Daily Tech Digest - July 20, 2022

CIOs contend with rising cloud costs

“A lot of our clients are stuck in the middle,” says Ashley Skyrme, senior managing director and leader of the Global Cloud First Strategy and Consulting practice at Accenture. “The spigot is turned on and they have these mounting costs because cloud availability and scalability are high, and more businesses are adopting it.” And as the migration furthers, cloud costs soon rank second — next only to payroll — in the corporate purse, experts say. The complexity of navigating cloud use and costs has spawned a cottage industry of SaaS providers lining up to help enterprises slash their cloud bills. ... “Cloud costs are rising,” says Bill VanCuren, CIO of NCR. “We plan to manage within the large volume agreement and other techniques to reduce VMs [virtual machines].” Naturally, heavy cloud use is compounding the costs of maintaining or decommissioning data centers that are being kept online to ensure business continuity as the migration to the cloud continues. But more significant to the rising cost problem is the lack of understanding that the compute, storage, and consumption models on the public cloud are varied, complicated, and often misunderstood, experts say.

How WiFi 7 will transform business

In practice, WiFi 7 might not be rolled out for another couple of years — especially as many countries have yet to delicense the new 6GHz spectrum for public use. However, it is coming, and so it’s important to plan for this development as plans could progress quicker than we first thought. In the same way as bigger motorways are built and traffic increases to fill them, faster, more stable WiFi will encourage more usage & users, and to quote the popular business mantra: “If you build it…they will come….”. WiFi 7 is a significant improvement over all the past WiFi standards. It uses the same spectrum chunks as WiFi 6/6e, and can deliver data more than twice as fast. It has a much wider bandwidth for each channel as well as a raft of other improvements. It is thought that WiFi 7 could deliver speeds of 30 gigabits per second (Gbps) to compatible devices and that the new standard could make running cables between devices completely obsolete. It’s now not necessarily about what you can do with the data, but how you actually physically interact with it. 

How to Innovate Fast with API-First and API-Led Integration

Many have assembled their own technologies as they have tried to deliver a more productive, cloud native platform-as-a-shared-service that different teams can use to create, compose and manage services and APIs. They try to combine integration, service development and API-management technologies on top of container-based technologies like Docker and Kubernetes. Then they add tooling on top to implement DevOps and CI/CD pipelines. Afterward comes the first services and APIs to help expose legacy systems via integration, for example. When developers have access to such a platform within their preferred tools and can reuse core APIs instead of spending time on legacy integration, it means they can spend more time on designing and building the value-added APIs faster. At best, a group can use all the capabilities because it spreads the adoption of best practices, helps get teams ramped up faster and makes them deliver quicker. But at the very least, APIs should be shared and governed together.

Using Apache Kafka to process 1 trillion inter-service messages

One important decision we made for the Messagebus cluster is to only allow one proto message per topic. This is configured in Messagebus Schema and enforced by the Messagebus-Client. This was a good decision to enable easy adoption, but it has led to numerous topics existing. When you consider that for each topic we create, we add numerous partitions and replicate them with a replication factor of at least three for resilience, there is a lot of potential to optimize compute for our lower throughput topics. ... Making it easy for teams to observe Kafka is essential for our decoupled engineering model to be successful. We therefore have automated metrics and alert creation wherever we can to ensure that all the engineering teams have a wealth of information available to them to respond to any issues that arise in a timely manner. We use Salt to manage our infrastructure configuration and follow a Gitops style model, where our repo holds the source of truth for the state of our infrastructure. To add a new Kafka topic, our engineers make a pull request into this repo and add a couple of lines of YAML. 

Load Testing: An Unorthodox Guide

A common shortcut is to generate the load on the same machine (i.e. the developer’s laptop), that the server is running on. What’s problematic about that? Generating load needs CPU/Memory/Network Traffic/IO and that will naturally skew your test results, as to what capacity your server can handle requests. Hence, you’ll want to introduce the concept of a loader: A loader is nothing more than a machine that runs e.g. an HTTP Client that fires off requests against your server. A loader sends n-RPS (requests per second) and, of course, you’ll be able to adjust the number across test runs. You can start with a single loader for your load tests, but once that loader struggles to generate the load, you’ll want to have multiple loaders. (Like 3 in the graphic above, though there is nothing magical about 3, it could be 2, it could be 50). It’s also important that the loader generates those requests at a constant rate, best done asynchronously, so that response processing doesn’t get in the way of sending out new requests. ... Bonus points if the loaders aren’t on the same physical machine, i.e. not just adjacent VMs, all sharing the same underlying hardware. 

