Enterprise IT Watch Blog


June 21, 2010  11:37 AM

Yellow Flag! World Cup frenzy brings spam and slowdown to an office near you

Michael Morisy Michael Morisy Profile: Michael Morisy

Team USA isn’t the only one being robbed at the World Cup: The global game is bringing spam, viruses and phishing attacks to offices around the globe, with network congestion serving as icing on the cake, particularly during game time.

Major events have long been fodder for such attacks and troubles, but Internet hot-spot watchers have been surprised by the magnitude of the World Cup’s impact on office life. According to a statement from Cisco’s Spencer Parker, a product manager:

” … employees are actively taking an interest in the World Cup during working hours.  Employees could be watching live streaming of these football matches on their PCs, checking the score during the matches, or even listening to the games.  As a result we have seen this significant uplift in Web traffic at the precise times that the matches are taking place.”

And how significant is that uptick? Cisco ScanSafe customers have seen web usage jump 27%  globally during World Cup games. If SalesForce becomes SalesStop this Wednesday at 10:00 am ET, now you know why.

But productivity and network traffic aren’t the only victims: Cisco also estimated 3 billion World Cup spam messages went out on June 11th, and some of them held nastier payloads than others. Websense’s Security Labs Blog deconstructed a typical nastygram spam, promising the latest World Cup scandal:

Tragically, rather than the tantalizing scandal – compromising shots of the ever popular WAGs, perhaps? – the attachment only includes URL trickery leading to a compromised webpage and a viral payload.

Game on, but make sure your staff knows the risks.

Michael Morisy is the community editor for ITKnowledgeExchange. He can be followed on Twitter or you can reach him at Michael@ITKnowledgeExchange.com.

June 21, 2010  6:22 AM

Beware the cloud marketing machine

Kevin Beaver Kevin Beaver Profile: Kevin Beaver

I saw this chat regarding storage, the cloud, and data protection and it reminded me of how nauseated I get when I hear about all the great new ways that the cloud is going to save those of us in IT from the evils of the world.

Be it in the cloud, in your data center, or in cousin Willy’s basement, the same data protection principles apply to storage systems. The reality is:

  • No cloud vendor can offer risk-free storage services.
  • No SAS 70 audit report is going to tell the whole story.
  • No contract or SLA is going to keep your business out of hot water or the headlines when an issue of confidentiality, integrity, or availability of your data is compromised.
  • A marketing spin can be put on anything.

If a storage device is on the network and a human being is somehow involved in its setup, ongoing management, and maintenance, you can bet your bottom dollar that there’s going to be risk. Cloud or not, do yourself and your business a favor and understand what you’re getting into before you jump on the bandwagon.

For further reading on the risks and realities of cloud backup, check this out:

Data security concerns with online backup

Find unexpected vulnerabilities to ensure cloud compliance

Kevin Beaver is an independent information security consultant, keynote speaker, and expert witness with Principle Logic, LLC and a contributor to the IT Watch Blog.


June 21, 2010  2:30 AM

USENIX ATC 2010: Microsoft Research On Cloud Nine

Kevin Beaver Melanie Yarbrough Profile: MelanieYarbrough

It’s another big week here in Boston with the approach of the USENIX Annual Technical Conference 2010, and buzz around Microsoft Research’s upcoming announcements all include the word “cloud.” So what exactly do they have up their sleeves?

CloudCmp

With the increase of players in the cloud market, including Microsoft’s own Windows Azure Platform, Microsoft Research has come to the rescue with this framework to aid customers select a cloud provider [PDF]. Their benchmarking tools help predict application cost and performance once deployed, allowing for more detailed comparison among cloud services.

Stout

The purpose of this technology is to eliminate the disparity between how applications perform under light workloads versus high workloads by utilizing smarter request sends. Rather than immediately sending all requests as they occur, Stout [PDF] will “[treat] scalable key-value storage as a shared resource requiring congestion control.” In the case of lighter workloads, requests will be sent immediately while Stout will auto-batch requests for heavier workloads to prevent queuing delays.

Utility Coprocessor, or Ucop

The purpose of this middleware is to economize “dramatic speedups of parallelizable, CPU-bound desktop applications using utility computing clusters in the cloud.” They’ve created a prototype, based in Linux, that allows a single cluster to serve everyone, requiring only that the users and cluster use the same major kernel version. Learn more about how they manipulated client configurations in their white paper [PDF].

Seawall

This—performance isolation for cloud datacenter networks [PDF]—is the answer to the lack of control over how networks are shared, which opens cloud applications to interference and unpredictable performance: an “edge-based solution that achieves max-min fairness across tenant VMs by sending traffic through congestion-controlled, hypervisor-to-hypervisor tunnels.”

