December 18, 2014

Death To Fillable PDFs And MS Word Forms
Sorry, Adobe. You had a chance with PDF forms, and you blew it. And the world needs to move on. ... The cloud options are easy and inexpensive. SurveyMonkey will work in some cases. Google Forms is flexible and free. Wufoo has more features, as does FormSite, and both are inexpensive. One caveat: For employees who are more comfortable mulling over a form before filling it out, it's courteous to provide the option of viewing the entirety of the form before data entry. Two wins: First, the collector gets the form data back… as data. (PDFs and Word documents can, but usually don't, come back as tabular data.) Second, employees are less frustrated.

Why HP is Investing a Lot in the OpenStack Project
Composability is the main theme. HP wants to have a pure OpenStack platform that can be augmented with as many different plug-ins as possible. “The enterprise needs that flexibility,” Hilf said. Ability to plug in different kinds of software defined network controllers, hypervisors, or storage systems is very important. “We can’t only have the HP storage solution as the answer. It can’t only be that HP SDN controller is the answer.” For this model to work in the long run, OpenStack, the core platform, has to be solid, which is why HP has been investing so much in the open source project.

Find the Right Expert for Any Problem
The basic idea is that you identify people who might have some knowledge of or interest in a given topic area, and you ask them who else might know even more than they do — or who else might know of others with greater knowledge. Then you contact those people and repeat the process until you’ve gotten to the top of that particular topic area, or pyramid, and found individuals with the highest levels of expertise and passion. Once you’re at a peak of a pyramid, you’re more likely to get a referral to someone in a distant but analogous topic area (when we say “distant,” we’re not referring to geography but to contextual differences between subjects). That’s because the highly curious, knowledgeable, well-connected people at the top of pyramids tend to reach out to people outside their domains.

Is Your Brain Trying To Sabotage Your CIO Career?
Possibly more than any other C-suite executive, the CIO runs the gauntlet between dealing with the task- or detail-focused and building the relationships needed to influence effectively. Although a growing number of CIOs come from business rather than engineering backgrounds, the style needed to lead staff working on IT projects is much more likely to be in your brain’s Task-Positive than Default Mode network. Research has shown that the more time your brain spends operating in one network, the more difficult it is to switch between the two. If you've managed to make it into the C-suite, chances are you're already doing a pretty decent job of moving between one and the other but there are things you can do to make that transition even easier for you.

Human error root cause of November Microsoft Azure outage
The outage stemmed from a change in the configuration of the storage service, one that was made to improve the performance of the service. Typically, Microsoft, like most other cloud providers, will test a proposed change to its cloud services on a handful of servers. This way, if there is a problem with the configuration change, engineers can spot it early before a large number of customers are impacted. If the change works as expected, the company will then roll the change out to larger numbers of servers in successive waves, until the entire system is updated.

Wearables In 2015: 4 Predictions
In a Forrester Research survey of 3,000 global technology and business decision-makers, 68% said that wearables are a priority for their company, with 51% calling it a moderate, high, or critical priority. Consumers haven't been as eager. Yet Forrester analysts say that in the coming year more consumers will turn their lonely eyes (and wrists) to wearables, spurred by the arrival of Apple Watch. Forrester predicts the Apple Watch will pull in 10 million users next year.

Indian IT services firms focus on innovation like never before
"Companies are making heavy investments in training the workforce. For instance, Infosys is training its engineers in design thinking, it is training sales teams to sell non-linear services. Companies are investing in building out infrastructure such as digital labs," said Sundararaman Viswanathan, associate director at consulting firm, Zinnov. Infosys' rival Wipro, also Bangalore-based, has invested in a state-of-the-art Technovation Center, a hub of emerging technology solutions that leverages the intersection of technologies to deliver business innovation.

Fears over the IT security of new banks are overblown
According to a study of more than 6,000 people, 72% said they trust their bank with card details. In contrast, three-quarters of online shoppers don’t trust even large retailers with their card information. The study by Bizrate Insights said while PayPal – trusted by 48.9% of respondents – could form strong competition for banking services, tech giants such as Apple and Google were only trusted to protect personal details by 21.4% and 12.9% of people respectively. In the face of competition from a new breed of finance firms that boast state-of-the-art technology, traditional banks' secure IT systems could be their biggest advantage.

The Three C’s of Self-Service BI
The three C’s of Self-Service BI offer a simplified explanation of what, in essence, is hard work. It’s the type of hard work that brings value in terms of efficiency, better decision-making, and empowered users who are all aligned to your organization’s vision. The next time Self-Service is discussed in your organization, keep in mind the three C’s—Connection, Context and Control—and you’ll achieve the necessary framework for a high-performing business intelligence program and an extremely successful Self-Service BI initiative.

Should Your Company Get Cybersecurity Insurance?
Companies feel the need to take out a cyber-insurance policy because the financial cost of an attack can be devastating. Target's data breach cost the company $146 million and counting. Just the act of notifying customers of a breach affecting their credit card data starts at $500,000, Roberta D. Anderson, a partner at K&L Gates in the law firm's cybersecurity practice, tells the Washington Post. While a cyber insurance policy can provide some peace of mind, one expert stresses that it's no substitute for having an in-house cybersecurity expert and following the best practices and protocols.

