Category Archives: Cloud Computing

Using Big Data To Map Communities

Using Big Data To Map Communities

Community Mapping

As Big Data is used to track and measure social phenomena across the world, it’s only natural to turn to the data that users leave behind them in order to better understand and map both virtual and online communities. By doing this, we can not only unearth insights into how and what people communicate, but also what they do, and perhaps even why they do it.


communities

Mapping online communities

Reddit, which boasts itself to be simply ‘the front page of the internet’, is a rather loosely-organized community; the bulletin-board like social network consists of many subreddits, which span from a board for air hockey enthusiasts to music lovers and topics unique to Reddit, like the Explain Like I’m Five subreddit.

Despite the subreddits’ eclectic nature, content gets reposted quite often on separate boards, so data visualizations can show how communities relate in terms of content shared on them. Vizit, a node-based visualization which shows cross-posting of content on Reddit, does a great job of illustrating that even within a rather loose community links exist that are useful for mapping communities in terms of influence and similarity.

Mapping offline communities

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Facebook, which generated 500 terabytes of data a day in 2012, is the one company that should use digital data to make sense of the world in analog. The Facebook Data Science team tracked coordinated migrations across the globe, visualizing these migrations with connected nodes. (A migration is considered coordinated if people from city A live in the city B more than everywhere else.) From the available maps, it can be concluded that the there’s still growing urbanization in the world as people from the poorer regions move to the cities, presumably in hopes to better their lives.

Where offline communities are concerned, Big Data can be used not only to track or try to make sense of a given community’s movement, but also to actually map the community–to geographically mark its streets, houses, public services and such like. That was the case in Kibera, Kenya, about the mapping of which we have written, where the people of the slums helped create a map from scratch so that they have a better claim for financial aid from the municipality.

It’s evident that Big Data is used extensively to make sense of communities, to show the relationships inside them and uncover patterns that otherwise could remain unseen or known only to governments and officials. On the other hand, offline community mapping can show patterns important both to policy makers and people within those communities as well.

By Lauris Veips

Cloud Pinup: Cloudifile – Beyond Encryption

Cloud Pinup: Cloudifile – Beyond Encryption

Beyond Encryption: Solving the Problem of Cloud Security

CloudifileWhen you store your data on the cloud, you’re entrusting it to a company that may be located hundreds of miles away. You’ll probably never see their servers in person, nor will you ever shake hands with the engineers responsible for protecting them. And there’s no mistaking the risks: hackers could find electronic back doors to access your data; a corrupt employee could compromise the system maliciously; an intermediary could intercept the data while it’s being transmitted to or from the cloud server; or the physical servers themselves could even be stolen or damaged. Even widely-trusted services like Dropbox are being hacked on a regular basis, rendering millions of users vulnerable. How can you trust that your sensitive data is safe in the cloud when so much of the process is out of your control?

Clearly, simple password-protection isn’t enough. A Google Drive or Dropbox account may gain a small amount of protection this way, but any competent attacker can get around a simple password requirement. In addition, most people allow their computers to log them into these services automatically, so if a thief steals the computer the whole storage system will be easily accessible.

Encryption

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The most basic supplement to password protection is encryption, which scrambles server data so that hackers cannot read it. However, for encryption to work the encryption key itself must be protected. That’s why the more advanced security services, such as Cloudifile from Cloud Labs, employ a multi-layered system of data protection. This begins with the data encryption: Cloudifile’s free encryption system is in line with basic industry standards, combining RSA asymmetric encryption (2048 bits) and a Blowfish algorithm (256 bits). On top of that encryption, Cloudifile does not store the encryption key on its own servers, meaning the entire data center could be compromised and it would still be impossible for an attacker to access any sensitive data. Clients store their own keys, and so any attacker would have to get into two secure systems simultaneously in order to steal the data.

Even an advanced encryption system, however, can leave data vulnerable if the client has to open a brand-new storage account and manually import all the relevant data. Not only is the data-transfer process itself vulnerable to attacks; but residual data on the original storage server may persist in unsafe locations even after the files are “deleted,” making the secure cloud storage irrelevant. Advanced security solutions have overcome this problem by integrating familiar technologies, and here again Cloud Labs’ free Cloudifile service is a good example. Cloudifile is a Dropbox tie-in rather than a stand-alone storage service. Clients can continue using their familiar cloud storage system, but have it protected from all angles. Cloudifile users simply select which files and folders they want to protect, and the service covers them – so whereas many cloud-storage security services are akin to placing files in a secure lockbox, Cloudifile is more akin to drawing a protective boundary around whatever container the files are already in.

