Category Archives: Cloud Computing

The Security Gap: What Is Your Core Strength?

The Security Gap: What Is Your Core Strength?

The Security Gap

You’re out of your mind if you think blocking access to file sharing services is filling a security gap. You’re out of your mind if you think making people jump through hoops like Citrix and VPNs to get at content is secure. You’re out of your mind if you think putting your content in the cloud is dangerous. The truth is that top tier cloud storage is more secure than most organizations’ on-premises data centers. Consider that most of the high profile data breaches have been on on-premises data centers.

During an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) assessment project, I mentioned to a client (in Canada) that I was willing to bet that some of their users were using consumer file sharing services. There were noddings of heads, murmurs of assent, and an “OMG how does he know?

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(Image Source: Shutterstock)

In a meeting less than five hours after I mentioned it, an executive from one of the stakeholder groups got a call from security stating that her team was violating policy by using a well known consumer grade file sync and share (FSS). This client had deployed an ECM platform; one of the key drivers for the platform was sharing of content among collaborators. Consumer grade FSS services were not supposed to be necessary. One of the key inhibitors is Citrix.

What Options?

cloud-cloudtweaks-comicSo, what do the users do? They email documents to each other. They store stuff on local drives. They get laptops with intellectual property and personal information stolen, and can’t wipe the laptops or recover the content. They use cloud services to store sensitive information. And security struts around proudly thinking they’ve done something. They have; they’ve created a security hole bigger than the one they tried to plug with Citrix.

I mentioned to the client that they may want to use an Enterprise File Syncing and Sharing (EFSS) service. Their Director of IT Infrastructure told me that the executives were scared of any cloud service that stores data in the U.S. because of the PATRIOT act. Really? Do they not know that Canada has an equally odious piece of legislation? Do they not realize that if the U.S. government wants to get at stuff in Canadian data centres they will? And dig this … some of the better known cloud providers have been working on tools that would let the customer (that’s you, btw) maintain control of, and access to, encryption keys. No more sneak attacks by the government. Hey, they can still come to you and ask, but at least you’ll know, no? Can you imagine!?!

Blocking access to file sharing services doesn’t work. People will find other ways to connect (e.g.: phones make great wi-fi access points) or email documents around.

Instead of blocking access to consumer services, IT and security ought to:

  1. find out why staff is using the services in the first place;
  2. identify and provision SECURE enterprise grade services;
  3. develop appropriate policies for using EFSS services, including remedial action for violating the policies.

If staff are using consumer services to share business content, it’s a pretty safe bet something is wrong with the corporately provided tools. Fix them.

Part of the fix may actually be to provision EFSS to staff. Think about this for a moment; EFSS providers make money by providing a secure way for people to share content and collaborate.

How do you make money? What’s your core strength?

By Chris Walker

Maintaining Network Performance And Security In Hybrid Cloud Environments

Maintaining Network Performance And Security In Hybrid Cloud Environments

Hybrid Cloud Environments

After several years of steady cloud adoption in the enterprise, an interesting trend has emerged: More companies are retaining their existing, on-premise IT infrastructures while also embracing the latest cloud technologies. In fact, IDC predicts markets for such hybrid cloud environments will grow from the over $25 billion global market we saw in 2014 to a whopping $84 billion global market by 2019.

Hybrid cloud environments offer companies the resilience and scalability of the cloud, while also providing the compliance, availability and security typically found in on-premise infrastructures. For IT teams, hybrid infrastructures offer a variety of benefits. The on-premise infrastructure component offers secure, worry-free storage for confidential company information, for instance, and the cloud component offers the ability to easily build new networks and applications without having to worry about scalability, deployment or maintenance.

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(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Perhaps the biggest benefit of hybrid cloud environments, however, is the cost savings. Instead of needing to devote entire IT teams and significant capital to build infrastructure that can withstand occasional bursts in network usage that may occur only very rarely, companies can leverage cloud technology to offload some of their heavy network traffic and only pay for it as needed.

