Author Archives: Mojgan Afshari

Overcoming Obstacles In Cloud Computing Adoption

Overcoming Obstacles In Cloud Computing Adoption

Overcoming The Numerous Challenges

According to Buyya et al. (2008), “A Cloud is a type of parallel and distributed system consisting of a collection of inter-connected and virtualized computers that are dynamically provisioned and presented as one or more unified computing resources based on service-level agreements established through negotiation between the service provider and consumers.” The enormous advantages of cloud computing in improving businesses have generated unprecedented interest in its adoption. However, customers of a cloud face numerous challenges such as service requirements; unexpected outages; invalid assumptions about the operating environment; poor isolation between users, hardware degradation, misconfiguration of software; cost implications of failure and uncertainty about cloud providers’ ability to meet service level agreements (SLA). Cloud providers are usually responsible for problems related to their own infrastructure. Although cloud providers monitor their physical resources such as servers, storage and network systems to provide a highly stable infrastructure, they usually do not guarantee individual instance availability.

disgruntled

In addition, Benson and his colleagues analysed the problems users faced and categorized them into five categories: Application-related (e.g. Email server setup, Windows Licensing, LAMP setup, Linux), Virtual Infrastructure-related ( e.g. Virtualized Storage, Attach/Detach, Virtualized load balancer, DNS & Virtualized IP) , Image Management-related ( Image bundling issues, storage and migration of image between buckets, Update/kernel install issues),Performance-related ( Instance not responding, Instance stuck in terminating, EBS performance), and Connectivity-related (General connectivity, Firewall, Connection performance, Connecting to app).

These risks hinder the adoption of cloud. Zardri et al. (2013) believe that “evaluating pre adoption choices at early stages is cost-effective strategy to mitigate risks for probable losses due to wrong or uninformed selection decisions”. They suggested that companies should identify obstacles and their importance through understanding their consequences on the adoption process (obstacle prioritization). Then, appropriate tactics should be used to handle, manage, and solve the problems. Furthermore, analysing Service Level Agreements (SLA) of cloud providers and matching them against users’ requirements can be useful in revealing potential SLA violations, conflicts and probable risks.

Benson (2013) also  introduced several strategies that cloud providers can apply to help users.

Best Effort Support Model: “user forumis considered as one of the most common version of support models. Unfortunately, cloud providers do not make guarantee on the response time of the operators and the resolution time of the problem.

Premium Support Model: In this model, cloud providers guarantee the user that problems will be resolved within a certain period of time. The SLA provided to a user is inversely proportional to the price paid by the users; a higher price demands a guaranteed for a shorter resolution time. Certain providers also ensure that users have access to dedicated operators who are familiar with the user’s environment and needs.”

As discussed above, it would seem that companies should identify and understand early the properties of the problems that they will face in using a cloud before migrating any servers, databases, applications or data to the cloud.  Data security and privacy breaches, as well as regulatory and legal compliance are significant issues when moving from in-house IT infrastructure to cloud services. Therefore, specific standards, education, and appropriate support mechanisms should be designed to solve the problems.

(Image Source: Shutterstock.com)

By Mojgan Afshari

Factors Influencing The Adoption Of Cloud Computing

Factors Influencing The Adoption Of Cloud Computing

Factors Influencing The Adoption Of Cloud Computing

Cloud is typically indicates a large pool of usable resources such as hardware and software that are easily accessible via the Internet. The notable characteristics of cloud computing are on-demand self-service, broad network access, flexibility, resource pooling, rapid elasticity, cost saving, and multitenancy of data (sharing of an application by futuremultiple customers). Cloud computing can also track actual computer utilization by user. Resource usage, such as storage, processing, bandwidth and active user accounts, can be automatically monitored, controlled and reported in order to provide transparency for both the provider and customer of the utilized service. The savings made from buying, running, and maintaining hardware and software infrastructures is one of the obvious financial benefit of cloud computing. In fact, capital investment in hardware and software infrastructures will reduce and companies can acquire IT capacities that they may not have been able to pay in the past. Universal access to software (SaaS) and services (Services) and free of cost for software license can also bring financial benefits for companies.

Despite the potential benefits of cloud services, there are also obstacles to the cloud computing adoption such as lack of constant and high-speed Internet connections, lack of standardisation of application program interfaces and platform technologies, uncertainty of service availability and reliability, and controlling IT performance by cloud providers not by own staff. Many scholars believe that organizations will not adopt a new technology unless the technology can demonstrate a relative advantage in comparison to existing technologies. In fact, relative advantage of cloud computing both technically and economically should be observable to companies. Successful business cases, models, and practices which demonstrate the value of the cloud adoption should be visible for companies. This will help them not only to understand the potential benefits of cloud computing but also to obtain an in-depth understanding of the cloud.

