May 04, 2015

Signs Point To A Coming Post-Cloud Era
DevOps today has an impact on how quickly and reliably businesses can develop new software and put it into operation. It seeks to eliminate the divide between software development and data center operations and to ensure that what developers produce will run efficiently in production settings. The main advantages may be improvements in business applications and better revenue as a result. But the purpose of improving technology goes beyond enhancing a narrow revenue stream. The real goal of technological progress is to do things more efficiently and to make possible services that had been impossible before. In the future, DevOps will allow frequent software updates on many other fronts, making Web services a more powerful vehicle for the intelligent use of fresh information, Weaver said. He ticked off several efficiencies that will be routinely pursued in the post-cloud world.

The Hackers’ New Weapons: Routers and Printers
NSFocus also recorded an increase in a technique that can trick devices such as routers and printers into participating in a denial-of-service attack without having to compromise them with malware. Such attacks work by exploiting a communication protocol called SSDP, which many devices use to check in with the company that owns or operates them. The protocol is designed in a way that makes it possible to ask a device to send information to a different server. That feature can be used to stage a denial-of-service attack by directing many devices to repeatedly send information to a server running a particular website. Rishi Agrawal, chief evangelist at NSFocus, says that the tactic is likely to become more common. Staging attacks that way can be easier to use than controlling compromised computers, and the supply of home and office devices that could be used is large and is likely to grow, he says.

How the Orlando airport went fully wireless
The primary purpose of the mobile application is indoor navigation. While the number of APs and beacons may seem like a lot, the public spaces in the airport covers over 3 million square feet over the five terminals. The mobile application allows travelers to quickly find their ticket counter, terminal, gate, a restaurant, baggage claim area, and look up flight information. The application is also the first airport mobile application to feature a "blue dot" experience, similar to what Disney offers, that indicates where a traveler is and provides a turn-by-turn path to the selected destination. In addition to indoor navigation services, the application now allows customers to select other services and find information about them.

Podcast: LeanUX and DevOps: A Match Made In Heaven
Our guest on the podcast this week is Jeff Sussna, Founder of Ingineering.IT. We discuss the parallels between LeanUX and DevOps, identifying how each can benefit from the other’s methodologies. LeanUX uses nimble processes to create a digital experience designed for the end user, while DevOps uses three ways to integrate feedback between development and operations teams. Listen in to learn how to successfully create a digital service offering by incorporating LeanUX and DevOps processes.

R.I.P., Windows Media Center
That decision shouldn't come as a surprise. Media Center, once a signature feature of Windows "premium" editions, has been on life support for years. The team developing Media Center features was broken up in 2009, shortly after delivering the final Media Center code for Windows 7. Microsoft grudgingly offered an extra-cost Windows Media Center Pack add-on for Windows 8, which installed the required codecs and Media Center features to that version, but it was a straight port that included no new functionality. It was introduced with a post that pointedly declared that Media Center was not part of "the future of entertainment." And with the rise of the "cord-cutting" movement, with consumers increasingly turning to streaming services and ditching cable subscriptions, it's hard to fault the economics of Microsoft's decision.

Staying Connected When Working Remote
All the advantages can be turned into disadvantages: no travel time might mean no separation between your leisure/home space and your workspace; no interruptions might mean loneliness and being out of touch; being able to work from anywhere means that work might turn into an addiction or a burden etc The one piece of advice I would give is that you define your ideal scenario – and ideal still means realistic and achievable considering your own circumstances. If you feel like your clients bombard you with emails, set some boundaries. If you feel like you have no control over your schedule, create a timetable and switch off your wifi during periods of rest. If you find yourself stuck in one location, find other places where you can work or take “creative thinking” time off while doing a physical activity.

Take Emotion Out Of Agile Transformation
Where delays and mistakes creep in, our estimates can be far from reality. Or, if teams aren't following processes or rules, we don't take time to figure out why. Kissler compared this "honor reality" work to being a student, in what she calls the need to "go and see" what's really happening. Kissler has gotten pushback on this idea from people who label it micromanagement. "No, it really isn't," she said. "You're going and helping the team; you're connecting to the work they're doing. You're showing that it's important. You're asking questions. You're not telling them what to do; you're actually becoming a student. You're getting connected to their reality." ... "Make the conversation as much about data as possible and not about emotion," Kissler advised. "A lot of the skeptics come around once they see it."