Given the plethora of benefits hybrid cloud infrastructures can offer, it’s no wonder so many companies are embracing such environments. However, maintaining the performance and security of hybrid cloud environments can prove difficult. Cloud technology introduces critical security risks that can seriously harm a company’s financial state, not to mention their reputation and customer satisfaction levels. Additionally, the very nature of hybrid cloud environments can put pressure on network performance, which can lead to compromised service levels or even network downtime.

To maintain high performance levels in hybrid cloud environments while also protecting your company against cyber security risks, IT departments should adhere to the following four practices:

1. Prioritize network monitoring

To successfully manage hybrid cloud environments, IT teams need to embrace monitoring solutions that can provide actionable intelligence into the state of their networks, servers and applications. Consider implementing an automatic monitoring tool that can analyze network traffic patterns and offer end-to-end visibility into your applications (e.g. remote desktops or secure file services), your availability (e.g. windows servers, virtual machines, firewalls or load balancers) and your connectivity (e.g. internet-facing links, VPN tunnels to remote offices or interface status/statistics). To ensure critical infrastructure availability and security at all times, IT teams should continually monitor the following basic network components:

  • Routers, switches, firewalls, load balancers, intrusion prevention systemsInternet connectivity, VPN sessions, network traffic and flow records
  • Servers, remote desktops, virtual machines, applications

2. Collect network flow records

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By collecting and analyzing network flow records (such as NetFlow, sFlow, J-Flow, and IPFIX), IT teams can view the overall usage of the LAN, WAN and internet, and also determine which users, applications and protocols are consuming the most bandwidth. To simplify network management, improve visibility into traffic and bandwidth usage, and drive performance, IT teams should collect network traffic information on the following:

  • Senders, receivers and conversations
  • Sender and receiver domains
  • Sender and receiver countries
  • Applications and protocols
  • Incoming and outgoing interface traffic
  • Incoming and outgoing interface utilization
  • Bandwidth usage by host and group

Additionally, IT teams should analyze network traffic based on flow data, and pinpoint any network users of non-business applications. Aligning this data with in-depth packet analysis is crucial for obtaining cohesive insights into overall network performance, which can also help reduce ISP costs.

3. Implement log management

IT teams can more effectively detect and alert on any unauthorized activity or security threats to their network by automating the collection, storage and back-up of logs. Some examples of log collection include server and application logs, security logs from firewalls, DDoS and intrusion prevention systems, Syslogs from any source, IIS web server logs, or secure file server logs. Be sure to track, alert and report on events like access and permission changes to Files, Folders and Objects, and always collect the most common log types such as Syslog, Microsoft event or W3C/IIS to help identify potential threats to your network.

With automated log collection and analysis, IT teams can proactively detect any unusual activity on their network and immediately rectify the situation. Additionally, they can leverage log management data to produce monthly reports to provide evidence for audit and compliance purposes at the corporate or executive level.

4. Run penetration tests

In order to discover any network blind spots that hackers could use to gain access to sensitive company information, IT teams should regularly run network penetration tests.

When properly performed, such testing can:

  • Determine the feasibility of certain attack vectors
  • Assess the magnitude of operational impacts by successful attacks
  • Provide evidence that your department needs a larger budget
  • Test the department’s ability to detect and defend against agile attackers
  • Identify vulnerabilities that a simple scan or security assessment might miss
  • Help meet industry compliance specifications such as PCI DSS and/or HIPAA

IT teams should also test their company’s security incidents identification and response capabilities, as well as employee security awareness and security policy compliance. Consider leveraging free, open source penetration testing tools such as Metasploit or BackTrack, as such solutions can help IT teams think like hackers and stay ahead of any potential network threats.

The benefits of hybrid cloud infrastructures are undeniable. Such environments can provide companies with impressive scalability, availability and efficiency, while also offering significant cost savings. However the security risks hybrid environments can introduce need to be taken seriously, as even the smallest network vulnerability can lead to dire consequences. Case in point: The Ponemon Institute recently calculated that the average cost to respond and remediate a network data breach averages companies over $3 million.

data-breach

Don’t jeopardize the health of your hybrid cloud environment and the future of your company. Implement flexible and comprehensive monitoring solutions to analyze your network and keep tabs on your applications, availability and connectivity. Analyze network flow records and automate the collection of logs. Lastly, run network penetration tests in order to find any infrastructure vulnerabilities and determine their specific risk. In doing so, your company can realize the benefits of hybrid cloud environments while also maintaining optimal performance and security.

