December 08, 2015

Cloud operations and security: A developer's survival guide

When considering ops and security, the best practices in automation are mostly around monitoring. DevOps requires two types of monitoring. Application performance monitoring tools enable code-level analysis and correct performance issues. At the infrastructure level, server monitoring provides visibility into capacity, memory, and CPU consumption so developers can fix issues as soon as they appear. The key is to make sure that developers can see the data so they can make better calls during the development process. Finally, you need version control; not just for your application code, but in your infrastructure, configurations, and databases. The payoff is a single source of truth for both your application code and your platform that you can use to quickly identify where things went wrong, and then automatically fall back to a known state.

Why Teams Don't Learn From Their Mistakes (And How To Change That)

At a Toyota plant, Kaplan had a revelation. In the automaker's well-known production system, if anyone on the production line sees an error, they send an alert that halts production across the plant. Senior executives rush over to see what's gone wrong and address the issue, and afterward the process is adapted to prevent it from happening again. "The system was about cars, which are very different from people," Kaplan says when we meet for an interview. "But the underlying principle is transferable. If a culture is open and honest about mistakes, the entire system can learn from them." When Kaplan took this lesson back to the Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, the results were astounding.

Can the cloud really do it all? Tech chiefs aren't convinced

"It will take time for these organisations to adapt to the new opex based funding model for XaaS as traditionally it's been anathema to load support costs onto the taxpayer whereas periodic injections of capital investment haven't been so problematic," he said. Dan Gallivan, director of IT at Payate said that while CIOs will still consider non-cloud options if it makes sense, cloud options are definitely in favour: "It seems to be the trend for most application providers to move to cloud, the benefits are great; scalable, flexible and accessible." There is still room for on-premise options, said Shawn Beighle, CIO of the International Republican Institute, but he said: "It really depends on the results of the needs assessment, but I almost always look for SaaS solutions first before considering an on-prem solution."

Your New Medical Team: Algorithms and Physicians

Patients also may be skeptical that a computer can deliver the best care. A 2010 study published in Health Affairs found that consumers didn’t believe doctors could deliver substandard care. In contrast, they thought that care strictly based on evidence and guidelines — as any system for automating medical care would be — was tailored to the lowest common denominator, meeting only the minimum quality standards. But algorithms can be put to good use in certain areas of medicine, as complements to, not substitutes for, clinicians. A Princeton University economics professor, Janet Currie, and colleagues developed a simple algorithm to improve care for heart attack patients.

Can Europe ever build its own Silicon Valley?

The economist says government investment is also key and that is where the US has done well in the past: “Why are all the innovative companies like Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook coming out of the US and not Europe? The answer you will often hear is: Europe has lots of culture but there is too much state and not enough market. As a result, it is not entrepreneurial enough.” She continues: “This view ignores the fact that all the revolutionary technologies that make the iPhone so smart were actually funded by government. Not through narrow market-fixing policies, but through mission-oriented policies that catalysed the creation of entirely new technologies and sectors.”

Artificial Intelligence is Already Remaking Modern Businesses

Today, artificial intelligence (AI) technology should be causing similar unease. But it also heralds an opportunity and a challenge to business to harness this new cognitive power. Today, AI systems are already scoring better than the average high-school senior on the SAT. They are diagnosing disease and keeping up to date in realtime with medical research better than human doctors. And they are handling financial and media buying decisions with mind-boggling speed and intelligence. Today, competitive advantage in business is gained by recognizing where machines can be superior, and leaning in hard. Among the companies doing this are Google, Renaissance Technology with its hedge funds, and my own company, Rocket Fuel.

The Six Decisions To Make Before Establishing an Innovation Outpost

Most CEOs assign the responsibility to establish and manage their innovation outposts (and the outpost’s relationships to startups) to their R&D organizations. While that avoids internal management conflict, it’s the wrong way to make an innovation outpost decision. Instead CEOs and their exec staff should start with a high-level discussion to decide whether their companies should even establish an Innovation Outpost, whether in Silicon Valley or some other innovation ecosystem. Because this is a critical decision that requires broad management buy-in, the conversation should include senior management, particularly the Chief Digital Officer, the Chief Strategy Officer, the Chief Financial Officer, and the Head of R&D, and maybe even their board of directors.

The DevOps Supremacy – How IT Operations Must Become Like Jason Bourne

Like Bourne movies, today's digital business is equally intense. It's a case of working "outside-in", quickly understanding the needs of your customers; working faster than your competitors to deliver a high-quality experience. Now more than ever, it's about anticipating and responding to any impending issues that could compromise this experience versus just being obsessive about finding the cause of problems. Some folks in operations would argue they have great situational awareness since they can monitor all the infrastructure and components underpinning applications. But is this good enough? Does monitoring at a detailed diagnostic level mean you're paying attention to the right things from the perspective of the business and what your customers are experiencing – in this very moment as they engage and interact your business?

Leadership begins between your own two ears

The principles circle back on themselves. If you believe you can do it enough to step off the mountain and open your current state of preparedness to the wider world, you can do it and will figure out what you couldn’t have known at the beginning.  Hardly anyone with a job description expects candidates to have every single attribute and experience they are asking for. The best people want challenge, want to stretch. What’s consistently amazing to me is how different men and women can be about these inevitable shortfalls. If there is a job with 10 qualifications, women will tend to see two that they don’t have and disqualify themselves. Men, on the other hand, will tend to see three to give that they have and say, "I can do that!"

Attackers are Building Big Data Warehouses of Stolen Credentials and PII

Indicators of developing attacker data warehouses include the nature of the data offered for sale. “On one of the websites, we saw that you could ask for data and passwords by industry sector,” says Beek. Attackers are also swapping data from different breaches with each other so that they can build up stronger user profiles. “We see discussions in closed forums where one group is exchanging files with another group just to benefit each other’s operations in this way,” he affirms. These warehouse approaches could grow, using the same kinds of analytics on harvested PII data that legitimate businesses do on their big data stores. They could identify patterns and create robust databases that connect information about the person’s place of employment with their personal profile and quickly reach far beyond the data that the criminal started with.

Quote for the day:

"Nothing consoles and comforts like certainty does.” -- Amit Kalantri

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