May 25, 2016

How Colocation and the Cloud Killed the Data Center

It’s clear that the cloud should be part of your IT strategy, even if your team has yet to determine how to leverage it. Many CIOs are stuck, having moved some workloads to the cloud but facing obstacles as they attempt to migrate the rest of their business. According to Gartner, security and IT complexity are the top reasons cloud strategies grind to a halt. For these teams, it’s important to remain educated about their companies’ individual needs, and seek services that can help meet them. In any case, when you’re dealing with the cloud, you’re dealing with remote IT resources. These require private networks with high levels of bandwidth and resiliency, and support from a robust data center provider.

Insurers might be reluctant to populate cyber incident database, says expert

"But cyber is the biggest insurable risk that the industry will have to meet, and it is critical to the economy. We’d like to see a not for profit, anonymised database covering things like business interruption costs, ransom demands, privacy breach claims and damage to IT systems." "If it is not a requirement to report these losses, then insurers are not going to have the data they need to provide the right cover. It would have to be mandated by parliament, but it would need to be proportionate and manageable," he said. Birdsey said that the UK's cyber insurance market is still "in its infancy" and that there is "limited cyber data available to insurers". However, he warned that insurers and businesses that buy cyber insurance might be wary of the de-anonymisation of data about cyber incidents input into a new database.

4 Questions that every Enterprise has before Migrating onto Cloud

Cloud migration should follow a well-defined strategy that weighs out the pros and cons of moving to the cloud. The major roadblocks could emanate from basic assumptions that lead to damage if not evaluated prior to the actual migration. Security gaps, interoperability issues, incompatibility of systems, rework of existing software applications can throw up unpleasant surprises. Before a business decides to move one or more processes to the cloud, it needs to understand that all applications may not benefit from the migration. Hence they need to ask the following questions to decide when to migrate, what to migrate and how to migrate, to unleash the power of cloud for their organization.

DevOps model, a profile in CIO leadership, change management

IT leaders must be able to articulate why and how a DevOps model of working will bring improvements, and they must be able to sell their vision to colleagues and staff alike. CIOs also need to shepherd their teams through the changes -- keeping workers on track and moving forward even though some will resist (as is typical anytime people are asked to do their jobs differently). CIOs will likely need to juggle staff, too, hiring new talent, retraining others and developing new skills in some so that those employees who once worked in isolated buckets can actually understand each other's work and how each role contributes to the final product. ... Berkholz said IT executives looking to bring DevOps into their environment need to focus on three pillars: culture, automation and measurement. But he also acknowledged that moving the dial in each of those areas is a challenge in and of itself.

More CIOs report to the CEO, underscoring IT’s rising importance

Snyder says the CIOs' rise to direct report and partner to the CEO means that talk of turf wars among CMOs, and more recently with CDOs, is fading. For example, while the number of CDOs spiked to 17 percent in 2015 from 7 percent in 2014 in their previous surveys, Harvey Nash and KPMG found that the number onlyrose only 2 percent to 19 percent for 2016. This suggests the CDO hype has peaked and that CIOs remain the most integral C-suite leader to shepherd the current transformation wave. Moreover, Snyder says that evidence that CMOs will control the bulk of technology spending is not materializing. While marketing may be spending more money on technology than it has in the past, it still requires CIOs to connect systems of engagement to back-end systems, including connecting newer cloud software to legacy systems.

A 2020 roadmap for corporate sustainability

"Look at your business, look at your household and think about why an electric vehicle makes sense," Britta Gross, director of advanced vehicle commercialization policy at General Motors, told more than 550 attendees on the first day of the conference. "There’s no good reason why there isn’t a plug-in vehicle in every driveway in this country right now." Our updated Ceres Roadmap expectations call on companies to prioritize electric vehicles in their logistics and fleets, and to provide employees with the infrastructure needed to charge their vehicles at work. I also heard about food companies upping their ambitions on climate and water issues, including General Mills, which is devoting far more attention these days to reducing water and carbon footprints in its vast supply chains compared to five years ago.

