October 31, 2014

In contrast with the China-based threat actors that FireEye tracks, APT28 does not appear to conduct widespread intellectual property theft for economic gain. Instead, APT28 focuses on collecting intelligence that would be most useful to a government. Specifically, FireEye found that since at least 2007, APT28 has been targeting privileged information related to governments, militaries and security organizations that would likely benefit the Russian government.

Experts: Major cyberattack will hit in next 11 years
Almost two-third of technology experts expect a "major" cyber attack somewhere in the world that will cause significant loss of life or property losses in the tens of billions of dollars by 2025. A survey released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center found that many of analysts expect disruption of online systems like banking, energy and health care to become a pillar of warfare and terrorism. The survey asked over 1,600 technology experts whether a major attack that would cause "widespread harm to a nation's security and capacity to defend itself" would be launched within the next 11 years.

Top CIOs Start the Journey to the 'Digital Enterprise'
The digital enterprise is more than just a CIO catchphrase. In a recent Altimeter Group survey, 88 percent of 59 digital strategy executives interviewed said their organizations are undergoing formal digital transformation efforts this year. Even CIOs who think the phrase "digital enterprise" is mushy, like Mojgan Lefebvre, CIO of Liberty Mutual Global Specialty, say that consumers wielding smartphones have shifted the balance of power. "The one thing that comes in and absolutely disrupts industries is giving the end-user customer, consumers, the ability to do anything and everything they want on their mobile device," Lefebvre says.

Enterprise Cloud Service Broker—A New Identity for IT, CIOs
A cloud service brokerage, as defined by Gartner Group, is “an IT role and business model in which a company or other entity adds value to one or more (public or private) cloud services on behalf of one or more consumers of that service.” Gartner recently challenged CIOs to explore how they should position themselves as CSBs within the enterprise by “establishing a purchasing process that accommodates cloud adoption, and encourages business units to come to the IT organization for advice and support.” Why not just bring in an outside organization to manage cloud vendors? Indeed, many new companies have sprung up recently to help IT departments procure their cloud services.

The science behind the ebb and flow of Ubuntu Unity's popularity
This has surprised a lot of people, but I would argue that it shouldn't. Why? Unity has been around for a while now, and it's had plenty of time to evolve and get things right. The initial release was 2010, and the Unity we have now is not the Unity we had then. Users have had plenty of time to acclimate. The HUD, the Dash, Scopes -- they all work in a harmony that most desktops can't replicate. Even with the current state of popular that Unity is enjoying, I remember the reaction of the Linux community when the desktop first arrived -- it seemed as if Ubuntu was on a collision course with disaster.

Healthcare IT: User Empathy Comes First
Too often we see information systems organizations driving and delivering products and services without first understanding what to deliver. One great companion tool for enabling the customer empathy mindset is an empathy map. ... Underlying an empathetic mindset is a deep curiosity to find out the answers to these and many more questions. It is also supported by a desire to delight users with your product or service. As mentioned in my previous blog, defining a product's or service's success in terms of a "Love Metric" is key to moving an organization toward becoming one that is known for its customer empathy mindset.

Setting Traps, and Other Internet Security Tips
The cold truth is that the JPMorgan breach and the rest are not symptomatic of anything new—online businesses have been under constant cyberattack for well over a decade. What’s different today is that there is a lot more at stake because so much of what we do every day is online. Here is what I recommend: use two-factor authentication—essentially verifying via SMS on your mobile phone that you are the owner of a particular account online, every time you sign on. Google, Facebook, Twitter, and just about every major bank provides this option. Also, since everyone gets hacked online eventually, make sure the damage is limited.

Small Businesses Investing in Mobile Technology
"Small business should pay attention to some of the same places they have been getting their cloud and mobility information," Seth Robinson, senior director for technology analysis at CompTIA, told eWEEK. "These two areas provide the foundation for IoT and will help give some insight as to how SMBs will begin using the technology." obinson said just as small businesses have learned about the benefits of cloud and mobility in their space--which are often different than enterprise benefits--they will learn about the benefits of IoT as the trend takes shape.

Following the launch of Apple Pay, Juniper Research thinks NFC will finally be a success
Juniper had been pessimistic about the market after the dismal showing of the NFC-based Google Wallet, launched in 2011, and Apple's failure to include NFC in the iPhone 5. Apple had also said that BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) and Wi-Fi had "more desirable characteristics for maintaining the link over time than NFC", and it could have adopted BLE instead. With the arrival of Apple Pay, based on industry-standard EMV contactless protocols running over NFC, Juniper has changed its view. In the context of the US market's development, Apple Pay has arrived at a better time than Google Wallet.

Microsoft Adds IoT, Big Data Orchestration Services to Azure
"Every day, IoT is fueling vast amounts of data from millions of endpoints streaming at high velocity in the cloud," says Joseph Sirosh, corporate vice president of Machine Learning at Microsoft. "Examples of streaming analytics can be found across many businesses, such as stock trading, fraud detection, identity protection services, sensors, web clickstream analytics and alerts from CRM applications. In this new and fast-moving world of cloud and devices, businesses can no longer wait months or weeks for insights generated from data."

Quote for the day:

“You can't connect with something you're not passionate about.” -- Gemma Arterton

October 30, 2014

Insider Threats – the myth of the black swan
Obviously, the average impact of insider threat cases does not tell anything about their overall frequency. Even if an average case is less than $50,000 in cost, when these low-profile cases happen on a daily basis, the cumulative loss will be very significant for most companies. And this says nothing for reputation lost, which is difficult to measure. As we have seen in previous posts of this series, the threat landscape broadens and diversifies with new BYOD policies, reduced and changing employee loyalty to employers, and higher employee churn rates create a large gray area of threats that include unintentional misbehaviors, violation of policies, and minor thefts.

A CIO's guide to the future of work
It can seem like a no-win situation, yet organizations can clearly not do nothing, and in fact, most realize they must do far more than they have until now. The net result of all of these trends and forces is that most organizations are busy undergoing some form of large-scale 'digital transformation.' A recent study by Altimeter found that 88% of the organizations they studied are in middle of such change efforts already, with social media, mobility, and information discovery as key elements of the process for more than half of respondents.

Private Links to Cloud Now Fastest Growing Business Segment
Private cloud connection services like AWS Direct Connect or Azure ExpressRoute were designed to address this problem. Through them, colocation providers like Equinix, CoreSite, TelecityGroup, and Datapipe, among others, can link their enterprise customers’ servers to the cloud data centers privately, bypassing the Internet altogether. In addition to colos, the cloud providers also partner with network carriers, which exponentially increases the amount of data centers around the world that can connect customers to the public clouds privately.

The Interdependence of Technology and Culture
Yes, technology will cause new challenges and further problems. Human creativity will use once again technology to solve those, not a methodology or legislation that restricts and demands safety and conformity. There is no need to fear technology as long as enough humans have the freedom to choose in a democratic environment. Technology that empowers will free the employees minds and unlock creativity and innovation. The same free minds will mostly use freedom to do the moral thing. No matter what your opinion is on the subject, the evolution of technology is tightly linked to our own.

