Daily Tech Digest - July 22, 2022

Can automated test tools eliminate QA?

The traditional quality assurance process is multi-step and requires at least two types of software testers: The first tester exercises data edit and processing functions in applications, and they ensure that all of these processes are working correctly. The second QA tester is more familiar with the business’s needs and how the application should address them. This tester is usually savvy about application technical details as well as the business systems with which the application is going to interact. But there’s more to QA than just these two front-running functions. Applications must be integration-tested to ensure that they interact and exchange data with all of the different systems and data that they work with. They must also be moved to application staging areas where they can be regression tested. This ensures that they don’t break any other existing software with which they interface and that they can run the maximum amount of transactions for which they were designed in production. From an IT standpoint, applications must pass through all of these hurdles before they can go live. 

The downside of digital transformation: why organisations must allow for those who can’t or won’t move online

Through our current research we find the reality of a digitally enabled society is, in fact, far from perfect and frictionless. Our preliminary findings point to the need to better understand the outcomes of digital transformation at a more nuanced, individual level. Reasons vary as to why a significant number of people find accessing and navigating online services difficult. And it’s often an intersection of multiple causes related to finance, education, culture, language, trust or well-being. Even when given access to digital technology and skills, the complexity of many online requirements and the chaotic life situations some people experience limit their ability to engage with digital services in a productive and meaningful way. The resulting sense of disenfranchisement and loss of control is regrettable, but it isn’t inevitable. Some organisations are now looking for alternatives to a single-minded focus on transferring services online. Other organisations are considering partnerships with intermediaries who can work with individuals who find engaging with digital services difficult.

Authentic leadership: Building an organization that thrives

Becoming an authentic leader takes a lot of self-reflection and self-awareness. You’ll need to work to understand yourself and others, using empathy and compassion as your driving force. For examples of authentic leadership in the tech industry, you can look to former CEO of Apple Steve Jobs, former CEO of GE Jack Welch, former CEO of Xerox Anne Mulcahy, and former CEO of IBM Sam Palmisano. These leaders are all known for their authentic leadership styles that helped them drive business success. To become an authentic leader, you’ll need to embark on a path of self-discovery, establish a strong set of values and principles that will guide you in your decision-making, and be completely honest with yourself about who you are. An authentic leader isn’t afraid to make mistakes or to own up to mistakes when they happen. You’ll need to make sure you’re someone who takes accountability, maintains calm under pressure, and can be vulnerable with coworkers and employees. It’s important to know your own strengths and weaknesses as an authentic leader and to identify how you cope with success, failure, and setbacks. 

Reporting to build trust: A framework

Whether you’re preparing an integrated annual report or a stand-alone sustainability report, the publication has to be informed by steps one and two. It’s also critical to put the right resources in place, in terms of both time and people, along with the right incentives and the right oversight. Companies can truly be confident in what they report only when it is subject to board oversight, relevant to the company’s strategy, and has the right governance, systems and controls in place to measure progress towards targets and plans. Many large companies that have teams of hundreds working on financial reporting often have only a handful of people working on sustainability reporting. Even with the best intentions, less-resourced areas have a higher potential to miss something that turns out to be critically important. The business world’s financial reporting capabilities have been built over 170 years. When it comes to sustainability reporting, we need to move quickly to build the right capabilities—using what we’ve learned from financial reporting. And if sustainability reporting is to be on par with financial reporting for informing resource allocation decisions, it needs to be just as robust and relevant. 

Six reasons successful leaders love questions

Comparing questions to dreams is Straus’s way of saying that questions hold the key to better understanding the subconscious dimensions of the person asking the questions. It can be extremely difficult to understand why employees think the way they do, and how to help them change their mindset and behavior if required. It then stands to reason that questions might also help leaders better understand the culture and habits of their organization. In his 1988 article, “Toward a History of the Question,” Dutch philosopher C.E.M. Struyker Boudier writes, “In and by way of his questions the human being can reach out to the divine, and likewise degrade himself to the demonic inferno of evil.” Questioning forces people to the line between good and bad, yes and no, pro and con. Asking questions is closely related to making a choice. We cannot address everything at once, so to ask a question, we must decide what to focus on and how. We have the choice to take an approach that is optimistic or pessimistic, abstract or concrete, individual or collective, broad or narrow, past- or future-oriented, etc. 

