Enterprise IT Watch Blog


August 31, 2015  9:30 AM

Top-notch data scientists are grown, not born

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh
Analytics, Big Data, Data Science, Data scientist

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Big data image via Shutterstock

By James Kobielus (@jameskobielus)

You can anoint yourself with whatever lofty job title you wish. That doesn’t mean that others need to buy into your conceit. Or, more to the point, it doesn’t mean others will feel a compulsion to hire you into that role or pay you at a rate commensurate with your inflated self-regard.

Data scientist is a job title that many people are adopting, if for no other reason than that it’s supposedly the “sexiest” job in the 21st century. Given the fact that many people see it as the ticket to a rewarding career, no one can deny that some of these nouveau data scientists are well-intentioned incompetents, while others may be outright charlatans trying to cash in on the latest trend. There are confidence artists in every profession.

Considering how important data science is to the big-data analytics revolution, we can’t afford to let underperforming data scientists take root in our development shops. But, given the shortage of data science skills deficit, we also can’t afford to turn away promising individuals who, though they may not be “naturals,” might become exceptional data scientists if given an opportunity to grow their skills in the right environment.

How do you know a good data scientist, or as least someone with real potential, when you see one? When hiring and promoting, how can you distinguish a high-quality data scientist from someone who talks a good talk but just can’t produce? Or, if you’re grooming fresh data-science talent in your organization, how can you tell who’s got true potential from those who may try hard but just don’t have the skills or aptitude to succeed?

There is no shortage of commentary on what makes a good data scientist. If you’re aspiring to this career or grooming others for it, it’s best to group the advice into two broad categories: “here’s why someone will never become a top-notch data scientist” vs. “here are the milestones that someone must hurdle if they want to become one.”

Some commentators lean far more in one direction than the other with their advice. A few years ago, for example, Vincent Granville offered his 13-point checklist and linked to an online diagnostic test for distinguishing so-called “fake data scientists” from those who ostensibly have the right stuff. Though I disagree with this polarizing approach to talent management, one can’t deny that some people may not have the innate aptitudes or work ethic needed to excel in this field.

Some commentators recognize that “data scientist” is an aspiration as much as a vocation. This past month, Bernard Marr presented his 5-point list of signs that someone isn’t quite ready to become a peak-performing data scientist, but may get there some day through focus, education, and perseverance. However, Marr’s list isn’t very different from Granville’s in its reliance on stigmatizing characterizations—e.g., “you aren’t creative”—that feel more like insults than constructive advice. And his call to readers to “add to my list of signs that someone is NOT a data scientist” feels like he’s building a detailed profile to be used for excluding people from this field.

My feeling is that good data scientists are grown—through education, experience, and incentives—rather than born. For example, creativity is in the eye of the beholder. The best data scientists can demonstrate that when they’re given a challenge that calls it forth. In this blog from three years ago, I discussed the attributes that you should look for when evaluating a data scientist’s performance on real-world projects. These traits include curiosity, intellectual agility, statistical fluency, research stamina, scientific rigor, and a skeptical nature. Some of these may be innate, but some may be entirely the result of a determined individual’s efforts to grow and stretch in their chosen career.

Education is the very heart of professional growth, and most data scientists seek it out wherever it’s available. In a separate blog three years ago, I discussed the core curriculum that every good data scientist needs to master in order to excel in the job. Many of the new generation of data scientists are largely self-taught, though it’s usually best to have some formal education under your belt.

My perspective on this issue is intensely personal. Ten years ago, I didn’t know much about data science, data management, big data, or analytics. However, I was offered a high-visibility job that required that I master all of these topics, without the benefit of classroom instruction or a degree, practically overnight.

Many of you read my work. I’m in my mid-50s, and now I’m someone that many regard as an expert in this field. I’m not a data scientist, per se, but I obviously know the subject matter. I wasn’t born to do this work. I’ve grown myself into it.

And I’m not faking it. I author every last word that goes out under my byline.

August 31, 2015  9:18 AM

TechTarget’s weekly roundup (8/24 – 8/31)

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh
HP, Hyper-convergence, VMware, Windows 10

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HP image via Shutterstock

What does HP need to get in order before the upcoming split? Find out in this week’s roundup.

