Category Archives: Security

Four Reasons Why CIOs Must Transform IT Into ITaaS To Survive

Four Reasons Why CIOs Must Transform IT Into ITaaS To Survive

CIOs Must Transform IT

The emergence of the Cloud and its three delivery models of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) has dramatically impacted and forever changed the delivery of IT services. Cloud services have pierced the veil of IT by challenging traditional method’s dominance and forcing internal IT departments to compete with alternative Cloud-based solutions. Business Unit Managers (BUM) and Lines of Business (LOB) have fueled the Shadow IT movement by directly purchasing IT solutions from Cloud providers without the approval, or even involvement, of their IT department—and this is only the beginning.

Shadow IT

Moving forward, new Cloud services will continue to evolve and further compete with internal IT departments for business. If your department isn’t ready for this change, be prepared to watch the migration of IT services to the cloud diminish the role of your IT operations.

What is ITaaS?

In order for traditional IT to continue, remain viable and thrive in the organization it must transform into IT as a Service (ITaaS). What is ITaaS? Wikipedia defines it as “a competitive business model where an enterprise IT organization views the LOBs as having many options for IT services and the IT organization has to compete against those other options in order to be the provider to the needs of the LOBs. Options for providers other than the internal IT organization may include outsourcing companies and public cloud providers.

Why ITaaS? Let’s review this in the next section.

Benefits of ITaaS

In short, ITaaS can transform IT from a cost-center to a strategic part of the enterprise.

Adopting an ITaaS mentality will enable IT to adopt a business-centric approach with a focus on collaborating with the business units to understand their needs and requirements in order to become a strategic partner rather than a combative force to be avoided. This new relationship will enable IT to better understand and thereby deliver solutions that meet the needs of the LOBs.

Standardization And Simplification

Developing an ITaaS model also forces IT through the exercise of productizing its offering. In order to achieve this, IT needs to simplify and standardize, creating predictable, repeatable results thereby increasing their success rate while delivering a consistent user experience. Another result of standardization and simplification is increased operational efficiency leading to a lower cost needed to compete with the services delivered from external cloud providers.

By creating a more transparent pricing model IT will now be able to accurately chargeback the business units for their services. Business units will now be enabled to directly see their cost in comparison to consumption of IT resources. This allows them to compare internal versus external cost and rest assured they are getting the most for their spend.

By leveraging their newly optimized internal services with certain cloud services, in-house IT pros can build a hybrid offering that encompasses the best possible solution and cost for the business units. Not only will this cement IT’s strategic partnership with the business units, it demonstrates how IT is supplying the optimal solution—be it internal or external—and fosters the idea that the business units should involve IT in all projects. These strategic steps in turn reduce—or even eliminate—the Shadow IT movement, which in some cases can be destructive to a company.

Lastly, as demonstrated above, if IT combines its newly formed ITaaS model with other available cloud services the enterprise truly becomes agile and scalable with limitless potential previously unavailable. This is another proof point around why ITaaS helps IT departments becomes a strategic contributor to the enterprise.

Is ITaaS for everyone?

The answer to this question should be answered by each enterprise. ITaaS can be a powerful and game-changing shift for the IT department, though the process is resource intensive and time consuming.

The argument can be made that the transformation into ITaaS is only justified for larger organizations that churn out more projects. That said, it’s important for every IT department to understand the benefits ITaaS delivers and try to incorporate them into their organization no matter the size. Smaller organizations can implement pieces of ITaaS in order to achieve standardization, lower cost and improved delivery.

In conclusion

The Cloud has reached a tipping point and is here to stay—and that is a good thing in many ways. It is driving down the cost of IT and delivering innovation.

As an IT pro, harness the power of the Cloud and use it to your advantage, but also learn from its benefits and build a version of ITaaS in your enterprise that fits the need of your organization. If you do this, I know you will not only succeed, but thrive. Never forget IT requires continuous improvement and Cloud providers are pushing the limits so you better keep up.

By Marc Malizia

Eastern Super-powers Pledge To Fight Cyber Security

Eastern Super-powers Pledge To Fight Cyber Security

Russia and China Pledge to Fight Together for Cyber Security

The world’s two eastern super-powers, Russia and China, have pledged not to attack one another in cyber space and to fight together for “international information security.” More simply, this is seen as a “nonaggression pact in cyberspace,” at a time when relations between the US and Russia are very seriously strained.

The cyber security deal was one of a total of 32 agreements signed by the two nations during a visit to Russia by Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China at the weekend.

In a statement, Xi Jinping said he had held “substantial talks” with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and that they had agreed to continue to develop strategic cooperation and mutual foreign policy support.

In the high-powered publicized on the Russian Government website, the two leaders agreed they would do everything in their power to ensure that the internal political and socio-economic “atmosphere” was not destabilized. They also agreed they would do all they could to ensure public order was not disturbed.