By Nirav Shah,

Business Line Director, Network Management Products at Ipswitch

Why Are Hackers So Interested In Your Medical Data?

Why Are Hackers So Interested In Your Medical Data?

The Interest In Medical Data

The term “hackers” might bring to mind visions of dark basements, powerful computers and people with nefarious goals stealing credit card or government data. Most of us, however, don’t associate a hacker with the theft of medical data, but there are a growing number of hackers who are choosing to collect medical data instead of potentially more lucrative information. Why are these hackers so interested in your medical data, and what can you do to make sure you are protected?

What’s It Worth?

Why are so many hackers seeking out medical data instead of their more traditional fare, credits cards and identity data? In a word: profit.

The idea behind stealing data is selling it. If they can’t sell it, there is little to no point in stealing it in the first place. Credit card information, as of right now, goes for about $1/piece. Medical information, which usually includes things like personal information, birth dates, billing information, and medical diagnosis codes, can be sold for between $10-20 each to as high as $60 (As seen in the infographic below discovered via Trend Micro). That’s 10 to 20 times what a hacker can make with the same amount of credit card data.

infographic-how-much-is-your-data-worth-en

Why Is Medical Data Worth So Much?

Why is medical data worth so much more than credit card or personal identity data? There are two primary reasons: It’s harder to track and so is less likely to be discovered, and its uses are limitless.

People keep track of their identity and their credit report. There’s an entire industry designed around helping people keep track of their credit scores and protect their identity, and people pay hundreds of dollars into it every single year. Once someone finds something odd on their credit report or history, the stolen data becomes useless.

What most people don’t keep track of is their medical information. No one monitors their medical history to see if someone is using their name or information.

The potential for profit when using stolen medical information is nearly endless. Clever hackers can use an individual’s medical data to obtain fraudulent prescriptions or even purchase medical equipment, which can be later sold for a profit. Depending on the type of information that’s been stolen, these hackers can even trick insurance companies into paying for the purchases, increasing the profit threshold exponentially.

Backdoors in the Internet of Things (IoT)

How are these hackers making their way into a system that should be otherwise secured? High-tech medical devices and the trend toward IoT-based devices is leaving backdoors for hackers to make their way into otherwise protected systems.

These attacks aren’t malicious. The hackers are not trying to harm patients by shutting down the equipment for compromising its function. Instead, devices that run on older versions of Windows allow hackers to install backdoors in the system so they can walk in and collect any information they might need.

Protecting Your Information

The days of doctor’s offices being filled top-to-bottom with paper medical histories are a thing of the past. In the spirit of expediency and shared information, most medical practitioners have transitioned to electronic data capture (EDC) forms to make your visits more efficient. This also enables doctors and specialists to request data with a couple of keystrokes instead of waiting for hard copies of medical records to be faxed or delivered.

If your medical information is ever hacked or stolen, it can make it hard or even impossible to get proper medical treatment as your medical history is corrupted by whatever diagnosis the hackers think they can use to make the most money. By simply keeping a copy of your electronic medical file, you can restore it to its original state.

About one in 13 people will be affected by a security breach in the medical system at some point over the next five years. So, another thing you can do to protect your medical information is to review your insurance statements and take note of fraudulent activity. Many insurance companies aren’t even prepared for this sort of hack, and it can take them quite a while to discover the breach and take steps to contain it. By going over your insurance statements, you can bring potential breaches to your insurance company’s attention before they may even be aware of it.

Medical data theft may be the next chapter in the ever-growing book on cyber security and information protection, but it’s not the newest and definitely not the first. All we can do is take all the necessary steps to protect ourselves and our information while new security solutions are discovered.

