Category Archives: Technology

Smart Cities – How Big Data Is Changing The Power Grid

Smart Cities – How Big Data Is Changing The Power Grid

Smart Cities And Big Data

anthonyAs Anthony Townsend argues in his SMART CITIES, even though the communications industry has changed beyond recognition since its inception, the way we consume power has remained stubbornly anachronistic. The rules of physics are, of course, partially to blame, for making grid networks harder to decentralize, as opposed to communication networks.

However, much can be and is being done to make the grid more efficient, potentially saving a chunk of the $119 to $188 billion (according to the Electric Power Research Institute) losses due to power disturbances, and allowing utilities to generate power more efficiently.

Big Data Brings Big Savings

There are myriad ways in which power suppliers can leverage data to optimize their power deliveries. With smart meters — meters that have two-way communication with the supplier — utilities have access to much more actionable data. They now have instant power blackout reports; if an outage happens at night, they don’t have to wait for the customer to wake up and report. Startups like Opower, which already serves 50+ million households in 9 countries, help reducing energy consumption with price incentives. Last but not least, abnormal readings alert suppliers about possible energy theft.

In 2012, there were 43 million smart meters installed in the US, most of them in residential smart-citiesproperties. The number is set to multiply by the end of the decade. Elsewhere, the adoption of smart meters continues unevenly, with some countries like Italy having already done the bulk of work, but others, like the UK and Norway, lagging behind. It is, however, evident that the world utilities are to become documented (and hopefully used, too) much better, as smart meter usage extends to water and gas consumption as well.

And it goes beyond smart meters perpetually quantifying the grid. Vast quantities of data can be obtained from satellites, showing vegetation growth and brewing storms. With such data suppliers can pinpoint places where maintenance work will be required and potentially dispatch their crews in advance.

Predictive analysis can be achieved to a degree, allowing utilities to cut down on using “peak-hour” power plants and focus on generating power efficiently. The problem is that the variables involved are quite random. Past data may or might not be indicative of future performance (like stock ads tell us), but, coupled with the fact that human behavior, along with weather and other factors influencing power consumption, is hard to predict, creating a passable algorithm would take enormous investments and an awful lot of time.

Be that as it may, Big Data is bringing to utilities what it’s bringing to city management. Both are becoming smarter, due to real-time insights being available from previously scarce or non-existent data. There’s potential for the utilities to become better, cheaper, and of course generate higher profit margins.

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

By Lauris Veips

Cloud Infographic: Losing The Cyberwar To Hackers

Cloud Infographic: Losing The Cyberwar To Hackers

Losing The Cyberwar To Hackers

Much of the discussion lately has been around the JP Morgan security breach. There are also growing concerns that other companies may have been infiltrated as well which is not a surprise considering the ruthless nature of cyberwar. Security will always be an issue and something businesses must continuously prepare for in order to minimize damage.

Attached is an infographic discovered at IDG which take a closer look at Cyberwar in the U.S.


Knots And Cloud Service Providers

Knots And Cloud Service Providers

How Do These Two Compare?

In Boy Scouts, I learned how to tie knots. The quickest knot you can tie is the slipknot. It’s very effective for connecting one thing to another via the rope you have. It was used in setting up tents, mooring boats to docks temporarily and lifting your food up into the air to prevent wild animals from eating your camp dinner (otherwise you went hungry).

What do slipknots have to do with clouds? A lot more than you would think. First off, the concept of picking a cloud service provider is a lot like picking a knot. The goal of a knot is to connect something to something else. Which, by the way, is why people pick cloud service providers. They want to connect an internal business application to the cloud for a variety of purposes. The similarity is that if you pick the wrong knot you end up with a problem. Slipknots are aptly named, they slip as they tighten. You wouldn’t want your cloud selected to be different after selection than during the selection.