The agreement between the two countries identified the primary threats to information security, and also determined the principles, main areas of interest, mechanisms and forms of cooperation between them. In terms of the agreement, both information technology (IT) and cyber threat data will be shared.

The Russian Foreign Ministry described this as a “strategic partnership,” and stated that the agreement would help to mutually promote a “beneficial cooperation” between China and Russia.

What the Pact Means to the West and US

cyber-security

In an interview transmitted on the US Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Orville Schell, director of the Center on US-China Relations at the Asia Society in Berkeley, California, said the two eastern super-powers had clearly teamed up because both found themselves “at odds with the West.”

He said they had a number of common interests, including:

  • Energy that Russia can offer China
  • Weapons that Russia can supply to China
  • A common 5,000-mile border
  • Psychological symmetry of two “big empires” that have suffered at the hands of Japan and the West

According to Ian Wallace of the New America Foundation’s Cybersecurity Initiative, the joint interest of Russia and China in information security is very different to that in the US and in Europe. He believes the primary interest of Russia and China focuses on “regime stability.”

It is probably also inevitable, following the breakdown of cyber relations between the US and both Russia and China. In 2014 a Russian-US “cyber working group” collapsed after the Russian military offensive in Ukraine. A similar China-US working group also collapsed after five members of the Chinese military were indicted by the US Government for hacking. Different reasons, same result.

China has also come under fire for trying to force US companies operating in that country to use encryption coding approved in Beijing, and make them supply source code to the government for inspection.

The primary difference is that the US, Europe and other Western nations see the Internet as a free hub, while Russia, China and other like-minded nations believe digital data should be controlled at government level. Putin has gone so far as to claim that the Internet was launched as “a CIA project.

Certainly the new cyber security deal between China and Russia is going to set a precedent for cyber security issues facing these two eastern nations.

By Penny Swift

Wearable Fitness Devices – The Internet of Fitness IoF

Wearable Fitness Devices – The Internet of Fitness IoF

Wearable Fitness Devices

The Internet of Fitness IoF (or IoT helping you get fit)

The tracking of your personal fitness has recently exploded. Fitness devices are probably the number one wearable IoT device out there. You now have the opportunity to take part in a valuable community experience by joining a connected fitness challenge. First off, connected fitness is a thing, really. The concept is quite simple: You get a device that measures what you are doing fitness wise and then share that with the world. Of course, this raises a few important questions around what you share and how you share it.

Our first consideration is the timing of the information. Timing is critical. If you share actively while you are actually working out, you present the “I am not currently at home now” risk. That is the same risk you face when “checking in” to various places on the internet. If you are at the airport now, you aren’t at home. The same is true of fitness activities. So the first thing to do is turn off the real time updates. In the end, none of us need to know when you stop by the Stop and Shop, or are getting coffee at a local coffee place.

wearable-fitness

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

This presents our next consideration: What do you share? The reality is that people in the beginning of a process tend to share too much information, so you have to consider what you are sharing with your various online communities. This applies to all of the information you share, not only to your fitness communities. In addition to turning off real time updates to prevent potential intruders from knowing you’re away from home, you should avoid posting vacation photos until after you return. Likewise, you should only use an out of office notice for your work email and phone, but never on your house and personal phones. The other side of what you share is the actual information. For example, posting how many steps you took yesterday isn’t bad. Posting the route you took isn’t good. Posting your blood pressure on a site you and your doctor can access is good. Posting your blood pressure to the world, not so good. In the end, as you begin gathering this information start asking yourself what I want people to know. Then it becomes easy to determine what you are going to share.

Don’t Be Discouraged

Despite the potential risks associated with oversharing, joining a fitness community can be a great source of motivation. If you are interested in comparing your progress with your friends, then posting your numbers for others to see becomes an important part of your community experience. This is especially true if you’re even slightly competitive, as knowing that others are exceeding your performance is an incredible motivator. If this describes you, then finding a safe balance for posting your data online and having other people connected to that data is key to your online community engagement. If you aren’t competitive, you can still post your data online – just don’t compare yourself to others. This sharing can still be a source of encouragement as your friends can see your personal progress and milestones over time, and you can celebrate each other’s successes.

Wearable fitness devices offer great benefits both in improving your health but also in helping you create a support community. Averaging 10,000 steps a day in the end make you healthier. Sharing that with people who care is even better. However, sharing your specific medical metrics like blood sugar levels or announcing you’re away from home are another thing altogether.

As wearable IoT continues to expand further and further into the personal fitness market it’s important to remember the initial rules: Don’t post your data real time. Your friend may cheer you on for doing that, but the burglar waiting for your home to be empty will cheer you on as well. Uploading after you are done is a great way to engage with your community and gain a great sense of accomplishment. By carefully considering what you share and how you share it, you can enjoy the health and emotional benefits of connected fitness while protecting yourself from potential threats.

