Category Archives: Big Data

Court Rulings Look To Bolster Web Privacy

Court Rulings Look To Bolster Web Privacy

Taking Control Over Our Web Privacy

Have you ever had the slightly unnerving experience of browsing on a brands website or interacting with a company online, only to find a few hours later that the brand is now all over your social media channels, and is targeting ads at you as if it knows exactly who you are? Most of us have had that experience and are almost reaching a point where we take it for granted.

The collection of metadata and the tracking of a user’s browsing history has become an extremely sophisticated business, but a flurry of court decisions in recent weeks may be turning the tide and about to put the brakes on the ambitions of corporations and the seemingly inevitable march away from privacy.

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A US federal court ruled in early November that a warrant might be required before a user’s browsing history can be tracked, while almost simultaneously in Belgium, a commercial court ruled that Facebook must stop collecting a user’s browsing history when the user is not logged in.

The Wall Street Journal reports that “The Belgian Privacy Commission had brought the case against Facebook in June, accusing the company of raking in personal data of its users as well as nonmembers without asking for consent or adequately explaining how the data would be used. At issue for the regulator is how Facebook tracks Internet users on external websites through the use of “like” and “share” buttons.”

Both rulings tap into a growing sense of unease amongst consumers about how far they are prepared to go in allowing corporations to monitor their online activity with a goal to targetting products and advertising at them. And it’s not just on the web either where this is happening. Non-profit investigative newsroom ProPublica reports that “Vizio’s Smart TVs track your viewing habits and share it with advertisers, who can then find you on your phone and other devices.” It’s one of the tradeoffs that Vizio justifies as a way to generate revenue while keeping the prices of their hardware more affordable. It’s not just Vizio doing the watching, but the way its tracking behavior is set up is more aggressive than companies like Samsung and LG. both of which track viewing habits only when that feature is specifically turned on.

online privacy

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

In its ruling around data collection, the US Federal Court draws some important distinctions that could have far reaching implications for both government and big business; arguing that it’s not just content that cannot be tracked but URLs as well. This makes sense, due to the fact that it’s easy to see how a specific URL can tell a company as much as the content on that page can do. “A visit to “webmd.com,” for instance, might count as metadata, as Cato Institute senior fellow Julian Sanchez explains. But a visit to “www.webmd.com/family-pregnancy” clearly reveals something about the visitor’s communications with WebMD, not just the fact of the visit,” writes Andy Greenberg for Wired magazine.

A compromise position needs to be found between governments, large corporations and users where the various parties can agree on the level of access that is acceptable in a world rapidly automating and where the ‘’internet of things’’ looms closer everyday with its potential to make our lives infinitely easier at the risk of our threatened privacy.

By Jeremy Daniel

Understanding The Benefits Of Cloud Collaboration

Understanding The Benefits Of Cloud Collaboration

Cloud Collaboration

The ability to collaborate—across functional boundaries, time zones or even beyond organizational borders—is becoming an ever more critical determinant of success.” – Forbes Insights: Collaboration in the Cloud

Cloud services have reached a place where they have become an integral part of our day-to-day work lives. Modern entrepreneurs are using cloud services to build and run their small businesses and work with people from different parts of the globe. And why not? It is effective and affordable.

In fact, collaboration based on cloud technology has already proved its ability in bringing your most diverse and distributed teams together, thus bringing an end of faceless employment.

employment byod

Cloud collaboration allows your team members to work together and collaborate on both on-site and off-site files and documents alike, meaning you can even access, share and edit files and documents outside of the company firewall.

It is fast becoming a permanent feature of the contemporary workplace, thanks to the growing practices of the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and remote employment. Today’s workforce wants to move and communicate seamlessly between various devices and cloud collaboration helps them to do that.

Despite the widespread trend toward cloud collaboration for enhanced productivity, many small businesses are yet to fully understand its benefits. According to a report published by Endurance International Group, many small businesses fail to leverage the significant advances in cloud collaboration technology and are also “unfamiliar with some of the most advantageous online tools.”

The study also found that almost a third of respondents aren’t sure what cloud-based computing means, although they have heard the term. Just 11 percent of respondents said they rely on cloud collaboration while 67 percent of them said they are yet to invest in such technology for their business.

If you too are thinking why invest in the cloud for collaboration, here are top three benefits of cloud collaboration for startups and their teams.

1. It is Cost Effective

Much of the benefits of cloud collaboration are related to its cost-effectiveness. Unlike traditional on-premise software, you don’t have to invest in an expensive infrastructure with cloud-based collaborative tools. They also eliminate the need for costly customization and heavy IT involvement.

