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Actian Blog / Your Dreams Are Our Dreams

Your Dreams Are Our Dreams

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I recently had the privilege of presenting at Insight Technology’s db tech showcase in Tokyo.

The night before my presentation my colleagues and I had been invited to a meal with one of our partners. At the end of the meal, one of my colleagues was thanking our hosts for a wonderful meal and in flawless Japanese went on to say, “Your dreams are our dreams”.

I joined the Actian team as a sustaining software engineer. As such, helping our customers has always been central to my work. Every bug fix not only helped the customer that had reported a problem but also every customer that received a patch containing my solutions. Working on a bug has become a rare treat now that I am running both Engineering and Sustaining teams for several products. However, I do still get to put our customers’ needs front and centre when building roadmaps and deciding which features to add to my products.

The phrase “Your dreams are our dreams” had neatly encapsulated my own principles and the ethos of the wider Actian team. The central message of my presentation was that it is important to choose a vendor based on the way they treat you. A good vendor will treat your dreams as their own and provide the technology and features you need to succeed.

With the introduction of GDPR our customers have become increasingly security conscious. Actian X already provides a host of features to enable GDPR compliant applications including SQL functions to allow data to be encrypted and decrypted. However, the initial implementation did not provide for the use of initialization vectors. An initialization vector, or starting variable, is a fixed sized input to a cryptographic primitive that avoids repetition during the data encryption process, making it impossible for hackers who use dictionary attacks to decrypt the exchanged encrypted message by discovering a pattern.

The Clinical Trials Service Unit (CTSU) at Oxford University deals with the collection and analysis of data that pertains to the causes, prevention and treatment of chronic illnesses such as cancer, stroke and heart disease. The security of this sensitive data is a high priority. When CTSU asked us to enhance our existing encryption and decryption functions to include the use of initialization vectors, we could clearly see the importance of their request. Engineers were immediately assigned to the task because our customer’s problem is our problem. The work on the enhanced SQL functions is nearly complete and will allow CTSU to achieve the higher level of security that they research requires. Their work, their dream is to save lives. Their dream is our dream.

About Alex Hanshaw

Alex Hanshaw is a Director of Engineering at Actian with more than 20 years of experience building innovative solutions for customers’ complex business problems. Alex joined the Ingres Sustaining Engineering team in 1997 and solving customer problems remains a priority for Alex in his current role managing the Actian X, Ingres & Vector Engineering & Sustaining Engineering teams.