Check out the USENIX ATC 2010 website for further information on the conference, speakers and announcements to come. Are you planning to attend the conference? Give us updates and opinions in the comments section or email me directly.

Melanie Yarbrough is the assistant community editor at ITKnowledgeExchange.com. Follow her on Twitter or send her an email at Melanie@ITKnowledgeExchange.com.


June 18, 2010  9:13 AM

How many’s a crowd in cloud storage?

Kevin Beaver Melanie Yarbrough Profile: MelanieYarbrough

If you thought your data was getting crowded in your storage center, you haven’t seen the cloud storage market lately. Verizon dealt itself into the game on Tuesday with its Verizon Cloud Storage Storage-as-a-Service offerings. Distinguishing itself from consumer-focused services such as Amazon’s S3, Verizon promises to provide enterprises with superior value and access speed, utilizing their global data network in combination with storage capacity. According to IT News, Verizon’s first nodes are set to go live in the U.S. in October; until then, they’ll jumpstart the service in July using Nirvanix’s Storage Delivery Network. The service is pay-as-you-go, starting at $0.25 per gigabyte per month, with discounts for more volume.

Despite concerns enterprises have over security, reliability and data recovery and retrieval, big names like EMC and AT&T entered the arena last year along with Amazon’s S3 with similar offerings. And though more carriers may join the game, Verizon is highlighting the benefits of being on its global IP network: data access with fewer network jumps along with Verizon’s security infrastructure.

Customers will be able to access data using:

  • Application programming interfaces
  • Third-party applications and backup agents
  • Standard CIFS
  • Standard NFS
  • Browser-based portals for data management between Nirvanix and Verizon’s data centers

The SaaS is partnered with Verizon’s new consulting service, Verizon Data Retention Services, to help guide businesses through storage policy development to best suit their needs and operations.

What are your thoughts on the cloud storage bandwagon? What are your concerns surrounding switching your storage to the cloud with a new service like Verizon’s SaaS?

Melanie Yarbrough is the assistant community editor at ITKnowledgeExchange.com. Follow her on Twitter or send her an email at Melanie@ITKnowledgeExchange.com.


June 18, 2010  6:22 AM

Pains and innovations with data backup software

Kevin Beaver Kevin Beaver Profile: Kevin Beaver

If you’re like me, you’ve yelled, cussed, and screamed over frustrations brought on by backup software. Let me share my experiences.

First off, I remember, back in the late 80s/early 90s, using a Colorado drive (remember those?!) with DOS-based software that just worked. Besides the occasional hardware burp, I knew I could set my 250MB system to backup overnight and by dawn it’d likely be finished.

Flash forward a few years to the mid to late 1990s and what did we have? More complexity. Sure, products like Arcserve and BackupExec had lots of features, but they also had tons of complexity. I just needed to run backups but couldn’t figure how to half the time without all the bells and whistles getting in the way. Perhaps I should’ve taken a class. On top of that, the software was extremely unstable and unreliable. Growing pains in that era I suppose. I miss the simplicity of networks, OSs, and so on from those days but certainly don’t miss all the headaches backup software brought on.

Flash forward to today: I don’t hear about such problems. Have the vendors finally gotten it? I’ve sort of witnessed this starting 6 or 8 years ago with the cool new disk imaging software company called Acronis that had a product called TrueImage. Acronis not only brought innovation to the table (being able to image a drive while the OS was running), but they helped me realize that backups can indeed be simple again. I thought Acronis TrueImage picked up where Ghost and Drive Image left off and they’ve continually innovated to the point where backups just work. No fuss, no muss, just good old reliable backups.

According to the recent SearchStorage.com quality awards, Acronis is holding its own against the big guys now, which is pretty impressive. It shows how a small company willing to innovate can take on the establishment. I love free enterprise! Don’t take this the wrong way, I’m no spokesperson. However, when I find software that works well I’m going to sing its praises and tell others about it.

Speaking of innovation, check out this graphical depiction of the history of computer storage. Very cool stuff that makes you realize how far we’ve come.

Kevin Beaver is an independent information security consultant, keynote speaker, and expert witness with Principle Logic, LLC and a contributor to the IT Watch Blog.


June 18, 2010  6:02 AM

Your Guide to Books on Storage

Kevin Beaver Melanie Yarbrough Profile: MelanieYarbrough

In light of this month’s theme, Storage in 2010, we’ve compiled some books on data storage and more energy-efficient IT operations. Have you read one of these titles or did we leave a great book out? Let me know at Melanie@ITKnowledgeExchange.com and we’ll add it to our list!

What books or guides have helped you figure out your storage needs and best practices?

Melanie Yarbrough is the assistant community editor at ITKnowledgeExchange.com. Follow her on Twitter or send her an email at Melanie@ITKnowledgeExchange.com.