Does NoSQL = NoDBA?
Many companies will keep their relational databases for applications like OLTP where the level of data persistence is, by default, very high. At the same time, when new needs arise because of Big Users or Big Data, revolutionary apps or cloud-based offerings, they’ll think non-relational. And in some cases, both will be chosen. A relational database, for example, is an expensive way to store data, so lots of people will use, say, Hadoop to store the raw data and then process into a relational database for fast service and interactive queries. So it’s actually not a question of SQL or NoSQL, it’s more one of SQL and NoSQL.

UK cyber threat sharing ahead of target, says Cert-UK
Initially, the remit of CISP was to focus on technical network-level defender issues for large organisations, but that is now being broadened to include small and medium enterprises (SMEs). “This means that, in addition to technical information, we are now also pushing out more general information aimed at raising the level of awareness around cyber security topics,” said Gibson. For the September Nato Summit in Wales, Cert-UK set up a CISP-style node for all those involved in the event, from Nato’s incident response teams down to the hotel where the summit was being held.

Flipboard’s latest update integrates Zite’s tech to make you fall in love with digital magazines
The updated Flipboard addresses the problem of finding the best digital magazines by first asking you to select a handful of topics you’re interested in. When you start reading content based on a particular topic, Flipboard will then suggest other topics to follow and related magazines worth checking out. The idea, McCue told me, is to slowly refine how Flipboard delivers and recommends content by occasionally prompting you to follow or favorite the stuff you enjoy.

Facebook gives away homebrewed OS monitoring tool
The tool, called Osquery, allows administrators to run SQL-based queries on operating system characteristics stored in a high-performance database, collecting data such as running processes, loaded kernel modules and open networking connections, wrote Mike Arpaia, a Facebook software engineer. In the last few months, Facebook let other companies try Osquery after "it became clear to us that maintaining insight into the low-level behavior of operating systems is not a problem which is unique to Facebook," he wrote.

CIO relationships and priorities remain conflicted
A closer look at the data raises concerns about the CIO’s ability to achieve the promise of those good intentions. Although 70 percent of respondents say their organization has maturity in delivering business outcomes, only 55 percent prioritize this goal. Likewise in the next dimensions, enhancing customer experience and building a more agile IT delivery model. ... It is interesting to compare relationship importance to relationship quality, in the above diagram. We see that the CIO does not have a “very good” relationship with the CEO, CFO, or COO even though CIOs report these relationships as “very important.”

Hackers Are Using Gmail Drafts to Update Their Malware and Steal Data
Here’s how the attack worked in the case Shape observed: The hacker first set up an anonymous Gmail account, then infected a computer on the target’s network with malware. (Shape declined to name the victim of the attack.) After gaining control of the target machine, the hacker opened their anonymous Gmail account on the victim’s computer in an invisible instance of Internet Explorer—IE allows itself to be run by Windows programs so that they can seamlessly query web pages for information, so the user has no idea a web page is even open on the computer.

Quote for the day:

“The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving." -- Albert Einstein

October 29, 2014

Google Developing Disease Detection Pill
"Nanoparticles are the nexus between biology and engineering, so we can make these nanoparticles behave in ways that we want them to," Conrad explained. "Essentially, the idea is simple: You swallow a pill with these nanoparticles, and they're decorated with antibodies or molecules that detect other molecules. They course through your body, and, because the core of these particles are magnetic, you can call them somewhere... And you can ask them what they saw."

From Wearable to Invisible Technology
One of the big players in this school of thought is a company called MC10. MC10 has been working for almost 10 years to create BioStamp and Checklight. These are tiny, wearable devices that come with wireless capabilities, sensors and a number of other features. In BioStamp’s case, the device isn’t so much worn as it is stuck right on the body. Because of it’s flexibility, it can be worn like a temporary patch, or bandaid. Athletes could use something like this to closely and accurately monitor their heart rate and breathing patterns during physical exercise. The device could even track how their muscles respond to different training and what seems to be most effective or most damaging.

Joining up is hard to do
Just as full integration is impossible at a system level, it is also unlikely at an organisational level. Advocates of integrated solutions are often guilty of the merger illusion, namely that putting functions together in the same organisation is sufficient to make sectionalism subside. But as anyone who works in a large organisation will attest, the fact that managers share the same employer and use the same front door is pretty much irrelevant to whether they put corporate, customer-focussed interests above departmental, producerist ones.

Is it Enterprise Architecture or Wall Art?
The thing you have to be careful of is that if you see your markets disappearing, if your product is outdated, or your whole industry is redefining itself, as we have seen in things like media, you have to be ready to innovate. Architecture can restrict your innovative gene, by saying, “Wait, wait, wait. We want to slow down. We want to do things on our platform.” That can be very dangerous, if you are really facing disruptive technology or market changes. Albert Camus wrote a famous essay exploring the Sisyphus myth called “The Myth of Sisyphus,” where he reinterpreted the central theme of the myth.

Tech Support’s NSFW Problem
One big concern: As McAfee Labs warns in its 2014 Threat Predictions report, "Attacks on mobile devices will also target enterprise infrastructure. These attacks will be enabled by the now ubiquitous bring-your-own-device phenomenon coupled with the relative immaturity of mobile security technology. Users who unwittingly download malware will in turn introduce malware inside the corporate perimeter that is designed to exfiltrate confidential data." Today's malware from porn sites is usually not the kind of spyware that's dangerous to enterprises, says Carlos Castillo, mobile and malware researcher at McAfee Labs -- but that could change.

Top 10 Cloud Myths
"Cloud computing, by its very nature, is uniquely vulnerable to the risks of myths. It is all about capabilities delivered as a service, with a clear boundary between the provider of the service and the consumer," said David Mitchell Smith, vice president and Gartner Fellow. "From a consumer perspective, 'in the cloud' means where the magic happens, where the implementation details are supposed to be hidden. So it should be no surprise that such an environment is rife with myths and misunderstandings." Even with a mostly agreed on formal definition, multiple perspectives and agendas still conspire to mystify the subject ever more.

Five ways to make identity management work best across hybrid computing environments
The idea of holistic management for identity is key. There's no question about that, and something that we'll come back to is this idea of the weakest link -- a very commonly understood security principle. As our environment expands with cloud, mobile, on-prem, and managed hosting, the idea of a weak point in any part of that environment is obviously a strategic flaw.  As we like to say at SailPoint, it’s an anywhere identify principle. That means all people -- employees, contractors, partners, customers, basically from any device, whether you’re on a desktop, cloud, or mobile to anywhere.

Is US Tech Policy Ready For A Zombie Apocalypse?
One Delaware law seeks to solve this problem by allowing all digital content to be passed along to family members after death. However, because eBooks on Amazon and movies on iTunes aren't owned, but rather licensed, these digital goods can be passed on only to the extent allowed by end-user licensing agreements. These agreements handle transfers differently.Apple's EULA defers to California law, while Amazon's and Google's EULAs don't allow for any transfer. Therefore, many state laws (such as Delaware's) will have little effect. Federal legislation is needed to put this issue to rest.

