Category Archives: Cloud Computing

Red Hat Offers Container Native Persistent Storage for Linux Containers

Red Hat Offers Container Native Persistent Storage for Linux Containers

Red Hat Offers Container Storage

Latest Red Hat Gluster Storage release enables greater agility and efficiency for OpenShift developers deploying application containers in production

SAN FRANCISCO – RED HAT SUMMIT – June 28, 2016 – Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced new storage innovations designed to enable developers to more easily provision and manage enterprise-grade persistent storage for stateful applications running in Linux containers. Today’s announcement represents the next step in Red Hat’s efforts to transform how enterprise applications are built, deployed and managed with containers for greater business agility.

The container-native storage capability, available this summer, is integrated with Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform (formerly OpenShift Enterprise) to deploy applications and storage in a converged manner where storage is served from containers. This can eliminate the need to have an independent storage cluster, enabling customers to achieve greater efficiency, cost savings, and storage for production-ready container environments.

This functionality enables a streamlined end-to-end experience for enterprises using container infrastructure and application development technologies from Red Hat. The integration of Red Hat Gluster Storage with Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform offers customers a single point of support for containers, helping to address a key pain point for enterprises in this emerging ecosystem.

Traditionally, applications and storage have been managed through different processes and by separate teams. However, this approach can be inefficient and cumbersome. Red Hat Gluster Storage 3.1.3 is designed to address that challenge, enabling developers to control both storage and application containers using a single control plane with Kubernetes in Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform. This innovation helps Red Hat strengthen the technology stack for containers, enabling greater DevOps integration and automation, from development environments to on-premise and cloud production environments.

Red Hat Gluster 3.1.3 also offers other performance and stability improvements, including faster self-healing and high performance software-defined storage fabric for virtual machines.

Webcast

Paul Cormier, president, Products and Technologies, Red Hat, will host a webcast live from Red Hat Summit to discuss today’s announcement at 11:45 a.m. PT on June 28, 2016. Following remarks, press and analysts are invited to participate in a question and answer session.

To join the webcast or view the replay after the event, visit. 

Supporting Quotes

Ranga Rangachari, vice president and general manager, Storage, Red Hat

“The latest Red Hat Gluster Storage release is designed to meet the needs of organizations that are becoming increasingly dependent on microservices and containers. Traditional, monolithic storage appliances are not well-suited to deliver flexible and cost-effective storage to stateful applications deployed in Linux containers. Today’s announcement helps to provide those benefits and establish Red Hat’s open source platform as a de facto standard for building and managing containerized storage and applications.”

Scott Sinclair, Senior Analyst, Storage, ESG

One of the key challenges facing customers looking to transition applications from virtual machines to containers is the lack of storage that endures beyond the life of individual containers. Containers are designed to be transient and mobile. The underlying storage platform should support those features. Any integration of storage into the container host and application development platform can go a long way to help to alleviate resistance in container adoption.”

About Red Hat, Inc.

Red Hat is the world’s leading provider of open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to provide reliable and high-performing cloud, Linux, middleware, storage and virtualization technologies. Red Hat also offers award-winning support, training, and consulting services. As a connective hub in a global network of enterprises, partners, and open source communities, Red Hat helps create relevant, innovative technologies that liberate resources for growth and prepare customers for the future of IT. Learn more at http://www.redhat.com.

8 Cloud Characteristics Every ERP System Needs

8 Cloud Characteristics Every ERP System Needs

Characteristics Every ERP System Needs

Cloud-based ERP systems offer many benefits to a growing organization. And those benefits are catching on in a big way in recent years. In fact, according to the RightScale State of the Cloud 2016 Survey, which has collected the responses of 1,060 IT professionals, 95% of respondents are using a cloud computing solution. By selecting a cloud-based ERP system that unifies the entire company, a business can defer the burden of managing their own infrastructure. This can free up IT staff, lower overhead, offer financial and time savings, and more.

cloud-computing-trends-2016

Cloud-based ERP systems provide employees with access to critical business data regardless of location or device. This means that employees, customers, and vendors can securely access data and collaborate in real time. With an entire company standardized on one system and looking at the most up-to-date documents and data, what’s not to love? Let’s take a look at eight characteristics to search for when seeking out the perfect cloud-based ERP provider for your business.

File Versioning

If you make frequent changes to files, or you have several individuals accessing the same document, file versioning is a necessity. File versioning maintains the history and integrity of important company files, so you never lose your work. It prevents individuals from overwriting old files by automatically saving edits as a new version, and preserving the old copy for review.