1. HP Enterprise has work cut out following split – Ed Scannell (SearchDataCenter)

With the split two months away, HP Enterprise needs to ensure its hardware, software and services groups work and play better together.

2. Hyper-converged systems look to preempt VMware’s plans – Robert Gates (SearchDataCenter)

The small vendors that have lead the hyper-converged infrastructure market look to stay in front of VMware and Cisco with updates ahead of VMworld 2015.

3. Windows 10 data collection sparks Microsoft privacy concerns – Ramin Edmond (SearchEnterpriseDesktop)

Windows 10 constantly feeds your information to Microsoft, raising questions about how private your experience really is.

4. HP open switches mark the latest challenge to Cisco – Antone Gonsalves (SearchNetworking)

HP introduced two Altoline open switches that increase the company’s portfolio of alternatives to Cisco’s proprietary hardware.

5. Report says SMB IT still doesn’t get virtualization security – Michael Heller (SearchSecurity)

A new report makes controversial claims about the costs of breaches in virtualized environments, strongly suggesting IT pros may not understand the challenges of virtualization security.


August 24, 2015  8:57 AM

TechTarget’s weekly roundup (8/17 – 8/24)

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh
Android, Docker, Magic Quadrant, Windows 10

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Windows 10 image via Shutterstock

Can Windows 10 save the slumping PC market? Find out in this week’s roundup.

1. Windows 10 no savior for slumping PC market – Ramin Edmond (SearchEnterpriseDesktop)

Windows 10 adoption won’t spur the PC market as many users rely on tablets and other Windows mobile devices.

2. Gartner debuts Magic Quadrant for group video – Katherine Finnell (SearchUnifiedCommunications)

A market evolution has led Gartner to create a Magic Quadrant for group video systems, as enterprises focus not only on endpoints, but infrastructure and interoperability with their room system deployments.

3. Millions left at risk as Android Stagefright fix pushed to September – Michael Heller (SearchSecurity)

The Android Stagefright vulnerability continues to put millions of users at risk because Google’s first attempt at a patch did not work, and a new fix likely will not come until September.

4. Cloud, mobile apps remain major tech issues for Gartner Catalyst-goers – Jason Sparapani (SearchCIO)

IT professionals gathered at Gartner Catalyst to bone up on bleeding-edge technology and apply what they learned to tech issues at home.

5. Coho Data adds Docker containers inside storage – Garry Kranz (SearchVirtual Storage)

A Coho Data DataStream software upgrade lets Docker containers execute directly on DataStream storage arrays.


August 16, 2015  8:34 PM

TechTarget’s weekly roundup (8/10 – 8/17)

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh
Big Data, SDN, Windows 10, Yammer

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Big data image via Shutterstock

What are some of the largest big data failures to watch out for? Find out in this week’s roundup.

1. Seven big data failures to watch out for – Nicole Laskowski (SearchCIO)

At this week’s Gartner Catalyst conference, a session on big data failures drew a crowd of IT leaders eager not to commit the same mistakes.

2. Windows 10 gets its first Patch Tuesday updates – Ed Scannell and Tayla Holman (SearchWindowsServer)

Microsoft wastes no time delivering its first critical Windows 10 Patch Tuesday fixes, along with critical updates for its Edge and IE browsers.

3. Microsoft refreshes Yammer mobile – Antone Gonsalves (SearchUnifiedCommunications)

Microsoft has made it easier for corporate employees to use Yammer mobile for team collaboration.

4. Analysts: SDN wouldn’t have prevented United Airlines network outage – Alissa Irei (SearchSDN)

Some speculate that SDN could prevent a network outage like the one that brought United Airlines to a screeching halt. Others, however, say the industry needs an SDN reality check.

5. Bitdefender hack the latest cyberattack on security vendors – Olivia Eckerson (SearchSecurity)

Bitdefender suffered a data breach in which a hacker stole a small number of unencrypted usernames and passwords for active customers. The hacker then demanded $15,000 in ransom.


August 11, 2015  6:21 AM

TechTarget’s weekly roundup (8/3 – 8/10)

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh
Agile, Black Hat, HP, IBM, Windows 10

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Internet freedom image via Shutterstock

Is Internet freedom and openness really dying? Find out in this week’s roundup.