Cloud collaboration, is indeed a cost-effective solution that allows for a pay-as-you-go pricing model.

pay-as-you-go

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Under this utility computing billing method you need to pay for procured, instead of actual and computing resources. This means instead to an entire infrastructure you need to pay for just the used services or number of users you need in a given month. You can actually cut office overheads as cloud-based collaboration allows employees to work from other remote locations, making it especially beneficial for startups and small businesses who usually have a limited budget.

You can therefore mitigate project risk and also use collaboration technology to your advantage minus the upfront and extensive capital expense. There is no time-consuming installation, system configuration or maintenance as well. Everything is on the cloud, i.e. web-based. Thus, you really don’t have to bother about updates or server maintenance.

2. It Enhances Your Project Management Process

The key benefit of cloud collaboration is perhaps its ability to connect people to share information and ideas when it’s needed most. Besides, it helps businesses keep all project related documents and information within the same workspace in order to streamline the process, allowing them to manage everything in the cloud.

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With these collaborative project management tools, you don’t have to worry about tracking old emails and various versions of documents as these tools retain archived versions of all your documents and update them in real time. Better yet, your team members can even add tasks and comments to each file, giving you a complete audit trail of all projects related interactions. You can even create and manage task lists and team calendars, making your overall project management much simpler and faster.

A 2014 Software Advice study that interviewed thousands of buyers who were shopping for the right project management tool revealed that around 46 percent of small-business buyers were using manual methods like Excel, email and pens and papers. But businesses that have a deployment preference voted for web-based (cloud) solutions over on-site deployment. And around 88 percent of them preferred ‘integrated suites’ that come with two or more applications instead of the stand-alone solutions. In fact, 98 percent of businesses looked for project management as one of the integrated services in their cloud collaboration tools.

The reason behind such preferences is quite obvious as it is rather challenging to projects across various stand-alone platforms. However, the key is to find a collaborative tool that helps you create and manage milestones, goals and deadlines seamlessly to keep your project on track.

3. It is Scalable

Cloud-based technologies are known for their scalability and flexibility. Using a cloud-based collaboration tool you can start small and add on resources as demand increases. For startups and small businesses, it is often the case that the volume of contributions and number of participants increase rapidly and steeply in-between projects. With cloud collaboration, it becomes easier to cater to such growing demands without adding much cost.

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Most importantly, cloud collaboration allows you to scale for users, workload and adoption. You can therefore accommodate the growth seamlessly. All you need to do is pay for additional storage and users as you need them, without making any infrastructure investment.

Better yet, you can even manage peaks in demand by automatically allocating capacity and managing team performance when facing data intensive periods. This helps you achieve greater organizational agility.

Conclusion

The nature of cloud collaboration is such that it serves the mobile workforce and companies with multiple locations and remote employees better than on-premise solutions. It allows remote workers to access information seamlessly across devices, helping them to become more productive at work. And since everything is stored in the cloud, you can access them from anywhere and at any time. When you understand the benefits of cloud collaboration, you will also realize that its goal is to provide a natural experience of working together with your team members, even when that’s not the case.

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sebastienBy Sebastien Boyer

Sebastien is the Director of Products at Nutcache, a smart and simple collaborative project management tool for all sizes of businesses with time tracking, invoicing and expenses.

Google Introduces New Machine Learning System – TensorFlow

Google Introduces New Machine Learning System – TensorFlow

Google Introduces Open Source Machine Learning System 

So we’ve built an entirely new machine learning system, which we call “TensorFlow.” TensorFlow is faster, smarter, and more flexible than our old system, so it can be adapted much more easily to new products and research. It’s a highly scalable machine learning system—it can run on a single smartphone or across thousands of computers in datacenters. We use TensorFlow for everything from speech recognition in the Google app, to Smart Reply in Inbox, to search in Google Photos. It allows us to build and train neural nets up to five times faster than our first-generation system, so we can use it to improve our products much more quickly…

Read Full Article: Google Blog

How To Overcome Data Insecurity In The Cloud

How To Overcome Data Insecurity In The Cloud

Data Insecurity In The Cloud

Today’s escalating attacks, vulnerabilities, breaches, and losses have cut deeply across organizations and captured the attention of, regulators, investors and most importantly customers. In many cases such incidents have completely eroded customer trust in a company, its services and its employees. The challenge of ensuring data security is far more complicated across public cloud models where there is shared ownership. As key business stakeholders in your company can you attest to who has access to your data in the public cloud models you use and most importantly that your customer’s data has not been tampered with, corrupted, or leaked?