The other thing about knots that you have to be careful about is the form of the knot and the function of the knot. A square knot or reef knot as it is sometimes called it a very strong knot that connects two ropes together firmly. But you have to have two ropes for a square knot to be effective. The same is true of picking a cloud service provider (CSP). What does the CSP do? How does the CSP do it? Those are the two easy question you need to pick the right CSP that does things the way you need them done for your solution.

Simple right? Never fails. Easy to do.

Not always. In fact if you consider knot selection as a process you evaluate not only what you initially need from the knot but also what you will need from that knot over time. A secure long term connection is better serviced by a reef knot then it would be by a slip knot. A quick and simple connection that is short term in nature is better served by a slip knot.

We can say the same thing for cloud service providers. What do we need from the cloud service? If we need high performance that will limit the CSP’s we consider. If we need massive amounts of storage that will limit the CSP’s we consider. If we have an existing technology solution that will change the CSP’s we consider.

Then into that initial bucket of providers we have to consider what the solution does and how that will work in the CSP’s solution set. A performance model that supports not seasonality, which is a fairly standard cloud term that describes when a solution needs more processing power. Rather does our CSP support the concept of intelligent seasonality?

Intelligent seasonality is a new term. It’s not in wiki or I would give you a link. It’s a term that supports the concept of not just bursting, but bursting intelligently. It’s the concept of looking at the entire process I am running and determining if, in fact, bursting even makes sense. A great example of this is found in the kitchen (a common theme of mine). As you cook you add things in a specific order. Adding them early or speeding up one process at times is more detrimental than useful. It’s a balancing act. That balancing act in the end is intelligent seasonality. Speed the process as a whole and things work. Speed up only one part of the process and you may end up with something that doesn’t work.

In the end, that is why CSP selection and knot selection are critical and similar. Pick the wrong CSP or the wrong knot and you will end up with something that works but is not optimal. Pick the right CSP and the right knot – and you have a fully functional success.

By Scott Andersen

Cloud Infographic: 5 App Development Myths

Cloud Infographic: 5 App Development Myths

Cloud Infographic: 5 App Development Myths

Microsoft Windows 10 is being hailed as the first OS to deliver on Microsoft’s “mobile-first, cloud-first” strategy. But just how close are enterprises to becoming mobile-first and cloud-first?

Last year cloud-based mobile app platform vendor, FeedHenry, commissioned a survey by Vanson Bourne to discover the number and complexity of mobile apps being developed by UK enterprises. Vanson Bourne found that just 7 per cent of the enterprises it spoke to had a fully developed mobile strategy. The majority reported that they developed apps on an ad-hoc basis.

Today’s technology allows for the swift creation of apps without vendor lock-in,” says Cathal McGloin, CEO of FeedHenry. “Agile, open, collaborative and powerful cloud-based mobile application platforms render obsolete notions around lengthy and complex mobile app development and deployment.”

Twelve months on, FeedHenry analysed enterprise RFPs and customer project requirements and identified five common barriers to enterprise mobile app development. These include the notion that enterprise apps take at least six months to develop and deploy, requiring the appointment of a “chief of mobility” to oversee them; the fear that developers will have to keep up with multiple coding languages; the belief that it’s too complicated for mobile apps to access legacy systems and that enterprise apps are too data heavy for mobile devices to handle. In this infographic, FeedHenry offers real-world advice to counter each myth.


The Internet of Everything Opens Up The World

The Internet of Everything Opens Up The World

Shaping The World With New Technologies

As a connected collection of intelligent objects, the Internet of Everything promises to open up those areas of the world hardest hit by economic, political and agricultural blights. Relatively inexpensive devices, paired with revolutionary energy sources and unprecedented access to information offer great promise to farmers and workers in Africa.

Africa is a collection of countries that for the most part have not benefitted directly from the innovations of the last century. War, corruption, disease, and weather are but a few of the forces that have slowed progress for the citizens of many of its countries, and despite the fact that collectively these countries hold one quarter of the world’s arable land, the production of crops has always fallen short, and as such any attempts to create economies that support the establishment of international trade, labor, education and science, have also yet to claim major, consistent successes.

