Daily Tech Digest - August 28, 2017

The far-reaching benefits of SD-WAN improve network edge to inner layers

SD-WAN's original mission was to combine private-network VPN tunnels, like MPLS, and tunnels over the internet to build a VPN that could cover sites too small and numerous to be served by MPLS VPNs alone. Because of this combined virtual-wires mission, SD-WAN must sit at the network edge. An SD-WAN product usually has several network-side connections and one connection to the user's on-premises network. An SD-WAN device on the customer's premises takes on several popular forms: The original combines internet and MPLS VPN; another uses multiple internet service provider connections or internet pathways. One of the benefits of SD-WAN is to tie all the pathways together to create a tunnel network that links all of the sites on an organization's network.

12 Bad Habits That Slow IT to a Crawl

Every additional committee member slows down decisions; more than five members and progress slows to a crawl as the possibility of consensus disappears entirely. It’s worse if committee members consider themselves not IT leaders but representatives of a constituency that otherwise might not get its fair share. This sort of committee will argue forever instead of solving shared problems. Then there’s the meeting schedule. It’s the metronome that sets the pace for every project the committee governs. If a committee meets monthly, then anything waiting for a decision waits a month. How many projects do you have under way that could thrive with a bottleneck like that? How to solve this? Make culture the new governance. Think of it as the lane markers on the road, relegating steering committees to the role of guardrails — when all else fails they’re there to keep IT from plummeting into the chasm, but only when all else fails.

Five pitfalls to avoid in your hybrid cloud strategy

"Most of our clients have accepted that hybrid is their end state," said Gartner analyst Mindy Cancila. "But what I find is that very few of them have clarity around what that means that they need to do. And so, while most organizations are recognizing that they're going to adopt some type of public cloud services, their data centers are not likely to go away overnight." ... And rather than determining the true purpose of the cloud in their company, "a lot of organizations look at hybrid cloud and say 'Okay, this is what everyone's doing, so this is what I'm going to do,'" said Forrester's Nelson. For the best chance at hybrid cloud success, companies should "have direction, have priorities, have the core values of what you're trying to achieve with cloud very clearly articulated," Nelson said, "and revisit those plans over time."

How to get started with Akka.Net

When working in Akka.Net, you use actors and messages to model your problem. In Akka.Net, an actor is an object with some specific behavior. While actors do have internal state, they don’t have any shared mutable state. .... Actors are identified by addresses. They derive from the ActorBase class and in turn they can create child actors. Actors communicate with each other by passing messages asynchronously. Essentially, an actor receives a message and then reacts to it either by processing it or by passing another message to another actor to get the job done. Note that the messages in Akka.Net are processed sequentially, one at a time, in the order in which they arrive. Since actors can be running locally or on a remote server, a common message exchange format is needed. Akka.Net messages are immutable. They can be instances of a string, an integer, or even a custom class.

4 steps to prepare employees for robotic process automation

Unquestionably, the quest for cost reduction is a driver behind automation adoption. And with good reason. The ROI on a typical investment is more than 500 percent. Yet, many don’t understand from the outset the impact automation can have on speed-to-market and revenue cycle improvements and how it can lead to new opportunities for employees to perform higher-value work. Train and reskill employees to become process assessment experts and help them acquire skills related to managing virtual workforces. Case in point: a premier insurance company recently deployed RPA and was immediately able to bind more policies faster and more accurately simply because it could process broker requests for quotes by eliminating tedious work that underwriters had been performing.

Counterpoint: The Data Warehouse is Still Alive

Still data warehouses meet the information needs of people and continue to provide value. Many people use them, depend on them, and don’t want them to be replaced with a data lake. Data lakes serve analytics and big data needs well. They offer a rich source of data for data scientists and self-service data consumers. But not all data and information workers want to become self-service consumers. Many – perhaps the majority – continue to need well-integrated, systematically cleansed, easy to access relational data that includes a large body of time-variant history. These people are best served with a data warehouse. The data warehouse needs to be modernized. Migrating to the cloud resolves many data warehousing challenges. Scalability and elasticity are well-known cloud benefits. Cloud data warehousing also brings benefits of managed infrastructure, cost savings, rapid deployment, and fast processing.

IT powerhouses try to come from behind in enterprise IoT

The strategy, then, is to enter into as many partnerships as possible. So what’s happening is an “interleaving” of OT and IT, leading to products like Predix being able to run on a Cisco edge router, or in Microsoft’s Azure cloud. “It’s a much more promiscuous partnering strategy being deployed,” Renaud said. “A lot of these legacy OT vendors are beginning to partner with these IT vendors.” Importantly, these partnerships are rarely exclusive – which helps ensure interoperability between a company’s existing infrastructure and whatever new IoT platforms it wants to embrace. Open source, as well, is a major contributor to this diversity, and Hung urged businesses to embrace the model. “Make sure that whatever solution you’re looking at is an open solution … that has a strong developer ecosystem around it, so you’re not relying on any single vendor,” he said.

Security leaders need better visibility of risk before the board asks

While many CEOs are beginning to understand the effects that cyberattacks can have on reputation and the bottom line, many are still struggling with a lack of visibility of the risk. They often look to the security leaders within their organization for answers. One statistic from our annual SailPoint Market Pulse Survey would likely shock many executives: ... This lack of visibility is concerning. In our last conversation, we talked about the ever-growing complexity of today’s IT environments. New exposure points are emerging every day, due to the proliferation of applications, user types and unstructured data to trends such as Shadow IT and BYOD. And still, very few organizations have visibility into who their users are — employees, contractors and business partners — and what those users have access to (and more importantly, if that access is appropriate).

Meet Fitbit Ionic: A Little Smartwatch A Lot Of Fitness Tracker

With Fitbit's new Ionic fitness tracker, health and fitness still take center stage, but Ionic is more of an all-around wearable than any Fitbit that came before. Ionic represents the first fruits of the company’s Pebble, Coin, and Vector shopping spree: You can now install third-party apps, make payments, and you can store hundreds of songs for offline listening. The biggest change for Fitbit is the new open system, as the company has leveraged its Pebble acquisition to create a platform for third-party apps. Only a handful of apps will be available at launch, but Fitbit will soon be opening up an software development kit so developers can tap into Ionic’s sensors to build apps and watch faces just like they on watchOS and Android Wear.

IT heroes: Use customer service to build business relationships

The not-so-subtle message is that decreeing relationship change simply does not work. Of course, senior leaders must set broad objectives, but goals alone do not create results. Making pronouncements is easy, but actually driving deep cooperation across departments is more difficult. The need to change is part of a broader shift inside IT, striving to say "yes" in response to user requests rather than the traditional "default to no" mentality. During a recent conference, I spoke with several IT managers -- these are not CIOs - who are using customer service as the model for defining relationships between business stakeholders and IT. FinancialForce invited me to their Community Live 2017 event in Las Vegas to record these conversations as part of the CXOTalk series of conversations with innovators.

Quote for the day:

"I'd rather live with a good question than a bad answer." -- Aryeh Frimer

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