The New Data Economy

data-economy

We are moving towards a data economy, where data is a core component of the value of the service or product that is delivered to the customer. In our hyper-connected world data streams are becoming far more personal and intimate than previously. Consider a connected bathroom scale where weight loss or gain patterns might be transmitted from a scale to a backend cloud and where as part of the product, customers have the ability to study their weight patterns over periods of time.

Despite a widespread recognition in the industry of the value and importance of customer data, we live in a perpetual state of data insecurity. It’s not only about the high profile data breaches but it’s also about minimizing accidental risk vectors. In the cloud well intentioned employees who don’t consider the ramifications of oversharing on social media sites, or who accidentally drag and drop sensitive documents from their desktops into email or who upload regulated data into insecure file shares to avoid corporate security measures may be your organization’s biggest risk vector.

Internal Data Marketplace

data-marketplace

At the CloudExpo Asia conference last week I referred to the sliver lining in the data insecurity issue. The effects of data loss, misuse and leakage are driving a very necessary change across the business landscape and executives are beginning to get educated on data security issues.

Following are three key steps I recommend to executives as they look to beef up their data security programs with a lens on public cloud

1. Build an internal data marketplace: Organizations need to know the value of their data in order to make the right decisions about whether to host or transact their data in a particular cloud model, and thereafter how to protect it. To calculate the value of data, build an internal marketplace with user entitlements and access controls mapped accordingly. This encourages business users to treat data as part of the business P&L.

2. Learn from your data insecurity history: Organizations have a tendency to want to bury the past especially when it hasn’t been stellar. However, knowing how data has been used and abused in the past is an indicator of how it might be compromised and disclosed in the future. Studying loss trends over time can help organizations forecast future losses and improve prevention and mitigation strategies.

3. Make data protection business-consumable: This is a recurring theme in my writings. As business leaders rush to adopt new cloud applications security needs to partner much more strategically. The way that security classifies and treats data has to align to business and usage contexts. It’s protecting data, transactions and workstreams versus focusing only on building secure and compliant infrastructures that will help organizations win and retain customer trust in the long run.

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

By Evelyn de Souza

The Internet of Things – Redefining The Digital World As We Know It

The Internet of Things – Redefining The Digital World As We Know It

Redefining The Digital World

According to Internet World Stats (June 30th, 2015), no fewer than 3.2 billion people across the world now use the internet in one way or another. This means an incredible amount of data sharing through the utilization of API’s, Cloud platforms and inevitably the world of connected Things.

The Internet of Things is a tremendously exciting area with IDG projecting the IoT solutions industry to hit $7.3 trillion by 2020. This is an extremely important time for startups to get involved as there is much business to be had.

Provided is an infographic produced by: appcessories.co.uk which offers an interesting look at this exploding investment industry.

IoT-infographic

Rackspace Carina – A Free Container Technology Service

Rackspace Carina – A Free Container Technology Service

Open Source Docker, Containers & Rackspace’s Free Service

Containers

Containers, sometimes known as virtualization engines (VE), operating-system-level virtualization, software containers, virtual private servers (VPS), or jails, can look and feel like a real server, but are server-virtualization methods in which the kernel of an OS allows for multiple isolated user-space instances. Commonly used in virtual hosting environments to securely allocate finite hardware resources amongst countless unrelated users, containers can also separate applications for improved security and better resource management.

Implementing Docker

docker

Containers have other purposes though and are becoming more popular as the core components of public and private Platform as a Service (PaaS). Linux Containers, much like virtual machines, can run almost anywhere, but in contrast with VMs are lightweight and easier to manage. The open-source Docker project automates the deployment of applications inside software containers, using Linux kernel resource isolation features such as cgroups and kernel namespaces to enable independent containers to run within a single Linux instance. In recent years, Docker has been extremely successful and has been adopted by projects in various fields including PaaS, continuous integration, and testing.

Carina by Rackspace

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Rackspace is one of many organizations putting Docker to work, and until general availability (expected sometime next year), their newly released beta version of Carina container service will be free. The Carina container service, using the native Docker API and tooling, has been developed to enable users to spin up containers quickly and easily. Offering data scientists, developers, and operators a quick way to create and deploy a cluster for containerized apps, Carina has been designed to widen the use of container clusters, employing tools such as Swarm for orchestration, transferring applications between dev, testing, and production environments.