By Kayla Matthews

Messaging Service ‘WhatsApp’ Has Tough Week

Messaging Service ‘WhatsApp’ Has Tough Week

WhatsApp shutdown in Zimbabwe

This week Zimbabwe was rocked by national protests against government corruption, economic collapse and the long-tenure of Mugabe, now 92. The response of the government was to shut down the messaging service WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook. It is also alleged that they limited the access to the Internet for most of the day.

The protests were largely organised and mobilized over WhatsApp and social media. Hashtags such as #ShutDownZim, #ZimbabweShutdown and #ZimShutdown dominated social media websites like Twitter in efforts to bring the country to a standstill in order to address the protester’s demands. Early in the morning then it was noticed that WhatsApp had stopped working for many users. Later it became apparent that only the users of certain Zimbabwean cellular networks no longer had access to the messaging service. The cellular networks did not appear to know the exact reason for the prohibited access. Econet, the largest Internet provider in Zimbabwe, merely acknowledging that it was not working.

whatsapp-social

(Image Source: Statista)

All sim cards in Zimbabwe are registered in the name of the user. Perpetrators can easily be identified” warned the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe. A letter issued by the regulating body expressed disdain at the use of social media to organize the protests and threatened the arrest of anyone. The Minister of Higher Education of the country tweeted in response to provoking tweets of protestors that “If there’s a stay away as you claim then stay away from WhatsApp…

Many users were able to circumvent the blackout by downloading and using a VPN app on their phones. By after midday, fortunately, access to WhatsApp had been restored.

That the Zimbabwean government limited communication and allegedly limited access to the Internet is especially chilling considering the fact that only days ago the United Nations declared the right of access to the Internet one that should be promoted and protected, something that was clearly not done here.

For anyone unfamiliar with the social media app can review the attached infographic discovered via shoponless outlining 47 interesting facts and stats about WhatsApp.

Interesting-WhatsApp-Facts-Stats-2015-compressor

By Jason de Klerk

How Cloud Technology Is Boosting Business Success

How Cloud Technology Is Boosting Business Success

Boosting Business Success

In a research study by HyTrust, it’s apparent that adoption of public cloud services is accelerating in all verticals, and it’s not expected to slow down any time soon. Says Eric Chiu, president of HyTrust, “Without much fanfare, this critical technology advance has become woven into the basic fabric of organizations. The potential of virtualization and the cloud was always undeniable, but there was genuine concern over security and skepticism regarding the processes required. What we find in this research is that the challenges are being overcome, and every kind of function in every kind of industry is being migrated. There are some holdouts, to be sure, but they’re now the exception, and we’re betting they won’t stay that way for long.”

An Obvious Move?

The business landscape is almost completely enmeshed with technology and its advances, many providing the tools and services to improve competitive performance, reduce operating costs, and improve productivity. Moreover, the spread of mobile and IoT solutions is encouraging business leaders to focus on new directions and implement radical new strategies. With Gartner’s predictions that 5 million people will have enterprise-confidential information on their smartwatches by 2018, and smartphone and wearables will be causing so much disruption by 2020 that organizations will have to implement restrictive policies, the increasing impact of technology on business is clear.

Correctly applied, the majority of businesses surveyed by HyTrust believe that cloud and software-defined computing adoption will increase, offering faster deployment, and greater tangible benefits and ROI. Business and IT professionals do, however, hold security as the leading challenge, and the perceived lack of inadequate or robust security in cloud and software-defined data centers is considered the biggest deterrent to adoption. However, 70% of respondents believe that security will be less of an obstacle in the coming years. Many others also point to a lack of solutions, interoperability issues, and immaturity of offerings as limitations.

survey-infographic1-1

Migration to the public cloud is particularly evident in tech companies and business consulting and management firms, but they’re followed closely by emergency services, financial services, information and analytics services, energy and utilities, and education services. Concerns during migration, however, are prevalent with the risk of data breach, the necessity of infrastructure-wide security and control, and effective monitoring and visibility noted as the three top interests. Nevertheless, 75% of those surveyed plan to move workloads to the public cloud.