By Gustav Steinhardt

Monetization of the Internet of Things – Q&A With Brendan O’Brien

Monetization of the Internet of Things – Q&A With Brendan O’Brien

Q&A With Brendan O’Brien, Co-Founder of Aria Systems (Part 1)

Monetization of the internet of things (IoT) is one of the most exciting and challenging issues facing the industry today, so we spoke with Brendan O’Brien to learn more.

Brendan is the Co-Founder of Aria Systems, who are one of the leading innovators in recurring revenue management. He has written regularly pieces for tech publication ‘Wired’, looking at issues as diverse as the importance of the IoT and how capital is disrupting it, and is also a well-known public speaker who has recently given talks at Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce 2014 Conference and CTIA’s MobileCON.

1) What are the key challenges facing monetization of IoT?

Firstly, there is the initial challenge of absorbing the massive data IoT devices are expected to generate, which is necessary for accurate analytics of a customer base and wise go to market strategies.  Secondly, the mind-set of the IoT world remains largely centered on the devices themselves, despite the fact that the real monetary value lies in the recurring service potential those devices are enabled; it’s the old hardware vs. software mind-set clash all over again, and getting people’s minds attuned to focusing on the services rather than the devices is still a challenge.

2) What is the potential from the monetization of IoT?

It’s astronomical.  The commoditization via Mohr’s law of the underlying technologies that are making IoT a reality is happening at the same time that many markets and businesses are adopting recurring revenue business models, and IoT services lend themselves quite naturally to a recurring revenue business model.  It’s a perfect storm and Aria’s thrilled to find itself in the middle of it.  With IoT-enabled devices expected to hit 50 billion in 15 years, and with recurring revenue business models being adopted at an accelerating rate, it’s a pretty obvious place to want your business to be.

3) At what speed is the monetization of IoT growing?

It’s happening today, but it’s still relatively slow.  Despite studies that say 40-50% of enterprises are already embarked on some kind of IoT strategy, my anecdotal experience says it’s far lower than that in truth.  Most enterprises are talking about it, but so far few are doing much that’s material.

4) What sectors/industries are best placed to take advantage?

Connected cars, home automation and security, and wearables are the prime movers today.  But I’d say that healthcare as a sector is probably the one that is the most ripe to take advantage of IoT capability.  The same could be said for utilities.  Unfortunately, healthcare and utilities are two sectors that are notoriously slow to move, so it’s not surprising that, despite the promise IoT holds for those sectors, there isn’t massive movement in either of them just yet.

5) How did Aria become a leader? When did you recognize the potential?  

Among Aria’s enterprise customers are IoT services in the automotive, home security, and healthcare industries.  We built our system to be able to handle the far more complex world of usage/consumption billing (in addition to the far simpler subscription billing model), and that capability was a primary reason for being selected as a vendor by the companies I’m referencing.  If we know one thing about IoT, it’s that it produces a huge amount of data about the customers using those devices and you can’t effectively monetize for the customers without being able to manage that data.

Stay tuned for part two of our interview with Brendan later this week.

By Daniel Price

Alibaba – This Year’s Singles’ Day Haul: $9.34 billion

Alibaba – This Year’s Singles’ Day Haul: $9.34 billion

Alibaba

Happy Singles Day – Apple’s potential slice of The Biggest Shopping Day on Earth It is easy to anticipate that the busiest shopping day of the year is quickly approaching, but in fact it has
already passed. November 11 was Singles Day, celebrated in China and by Chinese people worldwide, in which single people hold parties, give gifts, and splurge on themselves. The date is made symbolic, as in “four ones,” representing four single people getting together for a dinner.

alibaba

(Image Source: Christopher Penler / Shutterstock.com)

Although Singles Day has existed since the early 1990’s, it has grown to enormous commercial prominence in recent years due to online ecommerce, and with global behemoth Alibaba now leading the social media/ecommerce herd, the numbers are becoming truly historic.

According to Wired.com, “Alibaba revealed this year’s Singles’ Day haul: 57.1 billion yuan, or $9.34 billion. The company also announced that it had shipped 278 million orders, with close to half—43 percent—placed from mobile devices.” This makes the U.S. online Black Friday numbers ($5.29 billion in 2013 for all online companies) pale by comparison. Contributing to the success of this year’s Singles Day haul was the active participation of many internationally recognized brands, including Calvin Klein, Costco, and American Eagle.

