developed for use by approximately 40,000 Microsoft employees.

Copyright © SC Magazine, Australia


Microsoft automates cloud access management for engineers
 
 
 
Top Stories
Windows 10 lands in Australia
Campaign to get business to upgrade kicks off.
 
NSW to build its own myGov
Service NSW digital profiles available by September.
 
Android bug leaves a billion phones open to attack
Hackers only need phone number to target devices.
 
 
Sign up to receive iTnews email bulletins
   FOLLOW US...
Latest articles on BIT Latest Articles from BIT
The 5 Windows 10 privacy issues you should be aware of
Jul 31, 2015
There are a few unsettling details when it comes to Windows 10 privacy
Windows 10 is here! (For some)
Jul 29, 2015
Delivery of the free upgrade versions of Windows 10 began today - have you got yours yet?
Microsoft reveals Microsoft Send, a new enterprise chat app to rival Slack
Jul 27, 2015
Microsoft Send is MSN Messenger for grownups, and you could be using it at work very soon
Developers offered $500,000 grants to find HoloLens uses
Jul 8, 2015
Can augmented-reality end up in business?
Microsoft Tossup: The planning app for unorganised groups of friends
Jul 8, 2015
App allows friends to research venues, vote on plans and chat. And depending on how you run your ...
Latest Comments
Polls
Should law enforcement be able to buy and use exploits?



   |   View results
Yes
  14%
 
No
  51%
 
Only in special circumstances
  17%
 
Yes, but with more transparency
  18%
TOTAL VOTES: 768

Vote