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Small Business Benefits

Cloud tools and services are popular with entrepreneurs, and studies by SCORE find that 92% use at least one cloud-based solution, while 52% employ cloud-based storage facilities. Cost-effectiveness, flexibility, ease of use, improved business agility, and security are the top five benefits observed. Unfortunately, many small business owners are overwhelmed with the number of technologies available, and though most recognize the value, only 29% use a customer relationship management (CRM) system. Security is, of course, not only a concern for big business, and in fact 60% of cyber crime attacks are against small businesses. Considering only 50% of those surveyed by SCORE protect their internet data, fewer than half have email security, and only one-fifth has network security encryption, better data security is an absolute must for progressive small businesses.

Virtualization increases the worth of physical server hardware, allowing businesses to do more with less at lower costs. Businesses can lower power usage, IT requirements, and space requirements, and spend less time on installation, maintenance, and support. Cloud computing also allows for greater integration, collaboration, and improved flexibility. Specialized services integrate with back-office operations, and the flexibility of cloud solutions could allow for cost-effective BYOD policies. Cloud computing makes collaboration much simpler and efficient, and the appropriate solutions also help control and manage data access. Though the range of solutions available is extensive and probably daunting for companies with small IT teams, cloud computing is an area worth spending time investigating.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Moving Medicine Forward: The Internet of Medical Things

Moving Medicine Forward: The Internet of Medical Things

The Internet of Medical Things

By now the Internet, and by extension the Internet of Things (IoT), is not an uncommon part of our daily lives. Everyday items such as TVs, security systems and fitness accessories or wearables are being connected to the Internet in ways previously unimaginable. However, increasingly the possibilities of the IoT extends beyond mere convenience and could become vital to our health.

Unlike our households, phones and businesses, the healthcare industry has been weary of embracing some aspects of the Internet and connectivity into practice. But the emergence of the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) shows that this could be changing. It involves a connection of medical and other healthcare devices to the Internet, increasing the capacity for storing and analysing of personal and public data as well as more direct and rapid responses to medical conditions or emergencies. In a way, it’s goal is to “rehumanize the doctor-patient relationship”.

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Of course then, the success of this move requires a buy-in by or a culture change in the healthcare industry towards modern end-to-end medical solutions. The potential changes brought by a smoothly running IoMT would mean a significantly cheaper healthcare industry for both patients and professionals, which at present is an expensive and profiting industry. It is estimated that the most savings could be in chronic disease management. Furthermore, it would mean better and more responsive healthcare. Patients’ vitals such as temperature, heart rates and glucose levels can be remotely monitored, meaning less time spent at the doctor and more immediate response times when something goes awry. Moreover, data on the changes to these vitals can be stored in a way for doctors to review, providing a clearer picture of a person’s condition.

The IoMT is not without its hurdles though. Healthcare is a highly regulated industry and standardizing the IoMT or making it standard-compliant, while necessary, can slow down the adoption of many advances in this regard. There are many security issues surrounding the devices and the data they collect, which make room for more cyber attacks and security breaches, certainly concerning when dealing with a person’s health.

Nevertheless, it appears that the IoMT can play a large role in bringing medicine into the modern era while also improving the doctor-patient relationship.

Some notable examples in the IoMT include:

  • Propeller Health, which has released an FDA-approved asthma inhaler with a GPS-sensor. This allows for tracking of the time and location of the use of the inhaler, allowing a user to even avoid those areas which may prompt their asthma attacks.
  • Contact lenses for diabetics produced by Novartis and Google, that allows a patient to measure the level of blood sugar through tears and transferred to a smart device.
  • Monitoring of medication through Vitality, a medication container system that can notify a patient to take their prescribed medication through smartphone notifications or even a phone call.

By Jason de Klerk

Economic Arguments For Cloud-Based ERP

Economic Arguments For Cloud-Based ERP

Cloud-Based ERP

If your business has reached the point where an ERP system is necessary and it’s time to decide which type of implementation is best for your business, there are a lot of factors to consider before taking the plunge. The two main discrete options for an ERP implementation are either an on-premise or cloud-based solution. On-premise solutions are privately hosted on your own local servers and network and managed by your internal IT resources.

