Category Archives: Contributors

The Return of the CIO

The Return of the CIO

Not long ago pundits were writing the obituary for CIO’s. They were becoming as archaic as the VP’s of Electricity from the early 20th century. CDO’s, CTO’s even CMO’s were the future. Well, check again folks – the CIO is back!

Twelve years ago Nicholas Carr wrote the best-selling “Does IT Matter?” where he argued that we had wrung all the leverage out of information technology that we could and CIO’s were really just caretakers of the back office plant. Five years later in “The Big Switch” he describes the transformation of data processing from the old individual “walled garden” at every company to the current advent of cloud computing as a utility. He makes the analogy that this is just like the shift of electric power provision by firms in the early twentieth century – where every factory had its own power plant – to today’s method where electric power is tapped as a utility with flip of the switch access. Carr infers that today’s CIO might just go the way of the VP’s of Electricity that used to be needed to run those individual power plants.

It looked like he was on to something. Netflix – the ultimate cloud success story, which runs its whole operations on Amazon Web Services cloud – got rid of its CIO just a couple of years ago. Pretty soon the role of Chief Digital Officer (CDO) began to emerge in response to the belief that the CIO could not hack the companies’ need to embrace the tidal wave of digitization that was sweeping all industries.

Surveys showed that CIO’s were deluding themselves, they thought they had a seat at the high table when in reality their executive peers and their CEO’s really did not think so. Even Chief Marketing Officers (CMO’s) were being touted as the biggest budgets for IT and thought to be more likely successors to the CEO in the age of “software eating the world”.

digital-marketing

If you were a CIO things looked depressing and grim. The world you knew was being upended by cloud. You were running as hard as you could to just stand in place with over 80% of your budgets devoted to LODO (keeping the “Lights On and the Doors Open”) but everyone else wanted the new-new. Your ability as an IT organization to support the business seemed to slip farther and farther behind. Cloud-based SaaS (Software as a Service) applications enabled your peers to go around you. Shadow IT sprang up everywhere with little concern for the security and compliance issues.

Well, how have things worked out? Target just dumped its CDO after four months and indicated it was relying on its CIO, Mike McNamara, to honcho its badly needed digital restoration. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that pay for CIO’s is climbing rapidly “…reflecting both the growing importance of IT in the emerging digital marketplace and the broader role CIOs now play in front-office decision-making…” (BTW, Target’s CIO made a cool $10 Million!).

What? You thought I just told you CIO’s were anachronisms and on their way out like VP’s of Electricity. What’s going on? Well, all firms are now undergoing a digital transformation. But a recent survey from SAP indicates only 21%, or so, have their act together. It turns out that many of the best performing firms have turned to their CIO’s to lead this charge.

These CIO’s are masters of the new technology, especially cloud, and are at the same time consummate performers in working well with their peers to get the firm to the digital nirvana it seeks. They come from many different disciplines. While some have come up the IT path, a number have risen through operations, marketing or even R&D. The key is they get it. They grasp they new, rich digital tools and possibilities before them.

The role of CIO looks promising if the right individual can assume the mantle. But while things are looking up, a few sobering caveats are in order. The same SAP survey reports the CIO is the most likely member of the C-suite to take ownership of digital transformation efforts (37%), followed by the CEO (25%). But, IT departments as a whole are falling short when it comes to digital transformation: Sadly only 7% of executives said that they believe IT leads their organization’s attempts to identify ways to innovate, while 35% said they believe it should.

Time for some introspection: What kind of CIO are you? Or, what kind does your enterprise have?

By John Pientka

5 Simple Tips to Make Strong and Robust Business Continuity Plans

5 Simple Tips to Make Strong and Robust Business Continuity Plans

Business Continuity Plans

Today’s organizations need comprehensive and robust business continuity planning for swift and effective action in case of a disaster or crisis. As the trade and supply chain have gone global, businesses today expect crisis response to be in seconds, not in hours, to ensure that the ripple impact is minimized. As organizations go digital, an IT failure can cripple the whole supply chain and business operations, causing extreme losses within hours and requiring countless hours to recover from the them. Plans to mitigate IT failures are also affected by the complexity of today’s IT infrastructure. As applications and systems are added based on business and market requirements, newer technologies and infrastructure pose new challenges.

Most businesses leverage cloud based platforms for their enterprise needs at least partially. The cloud helps businesses minimize costs and maximize efficiency; made for speed and convenience, it can scale up and down as needs demand and bring flexibility to business operations. However, the added overhead of managing cloud data centers, planning and performing test exercises across multiple locations and vendors as well as managing a crisis recovery, requires that organizations pay critical attention to their cloud solutions in combination with legacy infrastructure.

Today, an effective business continuity plan requires dynamic collection of information across the extended organization in a continuous manner. Organizations need to overcome the traditional fragmented approach to business continuity and formulate the business continuity strategy that adheres to the following five-point agenda:

1. Champion Business Continuity at the Highest Level

With senior management sponsorship, the business continuity plan will occupy its rightful position, high up in business priorities. This is important for sufficient budget, resourcing and training to be assigned to it. Senior leaders must set the tone at the top by insisting on robust crisis planning and regular reviews as a standard practice rather than a mere formality.

