Enterprise IT Watch Blog


November 14, 2016  9:46 AM

TechTarget’s weekly roundup (11/7 – 11/14)

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh
cybersecurity, DevOps, Health IT, Public Cloud

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President image via FreeImages

How will the Trump presidency affect the future of health IT? Find out in this week’s roundup.

1. Experts say how Trump presidency might affect the future of health IT – Kristen Lee (SearchHealthIT)

What will the future of health IT be under the new Trump administration? Health IT experts offer up predictions and reassurances for the future.

2. Public cloud and big banks finally on the same page – Trevor Jones (SearchCloudComputing)

Public cloud and big banks weren’t always a good fit, but financial juggernauts have gone beyond their four walls to test the waters of hyperscale cloud computing.

3. At DOES 2016, important lessons from the DevOps journey – Valerie Silverthorne (SearchSoftwareQuality)

DevOps is a long method of small changes in culture and process. At DOES 2016, experts who are well along their way offer their best tips. Some may surprise you.

4. Post-election Russian hacker cyberattacks evade malware detection – Michael Heller (SearchSecurity)

A rash of spear phishing attacks by Russian hacker groups were seen following the presidential election this week, but antivirus and malware detection has been failing enterprises.

5. President-elect silent on federal cybersecurity policies – Eamon McCarthy Earls (SearchNetworking)

This week, bloggers look ahead to the new administration’s cybersecurity policies, how to close gaps in app delivery management and the best way to optimize data centers.

November 9, 2016  12:27 PM

Accelerating deep learning to superhuman proportions

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh
Algorithms, Deep learning

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Algorithm image via FreeImages

By James Kobielus (@jameskobielus)

Deep learning delivers extraordinary cognitive powers in the never-ending battle to distill sense from data at ever larger scales. But high performance doesn’t come cheap.

Deep learning relies on the application of multilevel neural-network algorithms to high-dimensional data objects. As such, it requires that fast-matrix manipulations in highly parallel architectures in order to identify complex, elusive patterns—such as objects, faces, voices, threats, etc.–amid big data’s “3 V” noise. As evidence for the technology’s increasingly superhuman cognitive abilities, check out research projects such as this that use it to put the Turing test to shame.

Extremely high-dimensional data is the bane of deep learning from a performance standpoint. That’s because crunching through high-dimensionality data is an exceptionally resource-intensive task, often consuming every last bit of available processors, memory, disk, and I/O thrown at it. Examples of the sorts of high-dimensional objects against which deep learning algorithms are usually applied include streaming media, photographic images, aggregated environmental feeds, rich behavioral data, and geospatial intelligence.

In data scientists’ attempts to algorithmically replicate the unfathomable intricacies of the mind, they must necessarily leverage the fastest chips, the largest clusters, and the most capacious interconnect bandwidth available to drive increasingly sophisticated deep learning algorithms. All of that assumes, of course, that these high-performance cluster-computing services are within their budgets.

What’s the optimal hardware substrate for deep learning? It would need to meet the following criteria. For high-dimensional deep learning to become more practical and pervasive, the underlying pattern-crunching hardware needs to become faster, cheaper, more scalable, and more versatile. Also, the hardware needs to become capable of processing data sets that will continue to grow in dimensionality as new sources are added, merged with other data, and analyzed by deep learning algorithms of greater sophistication. And the hardware—ranging from the chipsets and servers to the massively parallel clusters and distributed clouds—will need to keep crunching through higher-dimensionality data sets that also scale inexorably in volume, velocity, and variety.

Increasingly, many industry observers are touting graphical processing units (GPUs) are the ideal chipsets for deep learning. As discussed in this 2015 Wired article and this recent Data Science Central Post, GPUs–which were originally developed for video games and have high-performance math-processing features–may be far less hardware-intensive and less costly than general-purpose CPUs.

The Wired article mentions a Stanford researcher who used GPUs to “string together a three-computer system that could do the work of Google’s 1,000-computer cloud.” The article is also quick to point out that GPUs are pulling their deep-learning weight in production commercial and government applications, including as a complement to supercomputing resources at national laboratories. And it notes that some of the more intensive deep-learning algorithms are using GPUs to crunch through many billions of dimensions. The Data Science Central article, from a GPU hardware vendor, says that GPU technology is getting “smarter at a pace way faster than Moore’s Law,” though it offers none of the price-performance trend data needed to bolster that claim.