These dim prospects face a turnaround, however, as the connected technologies of the Internet become more versatile, robust and accessible. Dubbed the Internet of Everything (IoE) by Cisco Systems, a revolution is about to happen in which billions of machines worldwide – not just computers – will be better able to communicate with each other and with humans in ways that offer to change every element of life.


While Western customers may experience the thrills of the intelligent thermostat – this humble device serving as something of a poster-child for the Internet of Everything – the same technologies offer a chance to change the world for many Africans, in ways that non-Africans would never even think of.

Digital banking, for example, has freed workers in places such as Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Soweto, from the dangers of carrying cash through lawless areas, as well as allowing them easier and safer transfer of funds to relatives with lower remittance fees and the elimination of the need for physical travel. Cellphone-based banking has also cut down on corruption and illegal “dipping” made by employers. The dual benefit of cloud-based money transfer not only assists individuals in keeping their cash safe, but stands also to coax wary Africans from storing their savings under their mattresses – an amount estimated to be the equivalent of two billion dollars in South Africa alone. Additional funds feeding the banking sector hold the promise to trickle through to the establishment of stronger commercial sectors and social programs.

With the agricultural sector currently accounting for seventy percent of Africa’s total employment and thirty percent percent of its GDP, technological innovations in areas such as drought prediction, low-cost machinery for quickly draining flooded fields, smartphone apps that assist with the health of herd cattle, or point-of-sale transactions and supply chain management are the first steps towards growing the economies of African countries, moving them towards stability and greater competitiveness on the world stage.

Alternative Energy Power Sources

New power sources, such as solar, and kinetic energy promise to make these technologies available even where traditional power grids are unreliable.

The IoE stands to make great impact through the ever-decreasing cost of acquisition of intelligent tools, paired with their increasing intelligence. Apps, for example, that speak not only the language, but also in the cultural context of highly regionalized farmers, will serve to more intelligently grow the economy through individualized, contextualized moments. Additionally, access to inexpensive computers offer the opportunities for young Africans to not only compete, but to also assist in solving their own problems through the creation of innovative methods to draw and carry water, for example.

Although, these are early steps facing an uphill battle against long-established traditions and challenges, it speaks to the vast potential of the Internet of Everything primarily through the notions of distributed intelligence, both human and machine. Technologically, it allows Africans to consider leapfrogging the technology trail, moving directly to solar-power and a 4G or even 5G infrastructure without having to complete the intermediary steps.

From a funding standpoint, the IoE globally represents a new way of thinking. Many of the western world’s most innovative IoE devices came about through crowdfunding or social media exposure. Some wealthy companies, too, are opening their collective attitudes to the possibilities of collaboration, entrepreneurial risk-taking, and open-sourcing – think Elon Musk’s open-door policy toward car design – and local businesses, such as South African cellphone-banking enterprise Wizzit, are making inroads, capitalizing on inexpensive technologies and new attitudes.

These are potentially world-changing developments, brought on by the technologies and attitudes that collectively form, or at least benefit from the Internet of Everything.

This is a sponsored post by InnovateThink and Cisco.

By Steve Prentice

9 Mistakes To Avoid When Choosing A Cloud

9 Mistakes To Avoid When Choosing A Cloud

9 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Cloud

According to Gartner, 50% of enterprises will adopt a hybrid cloud by 2017. While the benefits are too compelling to ignore, every mix of private, public, and hybrid cloud infrastructure comes with a new set of challenges and risks. The industry is learning that increased flexibility also means rethinking availability, security, and compliance procedures. These challenges present themselves at the very outset, when IT managers evaluate the best cloud provider(s) for a given set of applications. Without an in-depth understanding of the new mindset cloud technologies demand, it’s easy to build a new cloud application stack on a rocky foundation by making these common nine mistakes when choosing a cloud:

1. Assume all clouds offer the same

Simply making the decision to “move to the cloud” is just a first step. Beyond private, public, and hybrid cloud environments, every cloud setup and provider comes with a set of predefined services along with respective cost/performance levels. The right cloud mix depends on your specific requirements, in addition to the applications and infrastructure in which you’ve already invested. For example, a private cloud will deliver increased flexibility but will also be less scalable. On the public end of the spectrum, if you’re already invested in a vendor (for example, IBM or Microsoft), you are likely better off working with the public cloud offering of the same vendor for a smoother cloud migration ride.