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John Engates, Rackspace CTO, says, “What we’ve done, using our OpenStack public cloud and technologies around Docker, is create a container service where a customer can very quickly, in seconds, spin up a container. It’s a container-as-a-service platform. [Customers] can spin up a container using their native Docker tools. Behind the scenes, OpenStack is orchestrating everything to provision those containers, and those containers can be provisioned on top of bare-metal servers, virtual machines, or even other containers underneath the platform.”

Using far less compute resources than typical VMs, containers additionally provide greater availability and scaling, and with bare-metal performance indicating the increased speed containers can attain when installed directly onto servers without hypervisor, Rackspace has simplified the creation and management of containers in a service, using Docker tools to interact with it. Engates asserts, “It should be very familiar to developers who are already using Docker. It should be almost brain-dead simple to spin up a container.”

Carina, touted to provide “a ‘zero infrastructure’ hosted container environment, where users no longer worry about building, managing, and updating their container environment,” is apparently not only for public cloud, but will also encompass firms using private clouds. Likening Carina to a turnkey service, Engates suggests it provides the necessary performance, reliability, and security without user intervention while providing as much understanding into its workings as possible. Says Engates, “What containers are doing is bringing back some of the mindset of ‘I want turnkey, I want it as a service but I want control, I want the ability to tune things and I want to put my own code in there and understand what’s running and where it’s running and be able to direct and orchestrate some of that myself.’ This is a good happy medium between those two.”

By Jennifer Klostermann

How The Cloud Is Turning Retail Health Providers Into Power Players

How The Cloud Is Turning Retail Health Providers Into Power Players

Telemedicine and Healthcare Cloud Trends

“With the role of retail clinics expanding, the healthcare industry is entering into a dynamic period of change” – Rand Corporation

Retail health is changing the face of healthcare delivery by moving care outside the four walls of the hospital and offering care in drug store chains, grocery stores, and superstores. Retail health clinics are staffed by nurse practitioners who provide treatment for minor illnesses, preventative care and vaccinations.

Retail health is on the upswing — more and more people are choosing retail healthcare before seeking medical treatment in physician offices and hospitals. Global management consulting firm, Accenture, predicted that the number of walk-in retail clinics in the United States would almost double in 2015, to nearly 3,000.

The Lighter Side Of The Cloud – Wearable Infection

So What’s All the Fuss about Retail Health?

Affordable: According to Advisory Health, retail clinics cost 30% to 40% less than at a physician’s office because clinics typically employ mid-level providers, such as nurse practitioners or physician assistants.

Predictable, Transparent Pricing: Many retailers offer fixed, predictable prices. They also post their prices online (including Walgreens and CVS) adding a level of transparency not available in traditional hospitals.

Convenient: Retail health makes healthcare accessible and convenient. They typically stay open later than a doctor’s office and on weekends. At a “one stop shop”, patients can visit a health care provider and immediately pick up a prescription at the same place.

What’s in Store for Retail Health?

The trend in retail healthcare started with medical clinics in pharmacies and continues to evolve with health kiosks, walk-in clinics, telemedicine services, and more. Let’s explore some of the major trends in retail health. (Click to view/zoom the archived Infographic discovered at http://www.envisioning.io)

Telemedicine heath cloud

Trend #1: Telemedicine

Telemedicine combines technology with health care, allowing remote communication between physicians and patients.

As technology advances, medical care follows suit. Telemedicine utilizes technology to permit better communication between the patient and healthcare professional from a distance. The trend has become popular with several of the nation’s largest pharmacy chain companies. CVS’s in-store program manages calls from patients, caregivers, nurses, doctors or pharmacists providing information on specific diseases, related therapies, and adverse reactions.

Trend #2: The Health Cloud

The Salesforce Health Cloud allows physicians to coordinate better with their patients.

Salesforce made headways in telemedicine by launching its Salesforce Health Cloud, a solution that empowers caregivers to connect with patients via mobile, social, and other channels. The platform includes a complete view of electronic medical records (EMRs) and enables better communication between patients and their caregivers. When combined with online guidance platforms such as Walkme, the Salesforce Health Cloud makes it easier than ever for patients to get in touch with a doctor right away.

For more information on the drivers behind the adoption of the cloud, click here.

Trend #3: Walk-In Clinics

Walk-in clinics provide faster, more convenient options to get basic medical care.

