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Product Design: VMware AppDefense

Website: VMware AppDefense
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VMware AppDefense is a data center endpoint security product that protects applications running in virtualized environments. Past security measures have proven ineffective, time-consuming and in most cases require the use of several security products. AppDefense reinvents the security strategy by “ensuring good” rather than “chasing bad” and aims to empower network admins by simplifying complex security-related activities.

Role: As the Lead Product Designer, my role is to design an end-to-end experience for IT teams to view and secure their applications in the data center.
Tools used: : Sketch
Key Product Requirements:
I interviewed InfoSec teams and brainstormed with product managers to get a deep understanding of the security landscape and challenges faced by Information Security teams. I defined the following overarching UX principles for AppDefense.

  • Serves as a single pane of glass for security teams providing application health overview and threat indicators, which translates to a simple, transparent and powerful UI.
  • Simplifies the process of managing and responding to alerts for an alert-fatigued audience.
  • Reduces the cognitive load of analyzing large amounts of data by providing an engaging and action-oriented UI.
Design Process:
I implemented an iterative design process collaborating closely with product managers, developers, users, and sales engineers

User Testing Methodologies:
  • I lead design studios at VMware's annual conference, VMworld in Vegas and Barcelona, where I validate upcoming designs and get a deeper understanding of IT security practices in different organizations. I interview participants from various IT teams and geographic locations.
  • I gather insights into the users' challenges and objectives through in-depth exploration with product managers and sales engineers.
  • I conduct quarterly 1x1 session with users to validate new designs.
Sample mockups
I designed an application dashboard indicating the overall health of the application and areas of risk after users expressed a strong need to have a bird's eye view of their applications. Example: Service reputation charts show the number of suspicious processes running in the application.

On having conversations with users about the main drivers of action, I identified application topology as an important touchpoint to help users visualize and manage applications. In addition, it can be used to assess potential risks.

To quickly and efficiently react to critical alerts, I designed a summary screen of alerts with customizable filters providing a quick view and detailed views. Recommended remediation actions are surfaced.

Information about the intended state of the application presented in an easy-to-read, concise format

Challenges Faced:
  • Ambiguous requirements - I joined the team when the product was just being conceived. This meant a lack of a clear design direction. I had to conduct several stakeholder interviews, multiple iterations of lo-fidelity designs and a lot of brainstorming with potential users and product managers to define the design requirements
  • Lack of user data - Like with any new product, there was a complete dearth of user data. I reviewed several endpoint security products and interviewed our internal IT team to understand the security product eco-system.
  • Team of one - As the lead product designer, I have to plan and implement all UX activities in a fast-paced, dynamic environment. This requires thorough planning and management of tasks including but not limited to interaction design, user research, deliverables hand-off, demos to product and dev teams, feature prioritization with product managers.
Outcomes:
I designed the full user experience for AppDefense, a security product that helps organizations protect applications and data.
  • AppDefense is an indispensable and easy-to-use tool with an aesthetically pleasing user interface devoid of complex workflows, designed for network admins to focus on monitoring their applications in virtualized environments
  • It has an engaging and actionable security dashboard that provides users an understanding of their applications.
  • The interface is intuitive for seamlessly setting up applications, defining security policies and responding to alerts.
  • It simplifies the management of and response to critical alerts.
AppDefense is an extremely well-received, groundbreaking security product which has become an integral part of the security strategy for several customers. Users are highly appreciative of its usability and innovative solutions. The product is growing rapidly and continues to be adopted by several big clients.
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