Nine questions for hybrid cloud integration
The good news is your organization has data and applications in several clouds. The bad news is very little of it is integrated. But you're far from alone. While market research firm Infonetics said 74% of the companies it surveyed had a hybrid cloud strategy by the end of 2014, the integration part of that strategy remains murky at best for many companies. We asked integration vendors, analysts and industry experts which nine questions companies should be asked when they're putting a hybrid cloud application integration strategy in place. Here is their collective wisdom:

Advisory boards: The when, why and how
Advisory boards of all companies should ideally be composed of individuals with various forms of experience and expertise. That is, the advisory board, like the board of directors, should be diverse. Frequently, the core of an advisory board will consist of someone with finance skills, perhaps a legal expert and another person who has marketing savvy. These are building blocks that are essential in any business. These diverse skill sets can provide the company with robust guidance and improved consideration of the various aspects of any dilemma or decision. The size of an advisory board, like a board of directors, varies. In both cases, it is more useful to have fewer but highly engaged and committed directors than idlers. Advisory board members should be selected for qualifications first and then for passion, commitment to the business and availability.

How fear and self-preservation are driving a cyber arms race
Hacking isn't new, but the attention paid to it is unprecedented. In 2014, The New York Times devoted more than 700 articles to discussing data breaches, up from 125 the year prior. Verizon, in its annual cybersecurity report released in April, concluded "data breach," had become part of the American public's psyche. In the past year, it's happened to police departments, banks, schools, the Ukrainian military and even some email systems at the US State Department and White House. And now it's terrifying corporate boardrooms. Facing that threat is costly. Companies and governments worldwide are expected to spend $80 billion on hardware and software to protect themselves against cybersecurity attacks this year, up from $74 billion in the last year, according to information technology research firm Gartner.

Quote for the day:

"Winners have simply formed the habit of doing things losers don't like to do." -- Albert Gray

May 03, 2015

Thinking Differently About Risk
The growing problem of cyber threats is also a relatively new and increasingly important component of overall risk for almost every business. In addition to the very real threat of clandestine hackers sneaking past firewalls and stealing vital customer and business data, cyber threats also include more mundane concerns, such as an employee inadvertently releasing proprietary information on the Internet. In the latter case, a bad problem can very quickly be made worse if the information is picked up by social media, where it can spread virally around the world in a matter of days, if not hours. So as always, the benefits of new technologies must be balanced against the new and previously unknown risks that they engender.

Six successful innovators and the lessons we should learn from them
Ask someone to think of an entrenched and immutable industry, and automotive would likely make a list of his or her top ten. With a century of history, entrenched competitors, and a business model that's changed very little, automotive would seem like the last industry a startup with an unconventional product would attempt to enter. However, Elon Musk and Tesla Motors made a bold entrance into this market with an unconventional product and a business model so different that it's faced everything from skepticism to legal challenges. Just because a system, process, competitor, or even a whole industry seems monolithic and immune to change doesn't make it so.

Agile versus Architecture
Planning and Management make the development safer for all though. They makes the development fault tolerant. Say a risk materialises, a key developer moves on, falls sick or... The planning should have have considered that to avoid disaster, at some cost, indeed. Hence, even if the principles sound liberating, an all Agile approach of development is a risk in itself because it may endanger the project.  After all, the legacy managed approach is there for this very reason: to provide external visibility, reduce risks and dependencies and render a development as predictable as possible. Without forecasting effort and costs, the project cannot be even sanctioned.

Agile Enterprise Architecture – A Good to Great Evolution
There are substantial benefits when we effectively apply the intentional architecture, provided the iteration is not slowed down. An Agile Architect is a role in an agile team who provides inputs and technical direction based on the Architecture vision to the enterprise and ensures that the design and architecture of an individual application is in conformance with enterprise architecture vision. ... Being Great at anything requires practice. Agile teams needs to use tools and techniques which support constant change e.g. Continuous Integration, testing and refactoring Bottom line “Think long term and act short term “. Understand the agility the business needs, understand what helps you to align to the Enterprise Architecture Vision and choose design wisely!

How to Solve a Difficult Forecasting Problem
Too often, in dealing with our urgent business forecasting problems, we go for the first type of costly and time-consuming solution. Sometimes it may not be obvious that there are alternative approaches. Or sometimes we may have hired an unscrupulous consultant who will (of course) suggest a costly and time-consuming answer. Consider the apparent problem of generating highly granular forecasts, such as by customer/item for a manufacturer, or store/item for a retailer. There can be millions of time series at this most granular level. It may appear that we need to forecast all of them. So we buy terabytes of storage and the fastest processors to be able to model and forecast each of these millions of series.