Singles Day puts the fast-growing Chinese consumer market into the world’s spotlight. When Alibaba went public in September 2014, the company immediately became bigger than Facebook, Amazon, IBM,and Intel. It is now setting its sights more squarely on how consumers will pay for all the goods they buy.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Alibaba Executive Vice Chairman Joseph Tsai discussed his company’s discussions with Apple, in which it would play a central, but not exclusive role in processing online purchases through its Apple Pay service. Due to regulatory requirements and restrictions, Apple would team up with Alibaba’s own Alipay electronic payment system to complete the financial circuit.

With 300 million active shoppers in China, the stakes are very high for companies such as Apple, as well as retailers such as Costco to become part of a new and very large frontier of commerce. More and more Chinese people are becoming affluent enough and connected enough to want to buy, and Alibaba is ready to make this happen. As Mr. Tsai points out, “I think we [Alibaba] are very well positioned because e-commerce penetration in China is still very low. We define our addressable market as total consumption in China, a $3.4 trillion economy. And there’s only 9% penetration of e-commerce into that. So there’s a lot of room to grow, just in terms of growing the penetration. We’ve got 300 million active shoppers on our platform, but that’s only half of China’s Internet population, and only a quarter of the total population. We are fortunate to have that macroeconomic tailwind behind us. And the rest is execution.”

By Steve Prentice

Cloud Service Provider Selection Considerations

Cloud Service Provider Selection Considerations

Why Cloud Brokers Make Sense

Different workloads perform differently on different cloud service providers. Enough so that it is prudent in planning to consider the optimal configuration and the optimal CSP for your solution. Consider this old word problem from years ago. One person can carry two buckets of water. It takes 5 minutes to fill the buckets and 5 minutes for one person to carry the buckets, empty the bucket and return to the well to get more water. The unit of work is one person and 10 minutes to move two buckets of water. If you have two people operating and assume they talk more because there is two of them let’s say, two people can move four buckets of water in 10 minutes and 30 seconds.

buckets-challenge

When will the two person team be ahead of the one person team in terms of units of work? It occurs by the 2nd trip or 30 minutes (8 buckets versus 4). Now you can in the end speed up the process in the wrong way (such as having a person filling the buckets for the person when they return from each round trip). But like CSP’s we have many options. The first and most immediate way to speed things up is to have two people moving the water. The next quickest way is to have more than four buckets and having a third person fill the buckets while the other two are walking. Of course, we can also have many more buckets and many more people to move this along even faster.

All of these are considerations in building out your cloud portfolio. For solutions that require speed and throughput you may select a different CSP than for solutions that require ubiquitous access (network and device), but don’t require speed. One of your selection criteria should be the value of the above equation. How much water does your workload need to move?

The Reality of Security

The next consideration is the reality of security. All the CSP’s I’ve worked with actually leverage a different security model. They all report issues the same way, but they use a different model both for evaluation of threats and protection of that. The more CSP’s you have, the greater your risk of missing something from a security perspective. This may be the single “why a cloud broker?” argument. The broker would connect to your enterprise and from there would abstract the cloud services you were connecting to. They may provide identity management services, and they will provide a unified security POS (Point-of-Sale).

Eventually, as the tools play catchup, the broker may even provide the great white whale of portability. The broker is giving you the ability to move your solution effortlessly between Cloud Service Providers without disruption of service or productive time lost.

With a broker, you can change the equation above. First off the broker will give you the ability to connect directly to the well without having people moving the buckets of water. So now you can pump water from the broker at a much faster rate. Secondly the security of the water is increased as it is under your partner’s control (broker) or your control longer. Finally, the broker gives you the ability to move your water source (eventually when the tools catchup) without having to dig a new well.

Cloud Diversification Strategies

Many analysts project that organizations will have more than one cloud and more than one type of cloud going forward. Hybrid Cloud represents a mix of one or more cloud types and one or more cloud providers.

multi-clouds

When customers ask me, I always tell them one thing. Every CSP you connect requires three distinct connections

  • Directory
  • Network
  • Security Operations and Monitoring

In the end a Hybrid Cloud solution that supports a private cloud solution, and two or more public cloud solutions would have three of each of the connections above. Or if you implement a cloud broker one connection for each – and you can continue to add CSP’s forever without making more connections.

It’s why in the end Cloud Brokers make sense. Please excuse me for a moment while I go back to bailing the water out of my basement.