All of this raises the question of whether general-purpose CPUs have a future in high-performance deep learning. Some argue that general-purpose CPUs might continue to add value, either stand-alone or as a complement to GPUs, as long as they continue to improve in performance and to the extent that they’ve been optimized for high-performance, massively parallel clusters built on low-cost commodity hardware. Users such as Facebook are relying on GPU-based infrastructure to train their deep learning models, while also exploring new multi-core CPU chips that may approach the performance of GPUs in the near future.

A chipset-agnostic hybrid deep-learning hardware environment such as this may be the best approach, considering the vast range of specialized deep-learning applications and the likelihood that various hardware substrates will probably be optimized for diverse types of algorithmic analysis. In such a scenario, special-purpose “neural” chips, such as IBM SyNAPSE, may be incorporated for tasks for which neither GPUs not CPUs are optimal. FPGAs are also a credible option for deep learning.

Let’s leave quantum computing fabrics out of the discussion for now until they emerge from the laboratory suited for robust commercial deep-learning implementations. Deep learning needs serious acceleration in the here and now and shouldn’t pin its outsize performance requirements on unproven architectures that still have one foot in the lab.


November 7, 2016  10:24 AM

TechTarget’s weekly roundup (10/31 – 11/7)

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh
Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle, Slack

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Security image via FreeImages

Did Microsoft downplay the Windows zero-day vulnerability? Find out why the company is coming under fire for its response in this week’s roundup.

1. Experts question Microsoft’s Windows zero-day response – Michael Heller (SearchSecurity)

A Windows zero-day disclosed by Google caught Microsoft between patch cycles, and experts questioned whether Microsoft downplayed the severity of the vulnerability.

2. Oracle IaaS has foothold with legacy shops, plays catch-up to AWS – Kristin Knapp (SearchCloudComputing)

Oracle hopes to rival public cloud giant AWS in the IaaS market, and while it could win over legacy Oracle shops, it needs to attract developers and non-Oracle users, too.

3. Cisco pledges a quicker rollout of network automation tools – Antone Gonsalves (SearchNetworking)

Cisco tells Partner Summit attendees it will move faster to deliver the network automation tools the vendor has been slow to provide.

4. Election Protection helps voters with call center technology – Jesse Scardina (SearchCRM)

Election Protection handles upward of 100,000 calls per day as Election Day nears, routing calls from high-call-volume states using Genesys.

5. Microsoft takes on Slack with new team chat app – Katherine Finnell (SearchUnifiedCommunications)

Microsoft has unveiled its new team chat app, Microsoft Teams. The app is built into Office 365 and looks to compete with Slack, Cisco Spark and Unify Circuit.


October 31, 2016  9:33 AM

TechTarget’s weekly roundup (10/24 – 10/31)

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh
Apple, DevOps, SDN, Windows 10, Yahoo

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PC image via FreeImages

Windows PCs continue to dominate Macs in the business market. Find out why Apple is lagging behind in this week’s roundup.

1. Cost, applications thwart Macs in business – Ramin Edmond (SearchEnterpriseDesktop)

Windows PCs continue to outpace Macs in business. Cost, application options and Apple’s desktop and laptop strategy are all issues.

2. Yahoo, Verizon execs: Prepare your networking team for SDN and DevOps – Jennifer English (SearchSDN)

Enterprises need to prepare networking team members for SDN and DevOps, as the industry continues to change, Verizon and Yahoo said at the ONUG fall conference.

3. Details emerging on Dyn DNS DDoS attack, Mirai IoT botnet – Peter Loshin (SearchSecurity)

As more details emerge on last week’s massive Dyn DNS DDoS, new analysis indicated as few as 100,000 Mirai IoT botnet nodes were enlisted in the incident and reported attack rates up to 1.2 Tbps.

4. Users still kicking the tires on IBM’s cognitive applications – Ed Burns (SearchBusinessAnalytics)

There’s a huge amount of excitement around IBM’s cognitive computing tools, but users are still looking for ways to implement them in their businesses.