The Horror of Hybrid Cloud and the real reason why you needed a Chief Digital Officer
Don't get me wrong, there are very strategic CIOs out there but these aren't the problem, in those companies you see adaptation happening already. However if you had found yourself lumbered with a non strategic CIO then these are the people you should have been planning to replace with a more strategic CIO - which after all was the real reason we hired CDOs (Chief Digital Officers).  Assuming you didn't do something crass and get lumbered with a non strategic CDO (i.e. constantly waffling on about innovation, disruption and story telling without any clear understanding of the landscape) then now is probably the time to be considering that change. If, however you only hired a CDO because every other company did then heaven help you.

The Truth About Smartphone Apps That Secretly Connect to User Tracking and Ad Sites
The user tracking sites that apps connect to are less pervasive. More than 70 percent of apps do not connect to any user tracking sites. But those that do can be extravagant, some connecting to more than 800 user tracking sites. What’s more many of these are created by organizations that Google has designated with “top developer status.” The worst offender is an app called Eurosport Player which connects to 810 different user tracking sites. A small proportion of the apps even seem designed to connect to suspicious sites connected with malware. Most users of these apps will have little, if any, knowledge of this kind of behavior. So Vigneri and co have developed their own app that monitors the behavior of others on a user’s smartphone and reveals exactly which external sites these apps are attempting to connect to.

DevOps style performance monitoring for .NET
Recently I began looking for an application performance management solution for .NET. My requirements are code level visibility, end to end request tracing, and infrastructure monitoring in a DevOps production setup. DotTrace is clearly the most well-known tool for code level visibility in development setups, but it can’t be used in a 24×7 production setup. DotTrace also doesn’t do typical Ops monitoring. Unfortunately a Google search didn’t return much in terms of a tool comparison for .NET production monitoring. So I decided to do some research on my own. Following is a short list of well-known tools in the APM space that support .NET. My focus is on finding an end-to-end solution and profiler-like visibility into transactions.

Cloud Native Architectures - a Conversation with Matt Stine
... there are a lot of aspects of what we're now calling microservices that sound very similar to SOA when compared to the first several paragraphs of SOA’s Wikipedia page. I think the real difference is in how SOA was monetized by vendors. Their focus was normally on putting everything into this new piece of middleware called an Enterprise Service Bus that was replacing all of the other large pieces of middleware that were no longer in vogue to sell. Not to say that ESB technology is bad; it was the way that we were using it, replacing one big monolithic thing with another monolithic thing; taking all the complexity from here and shoving it into there. None of that was actually required to make a move to a more service-oriented architecture.

Traceability and Modeling of Requirements in Enterprise Architecture 
As we can see, functional and nonfunctional requirements are members of both solution and problem space. The idea is that requirements are used as a bridge between the problem and the solution space and in order to cross this bridge we have to move from generic, high abstraction level requirements, to more refined ones. On the one hand the generic requirements describe how the enterprise architect formulates the given architectural problem, and on the other hand the more refined requirements provide the rationalization behind specific design decisions

Quote for the day:

"Failure is a prerequisite for great success. If you want to succeed faster, double your rate of failure." -- Brian Tracy

May 02, 2015

The Swiss Army Knife for Technical Leads
Working as Technical Lead is very exciting; every day you have new challenges, new problems to solve and a great deal of satisfaction. However, sometimes you need some tips in order to improve and empower your teams. There are several techniques to ensure the quality of the products we are working on, but the most important, and powerful at the same time, is, without any doubt, the feedback loops. As you know, working on a new software is more empiric than scientific, which is why we need metrics and small, but incremental, improvements if we want to meet the needs of our users or clients. Feedback loops are a very basic, but powerful methodology designed to help us and our teams to succeed in their daily tasks. With feedback loops, you are sure you'll get the feedback and metrics that will allow you to improve your projects.

Big Data and Advanced Technology Fuel Gamification in the Workplace
Employees find motivation in doing their job when there are checkpoints of measurement in place. Gaming techniques have been incorporated into applications to activate this factor. For example, global cloud-computing company created the game Badgeville for its CRM product’s employee training and development. In the app, users participate in missions designed around crucial sales processes and behaviors, earning points and badges along the way. The gaming principles integrated in this platform are both a form of engagement for Salesforce employees to adjust habits and an analytics tool that gauges insights of usage by employee.