IoT increases cyber and legal risk, say experts

“The ability of IoT devices to sense, connect and react, their inability to carry complex circuitry or be upgraded, and their ability to create a physical attack vector such as disable the brakes on a vehicle also mean that we have to change the way we think about internet or cyber security,” said Kawalec. “Developers of IoT devices and systems need to consider everything from actuating physical attack, to connectivity and the importance of data, and the systems to support these devices going forward. When you embed them in concrete and build them into homes and hospitals, you need to think completely differently than you would about a Wi-Fi printer.” From a legal perspective, the dawn of the IoT era also means a potential increase in liability, especially in the light of new and planned data protection, privacy and information security regulations emerging in Europe and internationally, said Mark Taylor, partner at Osborne Clarke.

DevOps 2.0

For organizations, DevOps 2.0 brings the power of DevOps to non-technical team members. While this may sound risky, it actually empowers marketing, design, and business teams to control targeted visibility and testing without consuming engineering resources. Because feature rollout will be decoupled from code deployment, non-technical team members would be able to control the visibility of particular features without compromising the app’s integrity. This is primarily achieved by harnessing a feature flag user interface – or a comparable control panel that allows team members to target users via a GUI.

SD-WAN benefits create serious competition for MPLS

SD-WAN architecture aims to solve many of the problems with previous iterations of WAN technology through increased flexibility. Since SD-WAN technology is based on an overlay, it can be provisioned over any type of WAN connectivity: dedicated or Internet-based circuits. In addition, SD-WAN benefits include provisioning and management that is abstracted into a controller and configured from a central location. Even if you're comfortable with the existing Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) network, applications around segmentation and encryption make using SD-WAN over MPLS more attractive. ... SD-WAN abstracts any existing circuits, or underlay networks, into a single logical WAN connection. We can then classify traffic by connection and even aggregate links of disparate types together.

Even Strong Passwords Don't Cut It for Bank Payment Systems

2FA dramatically improves upon the lone password by requiring users to provide two verifying pieces of information (factors). Typically, the two factors are a password and a one-time code sent by SMS or email. Sometimes, a push notification, key fob, or fingerprint scan serve as the second factor. Payment systems should be the last place where a login ID and password alone are sufficient to send and receive money. Sadly, that’s not the case. Consider that most consumer payment systems allow users to access online accounts with a name and password only. Successful hackers can easily change the notification settings and transfer controls before filling their pockets, and the account holder might not notice the robbery for weeks. 2FA solutions would deflect more attacks, and properly implemented solutions would actually alert the account holder of suspicious activity.

Quote for the day:

"Nothing is more obvious than a product or service becoming a brand when it is has values that translate into fact." -- Richard Branson

May 24, 2016

What Are Hackers Up To These Days

"That large jump shows you that organizations are starting to do things correctly. They're not just earmarking security as [a secondary concern delegated to] their IT departments. They're actually paying attention, and paying attention in a really important fashion," says Sigler. Still, 41 percent is not a majority, and Sigler says he hopes to see a majority of organizations detecting breaches on their own in the future, because the sooner a company detects a compromise, the sooner it can "contain the damage." Ultimately, sticking to the security basics will go a long way toward keeping your systems safe, Sigler says. Even though attackers are savvy and getting savvier, if you set up firewalls and make sure you’re properly logging and monitoring your systems, your organization will rise above the "low-hanging fruits and easy targets criminals tend to target," he says. "It's not sexy, but a lot of organizations aren't even doing that much."

Cyber security is the biggest risk to the global financial system

"What we found, as a general matter so far, is a lot of preparedness, a lot of awareness but also their policies and procedures are not tailored to their particular risks," she said. "As we go out there now, we are pointing that out." White said SEC examiners were very pro-active about doing sweeps of broker-dealers and investment advisers to assess their defenses against a cyber attack. "We can't do enough in this sector," she said. Cyber security experts said her remarks represented the SEC’s strongest warning to date of the threat posed by hackers. A former member of the World Bank’s security team, Tom Kellermann, who is now chief executive of the investment firm Strategic Cyber Ventures LLC, called it "a historic recognition of the systemic risk facing Wall Street."