In addition, compatibility with company policies, existing values, experience, business needs, and technological infrastructure is a significant factor in the adoption decision. Policy and organisational risks (e.g. loss of governance), technical risks (e.g. data leakage, loss of data), and legal risks (e.g. data protection) have been also recognized as important obstacles for cloud adoption. Moreover, companies will more likely to use cloud computing if it does not require more technical skills and greater efforts to use it. Providing opportunities for potential adopters to experiment with cloud services on a limited basis will increase the rate of adoption. In fact, trialability can increase the likelihood of using cloud computing because companies may feel more comfortable with it after using it.

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

By Mojgan Afshari

4D Printing Could Change Everything

4D Printing Could Change Everything

4D Printing Could Change Everything

3D printing which is formally known as “additive manufacturing”, is being used in an extraordinarily wide range of applications such as human organs, wings of airplanes, nuclear weapons and etc. In fact, a 3D modelling program, such as AutoCAD, design static objects in three dimensions through additive processes in which successive layers of material are laid down under computer control. “Now a new disruptive technology is on the horizon that may take 3D printing to an entirely new level of capability with profound implications for society, the economy, and the global operating environment of government, business, and the public”.

4D printing is a new process and adds the capability of programming the fundamental materials used in 3D printing. 4D printing creates objects with dynamics and performance capabilities- that is, they are able to change their form or function after fabrication. These objects can be assembled, disassembled, and then reassembled to form macroscale objects of desired shape and multifunctionality. This technology is based on three key capabilities: the machine, the material and the geometric programme. Skylar Tibbits along with Stratasys, Ltd. and Autodesk, Inc. conducted several experiments by using Stratasys’ Connex multimaterial printer. The Stratasys material research group developed a new polymer which could be expanded 150 percent when submerged in water.

This shows a new possibility for production and manufacturing.

4D-Printing

The printer deposits a rigid polymer material and an active material with an embedded geometric programme and the activation energy to transform from one shape to another, completely independently. This approach has potential implications for areas such as robotics, furniture, and building construction. It is predicted that products become far more resilient and highly tuned to environmental changes including moisture content, temperature, pressure, altitude or sound.

It is clear that manufacturing processes will become simpler by using 4D printing. 4DP can print extremely simple structures and then can be activated by external stimulus to change into complex functional structures and systems. In 4DP, when processes are streamlined, creating a complicated shape does not need more time, skill, or cost. The printed materials can be produced, shipped in flat-pack and are activated on delivery to full volume and functionality. All these programmable products can be self-assembled and self-disassembled for pure recyclability.

In addition, 4D printing in combination with cloud computing technologies allows decentralized and geographically independent distributed production. Digital files with a collection of Voxels can be stored in the cloud. Consumers can access the program in the cloud anywhere in the world and then instruct those Voxels to form a multifunctional object.

By Mojgan Afshari

Smartphone Security And The Potential Pitfalls

Smartphone Security And The Potential Pitfalls

Smartphone Security And The Potential Pitfalls

Smartphones, with advanced computing ability and connectivity, have dramatically changed the computing landscape. Smartphones run complete operating system software that provides a standardized interface and platform for a large number of applications in the marketplaces such as the Apple App Store, Android Market, and Amazon App Store. Android Market is the most popular app store among commercial developers. Google Play is the premier store for distributing Android apps. Users can easily and quickly download new apps and games. This popularity of smartphone applications has drawn the attention of attackers. There are several demonstrated malware attacks on the Android platform. Studies indicate that the number of malicious applications in app repositories has increased with increasing the rate of downloading apps. Therefore, Privacy and security of apps are important issues for smartphone users.

security-network

According to new research by University of New Haven’s Cyber Forensics Research and Education Group (UNHcFREG), “anyone who uses the affected applications is at risk of confidential data breaches. Depending on the app, user locations, passwords, chat logs, images, video, audio, and sketches can be viewed by people invading the user’s privacy”. Moreover, Ibrahim Baggili, assistant professor of computer science at UNH’s Tagliatela College of Engineering stated that “although all of the data transmitted through these apps is supposed to go securely from just one person to another, we have found that private communications can be viewed by others because the data is not being encrypted and the original user has not clue.” Unfortunately, most smartphone users believe that downloading applications from the app repository is risk-free or secure because of existing security controls in the app repository. Hence, majority of smartphone users ignore security messages during application installation due to the lack of security awareness. Therefore, educating users and enhancing their knowledge about the security practices is paramount. “They should learn to run security tests on their own”.