June 17, 2010  12:22 PM

The ultimate solution for securing laptop storage?

Kevin Beaver Kevin Beaver Profile: Kevin Beaver

In preparation for my session at the upcoming Gartner Security Conference, I’ve been reviewing Intel’s Anti-Theft Technology. Have you seen it? It’s pretty neat and is a unique approach to the mobile security dilemma.

Basically, Intel is starting to integrate laptop security into their 2010 Intel Core hardware which promises to:

  1. Detect suspicious behavior that could indicate someone trying to break into the computer.
  2. Guard your hardware even if your hard drive is removed, replaced or reformatted.
  3. Restore operation when (if) the laptop is recovered.

Intel claims the technology will work even if someone re-images the system, changes the boot order, installs a new drive, or keeps the system off the Internet.

Now this is change we can believe in!

I’ve always thought that unless and until the vendors integrate controls such as Intel’s Anti-Theft Technology and drive encryption from the factory, we’re going to continue having a ridiculous amount of mobile security breaches. Sure, these technologies aren’t going to run themselves, but I believe them being built-in will dramatically increase the chances that they’ll be used.

I’ll give it a few more years, but I think my continual ranting about mobile security may eventually come to an end.

Kevin Beaver is an independent information security consultant, keynote speaker, and expert witness with Principle Logic, LLC and a contributor to the IT Watch Blog.


June 17, 2010  7:07 AM

SAN sanity finds open IT wallets

Michael Morisy Michael Morisy Profile: Michael Morisy

After a sleepy first quarter, storage area network (SAN) switch and adapter sales are booming as storage professionals look to get a get grip on explosive data growth, according to numbers crunched by Infonetics Research’s Michael Howard.

“In the first quarter of 2010, Fiber Channel and Fiber Channel over Ethernet SAN switch sales were unseasonably up, thanks mainly to Cisco, while SAN adapter sales were seasonally down, creating a flat sequential quarter for the overall storage network equipment market,” he wrote in a recent research note. “However, the market is up 24% from this quarter a year ago, and, with data and video being created at unprecedented levels and concentrated in data centers, companies will continue to invest in SAN switches to reduce complexity on the data center floor.”

And Howard thinks the SAN love is here to stay, projecting the market will grow to $6.5 billion by 2014, more than double its revenues in 2009. The technology’s been particularly popular in the North American market, where video production and transmission has pushed media moguls to find a better way to manage their storage farms, but with more video corporate training, communication and HD video to go around digitally, I wouldn’t be surprised to see much of the rest of the world following on fast.

Michael Morisy is the community editor for ITKnowledgeExchange. He can be followed on Twitter or you can reach him at Michael@ITKnowledgeExchange.com.


June 17, 2010  6:01 AM

Storage in 2010: Hot Off the IT Knowledge Exchange Press

Michael Morisy Melanie Yarbrough Profile: MelanieYarbrough

It’s Storage in 2010 Month here at IT Knowledge Exchange, so we thought we’d share what some of our bloggers around the community block are saying about storage. Have a storage topic you’d like covered? Let me know in the comments or email me directly at Melanie@ITKnowledgeExchange.com. Enjoy!

And as always, check back at the Enterprise IT Watch blog for the latest on our monthly themes and topics.

Melanie Yarbrough is the assistant community editor at ITKnowledgeExchange.com. Follow her on Twitter or send her an email at Melanie@ITKnowledgeExchange.com.


June 17, 2010  6:00 AM

Will solid-state storage save the day?

Kevin Beaver Kevin Beaver Profile: Kevin Beaver

Storage Magazine’s recent piece “Making the case for solid-state storage” brought up some interesting points regarding the future of storage technology.

First, will solid state storage finally bring an end to data loss resulting from drive failures? As we’ve all learned the hard way, there’s a universal law that states fewer moving parts means greater reliability. Speed is another factor, with performance gains of seven to nine times traditional storage. Not just in processing efficiency, convenience, user productivity and so on, but such speed improvements can have an enormous impact on disaster recovery and business continuity efforts. Perhaps this will be the contributing factor that pushes management to get on board with DR/BC. Or, perhaps it’ll be an excuse: “If we can use solid-state storage devices to recover our systems much more quickly, what’s our incentive to build out an elaborate DR/BC program?”

It’s funny, I remember studying about the inner workings of solid state memory while getting my undergraduate degree in the early 1990s way before “solid state” as we know it today was cool.  Maybe it’s just my perception, but this technology seems a bit late to the game. I like what solid state storage stands for and brings to the table but given where we are in other areas of technology, it’s just not all that exciting.

Maybe my perception will change once I get my hands on some of this hardware.


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