In August, Delta suffered a major IT outage that resulted in a $100 million loss in revenues for the airline. The impact was far-reaching, affecting check-in systems, flight information screens, the airline’s website and smartphone apps. The disruption to customers was extensive as well.

This is just one example of many; unfortunately, downtime of one type or another is a common situation in business. According to the Continuity Insights and KPMG, Global BCM 2016 report, 39 percent of global organizations have estimated the cost of business disruption to be $100,000 or less and 27 percent have estimated business disruptions ranging from $100,000 to $5 million or more in the last 12 months . This highlights the need for robust business continuity planning, championed at the highest level.

bcm-costs

Types of Instances and Interruptions in Past Year

bcm-types-of-risks

2. Review, Update and Test Regularly

The business continuity plan is a living document; it isn’t one to be created, filed and never looked at again. Risks evolve. Exercising the plans on a regularly scheduled basis will ensure businesses keep pace with the changing environment and understand what’s needed to protect critical infrastructure and preserve operations during a physical or virtual attack. Companies must learn from their own experience. Worryingly, according to Forrester and the Disaster Recovery Journal, 33 percent of businesses who had to invoke a business continuity plan, said one lesson learned from the experience was that the plan was out of date. Yet, 60 percent never carry out a full simulation of their business continuity plan for the entire organization; most walk through the plan as a document review.

It is of utmost importance that business continuity plans be reviewed by senior management and the planning team. Also, test results should be periodically evaluated and reported to the board, to assess the nature and scope of any changes to the organization’s business.

3. Include Partners, Suppliers and Third Parties

Companies don’t pay enough attention to the significant role of partners, suppliers and third parties in their business continuity. Deloitte found that over 94 percent of survey respondents had low to moderate confidence in the tools and technology used to manage third party risk and 88 percent felt the same about risk management processes. This, despite 87 percent having experienced disruption in the past three years that involved a third party.

Business continuity planning and disaster recovery has to be part of early third party discussions with responsibilities documented in service level agreements. Plans need to be aligned so that it is clear and easy to identify who does what, and where the handover points are when a plan is executed. The tools and systems used for collaboration must support transparency of information so that both parties are able to work from up to date information and take swift action in the event of a crisis.

4. Prioritize Ongoing Business Operations

The continuity plan should demonstrate that the business understands the priority level of its systems and that mitigating plans are in place to restore core operations as quickly as possible.

Cyber Crime DDoS

In the case of the Delta crisis, the outage was so extensive that it paralyzed business critical operations. The range of problems that can disrupt business – natural disasters, industrial action, cybercrime, IT failures, political or economic upheaval, suppliers ceasing to trade and so on – is so vast, and the systems and operations that can be impacted can be so wide that prioritization is a must.

A cloud-based option provides many benefits as an off-site back-up solution to ensure the efficacy of your continuity plan. However, as you develop your plan, ask yourself if a cloud-based option would increase the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of your plan and cover off essential considerations such as due diligence and service reliability with their provider. Another option is establishing a back-up plan that is independent of the cloud by leveraging personalized file backups, cross-device continuity solutions and communication software. The main aim is to get back faster and limit the amount of time that you’re spending without access to critical systems and information, by having a clearly defined continuity plan in place.

5. Define the Communications Plan Clearly

The business continuity plan has to be absolutely clear on how all stakeholders are going to be kept informed and how to enable upstream and downstream communication channels in times of crisis. Stakeholders include employees at all levels of the organization, such as suppliers, partners and customers.

The goal of the communications plan is to outline the channels and mechanisms for the sharing of information that will support efforts to resolve an issue at hand and limit the extent of its damage. How a company handles a crisis has an enormous impact on how they come out of the incident – people remember how the organization dealt and reacted to the issue and how convincing they were over the company’s efforts to make things right. For this reason, crisis management communications must be engaged at the earliest opportunity.

Service disruption is damaging to all businesses not only in terms of immediate revenue loss but also in the longer term brand and reputational impact. The business continuity plan is an essential, living document that aims to protect the ongoing sustainability of the business. Those that plan and execute well will see better performance in the long-run and be best-placed to weather the storms, whatever form they take.

By Vibhav Agarwal

How the Cloud Is Improving DNA Sequencing

How the Cloud Is Improving DNA Sequencing

DNA Sequencing

For many of us, the cloud is part of our daily lives.

We use these virtual storage servers to hold our pictures, our memories and our work documents, just to name a few. Cloud storage is also making its mark in the medical industry, with electronic health records making patient care easier no matter where you’re making your appointments.

This utilization of virtual information storage is also being used to improve the speed and accuracy of DNA sequencing. How can cloud storage change the way we look at DNA?