Cloud-based ERPs are hosted online and the data, security, and infrastructure are all managed off-site and the system can be accessed from any location with internet access. Between uptime, security, accessibility, standardization, customization, and updates, both options have their benefits and drawbacks. But when it comes to cost, cloud-based ERP systems can have quite the advantage over on-premise solutions. Let’s take a look.

Lower Cost of Ownership

An on-premise solution has many costs associated with it that are at least partially absorbed by a cloud solution. On-premise ERP systems often require a large up-front purchase, the time and focus of IT staff, the cost of hardware, customization, training, maintenance, security, upgrades, and the general overhead to keep the lights on and your system running. Cloud ERP systems, on the other hand, are priced on a monthly or annual subscription that can take the pain out of the initial costs of implementation. This leaves a business with the freedom to cancel or choose a different level of service if necessary.

cloud erp strategy

No Cost to Upgrade

Upgrades and patches, in general, can be costly and time-consuming. Where a cloud-based system comes with automatic updates, an on-premise system will require you to allocate the time of your IT staff to deploy the update in-house. A cloud-based ERP system provides you with the ability to redirect staff to focus on areas that bring the most value to your business.

Because these updates are online and automatic, and you are effectively subscribing to an ERP service versus purchasing the system up-front, you are not responsible for the cost of upgrades. Where upgrading an on-premise solution may require scheduling to meet budgetary needs and therefore leave valuable features waiting on the table that could benefit your business, a cloud solution offers these at the moment they are available, automatically and free of charge. This results in greater system stability and better opportunities to grow your business.

No Software, Security, or Hardware Maintenance Costs

When it comes to your business, security is paramount. With an on-premise solution, data is the responsibility of the organization. And it can be costly to maintain cutting-edge electronic and physical security layers.

In addition to security costs, an on-premise solution carries with it the cost of hiring an installation expert and purchasing enterprise-grade servers, operating systems, databases, and backup systems to support those servers. A cloud-based solution takes on these responsibilities and leaves your business more secure and less liable for the financial burden of additional maintenance and infrastructure requirements. A hosted solution also combines many of these costs at a lower overall rate. Most notably, cloud ERP provides your business with the ability to only pay for only what you need, whether it be number of users or amount of digital storage space.

Response to Business Needs

A cloud-based ERP system allows members of a business to communicate information in real-time, all the time. This improves collaboration and allows your business to adapt to any number of situations.

The standardization of a cloud-based ERP system means a reduction in time spent reconciling data, converting information, and bridging gaps between different systems at different locations. Whether it be customer questions or concerns, a need to adjust a line of supply to meet demand, vendor issues, or any other everyday requirement, a cloud-based ERP system can help provide clear, accessible, continuous communication.

Faster to Deploy Means Improved Time to Value

With an out-of-the-box solution, your business will spend less time on selecting the appropriate hardware, negotiating IT capacity, deploying software, training employees, and making the back-end adjustments and customizations necessary to ensure your solution is up to snuff and ready for business. A cloud-based ERP system means you’re up and running in no time, which reduces the often prohibitive costs of ERP implementation that can leave businesses pushing back their purchase and losing out on improved efficiency across all departments.

Guaranteed Uptime

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(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Anyone who has had their servers go down knows that it can lead to a significant financial hit. On-premise solutions leave the business in charge of ensuring uptime and keeping IT staff on call in case of emergency. In addition, network and system downtime can cost a business much more than simple dollars per hour. It can also impact the reputation of a business, and leave doubt in the minds of consumers as to whether the company they are investing their time and money in is dedicated to running a reliable business. With around the clock technical support, cloud-hosted solutions mean no scrambling to find someone who is still in the office to handle a system issue, and no expenses for additional IT and other employee hours or replacement of hardware or software infrastructure.

