Daily Tech Digest - June 16, 2021

Cloud investments slow to deliver ‘substantial’ benefit for many companies

“After a decade of cloud experience, organizations are facing a talent shortage for all cloud-related skills,” Forrester said in a March 2020 report. “Although legacy skill sets translate well to new cloud technologies, the cultural leap to evaluate, select, and operate for productivity, system-level efficiency, and workload-specific problem solving is proving to be a challenge. Enterprise attempts to hire and train talent are constantly plagued with poaching by the cloud vendors themselves.” Other barriers stand in the way of successful cloud technology implementations. According to PwC, trust-related considerations like a cloud’s impact on customer commitments or regulatory compliance are considered either too late or not all. Only 17% of risk management leaders responding to the firm’s survey said they’re involved at the start of cloud projects. And 55% of chief human resource officers see changes to processes and ways of working as significant issues when it comes to the cloud. ... It comes as no surprise that members of the C-Suite are more involved than before in cloud adoption efforts, given the amount of capital at stake.

Why a Serverless Data API Might be Your Next Database

App development stacks have been improving so rapidly and effectively that today there are a number of easy, straightforward paths to push code to production, on the cloud platform of your choice. But what use are applications without the data that users interact with? Persistent data is such an indispensable piece of the IT puzzle that it’s perhaps the reason the other pieces even exist. Enter cloud and internet scale requirements, essentially mandating that back-end services must be independently scalable / modular subsystems to succeed. Traditionally, this requirement has been difficult in the extreme for stateful systems. No doubt, database as-a-service (DBaaS) has made provisioning, operations, and security easier. But as anyone who has tried to run databases on Kubernetes will tell you: auto scaling databases, especially ones that are easy for developers to use, remain out of reach for mere mortals. Serverless data offers enticing benefits, but market offerings are limited. What serverless data can, should, or could do for us isn’t always well understood. And yet, database simplicity for application developers today is increasingly taking a new form: autoscaling database services that are delivered as fluent, industry standard APIs -- APIs that are secure, well documented, easy to use, and always on.

Making Your Life Easier with C# Scripting

if you've installed Visual Studio, then you already have a perfectly good CS-Script environment: CSI.EXE (I found my copy in C:\Users\<user name>\Source\ExchangeControl.WebService\bin\roslyn). You can create a CS-Script command environment by just opening the Developer Command Prompt for Visual Studio and typing CSI. Once the window has re-displayed the command prompt, you can start entering and executing CS-Script. You're not limited to single C# statements with the CSI prompt: Statements that you enter in the CSI environment build on previous statements you've entered. ... Even more useful is the CS-Script REPL window (Read-Evaluate-Print-Loop) that you can open by going to Visual Studio's View | Other Windows menu choice and selecting C# Interactive. In that window you can now enter CS-Script code and just hit the <Enter> key to have it execute. There are a couple of disappointments here, though. It might make sense to try out classes and their members from the interactive window. However, just because the window has opened in Visual Studio while your solution is open, it doesn't mean the window knows anything about the classes defined in the current solution. In fact, the window's default folder isn't even your current solution's folder.

New threat & vulnerability management APIs - create reports, automate, integrate

Customized reports and dashboards enable you to pool the most meaningful data and insights about your organization’s security posture into a more focused view based on what your organization or specific teams and stakeholders need to know and care about most. Custom reports can increase the actionability of information and improve efficiencies across teams, because it reduces the workload of busy security teams and allows them to focus on the most critical vulnerabilities. Before building custom views using tools such as PowerBI and Excel, you can enrich the native datasets provided by Microsoft’s threat and vulnerability management solution with additional data from Microsoft Defender for Endpoint or a third-party tool of your choice. In addition, these reports/dashboards give you an easy way to report key information and trends to top management to track business KPIs and provide meaningful insights on the overall status of the vulnerability management program in your organization. With a custom interface you can show the information that your teams need and nothing more, creating a simpler task view or list of day-to-day work items. 

Combining classical and quantum computing opens door to new discoveries

The research team from IQC in partnership with the University of Innsbruck is the first to propose the measurement-based approach in a feedback loop with a regular computer, inventing a new way to tackle hard computing problems. Their method is resource-efficient and therefore can use small quantum states because they are custom-tailored to specific types of problems. Hybrid computing, where a regular computer's processor and a quantum co-processor are paired into a feedback loop, gives researchers a more robust and flexible approach than trying to use a quantum computer alone. While researchers are currently building hybrid, computers based on quantum gates, Muschik's research team was interested in the quantum computations that could be done without gates. They designed an algorithm in which a hybrid quantum-classical computation is carried out by performing a sequence of measurements on an entangled quantum state. The team's theoretical research is good news for quantum software developers and experimentalists because it provides a new way of thinking about optimization algorithms. 