The Importance of DNA Sequencing

dna sequencingDNA, which stands for deoxyribonucleic acid, is the smallest building block of life. It’s found in almost all living things on the planet. Your DNA, found in every cell in your body, holds the blueprint that governs why you are the way you are.

Do you have red hair, or blue eyes? That’s written into your DNA. Are you tall, short, fat, skinny or athletic? You guessed it — that’s written into your DNA as well. Do you hate cilantro and think it tastes like soap? Believe it or not, that’s something that’s written into your DNA too.

In that DNA blueprint, there are answers to thousands of questions that we’ve been posing for centuries, including things like how long we’ll live, what diseases we may be predisposed to, and many others. That is where DNA sequencing comes in.

To stick with our same metaphor from a moment ago, you wouldn’t be able to read a blueprint without a key to tell you what different symbols mean, right? DNA sequencing provides researchers with the key to our DNA blueprint. By learning the order of the four base amino acids that make up DNA, researchers can determine which combinations of genes produce what result.

Old Tech, New Tech

Until now, DNA sequencing was performed on non-networked computers. While breakthroughs were being made, they were limited by the small subset of information available and the insufficient computer processing speeds. In other words, individual computers used for DNA sequencing are limited by the amount of processing power that they can possess.

Moore’s Law, coined by Gordon Moore — one of the founders of Intel — suggests that computers are limited by the number of transistors that can be placed on a single chip. He stated that this number would likely double every two years, and all current trends show that even with today’s advances, Moore’s Law still holds true.

Advances in DNA sequencing are appearing exponentially, and in many cases are only being limited by the available processing power.

Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics, or the study of patterns to make predictions, has already made its way into the medical fields. When applied to DNA sequencing, it’s often dubbed Predictive Genomics. Cloud computing is a key component in the success of predictive genomics for a variety of reasons, including:

  • The amount of data — The sheer amount of data in one human being’s genome is almost mind-boggling. Each individual’s genome has up to 25,000 genes. These genes are made up of almost 3 million base pairs. When you break that down into digital data, you’re looking at upwards of 100 gigabytes of data per person.
  • The cost — Right now, having your personal genetic code sequenced costs between $1,500 and $4,000. This also plays a large role in the high cost of testing for specific genetic markers, like the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes that indicate a higher chance of breast cancer.

The use of cloud computing and predictive genomics can reduce costs, ensure quality and improve accuracy throughout the world of DNA sequencing.

Amazon, our favorite online shopping mall, is doing what they can to help in the world of cloud computing and genomics. Amazon Web Services provides a cloud computing service that a number of companies, including DNAnexus and Helix, are using to improve the speed and accuracy of their genome sequencing.

There’s an App for That

While sending off a saliva-soaked q-tip to have your DNA tested isn’t a new concept, this is the first time it’s heading to both the cloud and the App Store.

A new startup from Silicon Valley named Helix has recently hit the DNA sequencing market with a new twist on the DNA game. Now, not only can you have your DNA tested for all sorts of information, but you can also have your genetic ancestry analyzed by the minds at National Geographic.

As the icing on the cake, all of your information will be stored on the cloud and accessible through Helix’s app.

Cloud computing is becoming an invaluable tool for a variety of different industries, with DNA sequencing as just the latest in a long line of innovations. As this advancement becomes more mainstream, only time will tell what secrets our DNA holds, and what we’ll be able to do with them once we find them.

By Kayla Matthews

Is Machine Learning Making Your Data Scientists Obsolete?

Is Machine Learning Making Your Data Scientists Obsolete?

Machine Learning and Data Scientists

In a recent study, almost all the businesses surveyed stated that big data analytics were fundamental to their business strategies. Although the field of computer and information research scientists is growing faster than any other occupation, the increasing applicability of data science across business sectors is leading to an exponential deficit between supply and demand.

When a 2012 article in the Harvard Business Review, co-written by U.S. chief data scientist DJ Patil, declared the role of data scientist “the sexiest job of the 21st century,” it sparked a frenzy of hiring people with an understanding of data analysis. Even today, enterprises are scrambling to identify and build analytics teams that can not only analyze the data received from a multitude of human and machine sources, but also can put it to work creatively.

One of the key areas of concern has been the ability of machines to gain cognitive power as their intelligence capacities increase. Beyond the ability to leverage data to disrupt multiple white-collar professions, signs that machine learning has matured enough to execute roles traditionally done by data scientists are increasing. After all, advances in deep learning are automating the time-consuming and challenging tasks of feature engineering.

While reflecting on the increasing power of machine learning, one disconcerting question comes to mind: Would advances in machine learning make data scientists obsolete?

The Day the Machines Take Over

machine

Advances in the development of machine learning platforms from leaders like Microsoft, Google, and a range of startups mean that a lot of work done by data scientists would be very amenable to automation — including multiple steps in data cleansing, determination of optimal features, and development of domain-specific variations for predictive models.

With these platforms’ increasing maturity and ability to create market-standard models and data-exchange interfaces, the focus shifts toward tapping machine-learning algorithms with a “black box” approach and away from worrying about the internal complexities.