The crucial decision in choosing the best ERP for your business should not come lightly. Managing your ERP on-site versus opting for a cloud-based solution brings with it many separate decisions. But when it comes to comparing the costs of each implementation, one can find a great deal of financial value associated with a cloud-based ERP deployment. These include faster time to value, low cost of ownership, quick and painless upgrades, and a lack of hardware, security, IT support, and maintenance costs. All of these benefits can help you and your employees focus on the big-picture initiatives that keep your business moving forward.

By Aaron Continelli

Big Data Solutions For The Gaming Industry

Big Data Solutions For The Gaming Industry

Big Data, The Cloud and Gaming

Big Data plays a major role in gaming, an industry valued at over $90 billion today. With the gaming industry more competitive than ever, developers are trying to understand player psychology and behavior to ensure games are constructed in such a way that players find their “flow zone.” Ensuring gamers keep coming back through game optimization, refining factors which encourage titles going viral, and additionally monetizing games through in-game purchasing is a blueprint to a gaming business’s success.

Big Data Analytics for Gaming

Every player interaction, mouse click, and keyboard press creates valuable data in game logs. However, if you’ve ever opened a game log, you’ll wonder how on earth you’re supposed to find it. This is where Big Data analytics steps up to the plate. Aggregated and analyzed, game logs explain what engages players and what encourages them to return. With the added social media and web access integrated, player profiles can be further developed, allowing gaming companies to provide personalized experiences and drive game attraction.

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(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Through combined user behavior and demographic information, merged with brands regularly engaged with, it’s possible to understand preferences and create specifically targeted digital ads, improve user experience, and identify VIPs. Analyzing combined logs and player data also enables the identification of common characteristics, helping recognize what drives particular gaming segments to play, and play longer. This has the added benefit of enabling gaming businesses to target new users most likely to engage with their titles. Finally, testing and analyzing results ensure constant gaming development and tweaking, based on real player data feedback.

Big Data Solutions for the Gaming Industry

No longer a market only for the giants, thousands of smaller game designers and developers are creating successful products for both traditional and emerging platforms, such as social media or mobile devices. With some estimates suggesting approximately two billion video game players worldwide, Big Data services are more relevant than ever, but the nearly unlimited data collected poses its own problem. Sources include gameplay data, social media, micro-transactions, price points, in-game advertising, payment systems, virtual goods, real-time events, multiplayer interactions, and content updates, and developers run the risk of recording data merely because it might, at some time, become relevant. Suitable Big Data solutions are shifting the focus to the right data for generation of actionable insights.

Cloud-Based Architecture

Uniquely able to address many technical challenges of the gaming industry, cloud-based architecture can provide scalable data storage solutions as well as the essential real-time availability. With billions of records streamed and immediately analyzed, cost-effective and low CAPEX cloud solutions are attractive. For the small gaming providers, analytics and storage vendors are offering tailored cloud solutions that provide the necessary speed, scale, cost, and capacity through fully managed, cloud-based Analytics as a Service platforms. With their near real-time analytics of current and historical data, smaller gaming companies are able to compete with the likes of Sony and Microsoft through these innovative and cost-effective Big Data analysis platforms.

Swiftly adopting Big Data technologies, the gaming industry is refining customer engagement, optimizing game development and end-user experiencing, and creating more effective targeted and personalized advertising. The blending of cloud-based tools offers further advancement as complicated and expensive infrastructures are outsourced to cloud service providers who manage the IT staffing and maintenance necessary to these platforms. High performing, scalable, service-based analytics cloud solutions mean game developers can focus on what they do best, leaving the Big Data analysis to experts and directly embedding the insights gleaned into gaming projects for improved traction, larger market engagement, and greater business success.

By Jennifer Klostermann

CloudTweaks Comics
Most Active Internet Of Things Investors In The Last 5 Years

Most Active Internet Of Things Investors In The Last 5 Years

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Do Small Businesses Need Cloud Storage Service?

Do Small Businesses Need Cloud Storage Service?