2. Ignore varying performance of different cloud providers

Expect different cloud providers to produce different performance levels for a given application. Moreover, the same cloud provider will deliver different performance in different regions – depending on how you take advantage of the provider’s infrastructure and services. For any given setup, your application will behave differently. It’s up to you to plan for specific performance levels and prepare to tweak them until you reach your goals.

3. Expect any application to run on any cloud infrastructure

Cloud providers are not OS-agnostic. If your infrastructure is heavily dependent on Windows, Google is quite simply not an option. In fact, some legacy systems aren’t supported by any cloud provider. Do your homework before committing to a provider!

4. Forecast the same cost distribution for different resources among provider

Every application stack will consume different levels of resources. A storage management system is a very different animal from a graphic processing engine. The more specialized your application, the more likely your cost is to vary considerably across different providers.

5. Assume cloud providers commit to similar SLAs

Similar to performance, every provider has its own SLA, and even specific SLAs per service. For example, while AWS commits to virtually no long-term data loss, you should expect 99.95% availability at best when it comes to compute resources.

6. Ignore 3rd party service support across different cloud providers

If your application is based on specific virtual appliances (e.g. payment gateways or security firewalls), it’s unlikely every cloud provider will be able to provide the same level of support. Review your application components carefully to avoid missing that critical component at an advanced implementation stage.

7. Design an application in advance without considering unique cloud provider characteristics

Every cloud provider offers a different mix of services, supported 3rd party services, and data center architecture. If you ignore these unique characteristics, your setting yourself up for a project that is virtually impossible to predict in terms of cost, performance, and maintenance requirements.

8. Take an all or nothing approach

Choosing a cloud doesn’t mean you need to move all your applications to a single environment. For each part of every application you run, you may choose a different approach.

9. Ignore disaster recovery and automated migration requirements.

Application downtime is a challenge in cloud environments at least as much as in bare metal infrastructure. It is up to you to ensure your applications remain available through cloud outages, and that it is easy to migrate to the cloud from your existing setups. While specific tools and 3rd-party services exist to help you manage this process, not every cloud provider will support these tools. It’s up to you to plan for RPO (Recovery Point Objective indicating acceptable data loss), RTO (Recovery Time Objective indicating maximum time limit until system is up and running with recent data), and automated migration requirements for the long term.

How to easily automate cloud migration for true workload mobility – Read More >

By Leonid Feinberg, VP Product at CloudEndure

Leonid is VP Product at CloudEndure. He previously served as a prominent technologist and business analyst in the Technology Unit of the Israeli Intelligence Corps, and benefits from over 12 years of experience in senior product management, product marketing and R&D positions in Mind CTI, Digicash, AcceloWeb and Limelight Networks. Leonid has 5 patents to his name.

Language Learning, Propelled By Big Data

Language Learning, Propelled By Big Data

Language Learning, Propelled by Big Data

The way we communicate has changed drastically since the advent of the web, and that applies to communication in any language, with or without a written script. For example, video calls, which were once the subject matter of sci-fi movies, are now made by millions every day. Innovations in this area are still springing up — take Talko, a very recent startup that brings teams and individuals together with mixed-media group calls. In short, we use language in situations and ways unprecedented in history.

But what about acquiring a language? Has the way we learn changed much, or at all? Study materials have become abundant and free, but a typical language course in 1950 didn’t look much different from the university standard today. On the flip side, though, there are language learning apps like Duolingo (and perhaps a few others) to take into account as they try to change the age-old process.