However, as with any breakthrough technology, we need to recognize that the impact of the technology is limited unless it is well-integrated into the overall business flow. Some of the most successful innovations have been driven not by a single breakthrough technology but by reimagining an end-to-end business process through creative integration of multiple existing components. Uber and Netflix offer prime examples of intelligence gleaned from data being integrated seamlessly into a company’s process flow. Data scientists play a key role in this by leveraging data to orchestrate processes for better customer experience and by optimizing through continuous experimentation.

While organizations across industries increasingly see a more strategic role for data, they often lack clarity around how to make it work. Their tendency to miss the big picture by looking for “easy wins” and working with traditional data sources means that data scientists have an opportunity to help frame problems and to clearly articulate the “realm of the possible.

From Data to Strategy

It is easy to get carried away by the initial hype that machine learning will be a panacea that can solve all the problems and concerns around its impact on the roles of data science practitioners. However, let us recall the AI winters in the mid-’70s, and later in the ’90s, when the journey to the “promised land” did not pan out.

data-cloud

Today, we don’t see the same concerns as in the past — lack of data, data storage costs, limitations of compute power — but we still find true challenges in identifying the right use cases and applying AI in a creative fashion. At the highest of levels, it helps to understand that machine learning capability needs to translate into one of two outcomes:

  • Interaction: Understanding user needs and building better and more seamless engagement
  • Execution: Meeting customer needs in the most optimal manner with ability to self-correct and fine-tune

Stakeholder management becomes extremely important throughout the process. Framing key business problems as amenable to data-led decision-making (in lieu of traditional gut feel) to secure stakeholder buy-in is critical. Consequently, multiple groups need to be involved in identifying the right set of data sources (or best alternatives) while staying conscious of data governance and privacy considerations. Finally, stakeholders need to be fully engaged to ensure that the insights feed into business processes.

Data Scientists Become Core Change Agents

Given the hype surrounding big data analytics, data scientists need to manage responses that fall on opposite ends of the spectrum by tempering extreme optimism and handling skepticism. A combination of the following skills that go beyond platforms and technology are thus needed:

  • Framing solutions to business problems as hypotheses that will require experimentation, incorporating user input as critical feedback
  • Identifying parameters by which outcomes can be judged and being sensitive to the need for learning and iteration
  • Safeguarding against correlations being read as causal factors
  • Ensuring the right framework for data use and governance, given the potential for misuse

This requires pivoting a data scientist’s remit in a company from a pure data-analysis function into a more consultative role, engaging across business functions. Data scientists are not becoming obsolete. They are becoming bigger, more powerful, and more central to organizations, morphing from technician into change agents through the use of data.

By Guha Ramasubramanian

guha-rGuha heads Corporate Business Development at Wipro Technologies and is focused on two strategic themes at the intersection of technology and business: cybersecurity framed from a business risk perspective and how to leverage machine learning for business transformation.

Guha is currently leading the development and deployment of Apollo, an anomaly detection platform that seeks to mitigate risk and improve process velocity through smarter detection.

Zero-Rating and Data Consumption

Zero-Rating and Data Consumption

Zero-Rating

The ordinary mobile user often feels the need to backup their personal files only after they’ve lost it. It’s almost a cliché where a grad student loses their research because a laptop was lost or the father who loses years worth of their kids photos when their phone is stolen.

To combat this, cloud services have tried to become easier to use. Everything from automatic uploads to cross platform access has been implemented.

However, only one addresses the external circumstance that is the data cap: zero-rating.

To be frank, if not for zero-rating, you could argue that not many people would use the cloud as the round-the-clock backup it was intended to be.

So what is Zero-Rating?

Zero-Rating is the practise of mobile carriers allowing users to use a data-consuming service without counting the data used against their cap. Meaning if video streaming app X is zero-rated, I can as much data as I choose through the app and it would not have an impact on my total data cap with the carrier.

cloudtweaks-pokemon-comic

For example, when Pokemon GO first launched in the US, T-Mobile offered customers a limited time offer where data used through the app had no impact on the customer’s data cap.

In short, it’s an incentive tool for mobile carrier that gives customers access to everything from content streaming to gaming on mobile.

But how does zero-rating affect cloud?

It comes back to the issue of round-the-clock protection.

Even with 3.4 billion mobile users across the world, almost 1 in 3 report data loss on mobile. While the circumstances for data loss varies, a big component of why people don’t backup constantly revolves around data caps. Simply put, no one wants to use precious MB to back up personal files because it’s conceivable that they would lose a device (or data in said device) that is with them 24/7.

Yet, mobile users are a walking contradiction when it comes to valuing their data and backing it up. One study found that while 90% of users value the data on their mobile devices. only 10% reported that they backed up their data on a daily basis. Furthermore, 72% of people polled reported that photos and videos were their most important assets on mobile – and every now and then, you hear about these users who lose chunks of precious moments stored on mobile devices.

mobile-cloud

You could argue that the decision to not back up stems more from our own psyche than any technical obstacle. Psychology Today reports that human beings are ill-prepared to deal with risk that do not pose as an immediate consequence.