Cloud Sprawl: The Problem of Too Many Clouds
Believe it or not, this is actually becoming a bit of a problem. Administrators are working with a very new technology and are beginning to expand their WAN (or cloud) presence far beyond what they originally thought would be possible. IT consumerization has been the main driver behind this push as has been the demand for more distributed computing systems. Unlike virtualization or even desktop sprawl, administrators have the opportunity to get control of the cloud environment sooner rather than later.

How SOA Governance (and SOA Management) Should Actually Be Done
Organizations do have well-defined separation of governance and management functions in general, but this wisdom seems to be absent when dealing with SOA. After all, the board of directors and the executive management team look at the “what” and “how”, respectively, of everything the organization does. Similarly, project steering committees and working groups do the same at lower levels. So what about SOA governance (and SOA management)? Why is there so much confusion and conflation between these two functions? Shouldn’t it be just a simple matter of extension, based on what we know about SOA and about the functions of governance and management?

Quote for the day:

"The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely to be the one who dropped it." -- Lou Holtz

October 28, 2014

Speedboats Race with the Cloud
Gary Barnett, an analyst with Ovum, said this is a great idea, not just for SilverHook, but for other racing outlets. "It's definitely an interesting use of the cloud, for sure," he said. "And in the context of racing, this is really significant. In Formula 1 racing, the ability to get real-time data from the car to the engineers during a race has become crucial in winning races.... The big benefit of basing this on cloud infrastructure is the idea of what's next? Having designed the solution this way, SilverHook can easily add another boat or boats. They just scale the infrastructure to support more data."

Big Data Digest: Rise of the think-bots
Cognitive Scale offers a set of APIs (application programming interfaces) that businesses can use to tap into cognitive-based capabilities designed to improve search and analysis jobs running on cloud services such as IBM's Bluemix, detailed the Programmable Web. Cognitive Scale was founded by Matt Sanchez, who headed up IBM's Watson Labs, helping bring to market some of the first e-commerce applications based on the Jeopardy-winning Watson technology, pointed out CRN. AI-based deep learning with big data was certainly on the mind of senior Google executives. This week the company snapped up two Oxford University technology spin-off companies that focus on deep learning, Dark Blue Labs and Vision Factory.

The utopian invisibility of design and connectivity
“Eventually everything connects – people, ideas, objects. . . the quality of the connections is the key to quality per se,” Charles Eames once said. He might as well have been looking into the future and talking about today’s world of connected devices. While most companies see design in the physical dimension, there are some that understand the importance of software as part of design. But there are only a handful that actually think about the overall experience as the ultimate idea of design. Particularly for those design-neglected — Nest’s CEO Tony Fadell would call them “unloved” — products, the network connection makes you rethink the entire idea of a device.

Five Reasons Your Social Analytics Are (Probably) All Wrong
Now, social marketing measurement here means information pulled from common social media listening tools and not firewalled data from your owned channels, e.g., your brand’s own Facebook page. Ninjas among you are aware of flaws, biases and — ahem — issues inherent herein, but a majority of digital marketing analytics consumers may not be. ... So here are five non-obvious reasons to interrogate the truthiness of your current social marketing analytics dashboards, reports, white papers, assumptions, content marketing efforts, and periodic self-congratulations:

Network misdirection may help foil targeted attacks
Chang defines network topology as how devices are connected within a network, both physically and logically. "The term refers to all devices connected to a network, be it the computers, the routers, or the servers," explains Chang. "Since it also refers to how these devices are connected, network topology also includes passwords, security policies, and the like." Chang suggests altering the network's topology and security policy in ways that would make it impossible or at least hugely difficult for sleepers to obtain company secrets. Chang also recommends changing the network in ways that make the attacker's reconnaissance information obsolete.

The Three Breakthroughs That Have Finally Unleashed AI on the World
At first glance, you might think that Google is beefing up its AI portfolio to improve its search capabilities, since search contributes 80 percent of its revenue. But I think that's backward. Rather than use AI to make its search better, Google is using search to make its AI better. Every time you type a query, click on a search-generated link, or create a link on the web, you are training the Google AI. When you type “Easter Bunny” into the image search bar and then click on the most Easter Bunny-looking image, you are teaching the AI what an Easter bunny looks like. Each of the 12.1 billion queries that Google's 1.2 billion searchers conduct each day tutor the deep-learning AI over and over again.

Gartner Highlights the Top 10 Cloud Myths
"Cloud computing, by its very nature, is uniquely vulnerable to the risks of myths. It is all about capabilities delivered as a service, with a clear boundary between the provider of the service and the consumer," said David Mitchell Smith, vice president and Gartner Fellow. "From a consumer perspective, 'in the cloud' means where the magic happens, where the implementation details are supposed to be hidden. So it should be no surprise that such an environment is rife with myths and misunderstandings." Even with a mostly agreed on formal definition, multiple perspectives and agendas still conspire to mystify the subject ever more.

Alert! Websites Will Soon Start Pushing App-Style Notifications
Web pages will be able to behave much like mobile apps, says Michael van Ouwerkerk, a software engineer on Google’s Chrome team who’s working on the technology. “Once the user has opted in, Web apps will be able to provide timely information to the user without having to go through an installation process,” he says. For example, when you check your flight status on an airline’s mobile website, a single tap could subscribe you to updates on any delays. ... Tim Varner, cofounder of a startup called Roost, which offers tools to help website publishers use Web push notifications, says he expects both Google and Mozilla to release the technology for their mobile and desktop browsers within a few months.

I use the term "expositional" to emphasize the fact that these architectures are a source of interesting ideas, and they are not intended to be some kind of "best practice". For a start, I'm very wary of architectures that are set up as some kind of standard, because there are so many variables to pay attention to when building a concrete system. For example, many people stress the importance of a scalable architecture (by which they usually mean the ability to handle large amounts of load). Yet many useful systems are internal systems that never have a high load, so should be designed to support a different set of drivers.

255 terabits a second: New fiber speed record?
The innovation, described in a paper for the current online edition of the journal Nature Photonics, lies in the use of a group of seven microstructured fibers, rather than a single one. Eindhoven University of Technology professor Chigo Okonkwo, one the paper’s principal authors, said that the individual fibers are less than 200 microns in diameter. The effect was described as being “like going from a one-way road to a seven-lane highway.” Additionally, the team used two additional dimensions that can be used by data, “as if three cars can drive on top of each other in the same lane.”

Quote for the day:

"Either you deal with what is the reality or you can be sure that the reality is going to deal with you." -- Alex Haley

October 27, 2014

A CFO's View of Consumer Data
There is a difference between customer data, and customer data that is reliable and useful. Once we have the data, the challenge is knowing what to do with it. How can we integrate customer data into our traditional systems? How do we assemble it in a way that allows us to improve client media plans? We have people who can turn data into insights and strategies, but we need to give those strategists meaningful data. The challenge is in hiring the data scientists who can organize the data.

