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More than 30 IDM realisations in Czech Republic and abroad

AMI Praha We are celebrating 25 years!
We are celebrating 25 years!

We are celebrating 25 years!

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear AMI, happy birthday to you!

Why are we singing here, you ask? Singing is forbidden now, but we feel like singing. AMI is celebrating an important anniversary this year – 25 years of its operation! Petr Urban, the Chairman of the Board of Directors and a man who, as he says, has a lifelong bond with AMI Praha, will tell us a few kind words about where the company has moved in all this time, where it is now and what lies ahead.

Hi Peter. Can you briefly introduce yourself and tell us a few words about AMI Praha a.s.?

Hi, to put it in a nutshell, I personally am an extremely competitive realist, old school in setting, so I still believe in the power of a handshake. All my life I have been trying to combine the pursuit of high professional goals with sport, which is such a filter valve for me, and with my family, without which I would have become a case for a psychiatrist long ago.

I joined AMI Prague at the beginning of the millennium as a student of information management at the University of Economics in Prague. And since it could not end any other way with my setup, I ended up in the sales department, later in combination with management. I was lucky, because AMI Prague is similar to me in many ways. Young team, friendly atmosphere, fair negotiations, and all this while aiming for high quality service and constantly moving forward. A lifelong bond was formed.

AMI Praha is a purely Czech growing company focused on a specific part of IT security and operations – the processes around electronic identity. In what we do at AMI, we are demonstrably among the best on the Czech market, but we do not rest on our laurels and are always looking for and learning new things, new areas and new technologies.

AMI Praha a.s. celebrates a significant anniversary – how do you evaluate the company’s development? Where is the company after 25 years?

AMI’s 25 years on the market are lined with dozens of satisfied customers, great projects and great people who have always been and are at AMI. When I joined the company 20 years ago, there were about 12 of us and it was pretty punk from today’s perspective. Now there are about 50 of us, we do big projects for the biggest clients in the country and we are making a name for ourselves abroad. At the same time, we all know each other by name, we all talk to each other, and everyone can come up to anyone and tell them their opinion. The company has changed a lot over the years, but it has retained its best features. I consider one of the best decisions we made in the company years ago was to chop down our service offerings, stop trying to do everything and clearly define who we are and what we do – IT security in terms of user access to information resources.

AMI Praha a.s. is quite specific – can you explain what AMI does specifically? Can you also mention some of the interesting projects AMI Praha a.s. has been involved in during its operation?

We focus on electronic identity in the enterprise environment. We started with this issue a long time ago with the Identity and Access Management tool – it is the alpha and omega of our implementations to this day. We decided to build other competencies around this topic as a kind of puzzle, so that it would fit together, we would be clearly identifiable and at the same time we could address other new topics of the time. We are now deploying tools to manage administrator permissions, to control access to documents on endpoints and in the infrastructure, to uniquely identify users across multiple factors, etc. Today, biometrics, neural networks and machine learning are coming into play in a big way. Permissions no longer need to be set rigidly, but based on policies, the situation and context. We already have a working Bank ID, of which we are a proud partner, but there are other ways to uniquely identify the accessing user. Everything around identity electronification is moving forward awfully fast, and we are there.

In terms of projects, there have been a number of interesting ones. At one time we implemented the largest IDM implementation in the country in terms of complexity and number of connected systems. We’ve done implementations for big dinosaurs in government and corporate environments, but also for a modern flexible pike in the form of Avast. In addition to projects in our own basin, we have moved west and are implementing interesting projects in Germany and Benelux. We deploy both open-source tools and market leaders according to Gartner MQ. What sets us apart from our competitors is the number of implementations, their size, our knowledge of many tools and the ability to choose the right one for each client.

The year 2020, and this year, has not started promisingly either. The whole world, and especially the Czech Republic, is struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic. How do you perceive this situation? Has anything changed in the business field? How does AMI work in this period?

It is a covid era and we all had to learn to live in it somehow. In IT, we have the advantage that a lot of work can be done remotely. Our people almost all work from home, otherwise not that much has changed for us. But large companies and institutions suddenly needed to get employees to home-office and make sure they could operate securely remotely. Almost none of them were prepared for that. In addition to providing the means to function and basic security, suddenly there was even more of a need to actually know who was connecting, when and from where they were connecting, where they should have access and on what basis. All of this to be contextually evaluated and require the appropriate strength of identity proof. And, of course, logging for when needed or for auditing. We need to finally start taking other threats seriously. There are ransomware attacks on unprepared institutions, but they simply must work in this day and age.

In IT, compared to other sectors, the problem is more on the other side. There is still an incredible struggle for quality people and these times give limited opportunities to keep them engaged with the company and with each other. It’s very much about the creativity of the HR department and thankfully we can see that ours is creative.

On a personal level, Covid’s perception is worse, it’s hit us hard in the family. Personally, I’m a mathematician by background, I can draw exponentials, and therefore I don’t understand a lot of the things that go on around here. But that’s for another conversation.

What does AMI Praha a.s. expect in the near future and what would you wish for the company in the years to come?

We have some very interesting projects ahead of us, where we are trying to combine our knowledge across the whole electronic identity issue. We are almost constantly encountering new technologies, tools and approaches that generate new possibilities and take the whole field a step further.

I would like to wish AMI to never let up in this trend, to keep learning new tricks, to not just look the other way, to participate in innovation, but also to keep its own identity.