In some ways, cloud adoption to prevent data loss suffers from the same branch of logic. While it takes a good personal cloud service less than 5 minutes to upload a day’s worth of photos, many of us don’t think to do it because we fail to foresee a mobile disaster. Hence, when disaster strikes, we may end up missing that pivotal group of files and photos that just so happened to remain in the queue to be uploaded.

This is where zero-rating comes into play.

In the aforementioned study, ‘ease of use’ was cited as the highest obstacle to users backing up their data. I would argue that it’s not easy to use an app intended to be automatic when you have to manually find Wi-Fi and enable the app to operate in those locations.

I mean with zero-rating cloud storage resembles car insurance except it has all the perks and nowhere near the price and headaches insurance companies cost.

So does Zero-Rating work?

Given the adoption of zero-rated service across telecoms across the world, my answer would be that zero-rating certainly has an appeal to customer. However, most of the fanfare as it relates to zero-rating revolves around content and OTT messenger services like HBO GO and WhatsApp rather than any cloud services.

From our own internal research, between cloud options that are provided with zero-service and without it, the difference is staggering. Between two mobile service providers in the same market, cloud options with zero-rating enabled have about 10x more growth in users per month than non-zero-rated clouds. A substantial endorsement for zero-rating cloud if it needed any further validation.

With the advent of services from mobile carriers – such as RCS – zero-rating is set to become even more prevalent than it is now. A trend which we have no doubt, would help reduce that total amount of data loss statistically significantly.

By Max Azarov

IoT, Smart Cities and the Future

IoT, Smart Cities and the Future

Smarter IoT

When we use the term smart cities, a series of frames begin to run in front of our very eyes. The reason behind this is pretty simple; over the last few years, the definition of a ‘SMART CITY’ has changed drastically. However, amidst these series of definitions, two things have remained consistent: Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and the Internet itself.

Here in this article, the latter is our primary point of discussion. As a tremendously growing urban population and various organizations have started to switch over to IoT, I presume that here that an important question arises:

What exactly is IoT in the first place?

Evolution-IoT

Internet of Things, popularly known as IoT, is essentially a networked connection between physical objects to create a dynamic, smarter approach to just about everything we do in our daily lives.

Let us take an example: today, we have abundant access to the internet through our smartphones, tablets, PCs, televisions, etc. and are personally connected with each other through prominent social networking sites like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

While IoT is hard at work making our smart cities smarter, we can save a lot of time and effort, in converting an increasing amount of raw data into final useful information.

For some time now , it has been readily apparent that the use of IoT will not only help the private sector, but also the public sector.

In lieu of this paradigm shift, we have a couple of applications we will be rolling out to assist the cities in becoming smarter.

Mobile applications contributing to building IoT-powered smart cities

In this article, it was mentioned earlier that the IoT entails connectivity between anything and everything. There are certain mobile applications that have been introduced with the same ideas in mind, including:

Tado: An application that will help you control your home heating. The application calculates the distance you have to travel and the time you’ll take to reach home. With the collected data, this gadget will adjust your room heating accordingly. You can more accurately understand how this technology works via the following screen-shot.

  • Smart Lighting: This application allows you to control the lighting in your home or office directly through your smartphone. With this, you can have command over everything, starting from the brightness up to the color. Now, let your surroundings match your mood without any special effort on your part.
  • SIM Tools: SIM is basically known as Smart Identity Management Tools. This application will prevent you from carrying keys all the time with you by giving you a smarter lock system. This gadget will allow you to leave all your worries behind linked with theft or losing/misplacing your keys.
  • Bluesmart Suitcases: This piece of tech belongs to the same family as SIM tools, but this time it’s for your suitcase. With this application loaded in your mobile phone, you can lock and unlock your suitcase with the touch of a button.
  • Flower Power H2O: Imagine having a personalized guide to show you how much water your plants need—all at the right time and in a right manner, and automatically tracked and monitored via your smartphone. Sounds exciting, does it not?

These are just a few members of the IoT family. Mobile apps are indeed a better way to make our IoT-powered smart cities smarter. Here are three benefits of such mobile apps:

1- Ease of Use: This undoubtedly stands first in the list, as smartness is all about doing things in a better way with the least amount of time, resources and effort. And as we all know that these three benefits most important requirements to live a truly smart life.

2- Security: Second on our list is the security that these applications provide. You’ll soon have all the commands in your password-protected smartphone that sits right nearby in your pocket. Be it your home, your locker, or your suitcase—each is waiting for a touch on your smartphone.

3- No more Irregularity: With these IoT applications around, you’ll have better, more consistent knowledge about the things which are not only related to your individual needs, but also with everything around you. With most events happening in real-time and in the way they were meant to, you will barely have to lift a finger and to keep track of things. I don’t think anyone could wish for something better—or rather smarter—than a nice dose of peace and relaxation.