Quote for the day:

"Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection." -- Mark Twain

December 17, 2014

Developers Hold the Keys to Unlocking the Cloud
Since programmers coming out of college have been using cloud computing, they have a natural transition to coding in the cloud when they are hired by an enterprise or start their own company. Advanced software tools available to any developer provide an interface that is consistent and easy to use. Since everyone is working on the same platform, it is easy to get help by speaking to a developer in the next cubicle or with a text message to an associate.  By using advanced software tools on cloud platforms, developers can get access to the latest security technology. They can focus on writing code to do what they want to do and then they can figuratively bolt on the security features at the end.

The Theory of Data Trust Relativity
The first take-away is that data governance is having an affect on data use by establishing data quality reports to guide data trust. However, there is a noticeable divide for big data analytics and the data scientist who rely on tribal input and not evidence. If we take data quality's impact on the results and risk of using dirty data for decision making off the table for a minute (stay with me now!) how does this affect data trust? Our survey brought in a small number of executive level business professionals. The number is too low to be quantitative, but it does give directional insight.

Top five books for IT professionals in 2014
Information security, IT governance and IT service management are the dominating topics for our audience in 2014. Brought to the market by our publishing imprint, IT Governance Publishing, the following five books were the best sellers in 2014 across all of the regions we currently serve. We are happy to share this success with you, our blog followers. If you are looking for a useful (and pleasant) read during the festive period, why not take advantage of the following?

Sony’s smart glass uses regular glasses, aims for sports and work
The unit clips round the back of the user’s head, attaching to each of the glasses’ temples. Sony is working on a software development kit (SDK) so people can make hands-free information apps for the thing – the Japanese firm reckons it will be ideal for sports and factory work, and could even be paired with a high-quality action camera to make it easier to check the angle of view. Although the pictures of the device that Sony released on Wednesday suggest otherwise, the module doesn’t have its own camera. Indeed, a Sony spokesman told me that the images are of a prototype and do not represent the finished product.

Cloud Adoption Driven by Reliability, Business Continuity
Patterson noted cloud adoption is moving from the early adopters and development oriented organizations to the more traditional, legacy workloads. "We look forward to more applications being written for the cloud, but the economics and overall convenience of cloud will bring in more and more line of business applications as well," he said. "Our survey shows that security is still one of the biggest concerns when looking at cloud or colocation, but the last few years have proved that cloud is just as secure as a private data center, and in many cases, more so." The study found security continues to be a key priority when enterprise organizations look at migrating IT workloads to either an IaaS model (61 percent) or when considering colocation services (58 percent).

KPMG: Data Security Still Top Cloud Concern
"While the challenge posed by cloud related data loss and privacy threats are less pronounced in the minds of global industry leaders, they are still taking the issue seriously," said Rick Wright, principal and global cloud enable leader at KPMG, in a prepared statement. "The clear trend in the data that we have collected shows that, even in the face of significant media attention paid to recent data breaches, global leaders are still willing to embrace the transformative potential of the cloud." Security may be a concern, but there are other factors that are driving adoption of cloud computing technologies.

Cloud computing helps make sense of cloud forests
The researchers want to unravel the impact of micro-climate variation in the cloud forest ecosystem. Essentially, they want to understand how the forest works—how carbon dioxide, water, nitrogen, and other nutrients cycle through plants, animals, and microorganisms in this complex ecosystem. To do so, they've placed some 700 sensors in 15 forest plots, locating the devices at levels throughout the forest, from beneath the soil to the top of the canopy. The integration of such a vast number of sensor data streams poses difficult challenges. Before the researchers can analyze the data, they have to determine the reliability of the devices, so that they can eliminate data from malfunctioning ones.

Workflows of Refactoring
Martin Fowler keynotes on the need for refactoring and different ways to approach it. You can view here part 2 of this presentation. Martin Fowler is an author, speaker, consultant and general loud-mouth on software development. He's the Chief Scientist at ThoughtWorks - an international application development company, and has written several books on software development and also writes articles regularly.

Finding Maturity in Your Metadata Strategy
The elusive concept here is the connection between all of these new and often repetitive ways of revisiting our information. Organizations continue to struggle with the need to map, the need to interpret and, ultimately, the need to identify. We’ve reached the world of “Metadata 2015.” Because our data will always exist in more than one place it is separated in some way, yet it is similar or absolutely the same in another. Most of us may think we are seeing things differently when we look at these fragmented pieces – whether in the cloud, in stored and downloaded segments, or on our devices. Often this is the case, but sometimes it really is not.

Tools for Project Management and Collaboration
Tools are great! We experiment, test, recommend, and implement tools frequently for clients. But, as you know, implementation and adoption can be two very different things. And even (or perhaps especially) with IT professionals, adoption can be a challenge. Why? IT pros are smart and often feel that the way they do things is the "best" way. They have their tools, and they tend to like them. They are busy and don't want to be bothered adopting a new system or tool. However, at some point, you are the boss. I like to provide leeway in the method, but I do need some standards. To that end, my team and I had several conversations where their input was requested and accepted.