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

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

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5 Essential Cloud Skills That Could Make Or Break Your IT Career

5 Essential Cloud Skills That Could Make Or Break Your IT Career

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Digital Marketing Hubs And The Cloud

Digital Marketing Hubs And The Cloud

Digital Market Hubs Gartner’s recently released research, Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs, recognizes the big four marketing cloud vendors as leaders, but also points to many challengers. Adobe, Marketo, Oracle, and Salesforce inhabit the leader’s block of the Magic Quadrant, reflecting both their growing capabilities as well as marketing technology platform scopes. Gartner believes…

Digital Transformation: Not Just For Large Enterprises Anymore

Digital Transformation: Not Just For Large Enterprises Anymore

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Three Factors For Choosing Your Long-term Cloud Strategy

Three Factors For Choosing Your Long-term Cloud Strategy

Choosing Your Long-term Cloud Strategy A few weeks ago I visited the global headquarters of a large multi-national company to discuss cloud strategy with the CIO. I arrived 30 minutes early and took a tour of the area where the marketing team showcased their award winning brands. I was impressed by the digital marketing strategy…

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…

How Big Data Is Influencing Web Design

How Big Data Is Influencing Web Design

How Big Data Is Influencing Web Design For all you non-techies… You’re probably wondering what big data is (I know I was….a few years back) so let’s get the definitions out of the way so we’re on the same page, okay? Big data is A LOT of data – really, it is. It is a…

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…

Achieving Network Security In The IoT

Achieving Network Security In The IoT

Security In The IoT The network security market is experiencing a pressing and transformative change, especially around access control and orchestration. Although it has been mature for decades, the network security market had to transform rapidly with the advent of the BYOD trend and emergence of the cloud, which swept enterprises a few years ago.…

Three Tips To Simplify Governance, Risk and Compliance

Three Tips To Simplify Governance, Risk and Compliance

Governance, Risk and Compliance Businesses are under pressure to deliver against a backdrop of evolving regulations and security threats. In the face of such challenges they strive to perform better, be leaner, cut costs and be more efficient. Effective governance, risk and compliance (GRC) can help preserve the business’ corporate integrity and protect the brand,…

Four Recurring Revenue Imperatives

Four Recurring Revenue Imperatives

Revenue Imperatives “Follow the money” is always a good piece of advice, but in today’s recurring revenue-driven market, “follow the customer” may be more powerful. Two recurring revenue imperatives highlight the importance of responding to, and cherishing customer interactions. Technology and competitive advantage influence the final two. If you’re part of the movement towards recurring…

Digital Twin And The End Of The Dreaded Product Recall

Digital Twin And The End Of The Dreaded Product Recall

The Digital Twin  How smart factories and connected assets in the emerging Industrial IoT era along with the automation of machine learning and advancement of artificial intelligence can dramatically change the manufacturing process and put an end to the dreaded product recalls in the future. In recent news, Samsung Electronics Co. has initiated a global…

5 Things To Consider About Your Next Enterprise Sharing Solution

5 Things To Consider About Your Next Enterprise Sharing Solution

Enterprise File Sharing Solution Businesses have varying file sharing needs. Large, multi-regional businesses need to synchronize folders across a large number of sites, whereas small businesses may only need to support a handful of users in a single site. Construction or advertising firms require sharing and collaboration with very large (several Gigabytes) files. Financial services…

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.…

Beacons Flopped, But They’re About to Flourish in the Future

Beacons Flopped, But They’re About to Flourish in the Future

Cloud Beacons Flying High When Apple debuted cloud beacons in 2013, analysts predicted 250 million devices capable of serving as iBeacons would be found in the wild within weeks. A few months later, estimates put the figure at just 64,000, with 15 percent confined to Apple stores. Beacons didn’t proliferate as expected, but a few…

Your Biggest Data Security Threat Could Be….

Your Biggest Data Security Threat Could Be….

Paying Attention To Data Security Your biggest data security threat could be sitting next to you… Data security is a big concern for businesses. The repercussions of a data security breach ranges from embarrassment, to costly lawsuits and clean-up jobs – particularly when confidential client information is involved. But although more and more businesses are…