Although several security companies have introduced some security solutions for smartphones (e.g. anti-virus, firewalls, rootkit detectors, intrusion detection system (IDS), and other useful tools) that can be run on the smartphone and smartphone user can take these applications in online market, they cannot prevent attacks from inside caused by using implementation error or user unawareness. They can only prevent attacks from outside like malware. Therefore, users should adopt other security mechanisms to enhance security of their smartphone.

Jeon et al. (2011) conducted a study on smartphone security called A Practical Analysis of Smartphone Security and introduced three ways to keep smartphone secure. They are as follows:

  • Add-on application is easiest way. Smartphone users have to install appropriate applications (like anti-virus or SPAM filtering from appstore ) to their smartphone to increase smartphone security. In fact, this way can’t ensure security improvement.
  • System add-on means system updates. Platform manufacturer and application developer provide updates for their products and this update includes both improvement of functionality and security. So, smartphone users have to update their smartphone platform and applications periodically for smartphone security.
  • System modification is most expensive way to improve smartphone security, because it needs kernel configuration. However, this way can improve entire security of smartphone platform.”

In addition, application developers and smartphone users should adopt cryptographic technology (application and APIs) to enhance confidentiality and integrity in smartphones. In line with this idea, Baggili suggests that “the app stores should have enforced standards for personal messaging applications that enforce developers to use encryption on those apps.”

By Mojgan Afshari

Android Smartphone Security And Instagram App Testing

Android Smartphone Security And Instagram App Testing

Android Smartphone Security And Instagram App Testing

Our daily lives become more and more dependent on smartphones due to their high processing power and increased capabilities. Smartphones have features of both a mobile phone and a computer, allowing us to talk, text, tweet, email, browse the Internet, make purchases, manage bank accounts, and take pictures. “Smartphones’ popularity and relatively lax security have made them attractive targets for attackers to invade smartphones in various paths”.

Apps-Risk

Changes have been created in the mobile phone landscape with the introduction of smart phones running Android. Android is an open smartphone platform developed by the Google-led Open Handset Alliance. Scholars predict that the Android will control 45.4 percent of the market share by 2015 due to its open source nature and adoption by telecommunications providers worldwide. In fact, Open mobile platforms like Android provide an opportunity for consumers to access more applications. Applications can be installed on Android devices through the Android Market and other untrusted third party sites. Recent studies indicate that there are malicious applications that can be uploaded onto app stores and then successfully advertised to users. These malicious applications will access to a user’s personal information, all messages, network communication and services that cost money. Similarly, Kaspersky’s Internet security experts (2012) reported on more than 35,000 malicious Android programs. They explained the reasons for the huge growth in Android malware:

  • The Android platform has become the most widespread operating system (OS) for new smartphones – it has over 70% market share. 
  • The open nature of the Android OS, the ease with which apps can be created, and the wide variety of (unofficial) application markets all have an influence on security.”

In line with this idea, a study has been recently conducted by a group of researchers at University of New Haven (UNHeFREG) to discover security issues within the social media, chatting, and dating app market on android. They observed app network traffic to find unencrypted data transmissions. They created a test network using Windows 7’s virtual miniport adapter. Then, they connected the android phone to this network to monitor all traffic being sent and received by the android device. An iPad was connected outside the test network and was used to exchange data to the android device. With this setup, they were able to capture a great deal of sensitive user information. In addition, they conducted server storage analysis and device storage analysis to find out how apps store user data on the server and device. Finally, they reported that anyone who uses many popular android apps (such as Instagram, Okcupid, ooVoo, Tango, Klk, Nimbuzz, MeetMe, MessageMe, TextMe, Grindr, HeyWire, Hike, and textPlus) is in danger of confidential data breaches. It would seem that the current Android security architecture and operating system cannot provide adequate security for Android mobile phone users.

As discussed above, the current Android security system has multiple flaws and Android users need new ways to protect their private personal data from a malicious attack. In order to improve our smartphone security, Fraces (2014) suggested several tips as follows: Selecting strong password or pattern; Installing and updating security solutions; Downloading applications only from trusted and reliable sources; Checking our apps permissions and rights; Performing regular updates of the O.S on our device; Preparing back up from our information frequently; Encrypting our confidential information; Beware of entering sensitive information on our smartphone; and Avoiding jailbraking or rooting of the device.