The inside story of how the Jeopardy-winning supercomputer was born

"There were fundamental areas of innovation that had to be done to go beyond Jeopardy - there was a tremendous amount of pre-processing, post-processing and tooling that we have added around the core engines," added Saxena. "It's the equivalent of getting a Ferrari engine then trying to build a whole race car around it. What we inherited was the core engine, and we said 'Okay, let's build a new thing that does all sort of things the original Jeopardy system wasn't required to do'." To get Watson from Jeopardy to oncology, there were three processes that the Watson team went through: content adaptation, training adaptation, and functional adaptation - or, to put it another way, feeding it medical information and having it weighted appropriately; testing it out with some practice questions; then making any technical adjustments needed - tweaking taxonomies, for example.

Skills Gap Also Includes ‘Failure to Communicate’

The survey also found that technical proficiency in specific software programs like Hadoop is less of a problem than basic skills like writing, public speaking and problem-solving skills. “Effective writing, speaking and critical thinking enables you to accomplish business goals and get ahead,” added Dan Schawbel, research director at Future Workplace. “No working day will be complete without writing an email or tackling a new challenge, so the sooner you develop these skills, the more employable you will become.” Once those skills are developed, the fastest way to a promotion and pay raise are programming skills such as Scala and enterprise communications tools related to Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) platforms. Those were followed by Hadoop fluency, familiarity with cloud computing and software development kits for Android and iOS devices.

JPMorgan Chase: CEO Dimon Advocates Expansion into Fintech

Banks are pursuing digital banking while reducing their brick-and-mortar branch network, largely to restructure their business and compete with financial innovation start-ups— or simply, fintechs. Most recently, HSBC Holdings PLC announced reduction of its branch network in India by almost half. The bank emphasized on “the right mix of digital versus physical branch distribution.” ... The significant decline reflects a shift in customer preference to digital banking. Brett King, founder of the mobile finance app Moven, said that “if you think about the viability of the branch, the question has to be: are customers visiting? We have a rapid decline in visits.” Meanwhile, certain banks are confident that branches, despite the declining transactions, are an essential part of modern economies. Paul Donofrio, Bank of America chief financial officer, asserted that “it’s more about they’re (customers) coming there because of some life event…not for everyday transaction banking.”

Put people at the heart of your SOA governance model

SOA governance practices tend to focus on maximizing the efficiency of development and deployment, so all the pieces of your infrastructure work reliably and effectively together. As such, it's steeped in services catalogs, standard policies, testing processes and improvement mechanisms. Without these things, developers run the risk of idiosyncratic code, duplicate functionalities or conflicts with other apps. And there's no question this would be absolute death in a present-day environment when there are so many computing platforms, each of which often must call the same sets of information and participate in the same business processes. ... But if the people relying on your technology don't know how -- or aren't encouraged -- to properly handle the information on which they rely and on which the SOA system operates, then you have nothing.

What Does Your Company Culture Code Reveal?

Defining a culture in business is very challenging. Cracking the culture code and living it out is downright impossible unless leaders and employees are constantly embracing it and modeling it day in and day out. In my opinion, it starts at the top. However, a key ingredient is in the searching for and onboarding of new employees. If this process is not done strategically with the explanation of the company culture code at the top of the list, your desired culture will dissolve in a matter of months. This can occur, especially if new employees are coming on board all the time, and at all levels of the company. Here is a list of a few attributes I have experienced that are commonly used in creating successful corporate cultures. Does your company embody any of these? Hmm... maybe it should.

DevOps Lessons Learned at Microsoft Engineering

Software engineer accountabilities transitioned to not only building and testing but ultimately to the health of production. This accountability shift has two aspects. First, we want the feature teams obsessed with understanding our customers to get a unique insight into the problems they face, and how they can be raving fans of the experiences those teams are building. Second, we need the feature teams and individual engineers to own what they are delivering into production. The feature teams have the power, control and authority over all of the parts of the software process.  Service engineers have to know the application architecture to be more efficient troubleshooters, suggest architectural changes to the infrastructure, be able to develop and test things like infrastructure as code and automation scripts, and make high-value contributions that impact the service design or management.