Open-Source Testing: Why Bug Bounty Programs Should Be Embraced, Not Feared

There are two main challenges: one around decision-making, and another around integrations. Regarding decision-making, the process can really vary according to the project. For example, if you are talking about something like Rails, then there is an accountable group of people who agree on a timetable for releases and so on. However, within the decentralized ecosystem, these decisions may be taken by the community. For example, the DeFi protocol Compound found itself in a situation last year where in order to agree to have a particular bug fixed, token-holders had to vote to approve the proposal. ... When it comes to integrations, these often cause problems for testers, even if their product is not itself open-source. Developers include packages or modules that are written and maintained by volunteers outside the company, where there is no SLA in force and no process for claiming compensation if your application breaks because an open-source third party library has not been updated, or if your build script pulls in a later version of a package that is not compatible with the application under test.

3 automation trends happening right now

IT automation specifically continues to grow as a budget priority for CIOs, according to Red Hat’s 2022 Global Tech Outlook. While it’s outranked as a discrete spending category by the likes of security, cloud management, and cloud infrastructure, in reality, automation plays an increasing role in each of those areas. ... While organizations and individuals automate tasks and processes for a bunch of different reasons, the common thread is usually this: Automation either reduces painful (or simply boring) work or it enables capabilities that would otherwise be practically impossible – or both. “Automation has helped IT and engineering teams take their processes to the next level and achieve scale and diversity not possible even a few years ago,” says Anusha Iyer, co-founder and CTO of Corsha. ... Automation is central to the ability to scale – quickly, reliably, and securely – distributed systems, whether viewed from an infrastructure POV (think hybrid cloud and multi-cloud operations), application architecture POV, security POV, or though virtually any other lens. Automation is key to making it work.

CIO, CDO and CTO: The 3 Faces of Executive IT

Most companies lack experience with the CDO and CTO positions. This makes these positions (and those filling them) vulnerable to failure or misunderstanding. The CIO, who has supervised most of the responsibilities that the CDO and CTO are being assigned, can help allay fears, and benefit from the cooperation, too. This can be done by forging a collaborative working partnership with both the CDO and CTO, which will need IT’s help. By taking a pivotal and leading role in building these relationships, the CIO reinforces IT’s central role, and helps the company realize the benefits of executive visibility of the three faces of IT: data, new technology research, and developing and operating IT business operations. Many companies opt to place the CTO and CDO in IT, where they report to the CIO. Sometimes this is done upfront. Other times, it is done when the CEO realizes that he/she doesn't have the time or expertise to manage three different IT functions.. This isn't a bad idea since the CIO already understands the challenges of leveraging data and researching new technologies.

Log4j: The Pain Just Keeps Going and Going

Why is Log4j such a persistent pain in the rump? First, it’s a very popular, open source Java-based logging framework. So it’s been embedded into thousands of other software packages. That’s no typo. Log4j is in thousands of programs. Adding insult to injury, Log4j is often deeply embedded in code and hidden from view due to being called in by indirect dependencies. So, the CSRB stated that “Defenders faced a particularly challenging situation; the vulnerability impacted virtually every networked organization, and the severity of the threat required fast action.” Making matters worse, according to CSRB, “There is no comprehensive ‘customer list’ for Log4j or even a list of where it is integrated as a subsystem.”  ... The pace, pressure, and publicity compounded the defensive challenges: security researchers quickly found additional vulnerabilities in Log4j, contributing to confusion and ‘patching fatigue’; defenders struggled to distinguish vulnerability scanning by bona fide researchers from threat actors, and responders found it difficult to find authoritative sources of information on how to address the issues,” the CSRB said.

Major Takeaways: Cyber Operations During Russia-Ukraine War

The operational security expert known as the grugq says Russia did disrupt command-and-control communications - but the disruption failed to stymie Ukraine's military. The government had reorganized from a "Soviet-style" centralized command structure to empower relatively low-level military officers to make major decisions, such as blowing up runways at strategically important airports before they were captured by Russian forces. Lack of contact with higher-ups didn't compromise the ability of Ukraine's military to physically defend the country. ... Another surprising development is the open involvement of Western technology companies in Ukraine's cyber defense, WithSecure's Hypponen says. "I'm surprised by the fact that Western technology companies like Microsoft and Google are there on the battlefield, supporting Ukraine against governmental attacks from Russia, which is again, something we've never seen in any other war." Western corporations aren't alone, either. Kyiv raised a first-ever volunteer "IT Army," consisting of civilians recruited to break computer crime laws in aid of the country's military defense.

Quote for the day:

"Leadership is a way of thinking, a way of acting and, most importantly, a way of communicating." -- Simon Sinek

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