Large Russian bank, turns to big data analysis to provide real-time financial insights
From the technical perspective and from the cost-efficient perspective, there was a big difference in the business case. Our bank is not a classical bank in the Russian market, because in our bank the technology team leads the innovation, and the technology team is actually the influence-maker inside the business.  So, the business was with us when we proposed the new data warehouse. We proposed to build the new solution to collect all data from the whole of Russia and to organize via a so-called continuous load. This means that within the day, we can show all the data, what’s going on with the business operations, from all line of business inside all of Russia. It sounds great.

3 risk factors and strategies when managing data center migrations
One of the largest risks is damage to the physical hardware during shipment; damage during shipment can render backups useless. Another challenge is the physical distance between data centers may not permit this option and have services available within an acceptable period. The second strategy is to perform data migration over a leased circuit. With a leased circuit comes two sub-swing hardware options. One option is to perform a physical to physical (P2P) migration. A P2P migration involves acquiring like hardware that both the application and hardware can be migrated to while keeping downtime to a minimum.

The 15 Dos and Don’ts of App Development
You might already have a mobile or web application or you might be starting from scratch. Either way, once in the mobile and web application game you are constantly in a battle for improvement. Your business, no matter the industry or if it’s B2C or B2B, will benefit from a functionality-rich performance application. It might be gained revenue, increased productivity or improved brand loyalty. Whether you are part of the development team or responsible for the end-user experience, these 15 do’s and don’ts will help you when developing or improving your mobile application.

The Big Data Capacity Crisis
The fact remains though, that the growth in worldwide volume of data is increasingly outpacing the manufacture of physical storage space – after all it is a lot easier to generate digital data than to build devices like hard disks, optical devices and solid-state storage. Intel’s Jim Held told a conference on the matter, way back in 2010: “Walmart adds a billion rows per minute to it’s database, Youtube contains as much data as all the commercial networks broadcast in a year, and the Large Hadron Collider can generate terabytes of data per second.”

Bugs lead banks to approve fake EMV transactions
The really odd thing about this attack is that the cards that were used in the transactions were not EMV cards; the banks involved ("at least three U.S. financial institutions" according to Krebs) hadn't even begun issuing EMV cards. The transactions were submitted through Visa and MasterCard as EMV transactions without a PIN, and yet they were honored. The experts with whom Krebs spoke suspect that the thieves had control of a payment terminal and were able to manipulate fields in the transactions.

The internet of things is becoming the next cloud battleground
As it stands, the internet of things, like the web and mobile economies from which it grew, runs largely on Amazon Web Services. But there’s no guarantee the status quo will remain in place. As part of its broader home-automation plans, for example, Google is already buying up large AWS users such as Nest and Dropcam. Dropcam Co-founder and CEO Greg Duffy told me last year that his company runs “the largest inbound streaming service on the entire internet” — bigger than even YouTube. Assuming they eventually move onto Google’s infrastructure, AWS will lose both revenue and some banner use cases.

Air Traffic Control for Drones
If a drone strayed out of its approved area, for example, the system might automatically send a command that made it return to its assigned area, or land immediately. The commands could vary depending on the situation—such as how close the drone is to a populated area—or the size and weight of the aircraft, says Downey. Ultimately, NASA wants its system to do things like automatically steer drones out of the way of a crewed helicopter that unexpectedly passes through.

A guide to rapid IT Service Management as a foundation for overall business agility
It was a lesson learned by IT organizations. Today, saying that it will take a year to upgrade, or it will take six months to upgrade, really gets a response. Why should it? There's been a change in the way it’s approached with most of the customers we go on-site to now. Customers say we want to use out of box, it used to be, we want to use out of box, and sometimes it still happens that they say, and here’s all the things we want that are not out of box.  But they've gotten much better at saying they want to start from out of box, leverage that, and then fill in the gaps, so that they can deploy more quickly.

Why Some Web APIs Are Not RESTful
It’s obvious that today many web APIs are not RESTful. Nothing stops the respective companies to build such APIs, and they have been quite successful at doing so. What we do not understand is why they insist on calling them RESTful? They could coin another term. Web API could be enough. It also remains to be seen who will win in the end, if there will be a winner or rather a peaceful coexistence between the two: REST or wannabe RESTful web APIs? In a discussion with InfoQ, Tilkov expressed his confidence that REST “has more than just theoretical advantages, and in the past couple of decades, the web approach always won in the end.”

Quote for the day:

"The role of leadership is to transform the complex situation into small pieces and prioritize them." -- Carlos Ghosn

October 26, 2014

Enterprise Architecture: Single-org versus Multi-org Strategy
One of the most important decisions throughout your Salesforce journey is to decide your “org strategy.” What this really means is: “How many instances of Salesforce will you have in your company?” As a Certified Technical Architect I mostly deal with Fortune 500 companies. The larger the company the more complex this question becomes. It is one of the most foundational and architecturally significant choices that must be made – this decision will impact all future Salesforce initiatives and designs. Here are the 12 questions that I ask my clients in order to make a recommendation regarding the most appropriate org strategy:

Bridging enterprise-architecture and systems-thinking
Presentation at Open Day on Enterprise-Architecture and Systems-Thinking, London, 21 October 2104, for SCiO (Systems and Cybernetics in Organisations). This used my development-work on the Enterprise Canvas framework as a worked-example of how we might create tools to bridge the gaps between enterprise-architecture and systems-thinking, in support of organisations' needs. This slidedeck also provides a useful overview and primer for Enterprise Canvas itself.

Tutorial – NUnit and Sequence Diagram Recording in Enterprise Architect 9.3
Enterprise Architect from Sparx Systems can be a real Swiss army knife for .net developers! Most of the stuff shown will also work with a Java environment. I did already a series of blog posts around this type of topics. All of them are based around EA 8. As a lot of stuff changed since EA 8, the release of EA 9.3 motivated to rework the tutorial to reflect the changes. We regularly use these techniques to find issues in large IOC (Inversion of Control) architectures. Where many modules are loaded dynamically and simple test beds like console runners and unit tests are your only chance to isolate the problematic parts in the source code.

Business Capability Planning in the Enterprise Intelligence Age
Business capabilities can be the best starting point for your business architecture program. In the report “Business Capabilities provide the Rosetta Stone of Business-IT Alignment”, Forrester dubs business capabilities as the map to business and IT translation. Getting business and IT on the same page by adopting a common business capabilities nomenclature enables fact-based conversations about the portfolios and their alignment to the business roadmap. ... The adoption of a common language supports the use of business capability maps across the enterprise.

DevOps in the middle: what enterprise architects can learn from the English Channel
It should be no surprise that enterprise architecture has come to include application development, and many enterprise architects now find themselves struggling to understand something called DevOps. But that’s easier said than done. DevOps, after all, is an emerging discipline. Many don’t even know what DevOps is, and some think it’s nothing but hype. Others believe it simply isn’t significant to their organizations. From my perspective, I think it is something to which every enterprise architect should be paying close attention.