How IoT Will Change The Job Market

"The IoT has the potential to change the human experience the same way the assembly line and the Industrial revolution did. It changes the human-machine relationship in similar ways; machines will soon be able to do repetitive tasks driven by their past experiences," he says. That means more time and energy for solving problems by creating technology that can address pollution, save energy, using biotechnology to create new ways to grow crops or generate electrical power through the use of technology, he says. If you can use IoT in a data center, for instance, to figure out optimal cooling levels and regulate power consumption, you can help companies save energy without having as many personnel involved. IoT can help reduce the amount of repetitive work, and that will free up people to do more learning, exploring and creating new ideas, new knowledge.

SWIFT asks customers to help it end a string of bank frauds

Knowledge base entries show that SWIFT has updated its Alliance Access software several times in recent months. One of the tips warns that, while keeping the software up to date is important, it is not sufficient in itself. "While the software update provides additional integrity verification and alerting capabilities for this particular modus operandi on your interface to the SWIFT network, it will not help you protect against all malwares or your internal credentials being compromised," SWIFT wrote in another recent letter to customers, entitled "Security Issues." SWIFT also offers more general security guidance to its customers and says it intends to update this shortly, reinforcing its recommendations for securing access to the network. The current security guidance is sorely in need of an update, according to Doug Gourlay, corporate vice president of security software vendor Skyport Systems.

Quote for the day:

"Life is bristling with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to cultivate one's garden." -- Voltaire,

May 23, 2016

The evolution of IoT: Fog computing

The effective resolution may just be a simple decentralisation of the very computing process and data acquisition. The idea of relocating 90 per cent of the process to a local cloud computing server, and concentrating our data requests to only those which seek for outside information, is called Fog Computing. This means that we will have a piece of hardware, presumably not larger than our current Internet modem. And while today all of the cloud computing process happens in the data centre of our service provider, or in the data centre of our platform provider, in the future we will probably have our very own, private cloud computing server that will handle all the grunt work. This method will allow us to have the channels of communication open for much more important tasks, such as real time acquisition. It will also have a positive effect on the current, alarming state of cybercrime.

An interactive C++ interpreter, built on the top of LLVM and Clang libraries

Cling is an interactive C++ interpreter, built on the top of LLVM and Clang libraries. Its advantages over the standard interpreters are that it has command line prompt and uses just-in-time (JIT) compiler for compilation. Many of the developers (e.g. Mono in their project called CSharpRepl(link is external)) of such kind of software applications name them interactive compilers. One of Cling's main goals is to provide contemporary, high-performance alternative of the current C++ interpreter in the ROOT project - CINT. The backward-compatibility with CINT is major priority during the development. ... Cling has its own command line, which looks like any other Unix shell. The emacs-like command line editor is what we call interactive command line or interactive shell.

Embracing SDN & NFV to Optimize Enterprise Data Center Operations

A Gartner report indicates that by 2017, 10 percent of customer appliances are going to be virtualized, up from today’s 1 percent. Industry analysts are forecasting that more network traffic will be virtualized over the next five years. The objective of NFV is to use both commodity computing and available storage solutions to reduce – if not eliminate – limitations associated with proprietary hardware. NFV is a network architecture concept that leverages IT virtualization technologies to virtualize entire classes of network node functions (firewall, router, IDS, etc.) into building blocks that may be connected, or chained, to create communication services. Enterprises are shifting from in-house data centers to co-location facilities. In addition, different elements of traditional IT infrastructure are also shifting from physical servers to virtualized and software-defined architectures and cloud-enabled services.

7 programming languages we love to hate -- but can’t live without

In theory, we’re supposed to be able to use the power of the pointer arithmetic to do superclever feats, but does anyone risk doing more than allocating data structures? Is it even a good idea to be too clever with pointers? That’s how code starts to break. If you’re able to be clever, it often requires writing a very long comment to document it, pretty much sucking up all the time you saved being clever. Can anyone remember all the rules for writing C code to avoid adding all the possible security holes, like buffer overruns? But we have no choice. Unix is written in C, and it runs most cellphones and most of the cloud. Not everyone who writes code for these platforms needs to use C, but someone has to stay current with the asterisks and curly brackets, or else everything will fall apart.