By Scott Andersen

Exciting Job Opportunities In Several Tech Fields

Exciting Job Opportunities In Several Tech Fields

Exciting Job Opportunities

CompTIA has released a report projecting a growth of 5.1% in IT spending this year, and though more than Gartner and IDC expect, they too estimate considerable escalation. According to Infoworld, 2014 saw a 2.4% increase in IT employment, representing more than 100,000 jobs – 2015 could see this figure increase. According to the US department of labour, web development jobs experienced the highest growth in 2014 at 4%, and employment of information security analysts, software systems developers and network and computer systems administers increased between 1.8% and 3.6%.

shutterstock_211835152

Top Jobs

Earlier this year, Glassdoor released a list of the 25 Best Jobs in America for 2015, and ten of them are in the IT sector. Software Engineer takes second place, with Database Administrator and Data Scientist in the top ten. Solutions Architect boasts one of the highest average base salaries, though all of the listed IT occupations offer decent remuneration. US News puts Software Developer at the top of its list of best tech jobs for 2015 and predicts a flood of new jobs in the IT market over the next seven years, with a forecast of a 36.5% increase in demand for Information Security Analysts.

What You Need

While certainly the place to be, the range of skills required to work successfully in IT is broad, and with constant technological evolution, skills often need to be updated just as you think you’ve mastered them. Inc recommends that 2015 is the time for honing your skills in coding, big data, cloud computing, mobile computing, data visualisation and UX design skills, while Training Journal insists that more problem solving skills are critical in IT. FierceCIO advises that business skills should not be overlooked, as many key IT roles require an excellent sense of the business and its workings in order to best perform their roles.

Where It’s Happening

Forbes has detailed the highest-paying cities for tech jobs in the US, with Silicon Valley at the top of their list, followed by Seattle, Washington, DC and Boston. Austin, Texas is credited with the strongest tech sector employment expansion from 2004 to 2014, with Raleigh, North Carolina close behind. In the UK, The Telegraph puts Manchester and Bristol close to London’s top earning average, and notes that Bristol, Brighton and Cambridge offer higher rates to freelancers working in the cloud sector than London.

Wherever you are, it seems 2015 is the year for technology, and if the predictions for IT pay off the future is bright. IT professionals possessing the top skills as well as the ability to pull together various IT services and business acumen are in demand, and it looks like that trend will only increase in the coming years.

Jennifer Klostermann

US Cyber Security Trade Mission All Set For Eastern Europe

US Cyber Security Trade Mission All Set For Eastern Europe

US Cyber Security Trade Mission

A US Government cyber security trade mission, on its way to Eastern Europe this weekend, aims to minimize cyber attacks and boost cooperation between the two regions in fighting cyber crime. It also aims to increase cyber security-related business between the US and Eastern European countries.

The one-week mission that will be lead by US Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Bruce Andrews, will visit Bucharest in Romania and Warsaw in Poland. In a media statement, Andrews said he would be accompanied by Assistant Secretary for Industry and Analysis, Marcus Jadotte, as well as representatives of 20 American companies. While some were large companies like Microsoft, IBM, Cisco Systems and Hewlett Packard, others were small, but they all had the interests of cyber security at heart.

romania

(Image Source: Tatiana Volgutova / Shutterstock.com)

Andrews said they would be meeting business and government leaders in the two cities and hosting “regional dialogue” with a number of other countries from around Eastern and Central Europe.

We want US businesses to sign deals with companies and with governments in that region to help improve their cyber security and create jobs here at home,” he said.

In its official mission statement,  Export.gov said the primary purpose of the upcoming cyber security trade mission was to introduce US trade associations and businesses to Central and Eastern European information and communication technology (ICT) security and critical infrastructure protection markets. This would help US companies find new business partners so they could export products and services to this region. In addition to Poland and Romania, the statement said the mission would reach at least ten other potential Eastern and Central European markets: Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. There would also be virtual introductions to government officials and companies that were not able to attend the trade mission meetings.

Vital Security Properties

Export.gov, which is managed by the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, was set up to assist US businesses plan international sales strategies.

Their mission statement points out that cyber security is used to safeguard the “vital security properties” of organizations’ and users’ financial, intellectual and infrastructure assets against any cyber security risks in the international cyber environment. In addition, the “critical information infrastructure” could not be separated from physical infrastructure systems, including basic services such as electricity, energy and water supply, safety and security, and even traffic management systems.

With the ever-increasing sophistication and growth of cyber-attacks in recent years, “strict compliance and unified security packages” were being prioritized. This was to try and protect the critical data, safety and infrastructure of businesses, as well as that of governments, the military, ports, public utilities, banking and other financial services, the statement said.

The damaging effects of cyber-threats can be felt on many levels from the business to the individual and can spill across borders.