So friends, at this point I must sign out; I trust that the information presented here is of immediate value and use. I hope you will have a smarter life in the (near) future.

By Shahid Mansuri

Combining IoT Gizmo Kits With Your 3D Printer

Combining IoT Gizmo Kits With Your 3D Printer

IoT and 3D Printing

The 3D printer in my cubicle keeps printing name tags without my name and only cube number instead—should I be worried about this?

Imagine a future where an “organizational” 3D printer is stationed in every cube. You are working away on a project, when suddenly the printer comes to life. You remotely check it from time to time, just to see what it is printing. As the object begins to take shape, you recognize it to be a nameplate. Eventually, you see your cube number, but a different name has been printed on the nameplate. Am I unemployed? Am I moving to a new cube? These are just a few questions which may come to mind. Something like this situation could very well happen, and maybe sooner than you might think. I have been using 3D printers for more than four years now, and during that time, I have learned several lessons about 3D materials, printing and ultimately how to start getting up to speed on this amazing tech. First off, there are many 3D printers out there in the market right now.

You can purchase printers that sit in your home and print just about anything you can imagine. You can send a picture of yourself off, and get a 3D print of you. Alternatively, there are companies that offer print services where you send them what you want printed and they print it and send it back to you in a matter of days.

Why, then am I talking about this market and technology on a site that focuses primarily on Big data, Cloud and IoT, you may be asking? Well, that is a very interesting question. The first part of that question is simply that 3D printing is a very intriguing market. For small companies which either create or are considering creating new products, a 3D printer can help them move their dream quickly forward. Building architects can easily print out their designs in three dimensions. No more hours of model building; simply create the 3D file and print your building. Making massive changes to your fleet of planes? That’s ok, create the 3D file again and print away.

In the growing world of new and innovative IoT creations and objects, a 3D printer is a great starting point to launch your idea. You can print the object you are considering to help achieve proof of concept. Then, you can iterate the case, the boards and all of the component pieces. You can design precisely how everything fits together. And you can easily figure out how much will actually fit in your creation.

All of this and more helps innovators perform rapid prototyping and save a lot of time and energy in the process. It allows for the real-time changes in your innovation, which in turn helps it move to production faster (in theory, of course). You can also get printable material that conducts electricity; with the use of a 3D printer or pen, you can print in metal or flexible plastic, and with some of the 3D pens, you can even create a Henna-style tattoo on a person (there are pens that print cool – you cannot use a regular 3D pen on a human, for it would not only burn their skin, but isn’t designed to “stick” onto the skin in the first place).

cloudtweaks-comic-data-3d-printing

Now, the question is: Will a 3D printer be the centerpiece of the home of tomorrow? I’ve seen various future living spaces featuring 3D printers, and I am not convinced that in the majority of people will have one of these things in their living rooms. I do think a number of 3D printers will exist, however. For the most part , the price is far too high now for most people to invest and have one in their home. But in the next few years, we could see a drop in prices to help make 3D printers more of a mainstay in homes and small businesses.

Where I see this technology really making a huge impact—beyond increasing the velocity of innovation itself—is in schools and universities. There are IoT toolkits you can buy right now that include the “guts” of IoT connections, like Bluetooth, Raspberry PI, Wi-Fi and even cellular connections to cloud-based controls. Combine these IoT gizmo kits with a 3D printer, and you now have the capacity to create IoT devices that include custom forms.  Imagine a robot that resembles a Labrador Retriever or a tiny lamp that actually lights up on its own. These are just a few examples of creations that even younger students can dream up.

iot-lamp

So, while I believe there probably won’t be a 3D printer in every living room anytime soon, I do think there will be many 3D-printed objects we can use in our everyday lives. If you wander the various internet sites that offer you 3D objects you can print on demand, or the various companies that have created books to create 3D objects with 3D pens, you will find almost anything you could possibly want to print and use. For schools, inventors, building architects and people that simply dream in all three dimensions, the awesome reality of 3D printing is nearly here.

Now, if someone could direct me to the nearest body shop that can 3D print a fender for my newly dented car, I would be thrilled!

By Scott Andersen

The Cloud Isn’t a Security Issue; It’s a Security Opportunity

The Cloud Isn’t a Security Issue; It’s a Security Opportunity

Security Issue

In order to stay ahead in today’s competitive business landscape, companies need to constantly innovate. Development teams must continually release new products, features or services and cloud technology, along with agile development practices, make this perpetual iterating feasible.

Cloud technology has undoubtedly enabled companies to innovate quickly and frequently, however, historically it’s introduced a myriad of security concerns, often causing development, operations and security teams to become overwhelmed and distracted. Today, though, security doesn’t have to hold back high-velocity, cloud-based product development cycles. Companies can achieve complete cloud security and compliance without a security issue impacting delivery speed, as long as they use the right tools and best practices across their organization.