It’s important to ask your ERP cloud provider how many versions the system will keep, how long the system will keep them, and where older versions are sequestered once they are deleted.

Automatic Backup

With automatic backup, an ERP system can help companies ensure that all of their data and documents are up-to-date and safe from tragedy. A cloud backup system is designed to protect against data loss and reduce the time it takes to restore data. This means minimal downtime and minimal risk to business productivity and profit. In the event that disaster strikes your physical business, you can rest assured that your data is safe and sound.

Sharing and Collaboration Tools

If you run a business in which employees are team-oriented, often share documents and data, or frequently share documents with individuals outside of the company, then these tools are critical to ensuring a seamless document sharing process with a variety of viewing and editing options. Sharing and collaboration tools should include password protection and sharing options that can customize the level of security. This can keep documents available to individuals on a need-to-know basis, and allow you to set security on the document level, sub-folder level, parent folder level, and so on. This can keep your confidential documents away from prying eyes yet still accessible to those who need to see them.

Automatic Syncing

If you have employees who work off-site or are often traveling, then automatic syncing can prevent multiple versions of documents from building up. If your employees find themselves without time to manually sync document edits, then automatic syncing can help sync files immediately and offer every individual within the company the opportunity to see the latest version of a document in real-time, without having to rely on others to ensure their local copy has been uploaded for access.

Cloud-Based Viewing and Editing Options

One of the major benefits of a cloud-based ERP is its accessibility. If you have segments of your business that are off-site, or employees who travel or work remote, cloud-based viewing and editing provides your employees the ultimate flexibility with access to documents anytime, anywhere, and on any device where an internet connection is available. With the support of automated syncing, employees can confidently open documents and make quick edits. An ERP system without this feature can cause the additional hassles of having to download documents, edit them locally, and remember to manually re-upload them for company access.

Security and File Encryption

Your cloud-based ERP system should come with the latest and greatest in electronic and physical security layers. It should encrypt your document data at least once before it leaves your device. You should also be able to choose your own encryption key to assure exceptional security on the most confidential company documents. And, it should include the ability to set different levels of access for different employees.

Scalability and Customizable Storage Capacity

One of the greatest benefits of a cloud-based ERP is the exceptional ability to scale your business on-the-fly. Whether you are responding to seasonality, business growth, or global expansion, the ability to easily scale can keep your business running at top speed. Your system expansion should be as simple as subscribing to additional user accounts.

Every business is different. And one comes with its own unique storage capacity needs and decisions on how much of their business they feel they can to move to the cloud. Customizable storage capacity allows business owners the opportunity to choose to increase the percentage of their business they move into the cloud at a later date. Look for a cloud-based ERP provider that offers storage at a scalable size and honest price. It’s also important to look at how that price will grow as your business needs grow. In some cases, an unlimited data storage package is the most cost-effective.

Technical Support

When your business is in the cloud, you need to know that you can access it reliably. Your cloud-based ERP solution should not only manage the infrastructure and keep it running 24/7, they should also be available around the clock with friendly and accessible support technicians. This ensures that both you and your employees can access important business data and documents at all times, and any ERP application issues can be dealt with swiftly.

A cloud-based ERP system provides a great many benefits to today’s active, mobile, globalizing, and growing businesses. When searching to connect and standardize your business using a cloud-based ERP, search for one that offers stellar technical support, easy and cost-effective scalability, customizable storage capacity, state-of-the-art security, document viewing, editing, syncing, versioning capabilities, and innovative sharing and collaboration tools.

By Aaron Continelli

Controversial Chinese Cybersecurity Law Under Review Again

Controversial Chinese Cybersecurity Law Under Review Again

Cybersecurity Law

BEIJING. The National People’s Congress, the equivalence of the Chinese Parliament, moved forward in drafting a second version of a controversial cybersecurity law first introduced almost a year ago. This means the law is thought to be closer to passing and will bring greater censorship for both foreign and domestic citizens and businesses.

In China, popular websites like Facebook and Google are blocked, and all web traffic is openly monitored and censored by the government. The latest draft of the law aims to require network operators, foreign and domestic, to comply with the “social morals” of China and accept the supervision of government censors. According to Xinhua, China’s state-operated news agency, the law requires all Chinese citizens’ data to be stored in China along with “important business data”. Countries wishing to store this data outside of China would need to submit to a security evaluation from the Chinese government.

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(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Critics of the law, mostly foreign governments, multinational corporations, and human rights activists, say a broad interpretation of it could give Beijing the power to do whatever they want. It is also thought to create a competitive disadvantage for foreign firms attempting to do business in China, especially those from the United States and European Union.