1. Black Hat 2015 opens with bleak view of Internet freedom – Robert Richardson (SearchSecurity)

Legal expert Jennifer Granick kicked off Black Hat 2015 with a warning to conference goers that Internet freedom and openness are dying.

2. As its legacy software stalls, IBM cloud service revs engine – Ed Scannell (SearchCloudComputing)

IBM’s cloud service, thanks to SoftLayer and subscriptions, is making some headway but hasn’t made up for lagging legacy software sales.

3. HP hyper-converged product upgraded, EVO:RAIL dropped – Carol Sliwa (SearchVirtualStorage)

HP launches new ConvergedSystem 250-HC StoreVirtual appliances, as hyper-convergence strategy shifts to one product.

4. Rework the user story to improve Agile security – Valerie Silverthorne (SearchSoftwareQuality)

At Agile2015, discussion turned to how a user story can offer a different approach to Agile security.

5. Windows 10 builds on positive launch – Simon Quicke (MicroScope)

According to the latest figures, users are moving to the latest Microsoft operating system.


August 3, 2015  10:04 AM

TechTarget’s weekly roundup (7/27 – 8/3)

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh
BlackBerry, cybersecurity, Juniper Networks, OpenStack

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BlackBerry image via Shutterstock

Have we finally seen the end of BlackBerry? Find out in this week’s roundup.

1. BlackBerry devices face extinction amid continual losses – Jake O’Donnell (SearchMobileComputing)

BlackBerry’s smartphone revenue dropped 31% last quarter from the previous year and it could begin a sharper pivot from devices.

2. Rackspace, Intel launch OpenStack training center – Trevor Jones (SearchCloudComputing)

Enterprises are interested in OpenStack, but can’t find enough IT pros with open source cloud expertise. Rackspace and Intel hope to change that.

3. Protests lead to drafting new Wassenaar Arrangement cybersecurity rules – Michael Heller (SearchSecurity)

Major IT companies like Black Hat and Google spoke out against the proposed Wassenaar Arrangement rules for cybersecurity software, and those protests have caused the U.S. Dept. of Commerce to commit to drafting new rules.

4. Juniper rise could be good news for enterprise tech buyers – Antone Gonsalves (SearchNetworking)

Juniper Networks is selling to more enterprises, a trend that could heat up the competition for the wallets of tech buyers.

5. Football club hopes to score with SAP cloud-based applications – Chris Maxcer (SearchSAP)

New York City FC president Tom Glick says global soccer group needs SAP cloud innovations to continue its rapid growth.


July 27, 2015  8:30 AM

TechTarget’s weekly roundup (7/20 – 7/27)

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh
Cisco, HP, OpenStack, Oracle

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HP image via Shutterstock

Do you think HP was right to disclose Windows Phone vulnerabilities? Find out in this week’s roundup.

1. HP scares IT teams with Windows Phone vulnerabilities – Michael Heller (SearchSecurity)

HP’s Zero Day Initiative has disclosed four critical vulnerabilities found in Internet Explorer that could lead to remote code execution, but mistakenly labeled them as affecting Windows desktop not Windows Phone.

2. Cisco sheds set-top box business to develop cloud-based video delivery – Antone Gonsalves (SearchNetworking)

Cisco is selling its set-top box and cable modem business as pay TV delivery shifts to cloud-based video.

3. Google Kubernetes extends to OpenStack hybrid clouds – Trevor Jones (SearchCloudComputing)

Google has made some moves to bolster the future of Kubernetes, the open-source cluster scheduling tool Google has declared production ready.

4. Oracle Sales Cloud update aims to boost sales, efficiency – Lauren Horwitz (SearchCRM)

Oracle updates its Sales Cloud to increase sales; Infer announces new lead gen product; and Xactly Strategic Services aims to drive workforce management.

5. DataCore Software chairman lauds EMC’s ViPR strategy – Carol Sliwa (SearchVirtualStorage)

DataCore Chairman Ziya Aral shares opinions on the state of the storage industry and trends with flash, hyper-converged and software-defined storage.