Critical Factors for Managing Applications and Kubernetes at the Edge

As 5G wireless finds ubiquity, and as more connected devices on the Internet of Things (IoT) begin using wireless communications, data volumes and data rates are also increasing. While these two factors are somewhat independent, together they increase the demand for applications on the edge by orders of magnitude. This demand for speed means that the old model for a central database slowly reacting to application queries from a variety of sources is now being replaced with both applications and data located at the network edge where they can respond quickly to a vast flow of inputs. Containerized, microservice applications that support this flow must be where they can handle it, which means that they, too, must be at the edge. Kubernetes is the industry’s tool of choice for container orchestration, however, when moving containers to the edge, additional Kubernetes management complications appear. Deployment, security, and fleet management processes all become exponentially more complex given the number of clusters that need to be managed is now measured by the hundreds.

Out in IT: A work-in-progress for the LGBTQ+ community

It’s hard to know exactly how underrepresented because to date, the industry hasn’t focused on tracking LGBTQ+ employment, and companies are only now starting to offer self-identification opportunities to get greater transparency into the makeup of their employee base. While identifying gender and race is a common part of the onboarding process at most companies, sexual orientation and gender identity are not, which makes it all the more difficult to gather metrics. Because the decision to share that status is voluntary, LGBTQ+ employees have a different experience than other “visible” minorities, says Jeff Raver (he/him), a top-level IT executive, who openly identifies as gay. “Gay people must choose to share who they are and this affects people in multiple ways,” says Raver, vice president of strategy, growth, and innovation at SAIC. “Since teams may not know they are working with an LGBTQ co-worker, both unintentional and intentional bias becomes a greater challenge. Additionally, the stress of not sharing your authentic self requires substantial energy and can become a huge distraction for LGBTQ persons that choose to remain in the closet.”

SAFe is a marketing framework, not an Agile scaling framework

SAFe tells a story that resonates with the existing worldview of numerous corporations. The SAFe narrative fits snugly with the existing command & control paradigm of many large companies. You can keep on doing what you did before, shuffle some teams, we’ll throw in some fancy new labels and POOF! now you’re Agile. Doesn’t that sound amazing? No hard work necessary, yet you’ll still have the same magnificent results? That’s the promise and appeal of SAFe. The SAFe acronym was carefully picked to seem risk-free. SAFe sells the illusion you can radically change while staying in your comfort zone. As nice as it sounds, deep down we all know it isn’t true. Radical change is never easy. Agile is a new paradigm that requires you to fundamentally change how you work. Most corporations are not up for those kind of drastic changes and that’s perfectly understandable. For them SAFe offers an alluring but ultimately inconsequential alternative. SAFe offers what corporations are familiar with and are able to recognize. That’s exactly why it’s bound to fail. Working in a new paradigm should feel uncomfortable and uncertain until the moment it doesn’t.

How can banks harness automation to its fullest value?

Automation technologies could contribute an additional $US 1 trillion annually in value across the global banking sector – through increased sales, cost reduction and new or unrealized opportunities. But this value is still largely being left on the table. Why? There are well documented challenges with automation, including lack of clear and strategic intent and senior executive support for automation, plus heavily siloed deployment within organisations, resulting in disconnects within and across digital transformation efforts. To be frank, operating models are, per se, neither enable nor ask for strategic use of automation technologies. But a hidden key reason has become increasingly obvious – the failure to grasp the nature and size of the opportunity. If automation technologies can be recombined in new ways, not only can existing opportunities be seized, but new ones can be created, ad infinitum. Prescient banking executives we are researching understand two things: the strategic opportunities offered by intelligent automation; and how automation can drive the twin engines of compound growth and combinatorial innovation. 

3 Ways CIOs Can Enable Innovation Within a Hybrid Workforce

Plan everything intentionally. Design floats luck to the shore; otherwise luck just lies in the offshore mud and waves feebly at the beach. The best virtual gatherings of 2020 were the planned ones -- the games of charades, the holiday meals where people shared recipes and made them independently, the weddings where guests attended, however briefly, when they never could have in person. Fewer meetings can make for better innovation if parts of the process are aligned to the best ways to achieve them. (Workers tell us they spend 8+ hours a week in meetings, on average; help them cut that time by making the meeting time they do spend the most productive it can be.) Make plans that bring people together for the tasks that demand shared presence but also encourage them to share endeavors they might not have been able to foresee. CIO to-do: Show executives the menu of meeting types that they can choose from and model the best behavior in selection by demanding that any meeting have a reason to happen when it does and a reason to include everyone invited. Require participants to set for themselves a role they’ll play in the meeting.

Quote for the day:

"Added pressure and responsibility should not change one's leadership style, it should merely expose that which already exists." -- Mark W. Boyer

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