5. Microsoft Windows 10 event rings in immersive computing – Brian Holak (SearchCIO)

At this week’s Microsoft Windows 10 event, the company offered a glimpse of an immersive computing future. Also in Searchlight: AT&T, Time Warner and the future of 5G wireless services.


October 24, 2016  9:52 AM

TechTarget’s weekly roundup (10/17 – 10/24)

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh
DDOS, Dell EMC, Hyper-convergence, Internet of Things, salesforce

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Technology future image via FreeImages

Are you ready for the latest trends in the IT industry? Find out how you can prepare in this week’s roundup.

1. These 10 trends in IT are rewriting the rules: Are you prepared? – Stephen J. Bigelow (SearchITOperations)

The rapid evolution of data centers and cloud hinges on these 10 key IT trends, from hybrid infrastructures to IoT and smartly managing capacity — and new IT roles to manage it all.

2. Dell EMC hyper-converged infrastructure power-up stirs new uses, users – Robert Gates (SearchDataCenter)

Adding Dell servers to its hyper-converged infrastructure lineup boosts scalability and reliability for more use cases, says Dell EMC, but some customers may not be easily swayed.

3. Salesforce IoT Cloud roadmap includes machine learning – Lauren Horwitz (SearchSalesforce)

Salesforce IoT Cloud will get a boost from Einstein features, including machine learning, to make predictions, which could help companies prevent product failures.

4. CIOs, your chief execs want help on digital business innovation – Jason Sparapani (SearchCIO)

Here’s an important dispatch from Symposium/ITXpo: Digital business innovation is at the heart of the CEO psyche; CIOs need to help.

5. Dyn hit by massive DNS DDoS, Eastern U.S. bears brunt of attacks – Peter Loshin (SearchSecurity)

At least two DNS DDoS attacks on Dyn are disrupting access to many popular websites, users and companies on the Eastern U.S. are impacted.


October 18, 2016  11:05 AM

Keeping a clear mind about the potential downsides of AI

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh
Artificial intelligence

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Artifical image via FreeImages

By James Kobielus (@jameskobielus)

It’s not hard to grab your 15 minutes of attention in the mass media. All you need to do is argue that that the latest technological mania is going to ruin the world.

Alarmist warnings about artificial intelligence (AI) seem to be everywhere right now. I’m a bit jaded by all this sensationalism. Earlier this year I published my thoughts on this topic, in which I outlined the principal overheated arguments being made against AI and its data-driven cousin: cognitive computing. If you watched the otherwise excellent October 9 “CBS Sixty Minutes” episode on AI, you saw many of those arguments rehashed.

Now I’m seeing a new theme in the anti-AI backlash: the notion that growing reliance on data-driven cognitive computing will turn users into gibbering idiots. That’s essentially the thesis of Bernard Marr’s recent Forbes article, as flagged in the headline “Is Stupidity A Dangerous Side Effect Of Big-Data-Driven AI?” In the article itself, Marr softens that tone just a wee bit, using the term “de-skill” to refer to the process under which automating cognitive functions may cause people to forget how to handle them unassisted. But it’s clear that Marr believes the technology risks dumbing down AI-assisted tasks to the point at which people may become passive appendages to the machine (or, at the very least, to machine learning algorithms).

My feeling is that this is more of a red herring than a real issue. The fact that AI has made a specific mental task easier doesn’t imply that you, the person whose cognitive load is being lightened, are in danger of becoming an imbecile. We’ve been living with high-tech cognition offloaders—such as spreadsheets and electronic calculators–for the past couple of generations, but those don’t seem to have spawned mass mathematical illiteracy. People still need to master the same core concepts—addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, etc.–in order to use these tools correctly.

So before we let our fevered imaginations get the better of us, let’s consider how deeply entrenched AI has already become in our lives, and how little we need to fear it. If you consider the range of tasks for which AI is becoming ubiquitous, it’s obvious that none of this is reducing any of us to a state of drooling incoherence. AI’s principal applications so far have been for conversational chatbots, speech recognition, face recognition, image classification, natural language processing, computer vision, fraud detection, and environmental sensing. Though these AI-powered applications are everywhere—such as your smartphone–I’m pretty sure that most of us still have no problem speaking to human agents, understanding spoken language, or identifying a familiar face without technological spoonfeeding.

