April 21, 2014

802.11ac standard: How did we get here?
Wireless technology began developing in the early 1970s and has since become an everyday necessity for both consumer and enterprise. The 802.11 standard, which governs the technology's development, has gone through several facelifts in the 17 years since the specification was first created. Today, unfettered access to data has revolutionized the industrial world, fueling the growth of efficiency, productivity and ultimately revenues for businesses worldwide. SearchNetworking created this visual timeline that illustrates key events in the evolution of the 802.11 standard.

The enterprise products with disruptive potential for 2014
Innovation in productivity and collaboration applications have continued apace and I omitted most of them here, since I'll cover them separately in a future exploration. However, despite growing enthusiasm, I find that workers often don't do well with excessive novelty when it comes to their business applications. While there are many interesting new tools emerging all the time, most of them are likely to fade away as they fail to find an audience. Nevertheless, it's one of the more exciting areas, especially as the innovation level at the top end of the product space is more limited.

Contributions of Individual Programming Languages to Software Development
In this blog post, I look at the contributions of several different programming languages to our discipline. In most cases, the listed language was not the very first to introduce the concept or feature, but was the first to make it popular or "mainstream." The purpose of this post is NOT to state which programming language is best or why one is the best thing since sliced bread while another is the worse thing to ever happen to a software developer. I also don't cover markup "languages" such as XML or HTML in this post, though they obviously have had significant influence on software development.

3 Benefits of Mining POS Gold
When retailers were asked to name their best systems or operations decision in 2013, the top answer was focusing on mobile and traditional Point of Sale (POS). In the same 2014 Tech Spending Survey from Integrated Solutions for Retailers (ISR), POS hardware and software headed the list of projected planned investments for this year. Those results shouldn’t be surprising. Advanced POS technology now enables retailers to collect an array of granular data on customer activity and product sales. Putting this information to work can provide retailers with a critical strategic edge. Here are three areas where POS information can make a difference:

Even Good Employees Hoard Great Ideas
What most companies should focus on first is creating an environment, or a culture, that fosters innovation. For example, in the case of the employee wanting an NDA before sharing her idea, the underlying issue may not have been money, but rather commitment and trust. For some reason, this employee didn’t feel that part of her job was to help the company come up with new ways of working, and she wasn’t excited about helping the company improve; she was only innovating because it was good for her. At the same time, she didn’t trust her manager or colleagues to explore or implement her idea, because she was afraid that she wouldn’t be recognized for her contribution. Paying her for the idea likely wouldn’t resolve these issues; rather, it might reinforce them.

Satellite communication systems are rife with security flaws, vulnerable to hackers
"We uncovered what would appear to be multiple backdoors, hardcoded credentials, undocumented and/or insecure protocols, and weak encryption algorithms." "These vulnerabilities allow remote, unauthenticated attackers to compromise the affected products," the researchers said. "In certain cases no user interaction is required to exploit the vulnerability; just sending a simple SMS or specially crafted message from one ship to another ship would be successful for some of the SATCOM systems."

Dark alleys ahead when SDN automation meets Internet of Things
For IoT to work, we'll have to turn our network security strategies upside down. Today's networks are unapologetically skeptical, even hostile. If someone wants bandwidth, if they intend to pass traffic, we place the burden on proof-of-policy compliance that involves the device, the user, or a contextual combination of the two. If we define an endpoint as a person/process, plus context, plus device, we find that we put enough hoops in place that it's relatively expensive for endpoints to add themselves to a network of their choosing. Today endpoints need sponsors.

Bart Perkins: How to keep projects on track
The problems didn't come out of nowhere, of course. But IT leadership can fix problems only if they're known. And problems that fester are more difficult to fix. Unfortunately, project staff can feel strong but subtle pressure to keep problems to themselves. They worry that they won't be perceived as team players if they report any concerns. Less experienced staff can feel an unfounded optimism that convinces them that the project team will be able to recover from missed deadlines by working harder. In the case of the Fortune 500 company cited above, all six failing projects had executive sponsors who were politically powerful and known to attack bearers of bad news. Nobody wanted to raise a red flag and admit that their project was in trouble.

'BYOS' Should Replace BYOD
Wearables take us to that next level of mobility: the fully connected life, where information is available anywhere, anytime. That's a serious concern for those of us who need to manage the BYOS world. If you think smartphones present challenges when it comes to management and security, what are we supposed to do when executives want to access corporate data from their connected cars? Almost half of Baby Boomers consider it vital to access the phone in the vehicle for business and applications, according to an IDC research report.

10 Top Information Security Threats for the Next Two Years
The information security threat landscape is constantly evolving. To help you navigate the terrain, each year the Internet Security Forum (ISF) -- a nonprofit association that assesses security and risk management issues on behalf of its members -- issues its Threat Horizon report to provide members with a forward-looking view of the biggest security threats over a two-year horizon. What follows are the 10 biggest threats on the horizon through 2016 that your organization may have to manage and mitigate, along with commentary from Steve Durbin, the ISF's global vice president.

Quote for the day:

"You have reached the pinnacle of success as soon as you become uninterested in money, compliments, or publicity." -- Thomas Wolfe