July 20, 2015  9:46 AM

TechTarget’s weekly roundup (7/13 – 7/20)

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh
Cloud strategy, Microsoft, Oracle, Seagate

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Microsoft image via Shutterstock

What does Microsoft’s new cloud strategy look like? Find out in this week’s roundup.

1. Microsoft cloud strategy turns competitors into partners – Trevor Jones (SearchCloudComputing)

For a company once known for its closed ecosystem, the Microsoft cloud strategy is increasingly reliant on the competition.

2. DOJ takes down Darkode, but for how long? – Michael Heller (SearchSecurity)

The U.S. Department of Justice, in coordination with 20 countries, has taken down the computer hacking forum known as Darkode, but experts say the community is already rebuilding.

3. Seagate Technology extends enterprise storage reach in backup, HPC – Carol Sliwa (SearchStorage)

Seagate Technology extends its enterprise storage reach with new and updated products in data protection portfolio, additional partnerships in HPC.

4. Xamarin to work with Oracle on Mobile Cloud Services – Jessica Sirkin (SearchOracle)

Oracle recently partnered with startup Xamarin. Oracle also released the Oracle Commerce Cloud and got a court date for its lawsuit with Rimini Street.

5. IEEE group advocates random MAC addresses for Wi-Fi security – James Maimonis (SearchTelecom)

An IEEE group advocates random MAC addresses for increased Wi-Fi security, while networking pros say enterprise security isn’t strong enough for moving applications to the cloud.


July 13, 2015  9:17 AM

TechTarget’s weekly roundup (7/6 – 7/13)

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh
Azure, Citrix, Data breach, Google Drive

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Data breach image via Shutterstock

How will the White House respond to the OPM data breach? Find out in this week’s roundup.

1. OPM hackers stole 21.5 million records, 1.1 million fingerprints – Michael Heller (SearchSecurity)

Investigators for the OPM data breach find that 21.5 million personal records were stolen in the attack, including 1.1 million fingerprints. The White House is still considering its response.

2. IT fears some Citrix products, services may disappear – Jake O’Donnell (SearchVirtualDesktop)

Citrix’s business model is shifting, as the company moves into new technology areas. And some IT pros worry about what that means for certain products.

3. NYSE outage highlights need for IT automation – Robert Gates (SearchDataCenter)

The NYSE outage has been pegged on gateways that were misconfigured for a software release, something that can be prevented with automation.

4. Azure price hikes unlikely to impact U.S. customers – Trevor Jones (SearchCloudComputing)

Currency fluctuations are behind an Azure price hike from Microsoft, but it’s more of a blip in the market than a larger trend.

5. Indian government leaked shadow data through Google Drive – Maxim Tamarov (SearchCloudSecurity)

Researchers at Elastica recently discovered an Indian government agency had its employees’ email addresses and passwords exposed through Google Drive.


July 6, 2015  9:42 AM

TechTarget’s weekly roundup (6/29 – 7/6)

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh
Cisco, Data Center, Internet of Things, Mobile security

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Mobile security image via Shutterstock

Have organizations scratched the surface when it comes to mobile security? Find out in this week’s update.

1. New Pulse Secure CEO on what mobile security lacks – Jake O’Donnell (SearchConsumerization)

Mobile security has come a long way, but organizations still have to address many sizable gaps.

2. Cisco acquires OpenDNS to fight IoT threats – Antone Gonsalves (SearchNetworking)

Cisco plans to acquire OpenDNS and use its security-as-a-service products to reduce the number of IoT threats customers face.

3. Fobber: Drive-by financial malware returns with new tricks – Maxim Tamarov (SearchFinancialSecurity)

Drive-by financial malware Fobber is the evolution of the popular Tinba — with better encryption, a newer format and a focus on the Netherlands.

4. Data center spending continues climb, led by power, DCIM – Robert Gates (SearchDataCenter)

Purchases of racks, cabling, power equipment and data center infrastructure management software top the list for data center spending.

5. Service for Apps brings in-app support to Salesforce Service Cloud – Tim Ehrens (SearchCRM)

Service for Apps allows Salesforce Service Cloud users to embed live agent support and a knowledge base within their applications and other CRM news.


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