(Image Sources: Shutterstock)

By Scott Andersen

CloudTweaks Comics
Cloud Computing and Finland Green Technology

Cloud Computing and Finland Green Technology

Green Technology Finland Last week we touched upon how a project in Finland had blended two of the world’s most important industries, cloud computing and green technology, to produce a data centre that used nearby sea water to both cool their servers and heat local homes.  Despite such positive environmental projects, there is little doubt that…

How Data Science And Machine Learning Is Enabling Cloud Threat Protection

How Data Science And Machine Learning Is Enabling Cloud Threat Protection

Data Science and Machine Learning Security breaches have been consistently rising in the past few years. Just In 2015, companies detected 38 percent more security breaches than in the previous year, according to PwC’s Global State of Information Security Survey 2016. Those breaches are a major expense — an average of $3.79 million per company,…

Lavabit, Edward Snowden and the Legal Battle For Privacy

Lavabit, Edward Snowden and the Legal Battle For Privacy

The Legal Battle For Privacy In early June 2013, Edward Snowden made headlines around the world when he leaked information about the National Security Agency (NSA) collecting the phone records of tens of millions of Americans. It was a dramatic story. Snowden flew to Hong Kong and then Russia to avoid deportation to the US,…

The Big Data Movement Gets Bigger

The Big Data Movement Gets Bigger

The Big Data Movement In recent years, Big Data and Cloud relations have been growing steadily. And while there have been many questions raised around how best to use the information being gathered, there is no question that there is a real future between the two. The growing importance of Big Data Scientists and the…

Choosing IaaS or a Cloud-Enabled Managed Hosting Provider?

Choosing IaaS or a Cloud-Enabled Managed Hosting Provider?

There is a Difference – So Stop Comparing We are all familiar with the old saying “That’s like comparing apples to oranges” and though we learned this lesson during our early years we somehow seem to discount this idiom when discussing the Cloud. Specifically, IT buyers often feel justified when comparing the cost of a…

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…

The Internet of Things Lifts Off To The Cloud

The Internet of Things Lifts Off To The Cloud

The Staggering Size And Potential Of The Internet of Things Here’s a quick statistic that will blow your mind and give you a glimpse into the future. When you break that down, it translates to 127 new devices online every second. In only a decade from now, every single vehicle on earth will be connected…

Fintech Investments Are Seeing Consistent Growth

Fintech Investments Are Seeing Consistent Growth

The Financial Services Cloud Fintech investment has been seeing consistent growth in 2015, with some large moves being made this year. The infographic (Courtesy of Venturescanner) below shows the top Fintech investors and the amount of companies they’re currently funding: Just this week, a financial data startup known as Orchard Platform raised $30 million in…

Cloud Infographic – Guide To Small Business Cloud Computing

Cloud Infographic – Guide To Small Business Cloud Computing

Small Business Cloud Computing Trepidation is inherently attached to anything that involves change and especially if it involves new technologies. SMBs are incredibly vulnerable to this fear and rightfully so. The wrong security breach can incapacitate a small startup for good whereas larger enterprises can reboot their operations due to the financial stability of shareholders. Gordon Tan contributed an…

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…

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…

Adopting A Cohesive GRC Mindset For Cloud Security

Adopting A Cohesive GRC Mindset For Cloud Security

Cloud Security Mindset Businesses are becoming wise to the compelling benefits of cloud computing. When adopting cloud, they need a high level of confidence in how it will be risk-managed and controlled, to preserve the security of their information and integrity of their operations. Cloud implementation is sometimes built up over time in a business,…

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…

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…

Having Your Cybersecurity And Eating It Too

Having Your Cybersecurity And Eating It Too

The Catch 22 The very same year Marc Andreessen famously said that software was eating the world, the Chief Information Officer of the United States was announcing a major Cloud First goal. That was 2011. Five years later, as both the private and public sectors continue to adopt cloud-based software services, we’re interested in this…

How To Humanize Your Data (And Why You Need To)

How To Humanize Your Data (And Why You Need To)

How To Humanize Your Data The modern enterprise is digital. It relies on accurate and timely data to support the information and process needs of its workforce and its customers. However, data suffers from a likability crisis. It’s as essential to us as oxygen, but because we don’t see it, we take it for granted.…

Ending The Great Enterprise Disconnect

Ending The Great Enterprise Disconnect

Five Requirements for Supporting a Connected Workforce It used to be that enterprises dictated how workers spent their day: stuck in a cubicle, tied to an enterprise-mandated computer, an enterprise-mandated desk phone with mysterious buttons, and perhaps an enterprise-mandated mobile phone if they traveled. All that is history. Today, a modern workforce is dictating how…

Staying on Top of Your Infrastructure-as-a-Service Security Responsibilities

Staying on Top of Your Infrastructure-as-a-Service Security Responsibilities

Infrastructure-as-a-Service Security It’s no secret many organizations rely on popular cloud providers like Amazon and Microsoft for access to computing infrastructure. The many perks of cloud services, such as the ability to quickly scale resources without the upfront cost of buying physical servers, have helped build a multibillion-dollar cloud industry that continues to grow each…