Retailers like Target, Rite Aid, and Walmart started to build walk-in clinics and hire health care providers to provide basic medical services in their stores. For example, Novant Health partnered with Target to open walk-in clinics inside Target locations staffed by Target nurse practitioners and overseen by Novant doctors. The clinics aim to provide affordable telemedicine, mobile coaching apps, and other prescription and health care options.

Even supermarkets have joined the mix. Food stores find themselves in a unique position to combine health care with overall wellness. The parent company of Stop & Shop deployed nutritionists to stores and trained pharmacists to help patients take medications correctly and eat healthier diets. Whole Foods also announced their plans to provide health retreats along with walk-in medical clinics.

Trend #4: Telemedicine Goes Mobile

Retail clinics partner with telemedicine vendors to provider mobile healthcare applications.

The advent of smartphones has ushered in a new chapter in health. In 2014, Walgreens teamed up with telemedicine vendor, MDLIVE to provide virtual doctor visits through a mobile application. Unlike competitors Rite Aid, CVS, and Walmart, which currently provide in-store telemedicine services, Walgreens offers this service via a downloadable app allowing patients to consult virtually with physicians and mental health specialists anytime and anywhere from a computer or mobile device—not just from within a Walgreens pharmacy.

The new age in retail health promises a more accessible and cost-effective approach to medicine. With more communication between doctors and their patients and better access to information, we should be seeing improved patient care and outcomes.

By Boaz Amidor

The Rise Of Predictive Marketing

The Rise Of Predictive Marketing

Predictive Marketing

With over $100 million in venture capital invested in predictive marketing companies, predictive analytics, Big Data, and all that attends are of key consideration to marketers.  A Forbes Insights’ study, co-authored by Lattice Engines – The Predictive Journey: 2015 Survey on Predictive Marketing Strategies, based on a survey of 308 North American executives representing companies worth $20 million and above in annual revenues, observes that predictive marketing is becoming the best method for using data analytics in decision making and predicts organisations will soon be investing in it. As predictive marketing enters the mainstream, early adopters will lead their markets.

Predictive Marketing

Significant Insights

Forbes Insights’ study found that although a massive 86% of executives experiences positive return on investments in predictive analytics technologies, only 13% of companies using these technologies deem themselves highly advanced users. With the growing understanding that data-driven decision making can advance business operations around cross-selling and upselling, identification of new customers, and customer habits, 80% of marketing leaders plan to increase spending on marketing technologies in the year to come.

Furthermore, the report notes:

  • 68% of organizations require additional predictive or analytics skills.
  • 71% of organizations offer onsite training and education in predictive marketing for employees.
  • Six out of ten organisations believe a chief obstacle to be the accurate measuring of a marketing campaign or initiative results.
  • 41% of organizations consider the improvement of customer retention to be vital when measuring the success of predictive marketing efforts.

Says Bruce Rogers, chief insights officer and head of Forbes Media’s CMO Practice, “Predictive marketing is rapidly becoming essential to data-driven organizations. Businesses need to close the gaps among sales, marketing, operations and other departments that are made worse by siloed data and systems.”

What it Means for Marketing

Lattice Engines provides predictive applications for marketing and sales, and recently released a new maturity model outlining steps to help CMOs convert their traditional marketing structures into predictive marketing ventures. Lattice’s Maturity Model encourages the leveraging of big data as well as streamlined marketing processes for better predictions of customer behaviour that can be used for efficiency restructuring while driving revenue growth.

nipul-chokshi

In discussions with CloudTweaks, Nipul Chokshi, Lattice Engine’s Head of Product Marketing, stated, “Marketing organizations believe in the benefits of predictive marketing, and as the Forbes study shows, companies are hungry to learn the best way to dive in. That’s why we created the Predictive Maturity Model, to give marketers a blueprint for getting started with predictive marketing and driving outsized revenue gains for their organization.”

Lattice Engines concludes that predictive analysis is vastly enriched when combined with data, process, and technology within a marketing organisation, and believes that marketers should not focus on one model, data scientist, or type of technology, but instead take a systematic approach to marketing. Their new maturity model, A Blueprint for Building a Predictive Marketing Organization, helps marketers understand predictive marketing organizations and measure the current stage of their own organisation. Additionally, the process of maturing and developing one’s own predictive marketing organization is considered. It’s evident that predictive marketing isn’t just about the measurements; it’s about how you put them to work.

By Jennifer Klostermann

CloudTweaks Comics
7 Common Cloud Security Missteps

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Cloud Infographic – The Internet Of Things In 2020

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