If anything, AI-enriched applications, appliances, the Internet of Things, and intelligent robotics are extending all of our senses. They’re honing our innate intuitions to a finer degree through immersive pattern sensing. And they’re empowering our neuromusculature in new ways, spurring all of us to evolve our organic smarts in order to embrace the amazing possibilities being unlocked.

Of course, it is quite possible that AI will be misapplied in many application contexts. That’s the essence of Marr’s arguments. He sketches out several speculative decision scenarios in which particular professionals may give AI-infused applications too much latitude:

  • AI-guided flight-automation systems may create a new generation of pilots who aren’t knowledgeable or attentive enough to manually override and fly the plane when they need to.
  • AI-driven autonomous vehicles may lessen people’s incentive to learn how to operate cars manually (assuming that this is even possible in future self-driving vehicles).
  • AI-powered medical systems may weaken physicians’ ability to render expert diagnostic judgments grounded in their own manual review of patient records.
  • AI-monitored manufacturing assembly lines may cause quality assurance specialists to ignore the evidence of their own senses, thereby contributing to a surge in defective products that enter the market.

Those scenarios are worth considering, but the more you ponder them the less likely they seem. Let’s consider each of the scenarios in turn:

  • Only insane pilots would rely unthinkingly on AI-guided navigation systems, considering that their own lives (not to mention those of their passengers and people on the ground) hang in the balance.
  • The same applies to the occupants in AI-steered autonomous vehicles, many of whom won’t enter such vehicles unless there’s a designated human driver who can assume controls in a pinch.
  • Likewise, few responsible doctors will take reckless risks with patients’ lives by delegating unthinkingly to AI-powered systems—or, at the very least, their malpractice insurers will rein in any such temptations.
  • And manufacturing quality control specialists will lose their jobs in no time if they sign off on too many AI-certified false-negatives at the tail end of the production process.

Marr states, rightly, that what would be most problematic is any AI-driven process that entirely lacks human oversight and control. But even in those instances (which in any likely future scenario will be the exception, not the rule), specific humans will still be held responsible for the results of algorithmically guided processes.

Real-world checks and balances will keep AI-powered processes from running amok. When circumstances demand it, heads will roll and AI-driven processes’ most adverse decision paths will be reined back in.


October 17, 2016  10:13 AM

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

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh
Cloud Computing, OpenStack, Oracle, Security, VMware

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IT security image via FreeImages

What will the White House’s response be to the recent election-tampering activity by Russian hackers? Find out in this week’s roundup.

1. White House considers proportional response to Russian hackers – Michael Heller (SearchSecurity)

U.S. intelligence agencies officially attributed potential election-tampering activity to government-led Russian hackers, and the White House said it is considering a proportional response.

2. Digital transformation to be major theme in ONUG 2016 fall conference – Jennifer English (SearchSDN)

Nick Lippis, co-founder and co-chairman of ONUG, describes what to expect from ONUG 2016. Major topics will include digital transformation and its effect on the IT industry.

3. Amid rising cloud computing confidence, IBM’s SoftLayer shift resonates – Ed Scannell (SearchCloudComputing)

Three years after its purchase of SoftLayer, IBM has finally coalesced its cloud computing strategy around the cloud platform and is winning new IT fans.

4. In VMware vs. OpenStack debate, IT shops seek compromise with VIO – Robert Gates (SearchDataCenter)

IT shops comfortable with vSphere may be happier staying home when comparing VMware vs. OpenStack to put together legacy and next-generation applications.

5. Oracle cloud technology brings a chain reaction of change – Jessica Sirkin (SearchOracle)

At Oracle OpenWorld 2016, Oracle cloud technology was the big topic of conversation. The editors of SearchOracle and SearchDataManagement discuss what they’ve heard about cloud.


October 10, 2016  12:08 PM

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

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh
IT career, VMworld, Yahoo

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Career image via FreeImages

Looking to land your next IT dream job? Find out how to impress your next employer in this week’s roundup.