Chinese lawmakers often review and revise several drafts of legislation before finally enacting its contents. The original draft introduced nearly a year ago was said to protect Chinese citizens from hackers and data resellers in addition to block the dissemination of private information records, which are illegal in China. The moving forward with a second draft increases the likelihood of these regulations becoming a reality.

An example of Chinese oversight on these matters came just last month when Chinese officials set limits on the volume of advertising from healthcare groups featured on the country’s largest search engine, Baidu Inc. The backlash comes after a student died from participating in an experimental cancer treatment program he discovered online. The second draft of the law is still in construction, and it is unclear when it will be finalized.

What is interesting about this law is that Chinese officials already have control of Chinese citizens’ data and internet use through overarching personal property laws and strict human rights allowances. The average Chinese citizen may not see a change from this law being enacted, but it will mean major changes for foreign businesses hungry to tap into a Chinese market with over a billion consumers.

By Thomas Dougherty

Data Protection and Session Fixation Attacks

Data Protection and Session Fixation Attacks

Keeping the man out of the middle: preventing session fixation attacks

In a nutshell, session fixation is a type of man in the middle attack where an attacker is able to pretend to be a victim using a session variable. For instance, let’s say you have an application that uses sessions to validate the user. You retrieve a session variable from the URL’s query string. You then validate the session string and authenticate the user without requiring a username and password.

A hacker can log in to your website and obtain his own session. With that session in hand, he then sends a phishing email to a victim and tricks him into clicking a URL with the hacker’s session variable. Your application sees the session variable, verifies that it’s an active session, and then automatically logs in the user. This then allows the attacker to see the victim’s information as they work with the shared session.

Fixation

A session fixation attack isn’t like a standard phishing ruse where users are sent to a bogus website with red flags all over the place. The user clicks a link in a phishing email that leads them to the official website. The process looks completely legitimate to the user.

The consequences of an attack like this are stark for both the user and the organization. Consider your internal corporate application. What happens if the attacker is able to gain access to the internal application’s data using a session fixation hack? This type of data breach is completely possible if you don’t know how to stop the attack from happening.

A few different types of fixations

The above section explains how a session fixation works, but according to application security software provider Checkmarx, there are actually three different kinds of session fixation attacks.

Session token in the URL argument: Just as in the example above, the attacker sends the session in the URL’s query string. The application reads the session and uses it to validate the user.

Session token in a hidden form field: Some applications store a session in a hidden form variable. The attacker can create his own form and send it to the victim in a phishing email. The attacker can then trick the application using his own custom form with the malicious session.

Session ID in a cookie: This type of session fixation attack can occur if the application retrieves the session from a cookie. The attacker mixes client side scripting attacks or cross-site scripting to execute this attack. The application retrieves the cookie from the victim’s PC and uses it to authenticate the user.

Timeouts aren’t just for toddlers

Many developers design applications to recognize a session and use it to automatically authorize a user. It’s been done this way for years, but with the prevalence of data breaches developers just can’t trust input from a querystring, cookie or even a hidden form variable anymore. All of these can be manipulated from the user’s PC or an attacker.

There are several ways a developer can either prevent session fixation attacks or minimize the possibility of an attacker’s success. The first way is to avoid authenticating a user from a simple session ID in the query string, cookie or hidden form variable.

After disabling this type of programming, session variables should be forced to timeout after a while. When a session variable times out, it’s no longer valid. Timeouts can be set on your server for varying intervals. The shorter the time frame, the less time the attacker has to perform the attack. If the attacker can’t get the user to click a phishing link fast enough, the attack will fail.

Session fixation attacks are a favorite for attackers, especially hackers targeting corporate applications to obtain customer data. Use the best practices for session IDs to protect your critical data.

By  Brent Anderson

E-Commerce Advances For Savvy Marketers

E-Commerce Advances For Savvy Marketers

Digital Marketing Platforms

Advertising and marketing techniques have progressed rapidly in the last decade with both channel focus and the direction of content shifting considerably due primarily to advances in cloud technology. Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce 2016 singles out a few ecommerce providers who are topping their sector in both ability to execute and completeness of vision, and Gartner reports, “Digital commerce platforms enable organizations to build B2B, B2C or B2B-to-consumer commerce sites and support a continuum of business objectives, from the generation of incremental revenue to the enabling of transformational business change.”