Quote for the day

"The quality of a man's life is in direct proportion to his commitment to excellence, regardless of chosen field of endeavor." -- V. Lombardi

December 16, 2014

Finding critical business data -- fast
"We used to call it ‘complex event processing,’" he adds. But that approach required proprietary software and expensive servers, which limited usage. In contrast, one of today’s technologies, Hadoop, "is linearly scalable, and you can throw lots of hardware at it and use memory very effectively," he says. Roll into that the lower cost of flash memory, adds Baer, and "now we can process data very fast, and do more sophisticated processing than when you were bound by I/O."

The 5 Elements of A Killer Mobile App
By 2015, more than 780 million people will be mobile users only. This means they won’t own a laptop or desk computer. These 780 million users will be your customers, partners, business stakeholders, suppliers, and other business associates. As organizations begin to align their mobile first strategy with this shift in users, it’s important to focus on what these mobile apps must do.

APIs should not be copyrightable
The story of SMB and Samba is a good example of how non-copyrightable APIs spurred competition. When Windows became a dominent desktop operating system, its SMB protocol dominated simple networks. If non-windows computers wanted to communicate effectively with the dominant windows platform, they needed to talk to SMB. Microsoft didn't provide any documentation to help competitors do this, since an inability to communicate with SMB was a barrier to their competitors. However, Andrew Tridgell was able to deduce the specification for SMB and build an implementation for Unix, called Samba. By using Samba non-windows computers could collaborate on a network, thus encouraging the competition from Mac and Linux based systems.

This Linux grinch could put a hole in your security stocking
The fundamental flaw resides in the Linux authorization system, which can inadvertently allow privilege escalation, granting a user "root," or full administrative access. With full root access, an attacker would be able to completely control a system, including the ability to install programs, read data and use the machine as a launching point for compromising other systems. To date, Alert Logic has not seen any exploits that harness this vulnerability, nor did the research team find any existing mention of this hole in the vulnerability database maintained by the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), according to Stephen Coty, Alert Logic's director of threat research.

Frameworks and Leadership on Cyber-Risks
Just identifying and defining the risks is a daunting enough task. Stuart Levi, a partner with law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom who focuses on cyber-security, warns that any company with even a single computer connected to the internet is vulnerable. “Every public company—regardless of their industry, what they do, what data and information they have —needs to be focused on this issue,” he says. ... Aaron Weller, a managing director in data protection and privacy with PwC, said at Compliance Week West that companies need to think beyond compliance to make their data and their systems secure. “Compliance is not security,” he said

How CIOs Can Prepare for Healthcare ‘Data Tsunami’
"Identify who owns the data and build consensus on data definitions," Dunbrack says in an email. "Understanding what the data means is key to making data governance and interoperability work, and is essential for analytics, big data initiatives and quality reporting initiatives, among other things." To be sure, ironing out data governance policies within a healthcare organization is anything but a black-and-white process. Complicating matters significantly are the diverse and growing sources of medical data, each raising distinctive ownership and compliance questions.

Defining a Major IT Transformation Now Happening in Telecoms
"One of the things I'm looking at as operators go through this journey is that this is a cycle that will take between 10 and 15 years," Kelly told eWEEK during a break at the conference. "Most operators have a high capital expenditure structure--they have a lot of high sum costs in the infrastructure--and they're not going to abandon that. What they are trying to do is take advantage of opportunities in the digital services economy to compete against the over-the-top providers, mostly because their core businesses are under attack."

2015 will be the year Linux takes over the enterprise
This rise of Linux in the world of big data will have serious trickle down over the rest of the business world. We already know how fond enterprise businesses are of Linux and big data. What we don't know is how this relationship will alter the course of Linux with regards to the rest of the business world. My prediction is that the success of Linux with big data will skyrocket the popularity of Linux throughout the business landscape. More contracts for SuSE and Red Hat will equate to more deployments of Linux servers that handle more tasks within the business world. This will especially apply to the cloud, where OpenStack should easily become an overwhelming leader.

The First Agile and Lean Open Source Method for Continuous Improvement
There are no silver bullets, we only move forward by learning, experimenting and sharing our discoveries with each other. That is the spirit of Open Kanban to keep those communications lines open, to help people innovate, and collaborate across the aisles of Lean and Agile, a method where innovation and people who think different are welcome. As wonderful as it is to have a few people who think different and collaborate from different sides of Agile and Lean today, this is not enough, especially when they get attacked simply becauase they are seen as the rebels, the non-conformants, the ones who dare to challenge the establishment in their respective camps of Agile or Lean.

QA & Testing Budgets Are Rising for Financial Services Firms
The survey found that as many as 52 percent of organizations are investing more in transformational projects rather than maintaining legacy systems (48 percent). This includes developing new mobile, cloud, and big-data applications and systems. With more development, comes more risk. One application failure can quickly turn into a business process disaster, consumer backlash, and reputational damage -- reiterating the importance of QA and testing today.

Quote for the day:

"My definition of agile is that you accept input from reality, and you respond to it." -- Kent Beck