Simplifying Data Retrieval with CQRS in ASP.NET MVC

In an ASP.NET MVC application one of the responsibilities of the Controller is to build the ModelView object that will be passed to the View. That ModelView object is almost certainly going to hold a bunch of unstructured data for the View that won't correspond to any single entity. Typically, then, that ModelView object is a kind of Data Transfer Object (DTO) that exists just long enough to get the data out of the data source and into the page's HTML. Which raises the question of where that DTO should be built. My first choice is to make the Controller Action methods responsible for building the View DTOs. The simplest solution is for the Controller to directly access the entity model, retrieve the entity objects required and load them into a DTO without modification. In that scenario, the DTO might look this:

The Dawn of Banking Voice Technology

When Santander UK recently launched a voice assistant in its student-geared mobile banking app, SmartBank, it marked the first bank in the U.K. to roll out a voice technology offering. In partnership with Nuance Communications, the same Massachusetts-based company behind the voice of Siri, the bank is piloting the technology in order to initially promote voice-activated functionality around spending tracking. Just weeks removed from the launch, PYMNTS caught up with Ed Metzger, Santander UK’s Head of Innovation, Technology and Operations, to talk about initial impressions and what’s next for voice technology in banking. The response thus far? Phenomenal. While Metzger declined to divulge specific early results, he spoke about the general kind of usage Santander is seeing early on with the voice technology.

Hotel API strategy brings UK chain closer to digital guest -- and customer data

"We didn't have APIs much on the radar [until 2013], but the need for it emerged during our digital transformation, as we started to look at how we could create apps and services to give to our customer that would differentiate us," he explained, noting that the digital transformation effort was launched by new CEO Mike DeNoma. (The transformation, in addition to the API strategy, involved junking GLH's legacy systems for modern, cloud-based services.) Hewertson said GLH needed to build its hotel API so it could connect directly with multiple online travel sites without developers having to understand the complexities of GLH's back-end hotel-booking system.

Using ‘Inflection Points’ to Overcome Fintech Startup Distribution Challenges

It’s not all inflection points behind SoFi’s early successes, however. The inflection point merely provides the momentum; the product itself also has to be superior (SoFi offers better rates, better customer service, and so on). Furthermore, SoFi differentiates itself from existing financial institutions by offering other services like job placement and special loan and resource programs for entrepreneurs. Inflection points aren’t just big, obvious life moments like graduations and mortgages though — they can occur at a micro-scale, too, as with large purchases. For example, what happens when a millennial just out of college needs to buy a mattress? Fintech company Affirm (an a16z investment) captures customers at such moments and, more interestingly, at the point of sale.

Software-defined networking touches every industry segment

Because of the relative immaturity of SDNs and the fact that ACI is still relatively new, there is some industry chatter that ACI isn’t being adopted. Also, I think early in the cycle Cisco was talking about both Nexus switching deployments and ACI together, causing some confusion. Nexus is part of ACI but can be deployed independently. Nexus deployments might turn into ACI in the future but do not need to, as Nexus customers want the freedom of choice for their SDN solution. Many Cisco customers choose to implement a programmable network or programmable fabric. As a Cisco watcher, I’ve been curious with respect to what ACI traction has been like. On the last earnings call, Cisco stated it has over 1,800 paying ACI customers, which makes it the market lead by number of deployments.

How CIOs can guide digital business transformation

As in any endeavor, your team will ultimately determine your relative level of success in a digital business. CIOs need to think beyond building a solid IT team and look for the digital business visionaries. Team members who live and breathe at the intersection of technology and strategy. The winning foundation of your digital business will be built on a team of aspiring individuals who understand your business, your current market, potential new markets and view all of these through a digital lens. This pedigree of technology and strategy should be applied to the expectations of both your internal team and the external partners you work with. A collective culture that simultaneously shares ideas and is passionate about technology will lead to the creation of new and unique business offerings.

Quote for the day:

"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." -- Eleanor Roosevelt