CIO Symmetry

June 13, 2011  5:14 PM

TrueCrypt and Dropbox go together like peanut butter and chocolate

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

We’ve scoured the Web and compiled a crib sheet for the best and most interesting tidbits from around the IT blogosphere last week, including using TrueCrypt and Dropbox for data encryption, the Twitter API and the age-old debate of Google vs. Apple. Here’s what you might have missed:

There was some concern that a recent OAuth update in Twitter’s API would now allow third-party Twitter applications to access your private messages without authorization. Twitter attempted to soothe our worried brows over the possible loss of DM privacy, but we’re still twitchy over the whole thing.

Google vs. Apple: Which techno megagiant is cooler? It’s like asking whether Gandalf could beat Obi-Wan in a fight — does it really matter?

Everyone’s heard of an upside-down mortgage, but what about an upside-down workforce — millennials have difficulty finding jobs because the baby boomers won’t retire.

If you’re like most people, you subscribe to Groupon’s emails but have never actually bought a Groupon. We wonder how many of that 18% of buyers are actually using their Groupons before they expire?

One of our favorite personal IT bloggers, Jason Fitzpatrick, explores readers’ favorite tips and tricks for encrypting data. No surprises there –TrueCrypt and Dropbox are popular conjoined services.

About 1% of Citibank customers’ names, credit card numbers, mailing and email addresses were exposed to hackers last month, but Citibank chose not to reveal the breach to the public until last week, drawing harsh responses from industry experts. On the heels of Epsilon, Sony and Gmail, one has to wonder who is next. Hopefully not TrueCrypt and Dropbox!

June 10, 2011  1:25 PM

Living with the toys of Generation Y in the workplace

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

There’s a scene in the old movie Network when Peter Finch’s character screams “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” which then inspires the rest of the nation to realize that they, too, are not going to take it anymore. A quieter version of that scene from Network is happening right now with Generation Y in the workplace.

You know those folks on your team who are under 30? Well, 34% of them admit to downloading unsanctioned applications and tools to do their jobs, said Forrester analyst Stephanie Moore at the 2011 Forrester IT Forum a few weeks ago. And I have to say, it’s not just Generation Y (20- and 30-somethings) in the workplace making these decisions to go rogue. Even Moore admitted to turning to her Gmail after she exceeded her corporate email inbox limit. In my previous life, I regularly witnessed managers downloading rogue software that either circumvented IT regulations and limitations or completely broke corporate policy. Let’s face it: We’re in the age of “prosumerization,” which means that if the business makes it difficult to get our job done, we’re going to find a way to get it done ourselves. People are unwilling to jump through hoops anymore, not when the wealth of the Internet and an easy download are just a browser window away.

On some level, this is inspiring. After all, by 2020, more than half of your workforce will consist of Generation Y or younger. Should CIOs push against this trend of self-provisioning, or should they take advantage of this level of self-reliance and build a solution that includes some vendor management and tracking for all of the weird little one-off licenses and software patches? It’s really a tough call, but it will be interesting to see which path the industry chooses to follow as teams become younger.

Do you alter your management style when you’re dealing with Generation X vs. the Millennials? The comments want to hear your solutions.

June 7, 2011  4:30 PM

Outsourcing services need the right mix of commodity and strategy

Scot Petersen Scot Petersen Profile: Scot Petersen

Discover Card has made a celebrity out of “Peggy,” but despite the credit card provider’s efforts to humorously discredit outsourcing services in former Soviet Bloc countries, Ukraine is seeing steady growth in software outsourcing services, according to our sister publication in the United Kingdom,

CW reports that the Ukrainian Hi-Tech Initiative, an outsourcing software development alliance, estimates that the country’s outsourcing industry grew 20% in 2010, and that Ukraine employs more than 18,000 IT specialists, up 2,400 over last year. To CW’s U.K. readers, Ukraine is now a new “nearshoring” hot spot, over countries like India, which is more than 3,000 miles further east.

Closer to home, in-country outsourcing is the preferred resource for insurance provider PURE, which is fueling growth through a “selective outsourcing” strategy that puts its security email delivery services for policy holder communication in the hands of OneShield and Striata, and to M5 Networks for its telecom services.

Whatever the services or wherever they are based, PURE CIO Stuart Tainsky has the right approach: Any IT function or service that has become commoditized should be outsourced; anything strategic or essential to business requirements stays in-house. That’s because “our people will know the business more than our vendor will,” he said.

It seems outsourcing has finally grown up. Gone are the days of wholesale outsourcing and then lamenting the decision. Happy times.

June 6, 2011  3:10 PM

Virtual security and hackers: A match made in heaven?

Jbiscobi Jacqueline Biscobing Profile: Jbiscobi

While you were putting out fires in your computer room, we were scouring the Web looking for tasty bits for you to peruse. From ensuring virtual security to the workforce of tomorrow, check out these greatest hits from last week’s IT blogosphere:

June 3, 2011  2:46 PM

World IPv6 Day: The change is coming. Are you ready?

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

The Internet Society has promoted June 8 as World IPv6 Day, a day of a “global-scale test flight of IPv6,” promising that major Web companies will implement a day of free testing. Fellow blogger Melanie Yarbrough writes, “Major organizations such as Cisco, Bing, Rackspace, Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Juniper Networks have signed on to participate in the worldwide test, offering their content over IPv6 for 24 hours.”

The telecom folks have been reminding us of the depleting space in IPv4 for years, but have we listened? Probably not enough, because at just 40 years old, IPv4 is about to max out the number of addresses it can track, and many companies are still working on the transition. Remind anyone of Y2K? It should, because it’s basically the same root cause: We built architecture around a certain format without thinking ahead. It’s a bit easier to understand that when they were experimenting with a 32-bit address back in the ‘70s, no one would ever imagine that the Internet would become what it is today.

Industry pundits are calculating that addresses will run out sometime in 2011. Major Web-based companies are committed to adopting IPv6, but without global adoption, we’re living on borrowed time.

According to Forrester senior analyst Andre Kindness, there are three technologies to enable IPv6 transition: Dual-stack, tunneling and translation. From my informal polling at last week’s Forrester IT Forum, it sounds like most CIOs are going with the dual-stack method — allowing IPv4 and IPv6 to coexist on the same devices and networks — as the path of least resistance. But everyone should have a plan at this point.

Consider World IPv6 Day as your call to action. Use this as an opportunity to test your systems on the new world order. You can go to before June 8 and check out how well your systems will do in preparation to sample the IPv6 wares from corporate giants like Google, Cisco, Facebook, VeriSign and Akamai, among others.

Of course, the world’s population is approaching 7 billion people, and IPv4 had space for about 4 billion addresses. IPv6 has space for trillions of addresses. It should be a while before we run out of 128-bit addresses. Knock on wood.

What’s your game plan for World IPv6 Day? The comments are dying to discuss your strategy.

May 31, 2011  6:19 PM

A new home for Domino applications

Scot Petersen Scot Petersen Profile: Scot Petersen

Apple recently announced that it has approved its 500,000th app for the iTunes App Store. IBM Lotus developers say, “Call us when you get to 10 million.”

That’s how many enterprise applications are residing on Domino and Notes servers and desktops around the world. The problem is, many of those Domino applications were written more than a dozen years ago and haven’t been updated since. Why? Well, they still work, for starters.

But IBM has — ignored may be too strong a word — overlooked the modern world creeping in on Domino applications for many years. And as the number of Domino applications mounted, customers put off the daunting task of moving them to new platforms. Now, IBM and users can no longer avoid the need to access those apps outside the Notes client, like the browser and mobile devices.

Enter IBM software developer partner GBS, which last week unveiled Transformer, a new framework for “transforming” Domino apps to new XPages-based applications, which can be run virtually anywhere.

What is encouraging for Domino and Notes users is the commitment behind the transformation effort. GBS Chief Technology Officer Jennifer Meade pointed this out at the launch event last week at the MIT Museum.

“IBM has been incredibly supportive of our activities,” she said. “We needed some stuff delivered from IBM in order to make this happen, and they made it happen tout de suite. They actually open-sourced some stuff so we didn’t have to wait for releases to come out. We open-sourced projects together.”

This isn’t just good news for Domino users, it’s great news. And about time.

May 30, 2011  7:40 PM

Around the blogs: Release date of Windows 8 and losing talent

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

We’ve scoured the Web and compiled a crib sheet for the best and most interesting tidbits from around the IT blogosphere last week, including thoughts on the release date of Windows 8, the risks to info security when companies lost IT talent and how to make sure that you stay connected when the power goes out. Here’s what you might have missed:

  • A whopping 40% of IT security workers have admitted that they could hold their employers hostage even after they’d left for other employment, according to a recent survey conducted by Infosecurity Europe 2011.
  • Along with the release date of Windows 8, CIOs also need to consider virtualization licensing risks when thinking about cloud security, warns TotalCIO blogger Christina Torode.

May 26, 2011  5:27 PM

The Windows 8 operating system: Is it time to move on?

Scot Petersen Scot Petersen Profile: Scot Petersen

It was customary during the Bill Gates era at Microsoft to surreptitiously dis the previous version of Windows when the next generation came out. “It’s the best Windows operating system we’ve ever developed,” he would always say of the new version.

Usually, best meant biggest or most complex, as more features were added. Thankfully, Windows 7 took a step back along those lines and in doing so, Microsoft took a step forward.

Now we can look forward to the Windows 8 operating system, according to CEO Steve Ballmer, CNET reports. But really, do we need another version of Windows? Windows 7 should be the foundation on which modular upgrades can advance the platform for a long time to come. A whole new version seems like overkill at this point.

Windows 7, which is just starting to be deployed in earnest in enterprises now that the first service pack has been shipped, should be considered the “last” PC operating system. With mobile phones and tablets fast becoming the preferred computing interface, why should Microsoft, developers, PC and component makers — and, most of all, users — waste the time and money embracing another generation?

Ballmer went on to say that Windows 8 will run on “slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors.” OK, but this will not be as easy as it sounds. Unlike the desktop market, Microsoft does not own the mobile operating system market: Apple and Google do. And they will continue to do so because they have the one thing that Microsoft always had in their pocket for Windows: developers, developers, developers, developers.

Did I mention that Ballmer said Windows 8 will debut in 2012? Gulp.

May 24, 2011  7:20 PM

Failed promotion for Amazon cloud storage affects consumer confidence

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

It’s one of those things that looks fantastic on paper: Introduce your cloud service to the consumer market by packaging it with a super-cheap, eagerly anticipated superstar’s new album. Amazon did just that by bundling Lady Gaga’s new album with an upgrade to 20 GB of free storage on Amazon cloud storage, which allows users to stream their music on any internet connection or smartphone. It’s a win-win scenario, right?

Wrong. As the consumers logged on and purchased en masse, Amazon’s servers were slammed, causing download delays and eventual download failures. Amazon issued apologies over its Twitter feed but as of bedtime last night, my MP3 files still hadn’t started downloading. This morning, I woke to only half the transfer completed and had to open a customer service help ticket to have the other half pushed again. The album itself received dozens of poor reviews on its Amazon page, primarily based on the technical failures in delivering the files rather than the artistic merit of the music (Amazon has since redacted those reviews, rightfully so). Similarly, users who were banking on Amazon cloud storage are reporting that the link-up doesn’t even work and are warning other users not to even try it.

Obviously, lesson No. 1 here is, “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.” Did Amazon triple check to make sure that its infrastructure could withstand the worst-case scenario in traffic spikes — and then some? Every one of us could be (and has been) caught off guard, but with the embarrassing Amazon Web Services outage not even a month ago, Amazon is killing the credibility in its technical services with this very public fiasco. What could have been a public relations coup for Amazon ended up being a public relations nightmare. Some analysts are predicting that consumers will move elsewhere for their music, reducing Amazon’s already tiny percentage of digital music purchases.

Of course, if someone would have told me 10 years ago that we’d trust a bookstore to run our servers, I would have laughed and laughed, but Amazon was able to get past that mental leap and become a viable name in cloud services. Hopefully, they’ll be able to come out swinging in the next few months and figure out how to really shine as I don’t think consumer confidence in Amazon’s cloud storage techfu will stand another one of these truly embarrassing blunders.

May 23, 2011  3:06 PM

Should you be worried about Dropbox security? Our weekly news roundup

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

We’ve scoured the Web and compiled a crib sheet for the best and most interesting tidbits from around the IT blogosphere last week, including must-know information on Dropbox security, Android’s encryption woes and executive strategies being compromised by fear-based decisions. Here’s what you might have missed:

  • Your gut instinct in business might be misleading, suggests Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project. He suggests that our inherent flight-or-fight response is causing us to make poor decisions, similar to those that led to the recession. Entirely interesting points to consider the next time your CFO asks you to justify a huge purchase.
  • Your data center is cold enough to keep ice cream from melting, but data center airflow issues can mean the premature death of your pricey racks and lead to wasted energy, Rajesh Nair, CTO of Degree Controls, writes.
  • Your employees like to take matters into their own hands, so a breach in Dropbox security can mean disaster on your network. A new suit to the FTC alleges that Dropbox security might not be all that is promised.  Ouch.
  • A recent study found that when an Apple devotee is shown the Apple logo, the same part of the brain lights up as when religious people are shown religious imagery. Every CIO admits that Steve Jobs is something of a mastermind, and his recent advice to Nike CEO Mike Parker is brilliant in its simplicity. The key to Apple’s success, according to Jobs, is “get rid of the crappy stuff.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

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