CIO Symmetry

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.

May 20, 2011  1:49 PM

15 overused IT phrases: Has cloud computing in IT become a cliche?

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

Cloud. It’s everywhere. You can’t ignore cloud computing in IT, but the word itself starts losing meaning after you hear it too many times. Cloud cloud cloud. There were entire sections of the conference hall at Interop last week devoted to cloud computing, and those companies that did not offer true cloud were even saying they were “cloud like.” Attendees were so sick of hearing the word cloud that one of the most coveted swag T-shirts said simply “Blah blah cloud” on the front — with a popular cloud provider’s logo on the back, of course.

It’s not the only overused term on the IT landscape. I am absolutely certain that vendors can come up with something more colorful to describe the special something inside your new gadget than secret sauce. First of all, everyone knows what’s in the secret sauce at most restaurants, right? It’s a mixture of mayonnaise, ketchup and pickle relish: three of the most banal food condiments in existence. Do you really want your super-cool, exciting new technology compared with something that drips on your shirt and leaves a stain that the dry cleaner can’t get out? Put a fork in it, it’s done! I’m calling it: Secret sauce is officially an endangered IT phrase. Similarly, how can there still be all that low-hanging fruit on the proverbial tree?

Let’s agree to put the term cloud on the endangered clichés list too, along with next generation, bleeding edge and paradigm shift. If I have to be convinced that something is a win-win scenario, is it really? How many more times can we hit the ground running? It’s time to smash that single pane of glass. Build a bridge over the value stream and throw away the key for the turnkey solutions. Silence the bells and whistles. How can we still be closing the loop after so many years?

What phrases are you sick of hearing and reading? Are you looking for the one throat to choke? What should be banned from the product releases, marketing spiels and our own headlines?

The comments are waiting for your perfect storm of pet peeves.

May 17, 2011  1:51 PM

Technology conferences can still deliver for IT pros

Scot Petersen Scot Petersen Profile: Scot Petersen

I attended the “last” Comdex show — the last great one, that is — in the year 2000, right before 9/11 and the dot-com bust turned it into a shell of its former self, along with a lot of other technology conferences.

At the time, many people thought virtual conferences would replace the in-person conference. Virtual has done well — will offer three virtual seminars this year — but it has not taken over. And, we’ll always have Vegas.

Tech shows are definitely slowing down. The resident giant, CES, saw two years of dwindling attendance before going back up this year. But traveling these days, you’d never know that there is still high unemployment and pockets of a sluggish economy all around the country. And there are still plenty of technology conferences out there for IT professionals to find out more about the latest products and get training and certifications.

So check out the new list of technology conferences on Site Editor Wendy Schuchart will provide updates as new ones get scheduled. We hope you find it useful.

May 13, 2011  1:44 PM

Email attachment risks highlight value of collaboration tools

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

This week at Interop Las Vegas, I met Dusan Vitek, vice president of worldwide marketing at Kerio Technologies Inc., who said, “I feel guilty whenever I send an email with an attachment.” I actually laughed out loud because I feel exactly the same way. Somehow, an attachment feels a bit like littering to me, but that might be because I, like Vitek, know that email attachment risk is a real threat to your company.

It’s been 16 years since the Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions — or MIME — standard gave us the ability to attach documents within an email. It seemed like such a little life convenience back then — no more long lines at the fax machine!

But what we didn’t know then is that the email attachment changed everything. Email systems were never designed to handle binary attachments, and now a single file could be replicated internally hundreds of times just by the simple inclusion of another person on a copy of an email, forcing IT to invest in deduplication technology.

Every one of us knows the pain of a 10K limit on our inbox when we’re getting files that are half that size in a single email blast. We also had to start worrying about malware making its way on emails posing as “investment opportunities,” or even humorous videos from your maiden aunt, not to mention the concern about industrial espionage or proprietary information leaving your company without anyone ever realizing it. And of course, there’s the obvious annoyance of document version control that usually ends up with someone handing a mess of a document to an intern, along with 16 different versions of changes and hoping that the intern can make sense of the madness, which I only wish wasn’t a true experience that I’ve had or witnessed more times than I can count.

When it comes to your network’s health, the innocent little email attachments are death by a thousand cuts.

This month we’re looking at content management and project and portfolio management tools, and one thing that strikes me is that many midmarket companies consider collaboration tools “nice to have.” OK, everyone’s got shared drives, but how many people are actively using them for frequently changing documents? Just like water always runs downhill, teams are almost always going to go with the easiest solution when no one’s looking — they’re getting by with sharing documents in email and a few rogue project managers have admitted to me that they are turning to Google Docs in defiance of their company policies.

While benefits from collaboration tools are difficult to measure in bottom-line dollars, a reduction in email attachments is plucking low-hanging fruit. Innovation can be borne from constraint: Whether it is by using a widely adapted collaboration tool like SharePoint, Google Docs or Cisco Quad, or by inventing your own solution, as Vitek did with Kerio’s Workspace, I challenge you to make a serious procedural reduction in corporate email attachments or risk drowning your network in your own duplicated memos, PowerPoint decks and PDF files.

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