As a result of recent cyber attacks in the region, attempts had been made to improve cyber security protection. Governments in Eastern and Central Europe had made cyber security a “policy priority” by creating task forces and participating with the US government in an attempt to improve their defenses.

Ultimately the trade mission would introduce US companies to what has become a “rapidly expanding market for cyber security products and services in Eastern and Central Europe.” Those businesses participating would have the opportunity to gain market insights, solidify business strategies, make industry contacts, and advance projects in an official US delegation, which would strengthen their abilities to secure meetings and get better exposure to the region.

Participants in the trade mission arrive in Bucharest on Sunday May 10 and leave from Warsaw the following Saturday, May 16.

By Penny Swift

Jumpstart The Cloud For Small Businesses

Jumpstart The Cloud For Small Businesses

The Cloud For Small Businesses

Cloud computing provides the perfect mix for small startups to jumpstart their business quickly and inexpensively. The utilization of Cloud based SaaS applications as well as benefiting from one of the several managed cloud service providers (Reducing IT costs) can save your company a fair bit of money. You will require a company website and the good news is, there are several CMS offerings available for you to work with offering varying complexities and prices.

Number Crunchers

One of the major to-do lists for any small business is to have a qualified accountant, or if you love numbers, a SaaS accounting program to help manage your business startup.

Attached is an infographic courtesy of Waspbarcode which outlines some of the accounting challenges faced by small businesses.

    • 74% don’t understand how ghost assets impact their books and inflate taxes, insurance or money owed.
    • Only 17% of small businesses use an asset management system that allows auditing.
    • Accountants ranked among the top professionals in order of importance to small businesses; and, 88% of small businesses are very or somewhat satisfied with their accountants.

Accounting-cloud

Churning It Up In The Cloud

Churning It Up In The Cloud

Churning The Corner With SaaS Applications

There’s plenty of research that backs up our reasoning for a move to the cloud. Forrester Research claims that the public cloud computing market will reach $191bn in 2020 (everyone else is doing it); Peer1Hosting claims that 49% of IT decision makers are doing it to reduce costs (everyone else is cutting costs).

And that’s all great. So much of the evidence behind moving data into the cloud rests in the financial – even though on average, a business has around 250 applications to manage on approximately four different clouds (let’s leave that for another time…)

In fact, one the most compelling – yet little measured – impacts of the cloud is the softer element. To what degree is cloud technology helping us retain our talent? To what degree is cloud technology improving our productivity? Indeed, to what degree is cloud technology adding value to our businesses?

Let’s look at how we might be able to quantify the softer side of the cloud.

Days lost vs Days earned

train-crowd

Central London businesses will know the perils of public transport. Last week’s incident at Clapham Junction, where commuters were stuck for 7 hours, underlines the business risk. However, listen to the news, and you’ll have heard of the ‘demob happy’ atmosphere among commuters, many of whom had simply gone online and started working. At least, for as long as their laptops and phones had power. Ten, twenty years ago, this would have been unimaginable.

As a business, take the number of days lost to issues such as transport, minor illnesses, sick children (I can attest to the latter no longer being such an issue from a work point of view), and you can put a figure on how much the cloud is saving your business. Russell Cook wrote that you can add 25 hours per week for some employees with the cloud – a surprisingly large figure.

Churn & the cost of hire

cloud_14It’s hard to measure the effect cloud technology has on churn. However, we can have a go. In one business I worked at, technology was so old that laptops would take 20 minutes to load every morning. That’s 20 minutes, per person, per day – at a minimum – lost to technology. Home working was near impossible as e-mail was not available off-premises, and documents had to be hosted on a local server. On top of the cost of days lost, there was the inevitable disaffection brought about by a company not supporting employees who wanted to ‘get the job done’.

After all, we’re all after job satisfaction.

So if we take the cost of losing an employee and hiring another (some experts claim it’s as much as $55,000 on average), and we add another 5% to our churn due to a lack of cloud services, then we can come to a reasonable figure.

Speed is of the essence

In the UK, our government talks frequently of a lack of productivity in the workplace and they might be right. So what if those laptops loaded more quickly? There’s an extra hour of work for every three employees, per day. But what if files were more accessible and actionable – that’s measurable too.

For instance, a spreadsheet hosted on a local server can only be accessed by one person. A live one can be edited by multiple people. If that spreadsheet saves 5 minutes a day, per person, it may not sound like much. That is, until you add up those 5 minutes over several months, and you end up with several days’ worth of savings.

We’re not alone in finding it hard to quantify the softer side of the business – HR professionals have been trying to quantify for years, and it’s only recently (thanks to the cloud) that they’re able to bring all of their data together. The irony.

However – even if we’re unable to put the pence to it, we can estimate the pounds – and they are considerable, whether they’re hypothetical pounds or not.

By Gareth Cartman

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