The product I help to design just won a Red Dot Award

Two years ago, my design team and I set out to tackle the challenge of merging two established products in the complex space of crypto key management. During this time, we not only cared for an excellent interface design, but through our workshop facilitation and collaborative problem solving, we led the product team to a future-proof concept and unified mental model.

As evidence of our impact, I am proud to say that we recently won a Red Dot Award: Brands & Communication Design 2023 for the interface design of this product, the Unified Key Orchestrator (UKO).

Red Dot is maybe the most prominent, international design competition for product and industrial design, brand and communication design as well as design concepts. The distinction “Red Dot” has become established internationally as one of the most sought-after seals of quality for good design.

Key management in and for the cloud – blessing and curse

Data security has always been the primary focus in regulated industries. As organisations move sensitive data and business-critical workloads from on-premise solutions to the cloud, it has become even more imperative that their data is safely and reliably encrypted.

Those organisations often follow multi-cloud strategies to meet their workload needs best, comply with regulations, or to prevent vendor lock-in. However, this adds significant operational complexity around data encryption and encryption keys.

Manage crypto keys across multiple clouds from one point of control

Each cloud environment and provider has their own mental model, including different key lifecycles. So far, there was no way to manage all keys across all clouds in a unified way and from one pane of glass, and that made key management particularly difficult not only for less experienced users.

“It would be very complex to use Azure in AWS because Azure is so highly integrated.”


We simplified and streamlined multi-cloud key management

Since its release in 2022, the Unified Key Orchestrator within IBM Cloud Hyper Protect Crypto Services provides a seamless, truly unified experience, abstracting the complexities and different mental models of key management across clouds to allow IT Security Architects to securely distribute and manage keys not only in IBM Cloud, but also in other clouds like Azure, AWS, and Google.

UKO’s mental model: A master key, protecting several vaults. The vaults contain managed keys which then can get distributed to connected keystores

Not only pixel pushers, but problem solvers!

Incorporating design into traditional product development is a common struggle for many design teams. Merging two established products on top of that only adds to the challenge of integrating teams and technologies.

However, we were able to guide our product team through this complexity and to successfully release a user-centric roadmap, becoming an essential stakeholder for the product team. We were able to improve collaboration and communication across two teams, set aligned goals for two products, made tough product decisions, and kept everyone aligned on every step of the way.

Obligatory pictures of people and stickies ;-)

We led (so far) two custom-made, several days long, in-person workshops, including playbacks, mutual product reviews, need statements, scenario maps, and mental models, to tackle tough conceptual questions together with our product managers and developers.

What followed was a many months long, consistent and thorough design process, leading from mid- to high-fidelity designs, with countless design critiques and playbacks every two weeks.

“They fearlessly re-designed everything!”

— Workshope participant, I guess with a mix of hope and fear ;-)

These were the contributing designers and researchers:

Eleonora Massarelli (User Experience Design)
Jamie Lai (User Experience Design)
Jan Christensen (Visual Design)
Katarzyna Chmielewska (User Experience Design)
Ken Werner (User Experience Analytics)
Maryann Slama (User Experience Research)
Mayra Bautista-Schillinger (Design Manager)
Mona Konietzny (User Experience Research)
Volker Bönisch (User Experience Design)
Weronika Ciesielska (User Experience Design)
Tim Reiser (Design Lead)

I hope it comes across at least a bit, how grateful I am being allowed to work with this excellent design team. Because of you I come to work with a smile! 🙏🏼

But, of course, there are excellent players in adjacent disciplines who have contributed their hearts and brains:

Amit Gupta (Project Management)
Artur Pałka (Backend Development)
Błażej Pawlak (Development Manager)
Chris Smith (Product Management)
Di Xu (Content Design)
Eric Brown (Front-end Development)
Isabel Arnold (Technical Advisor)
Jakub Jelonek (Architect)
Louisa Muschal (Product Management)
Marco Pavone (Architect)
Peter Šándor (Front-end Development)
Søren Møller-Larsen (Project Management)
Tiffany Li (Content Design)
Wojciech Henszke (Backend Development)
Zaza Tsitsishvili (Front-end Development)

“Unified Key Orchestrator is the sexiest solution on the market.”

Security Architect from a German State Bank
Portrait of Tim

By Tim Reiser

Senior Design Lead and Manager at IBM in Germany blogging about random design and UX topics. Assertive Advocate (INFJ-A), introvert, family guy, dog person, nuts about music. Loves both mountains and the sea – while living too far from both.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *