June 20, 2014

The Internet as we know it is dying
All is not well on the Web. While the particulars of each outburst of consternation and anger vary significantly, a common theme connects them all: The relentless corporatization and centralization of control over Internet discourse is obviously not serving the public interest. The good stuff gets co-opted, bought out, or is reduced to begging for spare change on the virtual street corner. The best minds of our generation have been destroyed by web metrics, dragging themselves across a vast wasteland in search of the next clickbait headline. At Twitch TV, the gamers are worried that Google’s “copyright monster” will tame their freewheeling Wild West and obliterate years of work.

Fast data: The next step after big data
Like Kafka, some NewSQL systems are built around shared-nothing clustering. Load is distributed among cluster nodes for performance. Data is replicated among cluster nodes for safety and availability. To handle increasing loads, nodes can be transparently added to the cluster. Nodes can be removed — or fail — and the rest of the cluster will continue to function. Both the database and the message queue are designed without single points of failure. These features are the hallmarks of systems designed for scale. In addition, Kafka and some NewSQL systems have the ability to leverage clustering and dynamic topology to scale, without eschewing strong guarantees.

Mobile security, privacy and future challenges
Modern mobile applications are distributed using centralized application stores, which is a recent trend in application distribution. While centralized application distribution is advantageous, this approach could also potentially lead to facilitating centralized distribution of Trojan horse applications, backed and given the stamp of approval of the application store vendor’s reputation. There can also be challenges with patching and updates. Keeping current with mobile platform releases by providing timely upgrades and patches on an ongoing basis is critical to reducing vulnerabilities. This is especially challenging on the Android platform due to its fragmentation. Loading mobile applications by means other than application store distribution can potentially lead to security or privacy exposures. The typical examples are USB or browser installs.

What cloud providers still get wrong, and what customers could do better
"One of the things that really gets my goat — normally enough for me to stop any relationship with a cloud provider — is when they go directly to the business with a sales pitch effectively saying, 'We can do this without involving your IT department'," Rammal said. "Sounds lovely — up until they need to integrate with some of the legacy environment. Then suddenly we're left with a badly thought out, badly [drafted] plan. So that's a definite a no-no to me. "The world of IT has changed substantially. We're not the blockers that we may once have been. Cloud companies need to understand they need to work with us on that process."

Speed in Software Development
Work experience in most cases affects speed as well. A developer with 20 years of experience will typically solve problems faster than a developer with 5 years of experience (even if they somehow have equal skills). Note, however, that skill does not equal experience. You can have a lot of experience applying quite irrelevant skills and will not be able to solve most problems that the company has. ... Most companies have a wide range of problems: some of them are simple, some of them are challenging. Inexperienced developers are passionate about everything, almost any problem will bring some new knowledge to them. Experienced developers are more picky and it is better to give them problems of adequate complexity.

American Express customers receiving new breach notifications
Customers of American Express are starting to get a new round of breach notification letters. This time, the letters (mostly identical in wording) are due to two separate incidents, but the full impact is unclear - as the exact number of customers set to receive these notices isn't known. For those keeping score: American Express has now had to issue three different notification letters this month, in order to address three different data breaches.

Do the math: your new enterprise technology may be a decade old
Lawson advises that enterprises start their cloud journey by “bridging the gap between existing on-premise resources and cloud-based solutions. Enterprises are finding that they can augment existing infrastructure and plug into cloud-based services to support their legacy hardware and to quickly innovate and extend capacity. Application Programming Interfaces, or APIs, make it easy for enterprises to access a wide range of capabilities.” All it takes is experience, he continues. “As companies gain experience with running software and cloud-based solutions, they begin moving more and more of their operations to these more agile solutions.”

Facebook has built its own switch. And it looks a lot like a server
The creation of a custom-designed switch that allows Facebook to control its networking like it currently manages its servers has been a long time coming. It began the Open Compute effort with a redesigned server in 2011 and focused on servers and a bit of storage for the next two years. In May 2013 it called for vendors to submit designs for an open source switch and at our last year’s Structure event Parikh detailed Facebook’s new networking fabric that allowed the social networking giant to move large amounts of traffic more efficiently.

Hacker puts 'full redundancy' code-hosting firm out of business
The attacker also gained access to Cloud Spaces' control panel on EC2 and deleted the company's digital assets from Amazon's infrastructure when the company tried to regain control of its account. "We finally managed to get our panel access back but not before he had removed all EBS [Amazon Elastic Block Store] snapshots, S3 [Amazon Simple Storage Service] buckets, all AMI's [Amazon Machine Images], some EBS instances and several machine instances," Cloud Spaces said in an announcement on its website. "In summary, most of our data, backups, machine configurations and offsite backups were either partially or completely deleted."

CIO interview: Mark Bramwell, head of IT, Wellcome Trust
“It is going to be very much about providing a support core – because if the main systems are not available, the whole credibility of IT is damaged. But it is going to be much about more business enablement, with more conversations, system exploitation and thought leadership,” Bramwell says. “We need to try to answer fairly crucial questions: how can we collaborate better without jumping into solutions before understanding them? What do we mean by collaboration – do we mean connecting communities, sharing information or video conferencing? What is the opportunity, challenge or issue we are trying to resolve?” he adds.

Quote for the day:

"Those who do not know how to weep with their whole heart don't know how to laugh either." -- Golda Meir