Modern Consumers Transforming Shopping Behaviors

Shopping

According to recent studies, the majority of Americans prefer to shop online, and almost all have made at least one online purchase to date. Unsurprisingly, the younger generations show the greatest adoption of online shopping behaviors, but since both the Baby Boomer and Senior generations are also frequenting online stores, it’s clear that the ecommerce industry will continue to flourish.

Digital marketing spend, already at an all-time high, is predicted to grow a further 12.9% over the next year. With this leap, the internet overtakes TV as the largest advertising medium, but consumers are still suspicious of digital advertising, and along with the various ad blockers installed, the majority of internet users distrust banner ads and won’t click on them. Digital marketers are forced to apply more sophisticated techniques, and both content-focused marketing and social media advertising are restyling marketing solutions that provoke and attract circumspect internet shoppers. Add to this the influence of mobile marketing, representing a predicted 72% of all digital ad spending by 2019, successful businesses have no time to waste in implementing their own polished digital marketing solutions.

Social Media and Ecommerce

Nearly a quarter of online shoppers are influenced by social media recommendations, and the majority require good product visuals to close the sale. It’s no surprise, then, that Facebook and Pinterest are rated as the platforms from which online shoppers are most likely to make purchases, and moreover, these two social media sites are found to encourage referral purchases through the ‘pins’ and ‘likes’ of family and friends using the platforms.

social-media-cloud

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Marketers that include Facebook in their strategies open their networks up to over a billion monthly users, and those able to connect directly with Facebook Shop further improve their reach with mobile-friendly shopping. And providing the visuals shoppers are asking for in a relaxed and user-driven environment, Pinterest’s picture-oriented platform has recently turned the trendy digital scrapbooking craze into an ecommerce-ready hub with Buyable Pins. Though boasting fewer users than Facebook, of the 100 million active monthly Pinterest users, 93% use the platform to plan purchases, and 87% affirm that Pinterest has directly driven purchases.

The time to reform advertising strategies to embrace digital marketing is upon us, and though traditional channels such as television, radio and print haven’t quite lost their charm, successful organizations realize the potential of robust ecommerce tactics. According to Bigcommerce, one of the leaders of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce 2016, their merchants grow 28% year over year, with the industry average just a little more than half of that. Large or small, brands that want to grow quickly and increase business volumes need to implement ecommerce tools to back them up.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Cloud Comings and Goings

Cloud Comings and Goings

Cloud Power

Amazon Web Services – the giant of cloud computing – is on track to do $10 Billion in revenue this year. Yet, rumors swirl that Apple may take a huge chunk of business away from them and Dropbox has definitely left AWS. Is something wrong at AWS? Wait, Salesforce.com (SFDC) – the granddaddy of applications in the cloud – and AWS just announced a strategic relationship where SFDC plans to run its entire suite of services in AWS. What does this tell us about the market? Should you be concerned if your company uses or plans to use AWS?

Many folks thought that AWS was a money loser or maybe just a break even venture for Amazon until it was broken out separately in the parent company’s financials. The scales fell from our eyes. It turned out that not only was it a behemoth, it was a very profitable behemoth powering a great deal of Amazon’s overall bottom line. Its latest operating margin is about 29% or a whopping $687 Million in the last quarter. If you are a big customer of AWS that margin is coming out of your pocket.

The rumors swirling around Apple and the actual departure of Dropbox has a lot to do with that extra margin that they could keep. While this makes straightforward economic sense it is not for the faint hearted. There are two big challenges.

CloudTweaks Comic

First, building and operating a cloud platform at anywhere near the efficiency of AWS requires scale – you have got to be big and be able to manage that. Dropbox manages to do both. It is one of the largest file sharing offerings in the world so it has scale.  The people who designed the new Dropbox cloud came from Google. So they had been to the movie before and knew what they were getting into.

Second, there is the risk that you won’t be able to maintain your scale. This is what Zynga faced when it too left AWS for its own cloud only to have to return when its business prospects dimmed and there wasn’t enough demand to justify doing it in house. To some extent, Dropbox faces a similar risk as AWS itself, Microsoft, Apple and others encroach on Dropbox’s offerings with their own.

Cloud Economics

So much for the traditional Economics 101 on vertical integration to capture the margins of your suppliers in order to enhance your own – what is going on with the Salesforce deal? More economics and a little quid pro quo is the answer. In announcing the expanded relationship Salesforce pointed to using AWS for its international expansion and that all of Amazon has adopted the Salesforce offering suite across its operations.

Only 20% of SFDC’s revenues come from outside the US. That is not small but it is fragmented by the various country and regional privacy and data location requirements. These mandate cloud providers data centers must be resident in country. Salesforce’s business in any one country is just not big enough to meet the scale needed to justify the investment. Meanwhile AWS has been building out new data centers at a very strong clip just to meet these requirements. All in all it’s a good complementary relationship. Plus SFDC gets the Amazon mothership as a client.