1. IT career advice to wow future employers – Tim Culverhouse (SearchDataCenter)

There are many ways to land your dream IT job, but knowing what interviewers are going to ask, what new roles are emerging and how to talk business are especially important.

2. From NSX to VSAN, the biggest announcements at VMworld 2016 US – Brian Kirsch (SearchVMware)

Although VMware did not unveil an updated version of its popular vSphere product at this year’s VMworld U.S., it had other exciting updates and new products to offer.

3. Yahoo implicated in secret surveillance program, but questions remain – Michael Heller (SearchSecurity)

A report claims Yahoo built custom software under order of the U.S. government to perform secret surveillance on all incoming emails, though questions about the program remain.

4. Yammer, Office 365 Groups integrate for online team collaboration – Katherine Finnell (SearchUnifiedCommunications)

Yammer’s integration with Office 365 Groups reveals Microsoft’s collaboration roadmap, but raises questions for on-premises Office 365 users.

5. New Balance steps back from the cloud buzz – Jason Sparapani (SearchCIO)

An IT exec at a recent tech leader conference says cloud isn’t always best for his company’s ever-growing volumes of data — stirring a different sort of cloud buzz.


October 3, 2016  11:26 AM

TechTarget’s weekly roundup (9/26 – 10/3)

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh
Database security, JSON, Unified Communications, Windows Server 2016

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Server image via FreeImages

Are you ready for Windows Server 2016? Check out the new features in this week’s roundup.

1. Microsoft slates Windows Server 2016 availability for mid-October – Tom Walat (SearchWindowsServer)

Microsoft dedicated its opening keynote to the benefits of Azure, but IT pros say the company’s on-ramp to the cloud still needs some work.

2. FBI confirms more state voter databases targeted by attackers – Michael Heller (SearchSecurity)

The FBI confirmed many state voter databases have been scanned or attacked by malicious actors and urged states to ensure security is in place and ready.

3. Predictive sales tools in Dynamics 365 empower sales reps – Jesse Scardina (SearchCRM)

Dynamics 365, like all Microsoft products, is expected to receive an AI upgrade as CEO Satya Nadella touts the ‘democratizing of AI’ for its services.

4. Announcements at Alpha DevCon verify dev world’s move to JSON data – Fred Churchville (SearchSOA)

Announcements made by Alpha Software representatives at the Alpha DevCon conference verified that the ability to work with JSON is a ‘must-have’ for businesses today.

5. Cisco and Salesforce plan joint UCC development – Antone Gonsalves (SearchUnifiedCommunications)

Cisco and Salesforce have agreed to develop and market Cisco Spark and WebEx for Salesforce’s online software for sales and customer service.


September 26, 2016  10:32 AM

TechTarget’s weekly roundup (9/19 – 9/26)

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh
Cisco, Data breach, Oracle, Yahoo

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Security image via FreeImages

Were you affected by the recent Yahoo data breach? Find out what you should do to keep your Yahoo account safe in this week’s roundup.

1. Yahoo breach leaves 500 million accounts compromised – Michael Heller (SearchSecurity)

Yahoo confirmed it was the victim of one of the largest mega breaches in history two years ago when information on at least 500 million user accounts was stolen.

2. New Cisco professional services aimed at hybrid clouds – Antone Gonsalves (SearchNetworking)

The latest Cisco professional services are aimed at helping companies build and manage hybrid clouds. The offering reflects a shift in Cisco’s cloud strategy.

3. Will Oracle IaaS lure IT shops from public cloud leaders? – Trevor Jones (SearchCloudComputing)

Oracle turns to bare metal and containers to craft an IaaS platform that’s friendlier for enterprise scale-out, but is it compelling enough versus entrenched public cloud rivals?

4. Oracle 12c Release 2 goes cloud-side first – Jack Vaughan (SearchOracle)

Oracle 12c Release 2 is going to the cloud first, in keeping with Larry Ellison’s campaign to do cloud better than others. AWS databases, like Aurora and Redshift, are clear targets.

5. Veritas Technologies CEO: Vendor ‘got lost’ as part of Symantec – Sonia Lelii (SearchDataBackup)

Veritas CEO Bill Coleman talks about how he intends to reshape the company around data protection, data management and the cloud after splitting from Symantec.


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