Managing Database Access Control For Teams With strongDM


January 28th, 2019

42 mins 17 secs

Your Host

About this Episode


Controlling access to a database is a solved problem… right? It can be straightforward for small teams and a small number of storage engines, but once either or both of those start to scale then things quickly become complex and difficult to manage. After years of running across the same issues in numerous companies and even more projects Justin McCarthy built strongDM to solve database access management for everyone. In this episode he explains how the strongDM proxy works to grant and audit access to storage systems and the benefits that it provides to engineers and team leads.


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  • Your host is Tobias Macey and today I’m interviewing Justin McCarthy about StrongDM, a hosted service that simplifies access controls for your data


  • Introduction
  • How did you get involved in the area of data management?
  • Can you start by explaining the problem that StrongDM is solving and how the company got started?
    • What are some of the most common challenges around managing access and authentication for data storage systems?
    • What are some of the most interesting workarounds that you have seen?
    • Which areas of authentication, authorization, and auditing are most commonly overlooked or misunderstood?
  • Can you describe the architecture of your system?
    • What strategies have you used to enable interfacing with such a wide variety of storage systems?
  • What additional capabilities do you provide beyond what is natively available in the underlying systems?
  • What are some of the most difficult aspects of managing varying levels of permission for different roles across the diversity of platforms that you support, given that they each have different capabilities natively?
  • For a customer who is onboarding, what is involved in setting up your platform to integrate with their systems?
  • What are some of the assumptions that you made about your problem domain and market when you first started which have been disproven?
  • How do organizations in different industries react to your product and how do their policies around granting access to data differ?
  • What are some of the most interesting/unexpected/challenging lessons that you have learned in the process of building and growing StrongDM?

Contact Info

Parting Question

  • From your perspective, what is the biggest gap in the tooling or technology for data management today?


The intro and outro music is from The Hug by The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA

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