By Mojgan Afshari

MOOC: Massive Open Online Course

MOOC: Massive Open Online Course

MOOC: Massive Open Online CourseMOOC-Infographic

The advent of new information and communication technologies such as Web 2.0, Learning 2.0, cloud-based learning tools, open content and open source learning tools have transformed the world of education in an unprecedented way. Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) as an emerging method of education is considered as one of the most significant trends in higher education. The term MOOCs was first introduced in 2008 by two Canadian scholars, George Siemens and Stephen Downes. They offered a free online learning course entitled “Connectivism and Connective Knowledge 2008 (CCK08)” to students from anywhere around the world. The main purpose of MOOCs is to open up education and to provide an opportunity for every student, regardless of the social and cultural background, to free access to university level education. MOOC materials are also hosted in a cloud. “Cloud computing provides scalable anytime/ anywhere services simply accessed through the Web from multiple devices without worrying about how/where those services are installed, maintained or located”. Therefore, students can access advanced learning applications and can interact and collaborate, regardless of geographical location, with their peers through a cloud.

There are two MOOC categories, based on different pedagogical emphases and organisational models: the content-based MOOCs (xMOOCs), and connectivist MOOCs (cMOOCs). xMOOCs represent courses where the curricula and the course are fixed and defined by the course designers, whereas cMOOCs provide a platform which learners can contribute with each other to create both the content and structure of the learning curricula. Nowadays, many highly prestigious US universities such as Harvard, Stanford, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Princeton and MIT, have adopted this new method of education and made their lectures available to indefinite number of students throughout the world at no cost. Moreover, several startup companies (e.g.Coursera, Udacity, edX, Udemy, Khan Academy, Coursera, Udacity and edX) have developed partnerships with universities and professors to offer MOOCs.

In addition, MOOCs can be useful to those people who cannot attend university due to cost, lack of time and sufficient secondary education entry requirements and who aspire to achieve career progression, at their own pace, by having MOOC certificates from some of the highly accredited, prestigious universities in the world. Interestingly, many learners from middle and low income countries around the world have adopted this new learning method to enhance their learning experience through peer-to-peer and professor-learner interactions. At the moment, institutions in the developing world are offering MOOCs for continuing professional development and training. MOOCs can provide an opportunity for people to obtain the skills required by the labor market. This is supported by Christensen and his colleagues. They conducted an online survey on students enrolled in 32 massive open online courses at the University of Pennsylvania and reported that the main users, especially in developing countries, were young, employed, and well-educated males. They also added that students’ main reasons for taking a MOOC were advancing in their current job and satisfying curiosity.

Despite the large number of enrolments in these open online courses, the rate of completion in MOOCs is very low. Studies indicate that most students who register for a MOOC have no intention and commitment to complete their course. On other hand, the rates of completion for students who plan to do the work, and pay a fee for the company’s new Signature Track program is substantially higher.

(Infographic Source: http://www.extremenetworks.com)

By Mojgan Afshari

The Cloud, The Internet and International Business

The Cloud, The Internet and International Business

The Cloud, The Internet and International BusinessInternet-of-Things

It is true that the Internet will change everything. It is not true that everything will change.

Paul Deninger, CEO of Broadview Capital Partners

Cloud computing has been viewed as a game changer by many businesses.  It’s fast, inexpensive and highly scalable.  Well, none of this matters unless you have a secure and reliable Internet connection to access the data.

The Internet has been recognized as an important tool for modern international business. It can revolutionize international commerce. Not only can the Internet help small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) access easily to market and compete but it can also enable SMEs to respond flexibly to new international market opportunities. Nowadays, the majority of businesses are active internet users. Industry Canada (2009) indicated that 95% of businesses had internet access, 74% had a website, 69%were purchasing online and 13% were selling online. Moreover, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reported that most companies are purchasing and selling over the internet and online transactions are now common in most of the countries such as Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. It would seem that the Internet can be considered as a strategic resource that can help companies achieve operational efficiency and functionality and enable them to compete more easily in the global marketplace.

Reuber and Fischer (2011) conducted a systematic review and reported that online reputation, online technological capabilities and online brand communities are significant in a firm’s success in pursuing international opportunities when competing in internet-enabled markets. In order to stand out in a competitive market and be able to attract investors, customers, and suppliers, it is of great significance for firms to develop an online reputation. Companies need to be both visible online and seen as providing high-quality goods and services.