How to Become a Cloud Architect
Should you decide to go after a Master's degree, I'd recommend waiting until you've made your job switch into a cloud computing role, and then look around to see what kinds of programs are available to help you advance in this arena. A return to school also argues for moving to either Austin or Raleigh as well, because you will find many top-notch colleges and universities in both areas, many of which offer directly relevant Master's degrees in computer science or similar fields to help you pursue your chosen subject matter.

eBook: Enterprise Architecture a Professional Practice Guide
Over the last several years, we’ve seen more and more organizations consider enterprise architecture as a means to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and agility of the enterprise. As a result, there has been greater calls for many of the things that are common place in more mature disciplines such as, (1) standardization in areas such as education, certifications, and practices; (2) greater research and understanding in areas such as the value proposition of enterprise architecture, implementation practices, and value measurement and management; and in (3) more cooperation and consolidation of activities and thought across the different enterprise architecture related professional associations and perspectives.

Evolution Toward Enterprise and System Architectures Emphasizing Embedded Security
The imposition of externally-defined cybersecurity methodologies and solutions on both government and critical infrastructure programs hasn’t proven effective. Fortunately, the political and technical winds are shifting, and there is new emphasis on the integration of security requirements and functionality from the beginning of the technology development life cycle. ... Programmatic frictions arise when critical functional elements of an emerging or upgraded capability are defined and/or dictated by an external entity that, for all intents and purposes, is not a stakeholder with respect to the capability’s intended use.

Open Group launches IT4IT, vendor-neutral reference architecture for IT management
IT standards organisation Open Group has announced the launch of IT4IT, a forum composed enterprises... The reference architecture provides a set of standard approaches and prescriptive guidelines for the delivery of IT services with a view towards making IT faster, cheaper, and less risky. The forum is composed of Capgemini, AT&T, BP, Shell, PwC, Logicalis, Umbrio, Atos, IBM, HP, Architecting For Enterprise and Microsoft among others, with each member organisation feeding their own experience into the forum to help develop a model for how IT can manage the service life cycle and broker services to the enterprise.

Design Thinking in Education
The world is filled with people looking for solutions (users) and people looking to solve problems (solution makers), and ideally, the two are fully aware of each other’s needs and desires. In other words, students can realize that it is in the best interests of the businesses, institutions and organizations they interact with on a daily basis to best serve their end-users, and that accordingly, end-users have both the right and power to influence and shape the products and services they receive. Like the students, businesses (as solution makers) also benefit from this co-creative dialogue: a population that, through an exposure to design thinking and its emphasis on collaboration, is more aware, engaged and ready to interact is ultimately beneficial to them.

Quote for the day:

“Finish Well; Anyone Can Start Well” -- Miles Anthony Smith

October 25, 2014

A Closer Look at CloudFlare and Incapsula: Next Generation CDN Services
CloudFlare was among the first to offer a free CDN service, in essence sparking this revolution. Incapsula, spun off from security giant Imperva, upped the ante by imbuing the CDN platform with security-oriented technologies. Motivated in part by their own competition, the relentless innovation of these companies is advancing the CDN space forward in leaps and bounds. Today, this innovation is also ushering in a new trend of using cloud-based services to replace security and availability enterprise-grade appliance.

A first look at Distributed R
The primary use case for the Distributed R software is to move data quickly from a database into distributed data structures that can be accessed by multiple, independent R instances for coordinated, parallel computation. The Distributed R infrastructure automatically takes care of the extraction of the data and the coordination of the calculations, including the occasional movement of data from a worker node to the master node when required by the calculation. The user interface to the Distributed R mechanism is through R functions that have been designed and optimized to work with the distributed data structures, and through a special “Distributed R aware” foreach() function that allow users to write their own distributed functions using ordinary R functions.

Why companies that rely on open-source projects must insist on a strong code of conduct
While companies may be reticent to dictate the behaviors of the open-source community for fear that doing so will stifle innovation or cause members to question the motives of their corporate overseers, if a situation gets out of hand, it’s wise for companies to take some sort of action so that its open-source talent doesn’t leave and tensions don’t escalate. One way to combat bad behaviors and create some semblance of order is to create a strong code of conduct, which is a set of guidelines that dictates what the community believes to be acceptable behavior. First developed and popularized by the Ada Initiative

Managing Complexity: The Battle Between Emergence And Entropy
But complexity has a dark side as well, and companies like JP Morgan, IBM and Airbus often find themselves struggling to avoid the negative side-effects of their complex structures. These forms of “unintended” complexity manifest themselves in many ways – from inefficient systems and unclear accountabilities, to alienated and confused employees. So what is a leader to do when faced with a highly complex organisation and a nagging concern that the creeping costs of complexity are starting to outweigh the benefits?

Ensembles to Boost Machine Learning Effectiveness
Ensemble-based crowdsourcing for machines has many practical applications. Next-best action—the heart of decision automation and recommendation engines—rides on the best-fit model.3 Quite often, so do real-world experimentation and A/B testing. Notably, Kaggle competitions have been won by ensembles of independent decision-tree models.4 And then there are the computational sciences—for example, physics, econometrics, and so on—in which ensemble methods support independent verification of findings across distinct models developed by different researchers using different algorithms and approaches.

So, what’s in store for the cloud in 2015?
In 2015, we will become better at running the numbers for the cost benefit analysis of cloud-based platform usage within the enterprise. We’ll hear more about the “cost of risk,” value of resilience, service reuse benefits, and a lot of things that most enterprises never considered until they got the bill. Third, we’ll see the continued fall of the private cloud, yet another very easy prediction to make. Just follow the trend. bPrivate cloud was once the way that many enterprise software players wanted you to go, because it allowed them to continue selling on premise software systems. These days, most enterprises opt for public cloud over private. The reasons are obvious.

Why Google wants to replace Gmail
One key feature of Inbox is that it performs searches based on the content of your messages and augments your inbox with that additional information. One way to look at this is that, instead of grabbing extraneous relevant data based on the contents of your Gmail messages and slotting it into Google Now, it shows you those Google Now cards immediately, right there in your in-box. Inbox identifies addresses, phone numbers and items (such as purchases and flights) that have additional information on the other side of a link, then makes those links live so you can take quick action on them.

Things Boards Should do About Cyber Security Now
This week, The Wall Street Journal sat down with two top-tier experts in cybersecurity and risk management. Raj Samani, CTO EMEA at McAfee; and Stephen Bonner, Partner in the Information Protection and Business Resilience team at KPMG, laid out the key issues boardrooms need to look at to secure their company’s data and reputation.

What's keeping data science from playing a more central role in public policy?
You can be cynical about this or realistic: data science, by itself, is an ineffectual governance tool if it lacks strong champions who can wield it to get things done in the legislative, executive and judicial branches. Decision science is just as important as data science: being able to identify the myriad factors that drive policymakers, and to use this understanding to identify where data-driven methods might have some potential sway. One species of decision scientist, the political scientist, spend their careers dissecting these factors in diverse policy arenas.

