The great irony of the typical organizational IT department is that the technicians do so much of their work manually. “Fifty-six percent of of network outages are caused by human error, but 70% of IT tasks are still manual. That math doesn’t work and is not sustainable,” said Lisa Frankovitch, CEO of Uplogix, an Austin based tech company that has developed automated network IT management and troubleshooting to work with human technicians.
The U.S. National Vulnerability Database lists more than 100,000 issues that can undermine network security. The National Security Agency recently recommended separating network management from traffic on the network, or “out-of-band,” which is precisely what the Uplogix technology does.
We asked Frankovitch about her career, the future of network security, and the growing role of automation in network security.
Grit Daily: You had your own adventures before Uplogix. Share those.
Lisa Frankovitch: I began my career at an early-stage technology company when they were at about $20M in revenue. I started in sales and quickly moved into management, launching 4 different business units, which grew from nascent revenue to over $150M. As part of the Executive Management team, I was intimately involved in helping take the company public, and upon my exit, they had grown to $500M in revenue. I was then recruited by a Venture Capital (VC) firm to turnaround another technology services company, which led to the successful acquisition of that company by an Israeli services firm. I realized that I love taking new ideas to market. It’s a really exciting, and yet difficult, gig and these types of companies need help beyond just financing. They also need help with their “exit strategies.” This led to the idea of offering services to Venture Capital firms as an operations/corporate partner expert. This role really didn’t exist at the time within many VC firms. The objective was to work with their portfolio companies to refine their go-to-market strategy and messaging and align with strategic corporate partners to drive revenue growth and provide a path for liquidity. Enter Uplogix… I was working with them as one of the VC firms’ portfolio companies. I had begun to really miss being on the front lines. They asked if I was interested in joining their team and the rest is history. I love the team and the technology and worked with them in a variety of roles prior to stepping in as CEO in 2015. I couldn’t believe that people were still sending technicians out in a truck to fix a network infrastructure problem, and I saw that there was a large market opportunity and a real-life problem we were solving.
Grit Daily: What’s behind the Uplogix name?
Lisa Frankovitch: The name originated from the idea of keeping networks UP, or resilient, and leveraging automation to manage network infrastructure. That, and the fact that we use automated intelligence/logic to achieve that objective.
Grit Daily: This seems like “back end” work. Why would consumer-facing entrepreneurs care?
Lisa Frankovitch: What we do is actually front and center to ensuring business continuity. Even prior to the pandemic, the network has become critical to business operations, as more functions have become “digitized,” in order to reduce costs and increase agility. The pandemic only exacerbated this scenario. Not only has remote work increased, but network architecture has changed dramatically over the past 10 years with IOT, Cloud, SDWAN and the proliferation of edge devices. All of these architectures and related business applications still run on network infrastructure hardware at the end of the day.
Let’s use a tree as an analogy. The branches represent SDWAN, Cloud, and all of the applications that run on that architecture. The trunk is the transport layer or network, and the roots are the network infrastructure. If something happens to the roots, the trunk (a business’ network) will no longer be able to support or communicate with the branches, which will be useless until the problem is solved. If there is a disruption in the network, business continuity is directly affected. A network outage costs a typical organization approximately $1.5 million in lost revenue according to Small Business Trends. Add to that, over 50% of network outages are caused by human error, and yet 70% of IT tasks are still manual. That math no longer works and there is no margin for error.
Our customers are large businesses that rely on Uplogix to manage, automate and secure their enterprise networks. These are the networks that support everything from VA Hospitals to manufacturing of vehicles and pharmaceuticals, to banks and universities. The automation component of Uplogix is critical to quickly triage and take corrective action in minutes. For example, one of our customers is a hospital in NYC. Network downtime in a hospital can have drastic consequences. During the pandemic, the networking team couldn’t get into the hospital to access the network infrastructure without using what was, at the time, very scarce PPE. Add to that the fact that they were working around the clock during this time. With Uplogix, they are able to find and fix problems in minutes by leveraging our automation, so as not to have to take that dreaded 3am call. Supporting the “back-end” of the network is essential to delivering products and services that everyday people rely on.
Grit Daily: What is “robot generated IT?”
Lisa Frankovitch: Uplogix is not so much “robot generated IT,” as it is intelligent automation. Uplogix is a closed-loop system for monitoring network devices like routers, switches, and firewalls, to ensure they are operating as expected. When network failures occur, Uplogix is able to identify and take automated corrective actions, just like an onsite network admin would. This automation frees up human time to work on innovation and tough problems instead of routine troubleshooting that takes up time and effort. Imagine if you had a network technician “sitting” in each rack of gear, directly connected to that gear, monitoring intensively, and taking immediate corrective actions to keep the network functioning at optimum capacity. We do this in minutes. This direct connection means that when there is an outage, we take automated corrective actions in minutes and re-establish the network connection.
Grit Daily: Inquiring minds want to know: How did you end up in Austin?
Lisa Frankovitch: The co-founders of Uplogix lived in Austin, and the city was really beginning to take off as a technology hub, so there was and is a wealth of investment capital and talent in Austin.