In addition, online technological capabilities not only increase the efficiency of market transactions and enhance the learning process but also enable a company to discover and exploit international opportunities better and faster than competitors. According to Reuber and Fischer ( 2011), important aspects of a firm’s online technological capabilities are a) the extent to which web applications are integrated with back-end databases and systems; b) the firm’s ability to customize the online experience for particular markets (Website customization); and c) the firm’s technological opportunism.

According to Muniz and O’Guinn (2001), an online brand community is an online “specialized, non-geographically bound community, based on a structured set of social relationships among admirers of a brand”. Online brand communities can provide information about buyers, support the buying process and build positive brand meanings. Hence, they can help companies discover, evaluate and exploit international opportunities.

Scholars have argued that successful deployment of the Internet depends on the functional and organizational capabilities of the firm. A firm’s top management play a crucial role in the successful adoption of internet-related technologies. Entrepreneurial leaders who are innovative, proactive, commitment to the Internet and firm internationalisation are able to exploit opportunities provided by the Internet capabilities. Leaders’ knowledge and skills in conducting business in international markets and their attitudes towards online initiatives affect Internet integration and application for international business.

As discussed above, the Internet offers many benefits to companies and their customers. The Internet can fundamentally change the nature of doing business and competition in many industries. It provides SMEs with new ways to conduct and develop international business, communicate ideas, and exchange information. Companies should select a new business model for their Internet venture. This new Internet business models can create value (efficiency, aggregation and customization) for market participants. “If the business model is unique or difficult to imitate, Internet firms can also capture some share of the created value and become profitable“. It is clear that firms’ managers should be competent, innovative and proactive in making decision about their existing business model components to increase value capture.

(Infographic Source: http://blogs.jabil.com)

By Mojgan Afshari

 

Internet Of Things – Industrial Robots And Virtual Monitoring

Internet Of Things – Industrial Robots And Virtual Monitoring

Internet Of Things – Industrial Robots And Virtual Monitoring

One of the hottest topics in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is the Internet of Things (IOT). According to the report of International Telecommunication Union (2012), “the Internet of things can be perceived as a vision with technological and societal implications. It is considered as a global infrastructure for the information society, enabling advanced services by interconnecting (physical and virtual) things based on existing and evolving interoperable information and communication technologies”. Based on this definition, IOT refers to networkable things. Things can be Physical things which exist in the physical world (e.g. sensors of surrounding environments, industrial robots, goods, and electrical equipment), or Virtual things which exist in the information world (e.g. multimedia contents, application software and service representations of physical things). They are able to be integrated into communication networks and can offer services to various kinds of applications such as intelligent transportation systems, e-health, and smart environmental monitoring.

According to Lee et al. (2013), the Internet of things will include: “ubiquitous connectivity allowing for whenever, whoever, wherever, and whatever types of communications; a pervasive reality for effective interfaces to provide connectable real world environments; and ambient intelligence allowing for innovative communications and providing increased value creation”. The vision of the IOT suggests that devices can communicate with other devices through a worldwide network with or without the involvement of human. Humans can also communicate with a device in order to get or transfer specific information. In this way, everything from individuals, groups, communities, objects, products, data, services, and processes will be connected by the IOT. It is estimated that approximately 50 billion things will be connected to each other through the communication network by 2020. A massive set of data will be created. It would seem that management of the data generated and its interpretation for application purposes are important issues that should be considered.

Connected Communities

The IOT will create new services based on real-time physical world data and will transform businesses, industries, and the daily life of people. Smart cities (connected communities), smart planet (green environment), smart building (building, smart homes), smart industry (industrial environment), smart energy (electric grid), smart transport (intelligent transport system), smart living (entertainment, leisure), smart health (health care system) are examples of the Internet of things.

The major characteristics of the IOT are: interconnectivity of physical and virtual things; ability of providing thing-related services within the constraints of things; heterogeneity of IOT devices; dynamic changes of devices, and enormous scale. Various technologies such as M2M, microcontrollers, wireless communication, RFID, energy harvesting technologies, location technology, and various software will contribute to the development of the IOT.

Many scholars believe that security, privacy, and trust are important issues and should be considered as fundamental design parameters of sensor systems. In a world where everything is connected by the internet, confidentiality, authenticity, and integrity of data and services are critical particularly for public services, enterprises, and citizens. Furthermore, privacy protection of data during transmission, aggregation, storage, mining and processing is important. Therefore, dynamic trust models need to be designed to provide security and privacy features.

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

By Mojgan Afshari

CloudTweaks Comics
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