Cloud is the new foundation for the digitization of our lives. Companies are increasingly turning to it and AWS’s growth prospects continue to shine. There is little worry that it is going away anytime soon. You can do cloud yourself but only if you have the massive scale and talent to make it work. Otherwise, think about using a public cloud provider. Even somebody like Salesforce, who pioneered Software as a Service, ran the numbers and concluded it made more sense to go with AWS internationally.

By John Pienka

(Originally published June, 9th, 2016. You can periodically read John’s syndicated articles here on CloudTweaks. Contact us for more information on these new programs)

Digital Transformation: Not Just For Large Enterprises Anymore

Digital Transformation: Not Just For Large Enterprises Anymore

Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is the acceleration of business activities, processes, and operational models to fully embrace the changes and opportunities of digital technologies. The concept is not new; we’ve been talking about it in one way or another for decades: paperless office, BYOD, user experience, consumerization of IT – all of these were stepping stones along the path to digital transformation.

Today, digital business transformation is driven by technology innovation and user/customer behavior. Technology innovation leads to disruption. But transformation is also about how these technological innovations are adopted and used, and how they improve upon a process, to help the user get work done.

The IT organizations and line-of-business managers charged with making digital decisions must ask:

  • Do these innovations bring value to the organization?
  • Are these innovations easily adopted, or is the organization struggling to implement change?
  • Are we factoring in regulatory compliance, security, and business partner demands?

Digital transformation is not just the domain of the “big guys” anymore. Smaller organizations are often more nimble and can realize huge efficiencies by digitizing processes that have historically been a drag on productivity. Organizations of all sizes and operational budgets are looking at digital transformation strategies as a way to improve a process, and ultimately, better serve their customers.

Going digital to break boundaries: Three Rivers Legal

Three Rivers Legal Services of South Florida is a great example of a small organization that made huge improvements though going digital. Three Rivers is a nonprofit law firm dedicated to delivering quality legal assistance to the poor, abused, disabled and neglected, offering empowerment through preventive legal education.

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A large segment of the clients they serve are homeless. As you might imagine, keeping track of paper documents when you have no permanent place to store them is almost impossible. While living on the streets and in shelters, the clients of Three Rivers experience theft, weather damage and incidental losses to vital paperwork. These are documents they need to receive medical care, veterans’ benefits, public assistance, or to apply for jobs – essentially, everything that helps them build a path to independent living.

Digital Documents

The firm was storing legal documents and other files belonging to homeless clients on an internal case management system, but it couldn’t be accessed beyond the boundaries of the office. For legal aides in the field working with people at libraries, parks, shelters and government offices, this was a frustration point that slowed down productivity. And because of the situation many of their clients were in, mailing copies of documents to people with no permanent address wasn’t feasible. The firm realized that they needed a reliable, secure and easy way to access these important documents – and digital was the way to go.

Initially, the firm considered storing client documents through consumer file sync and share tools, but became concerned about the security and privacy issues. Today, the firm uses an enterprise-grade, secure collaboration platform where they can quickly and easily store digital versions of sensitive client documents. The legal team and their clients can access these documents from a smartphone, tablet, or from a computer at a local library.

Transforming lives

By going digital, Three Rivers’ clients have a portable but secure solution they can use to share documents with medical professionals, government entities and others. With online access to digital medical records and patient history, the legal aides at Three Rivers can work in real time with the psychiatrists who are serving their clients, collaborating to make better-informed diagnoses and prescribe medications that help clients stabilize to the point where they can get jobs and housing. Collaboration also decreases the chance of psychiatrists prescribing medications that produce bad reactions in their patients that could result in loss of housing or jobs.

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(Image Source: Shutterstock)

This change in process has freed the organization to deliver better quality service, on a faster timetable, to people who really need it. Since making the change, the legal team at Three Rivers has seen the waiting time for their clients go from up to two years to less than one month – all because the clients have secure, anytime access to digital versions of their documents. So far, 25 percent of the firm’s homeless clients have moved out of shelters and off the streets into stable living situations – and once they’ve completed the digitization of the rest of their client documents, they expect this number to increase.

Digital transformation is a challenge – and businesses must ask the right questions and make the right decisions about which technologies they’ll implement, and which processes must change. But as this use case illustrates, even a small firm can make incremental changes that yield significant improvements.

By Daren Glenister

CloudTweaks Comics
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