How to Effectively Map SQL Data to a NoSQL Store
The SQL Layer is a sophisticated translation layer between SQL and the key-value API. Starting with a SQL statement, it transforms it to the most efficient key-value execution, much as a compiler translates code to a lower-level execution format. It is compliant with the ANSI SQL 92 standard. Developers can leverage the product in combination with ORM’s, a REST API, or access it directly using the SQL Layer command line interface. From a codebase point of view, the SQL Layer is completely separated from the Key-Value Store. It communicates with the Key-Value Store using the FoundationDB Java bindings.

Quote for the day:

"So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work." -- Peter Drucker

October 24, 2014

Ford to Add Pedestrian Detection to Its Cars
Like other automakers, Ford is also experimenting with more complete automation. Its bigger Detroit rival, General Motors, plans to offer a Cadillac by 2017 that can drive automatically on freeways. But Ford’s new system also reflects a more incremental and cautious approach, in contrast to Google, which has committed to delivering full autonomy. Google’s latest prototype vehicles originally came without a steering wheel and didn’t feature brakes that were operable by its human passengers, although it was forced to add such controls so it could legally test the cars on the road.

Congratulations Hadoop, You Made It–Now Disappear
That’s not to say that there will no longer be a need for geeky technologies like Pig and Sqoop and Flume–or for Teradata, EMC, or Oracle, for that matter. In fact, Cloudera just announced partnerships with the first two. And there’s more geeky technology on the horizon, particularly with Apache Spark, which is gathering huge momentum among developers and ISVs because it enables them to build big data analytic workloads without the complicatedness of first-gen Hadoop. But even if Spark and the rest help abstract away some of the underlying complexity, the complexity is still there under the covers.

Be Careful! Backups Can Bite You!
Every time you perform a backup in SQL Server, you must specify the target media for the backup. This is called a media set. It is called a set, because you can specify multiple backup devices. A media set is an ordered collection of backup devices (tapes, disk files or Azure Blobs) that contains one or more backup sets. A backup set is the content that is added to a media set by a successful backup operation, striped between the backup devices in the media set.The problem lies with the backup and restore operations. Before I explain what happened, let me give you a brief explanation of the way SQL Server handles backup operations…

The Role of the Technical Architect in Development
Responsibility for the quality and effectiveness of code is, of course, shared by the whole team; however, an architect needs to challenge the team and help it to implement even better code which meets industry standards. This can be achieved by evangelising and promoting good practises (SOLID, KISS, DRY), tools (FxCop, StyleCop), metrics - or just by giving a good example in doing regular development tasks. This last aspect is very important because it helps the architect to stay close to the team and technical nuances as well as allowing him to double-check how well the proposed design materialises in code.

7 Big Data Blunders You're Thankful Your Company Didn't Make
Big data, especially the right data, has the potential to completely transform how companies communicate with their customers and fans. With new technology and tools like sensors and beacons, we can track every aspect of a customer’s online and offline interaction with a brand, and use that data to customize and curate content and promotions. Many customers are willing to share their data with brands in return for personalized experiences and offers that offer value while still being respectful of personal boundaries.  In a recent survey by SDL, 79% of respondents said they’re more likely to provide personal information to brands that they “trust.”

AVG adds identity services to Cloudcare platform
The latest addition - identity-as-a-service (IDaaS) - is designed to provide managed service providers with an option of secure sing-on to monitor and manage their customers. Mike Foreman, AVG's general manager, SMB, said that it was responding to market needs, "to help MSPs grow their businesses further by enhancing the levels of protection and control built in to their customer services". “We know that with the rapid adoption of mobile, BYOD and Cloud applications customers will require additional expertise from partners to help control and manage all their users’ applications and data. We are listening," he added.

World's Wireless Record Breaks 40 Gbit/s
"We have designed our circuits with very high bandwidth, greater than 30 GHz, in an advanced semiconductor process -- 250 nanometer DHBT [double heterojunction bipolar transistor] with four metal-layers offered by Teledyne Scientific of Thousand Oaks, Calif.," Zirath told us. The team has been working on this invention for over a decade, finally pulling all the pieces together this year. "We started research on millimeter-wave transceivers about 12 years ago. We have also been focusing on high-data-rate transmission research for over six years. Over these years of hard work, we have gradually built up a knowledge base from many people's results.

Will Free Data Become the Next Free Shipping?
Those rising costs mean companies trying to deliver products or services to mobile devices face an extra hurdle: Not only do they have to sell potential users on the idea, they also have to convince them it’s worth the hit to their data plans. A new service launching this week called Freeway allows users of AT&T smartphones to access a number of sites, including StubHub.com and Expedia.com, data free. Users of the app, which is made by a Seattle-based company called Syntonic, can also watch a trailer for the independent film “Frank vs. God” without it counting against their data plan.

Who Makes Your Health IT Decisions?
Modern IT governance embraces this by placing key IT decisions in the hands of those clinical and operational partners. If your chief medical officer, your chief nursing officer (CNO), your director of patient financial services, and your health information management director have the final say about your IT budget, it changes the game. Now they have to understand the value of IT and choose the initiatives that make sense. Your CIO and IT staff have to translate IT arcana into language that makes operational sense and generate questions that have operationally focused answers. This isn't wasted time. It's critical engagement work that makes sure that scarce organizational dollars wind up in the right place and in the right hands to drive the mission of the health system.

Going beyond the PC and the tablet: How to be authentically digital
We're already starting to use elements of machine learning in our day-to-day lives, with cloud scale AIs adding context to our device interactions. Both Google Now and Microsoft's Cortana are able to use location as a tool for adding context to a query - so what if we could use that context in a digital workflow? It's easy to imagine a near future hybrid of Storyteller and Sway, where our building site surveyor is photographing work in progress on a building retro-fit. He takes a series of photographs, which are automatically wrapped as a report using real-time speech recognition to convert his spoken notes into captions.

Quote for the day:

"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." -- African Prover

October 23, 2014

Generic pagination in C# for .NET WebAPI
The idea is really simple, and it's not a lot of code, but it's guaranteed to save you time in your next .NET WebAPI project. It's built with Entity Framework in mind, but it will work with any IQueryable collection. We use IQueryable because at the time of pagination, you should not have executed your query yet in most cases. Otherwise you would be fetching the full list of items before just returning a few of them, rather than fetching only those few to begin with. Of course if you need to fetch the whole list (to perform a calculation on each result perhaps) you can do that as well and simply cast the list AsQueryable() when you pass it to the pager.

How to Design for Discovery
Disruptive vendors focus on providing tools that facilitate discovery by design; they provide tools and technology solutions that make the end user more independent. Yet, self-sufficiency doesn’t happen in a silo. True discovery tools provide users the ability to connect to large volumes of new data and easily join different data sets together to filter, query, and visualize to explore data in detail without choking the system or relying on IT. Navigating the “new breed” of truly disruptive discovery tools means we must concentrate first and foremost on the elements that make a tool designed for discovery – with a robust, agile IT-independent and user-centric approach that has better access to data, agile high-performance,

Abandoned subdomains pose security risk for businesses
The risk to website owners depends on what can be done on a third-party service once a domain is pointed to it. If the service allows users to set up Web pages or Web redirects, attackers could exploit the situation to launch credible phishing attacks by creating rogue copies of the main website. In an attack scenario described by Detectify, a company might set up a subdomain for use with an external support ticketing service, but later close its account and forget to delete the subdomain. Attackers could then create a new account with the same service and claim the company’s subdomain, which already has the needed DNS settings, as their own, allowing them to set up a fake website on it.