Security Issue

Below are three key tips companies should consider in order to overcome any lingering security concerns and scale quickly and securely in the cloud:

1. Educate your team

For companies moving to a cloud-based infrastructure for the first time, it’s essential to discuss the change and make sure everyone understands how they will be affected before any data is migrated over. A key part of this discussion should be explaining that security is no longer just about perimeter defense and prevention; understanding the behavior of your workloads, users and environment is critical knowledge that needs to be shared. It’s important that everyone on the development, operations and security teams understand what all of their assets are doing and what’s taking place within the cloud workload at all times, as this is the best way to detect real cloud security threats as soon as they take place.

2. Track the ephemeral

Back in the days of ‘racking and stacking,’ it was easy to know what servers you had and where they were. But with cloud-based infrastructures, one of the key value propositions is elasticity: you might spin up an EC2 instance or cluster, for instance, do some data analysis for an hour or two, and then turn it off. There are advantages to such elasticity; however, it’s crucial to also have the ability to go back in time and view activity to ensure compliance and potentially investigate any risks. Additionally, as you’re building up and burning down, you want to know that those transient systems and workloads were compliant with your security posture. All too often companies focus on catching cloud security incidents only when they’re happening. But to remain consistently secure and compliant, security teams need to be able to ‘rewind’ and look at instances that may no longer exist.

3. Embrace software-defined everything

The beauty of the software-defined nature of the cloud is that it can actually make security teams’ jobs easier; they’re able to inject themselves throughout the infrastructure landscape and lifecycle. They no longer need to figure out how to capture information from switches, routers, and other devices at various layers of the network and try to correlate the data, because it’s all tied together. Additionally, integrations with tools like PagerDuty and Slack enable internal dialogues that empower non-security team members to collaborate on detection and response to potential issues. And when it’s time for security teams to intervene and investigate, deep audit trails make it possible to track not just whether a user logged in, but what processes they kicked off (and whether it was really them).

Some companies think cloud technology introduces a new layer of vulnerability, however in reality, it’s just the opposite. The cloud presents companies with an opportunity to evaluate their security requirements and reconsider their strategy and processes. It can enable security teams to focus on more strategic initiatives and also improve collaboration with Operations and Engineering teams. This, in turn, allows development, operations and security teams to spend more time on projects that drive real business value and less time frantically checking for potential security gaps.

Don’t let a past security issue prevent your company from migrating to the cloud and reaping its benefits. Discuss the change in detail and address any concerns with everyone in your organization well in advance. Track historical instances in order to ensure security and compliance, and consider implementing a cloud security solution to help gain deep insight into your environment in real-time, because software-defined everything is only possible with complete visibility (and vice versa).

By Chris Gervais

CloudTweaks Comics
Driving Success: 6 Key Metrics For Every Recurring Revenue Business

Driving Success: 6 Key Metrics For Every Recurring Revenue Business

Recurring Revenue Business Metrics Recurring revenue is the secret sauce behind the explosive growth of powerhouses like Netflix and Uber. Unsurprisingly, recurring revenue is also quickly gaining ground in more traditional industries like healthcare and the automotive business. In fact, nearly half of U.S. businesses have adopted or are planning to adopt a recurring revenue model,…

Cloud Infographic – Big Data Predictions By 2023

Cloud Infographic – Big Data Predictions By 2023

Big Data Predictions By 2023 Everything we do online from social networking to e-commerce purchases, chatting, and even simple browsing yields tons of data that certain organizations collect and poll together with other partner organizations. The results are massive volumes of data, hence the name “Big Data”. This includes personal and behavioral profiles that are stored, managed, and…

New Report Finds 1 Out Of 3 Sites Are Vulnerable To Malware

New Report Finds 1 Out Of 3 Sites Are Vulnerable To Malware

1 Out Of 3 Sites Are Vulnerable To Malware A new report published this morning by Menlo Security has alarmingly suggested that at least a third of the top 1,000,000 websites in the world are at risk of being infected by malware. While it’s worth prefacing the findings with the fact Menlo used Alexa to…

The Cloud Above Our Home

The Cloud Above Our Home

Our Home – Moving All Things Into The Cloud The promise of a smart home had excited the imagination of the movie makers long ago. If you have seen any TV shows in the nineties or before, the interpretation presented itself to us as a computerized personal assistant or a robot housekeeper. It was smart,…

Cloud Security Risks: The Top 8 According To ENISA

Cloud Security Risks: The Top 8 According To ENISA

Cloud Security Risks Does cloud security risks ever bother you? It would be weird if it didn’t. Cloud computing has a lot of benefits, but also a lot of risks if done in the wrong way. So what are the most important risks? The European Network Information Security Agency did extensive research on that, and…

M2M, IoT and Wearable Technology: Where To Next?

M2M, IoT and Wearable Technology: Where To Next?