Federated Security Domains with SAS® and SAML
This paper will introduce the reader to federated identity and give a technical overview of what is perhaps the most important standard in this space, the Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) 2.0 standard. Designed as layers of standards on top of each other, at the outer-most layer are SAML profiles that implement the use cases we are interested in, single sign-on, federated identity, and others. We will discuss the layers that make up the SAML 2.0 standard and look at how SAML distinguishes between the roles of the identity provider and service provider. ... SAML 2.0 is a very flexible standard that supports multiple communication mechanisms known as bindings, and ways of including information about users in the assertions. This unfortunately means that some troubleshooting will probably be required to get things working.

The 10 weirdest job titles in tech
While the IT industry has always been innovative, forward-thinking and, to make a sweeping generalization, populated by folks who are just a little bit odd, the last few years have seen that quirkiness reflected in IT job descriptions. From "Digital Prophet" to "Evangelists," the sky's the limit when it comes to describing roles at IT firms. And while there's some argument about the benefits and drawbacks of off-the-wall titles, there's no question that the trend is here to stay. Here, has put together the ten weirdest IT job titles.

‘We Use Machine Learning Algorithms to Save Millions of Dollars’
Understanding the linear or nonlinear relationships between different KPIs to get the best possible insights is the second most important job. Understanding the customers, suppliers based on data and then classification or clustering them is another important job. Here analysts use R and python languages for doing predictive analytics and optimization. ... We try and solve business problems more accurately with help of machine learning. Having solved it and built the confidence of stakeholders, our team has started new projects on prediction, classification, clustering and optimization. All these initiatives have helped our company save millions of dollars with the help of accurate prediction of demands and understanding of complex relationship between different KPIs.

Trends in Information Governance: eDiscovery and Big Data
Organizations have the best chance for success by concentrating on the highest risk and biggest pain points that can benefit from IG. IT’s domain has a big claim, particularly with unstructured data. Unstructured data rates are hitting 75-80% of corporate data, and data growth is increasing 35-50% year-over-year. In the midst of this massive data growth, IT is directly responsible for data lifecycle management, user access, data security, and compliance. They are also frequently involved with eDiscovery collections and big data analysis. These represent big challenges – and IG tools concentrating on unstructured data directly benefit all of these processes. Introducing IG into the data management domain is best done with a combination of technology toolsets and organization priorities that drive policy settings.

Embracing Disruption When Transitioning to the New Style of IT
Startups make innovation look easy. Seemingly out of nowhere, young and vibrant companies emerge to tackle long-standing business challenges. Established organizations, on the other hand, are often bound to rigorous compliance processes, shareholder obligations, and multi-year corporate planning cycles — disruption is seemingly impossible. As the recent survey from HP points out, 75 percent of established firms1 currently lack the qualities of ‘digital disruptors’ within their industries. These organizations recognize a need for innovation but lack the capabilities to develop or execute a formal strategy. But all is far from lost. As companies begin to make sense of their data assets, complex security challenges, and options for scalable infrastructure, there is a window of opportunity for IT executives to build innovative cultures within their organizations.

Bitcoin Entrepreneurs Scramble to Appeal to the Masses
The technology underlying the currency is still in its early days, they argue, and the potential to build compelling products and services on top of it is still being realized. A growing number of startups are scrambling to develop apps they believe will inspire mainstream use of money that isn’t backed by any government. “A billion dollars has been invested in this industry in the past 24 months,” said Barry Silbert, the founder of the financial technology firm SecondMarket and an investor in 48 Bitcoin-focused startups, to an audience at the Inside Bitcoins conference. “We’re just getting started.”

Cisco Services chief talks about the network provider’s big data plans
Really it is about streaming data on the router and let’s assume we are right and there will be 20 billion devices about to be connected or let’s go lower to 10 billion or even five billion it’s still huge amount. They will all have propriety protocols and be able to capture data in that device. That data never goes out or into one silo or not available to others. What is going to happen is they will all talk and if we think we have the biggest data flush today it’s just a start on what digitalization is? In a classic example, look at the way jet engine are produced. A jet engine takes in 1TB per hour of data. So if you have four on a plane and that plane is flying for 12 hours how do you compute that? You need real-time streaming of the analytics and what we do is communication technology to store it.

Companies must teach workers to swim in new oceans of data
Data is the element they all share in common, and it's affecting more than just the executive ranks. In the business world's headlong rush to collect as much data about as many things as possible as quickly as it can, a question has been left for later: How do you turn those massive volumes into practical value? Turns out, "later" is now, and there's a crushing shortage of specialized data scientists. Few companies, meanwhile, even have a plan for bolstering their data talent. At virtually every level of the organization, staffers are being asked to cope with and find meaning in more data than ever before.

Quote for the day:

“True leaders bring out your personal best. They ignite your human potential”.” -- John Paul Warren