Discovering the Versatility of OpenEBS

OpenEBS provides storage for stateful applications running on Kubernetes; including dynamic local persistent volumes (like the Rancher local path provisioner) or replicated volumes using various "data engines". Similarly to Prometheus, which can be deployed on a Raspberry Pi to monitor the temperature of your beer or sourdough cultures in your basement, but also scaled up to monitor hundreds of thousands of servers, OpenEBS can be used for simple projects, quick demos, but also large clusters with sophisticated storage needs. OpenEBS supports many different "data engines", and that can be a bit overwhelming at first. But these data engines are precisely what makes OpenEBS so versatile. There are "local PV" engines that typically require little or no configuration, offer good performance, but exist on a single node and become unavailable if that node goes down. And there are replicated engines that offer resilience against node failures. Some of these replicated engines are super easy to set up, but the ones offering the best performance and features will take a bit more work.

Cyber Resiliency: What It Is and How To Build It

Creating a cyber-resilience plan requires buy-in and input from all parts of the organization, including finance, IT, and operations. “It’s important that departments work together to classify information and risk, as well as to determine where to put controls and where responsibilities lie,” Piker says. “Once a plan has been agreed upon, a budget must be carved out to fund the actual implementation of the plan.” It's important to engage the entire organization. “This is not just a technical issue under the control of a CIO or CISO,” Adkins says. “Your employees and vendors can play a critical role in spotting potential attacks to limit their impact.” Additionally, with the continuing trend toward remote work, employee cyber awareness and training is more important than ever. “This means formal policies, training, exercises simulation, and ongoing analysis of risks,” Adkins says. Adkins advises organizations to use tabletop exercises to test incident practices and times. “It's much easier to fix a flaw in your planning and processes when you’re not in the middle of a crisis,” he says. 

How kitemarks are kicking off IoT regulation

Interestingly, all those we have seen apply for the scheme have chosen to go for Gold because they want to be seen to be adhering to the highest levels and it’s been attracting some big international consumer brands. The smaller players that previously had difficulty understanding and navigating the red tape involved in the Code of Practice/ETSI have also valued the guidance and human touch of an assessor. The theory is that the product assurance scheme will spur compliance ahead of the PSTI, making the transition that much easier for the IoT industry, and the fact that many have aimed high suggests the approach is working. Manufacturers like the visibility conferred by the badge, which then becomes a differentiator in the marketplace, as well as ensuring future compliance. It’s for these reasons that many watching the assurance rollout with interest. IoT kitemark schemes vary internationally, from labels that denote compliance with a set of cybersecurity criteria, to a single label that attests basic security features are provided, to several tiers or even a label that lists cybersecurity information about the IoT device.

4 tips for leading remote IT teams

Traditional enterprises tend to have a “we will train our employees only as much as we have to” mentality. However, this approach will make your employees more likely to seek other opportunities where they feel more valued and prepared. Of course, there is always the risk of employees leaving with their newfound skills, but having undertrained employees can be worse for your business and the organization. Set aside a generous annual budget for training and development and help map out a personalized training path for each employee. This is critical to employee happiness and long-term business planning. These plans should also demonstrate growth opportunities that benefit each employee – not just the organization. In-person training is great, but don’t underestimate the value of virtual training. While a personal connection with instructors can often provide more knowledge and attention, the convenience of virtual training makes it a popular alternative these days. Encourage your employees to explore training opportunities where they’re located.

How Microcontainers Gain Against Large Containers

A microcontainer is an optimized container modified toward better efficiency. It still contains all the files to provide more scaling, isolation, and parity to the software application. However, it is an improved container, with an optimized number of files kept in the image. Important files left in the microcontainer are shell, package manager, and standard C library. In parallel, there exists a concept of ‘distroless’ in a field of containers, where all the unused files are fully extracted from the image. It is worth emphasizing the distinction between the concept of microcontainer and distroless. Microcontainer still contains unused files, as they are required for the system to stay completed. Microcontainer is based on the same system of operation as the regular container and performs all the same functions, with the only difference that its internal files have been enhanced and its size got smaller due to the improvements done by developers. Microcontainer contains an optimized number of files, so it still includes all files and dependencies required for application run, but in a lighter and smaller format. 

Quote for the day:

"The first task of a leader is to keep hope alive." -- Joe Batten

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