M2M, IoT and Wearable Technology Profiling 600 companies and including 553 supporting tables and figures, recent reports into the M2M, IoT and Wearable Technology ecosystems forecast opportunities, challenges, strategies, and industry verticals for the sectors from 2015 to 2030. With many service providers looking for new ways to fit wearable technology with their M2M offerings…

Cloud Infographic: Programming Languages To Build Your Cloud

Cloud Infographic: Programming Languages To Build Your Cloud

Programming Languages What programming languages are the building blocks to help develop and facilitate these present and future cloud platforms? Where can we learn and develop these skills in order to help us build our own careers? A couple of options would be to visit sites such as Stackoverflow which can provide you with a good source of information.…

Protecting Devices From Data Breach: Identity of Things (IDoT)

Protecting Devices From Data Breach: Identity of Things (IDoT)

How to Identify and Authenticate in the Expanding IoT Ecosystem It is a necessity to protect IoT devices and their associated data. As the IoT ecosystem continues to expand, the need to create an identity to newly-connected things is becoming increasingly crucial. These ‘things’ can include anything from basic sensors and gateways to industrial controls…

Report: Enterprise Cloud Computing Moves Into Mature Growth Phase

Report: Enterprise Cloud Computing Moves Into Mature Growth Phase

Verizon Cloud Report Enterprises using the cloud, even for mission-critical projects, is no longer new or unusual. It’s now firmly established as a reliable workhorse for an organization and one that can deliver great value and drive transformation. That’s according to a new report from Verizon entitled “State of the Market: Enterprise Cloud 2016.” which…

Cloud Infographic – Cloud Public, Private & Hybrid Differences

Cloud Infographic – Cloud Public, Private & Hybrid Differences

Cloud Public, Private & Hybrid Differences Many people have heard of cloud computing. There is however a tremendous number of people who still cannot differentiate between Public, Private & Hybrid cloud offerings.  Here is an excellent infographic provided by the group at iWeb which goes into greater detail on this subject. Infographic source: iWeb

The Future Of Cloud Storage And Sharing…

The Future Of Cloud Storage And Sharing…

Box.net, Amazon Cloud Drive The online (or cloud) storage business has always been a really interesting industry. When we started Box in 2005, it was a somewhat untouchable category of technology, perceived to be a commodity service with low margins and little consumer willingness to pay. All three of these factors remain today, but with…

Using Cloud Technology In The Education Industry

Using Cloud Technology In The Education Industry

Education Tech and the Cloud Arguably one of society’s most important functions, teaching can still seem antiquated at times. Many schools still function similarly to how they did five or 10 years ago, which is surprising considering the amount of technical innovation we’ve seen in the past decade. Education is an industry ripe for innovation…

Cloud-Based or On-Premise ERP Deployment? Find Out

Cloud-Based or On-Premise ERP Deployment? Find Out

ERP Deployment You know how ERP deployment can improve processes within your supply chain, and the things to keep in mind when implementing an ERP system. But do you know if cloud-based or on-premise ERP deployment is better for your company or industry? While cloud computing is becoming more and more popular, it is worth…

Data Breaches: Incident Response Planning – Part 1

Data Breaches: Incident Response Planning – Part 1

Incident Response Planning – Part 1 The topic of cybersecurity has become part of the boardroom agendas in the last couple of years, and not surprisingly — these days, it’s almost impossible to read news headlines without noticing yet another story about a data breach. As cybersecurity shifts from being a strictly IT issue to…

How Formal Verification Can Thwart Change-Induced Network Outages and Breaches

How Formal Verification Can Thwart Change-Induced Network Outages and Breaches

How Formal Verification Can Thwart  Breaches Formal verification is not a new concept. In a nutshell, the process uses sophisticated math to prove or disprove whether a system achieves its desired functional specifications. It is employed by organizations that build products that absolutely cannot fail. One of the reasons NASA rovers are still roaming Mars…

Using Private Cloud Architecture For Multi-Tier Applications

Using Private Cloud Architecture For Multi-Tier Applications

Cloud Architecture These days, Multi-Tier Applications are the norm. From SharePoint’s front-end/back-end configuration, to LAMP-based websites using multiple servers to handle different functions, a multitude of apps require public and private-facing components to work in tandem. Placing these apps in entirely public-facing platforms and networks simplifies the process, but at the cost of security vulnerabilities. Locating everything…

Cost of the Cloud: Is It Really Worth It?

Cost of the Cloud: Is It Really Worth It?

Cost of the Cloud Cloud computing is more than just another storage tier. Imagine if you’re able to scale up 10x just to handle seasonal volumes or rely on a true disaster-recovery solution without upfront capital. Although the pay-as-you-go pricing model of cloud computing makes it a noticeable expense, it’s the only solution for many…

Is Machine Learning Making Your Data Scientists Obsolete?

Is Machine Learning Making Your Data Scientists Obsolete?

Machine Learning and Data Scientists In a recent study, almost all the businesses surveyed stated that big data analytics were fundamental to their business strategies. Although the field of computer and information research scientists is growing faster than any other occupation, the increasing applicability of data science across business sectors is leading to an exponential…