Capitalizing on the data driven revolution
Despite the potential of big data, managing the massive amounts of data generated by customers and enterprises can be overwhelming. CMOs are constantly hearing about how they must use data to evaluate their marketing campaigns, operations managers are well aware that the use of data can optimize their supply chain, and finance executives are clamoring for ways to use analytics to realize cost savings. However, many organizations don’t know where to start or are stuck at an unsatisfactory halfway point.

Gmail’s New Inbox App Puts the Important Stuff on Top
Like-kind messages are grouped together in bundles so you can easily sort through a collection of messages quickly. The “social” and “promotions” tabs found in Gmail are default bundles in Inbox. You can tap into a “promotions” bundle, glance over all the companies who’d like to sell you stuff, and if nothing jumps out at you, swipe the entire collection of emails away and out of your view (doing this can archive or delete your emails in both Inbox and Gmail, depending on how you set up the app). The goal is that you’ll be able to open Inbox up and see a stream you can quickly browse through, acting on what you want and discarding the rest.

Happy 10th Birthday, Selenium
Selenium as a technology is now 10 years old. ThoughtWorks is proud to have created and open-sourced what is now the defacto-standard for cross platform cross browser web-app functional testing. We’re also proud to have released it as open source for the greater good. In honor of its 10th birthday, we put together the below timeline. Here’s to another 10 successful years.

U.S. national security prosecutors shift focus from spies to cyber
As part of the shift, the Justice Department has created a new position in the senior ranks of its national security division to focus on cyber security and recruited an experienced prosecutor, Luke Dembosky, to fill the position. The agency is also renaming its counter-espionage section to reflect its expanding work on cases involving violations of export control laws, Carlin confirmed in an interview. Such laws prohibit the export without appropriate licenses of products or machinery that could be used in weapons or other defense programs, or goods or services to countries sanctioned by the U.S. government.

Lessons in cybersecurity launched for schoolchildren
Ken Mackenzie, head of at Sedgehill School, said that presenting students with the opportunities to expand their digital skills was one of the key reasons why the school signed up. “Students at our school may live in London but they don’t necessarily experience London in the same way that students from more affluent backgrounds would. We feel computing is a particular strength at the school and we work hard to make sure we are presenting students with a full range of opportunities.” However, Mr Mackenzie also stressed that, aside from enhancing digital skills, the focus on careers was one that appealed to the school.

Sweat and a smartphone could become the hot new health screening
Heikenfeld says future applications for the patch could involve drug monitoring. "A lot of drug metabolites come out of sweat, so by using this technology, doctors can help patients take drug dosages more evenly. Our current methods, often based on age or body weight, are extremely crude when you think about all the side effects listed on the warning labels." "Ultimately, sweat analysis will offer minute-by-minute insight into what is happening in the body, with on-demand, localized, electronically stimulated sweat sampling in a manner that is convenient and unobtrusive," Heikenfeld concludes in the article.

Regulation on cloud security may spur SaaS use in health care
"The role of government is to move toward that transparency and data sharing," he said. Governments could also pass legislation that gives people more access to the data companies have collected on them and the ability to control it, such as correcting wrong information, said Ralph Zottola, CTO of the research computing division at the University of Massachusetts. "People are smart and are willing to participate but they need to feel they're not being abused," he said. This applies to all industries, not just health care, he said.

Quote for the day:

"A good objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and those who are doing well to do even better." -- Jim Rohn

October 22, 2014

8 cutting-edge technologies aimed at eliminating passwords
In the beginning was the password, and we lived with it as best we could. Now, the rise of cyber crime and the proliferation of systems and services requiring authentication have us coming up with yet another not-so-easy-to-remember phrase on a near daily basis. Is any of it making those systems and services truly secure? One day, passwords will be a thing of the past, and a slew of technologies are being posited as possibilities for a post-password world. Some are upon us, some are on the threshold of usefulness, and some are likely little more than a wild idea.

The Software-Defined Data Center: Translating Hype into Reality
Software-defined technologies are driven by virtualization, an abstraction layer which uses hypervisors and virtual machines to organize and manage workloads in new ways. Provisioning virtual resources with software makes it easier to scale applications and use hardware efficiently. Software-defined networking holds the promise of reducing costs by shifting network management task to commodity servers rather than expensive switches. It’s a new world, with major implications for infrastructure. Virtual machines make it easier to move workloads from one location to another, a capability that unlocks a world of possibilities.

'Internet of things' data should be 'treated as personal data', say privacy watchdogs
"When purchasing an internet of things device or application, proper, sufficient and understandable information should be provided," the declaration said. "Current privacy policies do not always provide information in a clear, understandable manner. Consent on the basis of such policies can hardly be considered to be informed consent. Companies need a mind shift to ensure privacy policies are no longer primarily about protecting them from litigation." The declaration outlined the DPA's backing for new technology that accounts for privacy by the way it has been designed. The concepts of 'privacy by design' and 'privacy by default' "should become a key selling point of innovative technologies", it said.

Why You Should Kill Your Employee of the Month Program
While rewards and recognition programs are designed with the good of employees, teams, and the company in mind, they tend to backfire for a simple reason. When you raise one person up on a pedestal, it leaves others below on the ground. And some of those left behind may feel resentful. Perhaps they contributed to the effort that's being recognized, or even came up with the original idea. Maybe they were part of a team that facilitated a key component to the successful outcome, but it happened behind the scenes where you couldn't see it. The point is, when you single someone out as the hero, it can make others who are just as worthy feel like goats.

Addressing 5 Objections to Big Data
Big data is all the rage these days. It has transitioned from just a hype word that people liked to throw around to sound smart to a technology that’s completely changing the world. Still, people try to minimize the importance of big data. Whenever something good comes around, there are people that will try and fight it. That can surely be said about big data. There are numerous objections to big data and what it can do, but most of these objections are unfounded and can easily be refuted by those who understand the big data industry. Let’s take a look at five common objections to big data and the responses for each one.

Back to the Future was right: a working hoverboard will be available in 2015
The big catch is that the Hendo can only hover over some types of metal. At the Arx Pax office, we hovered over a floor and half pipe covered in copper. That’s because the board generates a magnetic field. When there is a sheet of metal underneath, it is powerful enough to push the board upward (it’s the same technology as a Maglev train). The developer kit can support up to 40 pounds. The Hendo board can support up to 300 pounds, with support for 500 pounds planned for the future. It only dipped for a fraction of a second when I hopped on.

Keep calm and plug the holes
With network monitoring and analysis in place, you need to think about how best to make use of the data. Don’t be too quick to throw it out. Network analysis tools have gotten a lot better than what was out there in the ’90s and early 2000s. It’s easier now to sift through huge amounts of data in a relatively short amount of time. When a zero day is published, that data can be useful for taking a look back at what had been happening prior to the zero day being published. You also need to have workarounds in place so that you’re not entirely dependent on outright fixes when zero days pop up.

The Untapped Potential Inside Social Media, Analytics (Part 2 of 2)
Grady, the social media analytics and enterprise search sales manager at Information Builders, has worked on social media analytics, search-based business intelligence, mobile applications, predictive analytics, and dashboard design in his 15 years at the company. He blogs about social media, business intelligence and more. Grady recently spoke, along with Fern Halper, TDWI's research director of advanced analytics, at a TDWI Webinar on "Social Media Analytics – Getting Beyond Tracking the Buzz."

Will Your Next Best Friend Be A Robot?
The glum robot is named Takeo, and by the end of the play, it’s clear he is not the only one with problems. The man of the house is unemployed and pads around barefoot, a portrait of lethargy. At one point, his wife, Ikue, begins to weep. Takeo communicates this development to his fellow robot Momoko, and the two discuss what to do about it. “You should never tell a human to buck up when they are depressed,” says Takeo, who himself failed to buck up when the man attempted to cheer him with the RoboCop theme song earlier. Momoko agrees: “Humans are difficult.”

Java Sleight of Hand
Every now and then we all come across some code whose behaviour is unexpected. The Java language contains plenty of peculiarities, and even experienced developers can be caught by surprise. Let’s be honest, we’ve all had a junior colleague come to us and ask “what is the result of executing this code?”, catching us unprepared. Now, instead of using the usual “I could tell you but I think it will be far more educational if you find it by yourself”, we can distract his attention for a moment (hmmm.... I think I just saw Angelina Jolie hiding behind our build server. Can you quickly go and check?) while we rapidly browse through this article.

Quote for the day:

"In a number of ways Open Data improves society - for one it can grow GDP" Chris Harding, The Open Group

October 21, 2014

Good Strategy/ Bad Strategy (Richard Rumelt, 2011)
It is because crafting a good strategy takes a lot of discipline. Most managers mistakenly take strategy work as an exercise in goal setting rather than problem solving. A bad strategy is often characterized by being full of fluff, as it fails to face the challenge, mistakes goals for strategy, and comprises of bad strategic objectives (mostly misguided or impractical). Talking about the prevalence of bad strategies, the author quips that- "if you fail to identify and analyze the obstacles, you don't have a strategy. Instead, you have either a stretch goal, or budget, or a list of things you wish would happen"

Technology and Inequality
Brynjolfsson lists several ways that technological changes can contribute to inequality: robots and automation, for example, are eliminating some routine jobs while requiring new skills in others (see “How Technology is Destroying Jobs”). But the biggest factor, he says, is that the technology-driven economy greatly favors a small group of successful individuals by amplifying their talent and luck, and dramatically increasing their rewards. Brynjolfsson argues that these people are benefiting from a winner-take-all effect originally described by Sherwin Rosen in a 1981 paper called “The Economics of Superstars.”

Building Culture Is Always Better Than Trying to Transform It
A strengths-based approach to organizational culture is, in part, a matter of perspective. Instead of seeing the cultural glass as half empty, we see it as half full. Instead of carping on about everything that’s wrong with the organizational culture, we focus on everything that’s right. We should work with culture, instead of against it. ... But where traditional culture change often focuses on stopping old practices and starting new ones, a strengths-based approach to managing culture would instead concentrate its efforts on figuring out how to better use — amplify, optimize, intensify — the culture’s most helpful existing attributes

Doctor Who and the Dalek: 10-year-old tests BBC programming game
He’s a VB programmer (be gentle, he’s only 10), which is part of the problem schools face in teaching coding; they are supposed to teaching coding before the idea of a variable has appeared in maths. To get past this, the Doctor Who creative team have used a similar look and feel to Scratch, already in widespread use in schools to introduce coding. Although as an IT pro you take pride in mastering cryptic error messages, like “NULL pointer is not NULL at line -1” (yes, I’ve had that one), it can put off the average eight-year-old. The “Make it Digital” agenda is that every child should code, not just the smart ones, so as in Scratch, it is actually impossible to have a syntax error.

Devops has moved out of the cloud
Continuous everything is a part of the devops process, where devops is the fusing of software development (dev) with IT operations (ops). The core notion is to release high-quality code and binaries that perform well and are of good quality, and to do so much more rapidly than traditional approaches to development, testing, and deployment would allow. Many people attribute the rise of devops directly to the growth of cloud computing. The connection: It’s easy to continuously update cloud applications and infrastructure.

Health IT Interoperability Up To Market, Say Feds
One of their biggest recommendations is the immediate need within the health industry for standard, public application programming interfaces that allow disparate health systems to speak with one another. Such APIs are critical to enabling the interoperability required for electronic health information exchanges. "We believe that a standards-based API, combined with appropriate incentives to encourage vendors to implement the API and providers to enable access to their data via the API has potential to move interoperability forward dramatically," McCallie said in emailed comments.

The Benefits of an Application Policy Language in Cisco ACI: Part 4
Though the DevOps approach of today—with its notable improvements to culture, process, and tools—certainly delivers many efficiencies, automation and orchestration of hardware infrastructure has still been limited by traditional data center devices, such as servers, network switches and storage devices. Adding a virtualization layer to server, network, and storage, IT was able to divide some of these infrastructure devices, and enable a bit more fluidity in compute resourcing, but this still comes with manual steps or custom scripting to prepare the end-to-end application infrastructure and its networking needs used in a DevOps approach.

Why Apple Pay Is the Perfect Example of the Hummingbird Effect
Apple Pay will work at retail stores but it could also become the defacto standard for online purchases that add an extra security step--namely, proving your identity using the Touch ID fingerprint reader. I'm impressed with how fluid it works even at launch. There's a good lesson here for small businesses, beyond the fact that it's important to follow these tech trends and start preparing for the inevitable. In his book How We Got To Now, author Steven Johnson explains how breakthroughs in science and technology often lead to what he calls the "hummingbird effect"--essentially, a way to "piggyback" ideas on top of one another that helps catapult them into mainstream consciousness.

Best Practices for Moving Workloads to the Cloud
The adoption of cloud architecture is a process that requires strong effort for the entire enterprise. Every function, application and data have to be moved to the cloud; for this reason, it is necessary to have a strong commitment from the management. Top management is responsible for the harmonious growth of the company, and technology represents a key factor for business development today. Managers have to establish reasonable goals for adopting the cloud computing paradigm. A migration to the cloud requires a team effort to plan, design, and execute all the activities to move the workloads to the new IT infrastructure.

Crafting a secure data backup strategy on a private cloud
Backing up data is not something to be taken lightly, and a repercussion of data loss could be significant financial loss. Frequently, companies are unaware that they don't have a backup strategy in place, or that their backup product is not working properly. More often than not, this is because companies aren't devoting the necessary resources to create a proper backup strategy. Even if they do, they expect the backup product to work indefinitely. Unfortunately most things have an expiration date; the backup strategy is not any different.

Quote for the day:

"Leadership, on the other hand, is about creating change you believe in." -- Seth Godin