Duolingo and Big Data


Duolingo is an app that offers to learn a number of languages for free. It was founded by Luis von Ahn who stands behind the famous CAPTCHA and reCAPTCHA technologies. Now the app has over 30 million registered users that learn one or more of the nine languages available on the website, and the efficiency of the app has been proved by an independent study.

Instead of displaying of in-app advertisements for revenues, Duolingo has language learners translate documents and news articles, most notably for Buzzfeed and CNN, on a contract basis. The project itself has grown to the point where they have handed much control over to volunteers who create language courses themselves.

Duolingo’s data-driven approach separates them from the rest. Due to users’ successes and failures being constantly recorded, charted and mapped, they have access to accurate and actionable data. For example, the developers know how many people have given up on learning and then try to lower that number with small changes. In the case of learning English for Spanish natives, for example, they noticed that the English “it” causes them problems, and thus it was subsequently moved to a later part of the course.

Duolingo are also in a position where they can smooth the process continuously with smaller segments of their huge database with A/B testing, refining the language acquisition process. They can also measure and upgrade the efficiency methodology: flashcards with pictures intuitively work better, but only they have access to data to gain bulletproof insights about the way we learn. Sadly, not that much is available on the topic at the company blog.

The largest problem with such courses, as with all online education, is that completion rates are incredibly low. The Duolingo app does a lot of handholding to counter that, but even if the method is very effective, sometimes the better part of the motivation comes from shelling out a few hundred for an offline course.

By Lauris Veips

And You Thought You Knew Everything About Wi-Fi HotSpots?

And You Thought You Knew Everything About Wi-Fi HotSpots?

The World’s 6 Most Extreme Wi-Fi Hotspots

We are living a life full of scientific discoveries and high-technology advances all the time. We are willingly or unwillingly becoming actively involved in the innovations brought about by the amazingly interesting world of the Internet of Things and the Cloud each and every day. We are doing our best to adapt to the rapidly changing world of our times so that to be able to conduct the most serious affairs of our lives more and more successfully. Wi-Fi hotspots are among the innovations granted by the Internet that have become part and parcel of our work and life.

Provided is another interesting infographic by WhoIsHostingThis the offers us a look into The World’s 6 Most Extreme Wi-Fi Hotspots.


By Lilit Melkonyan

CloudTweaks Comics
Cloud Infographic: Security And DDoS

Cloud Infographic: Security And DDoS

Security, Security, Security!! Get use to it as we’ll be hearing more and more of this in the coming years. Collaborative security efforts from around the world must start as sometimes it feels there is a sense of Fait Accompli, that it’s simply too late to feel safe in this digital age. We may not…

A New CCTV Nightmare: Botnets And DDoS attacks

A New CCTV Nightmare: Botnets And DDoS attacks

Botnets and DDoS Attacks There’s just so much that seems as though it could go wrong with closed-circuit television cameras, a.k.a. video surveillance. With an ever-increasing number of digital eyes on the average person at all times, people can hardly be blamed for feeling like they’re one misfortune away from joining the ranks of Don’t…

Cloud Infographic – DDoS attacks, unauthorized access and false alarms

Cloud Infographic – DDoS attacks, unauthorized access and false alarms

DDoS attacks, unauthorized access and false alarms Above DDoS attacks, unauthorized access and false alarms, malware is the most common incident that security teams reported responding to in 2014, according to a recent survey from SANS Institute and late-stage security startup AlienVault. The average cost of a data breach? $3.5 million, or $145 per sensitive…

The Conflict Of Net Neutrality And DDoS-Attacks!

The Conflict Of Net Neutrality And DDoS-Attacks!

The Conflict Of Net Neutrality And DDoS-Attacks! So we are all cheering as the FCC last week made the right choice in upholding the principle of net neutrality! For the general public it is a given that an ISP should be allowed to charge for bandwidth and Internet access but never to block or somehow…

Cloud Services Providers – Learning To Keep The Lights On

Cloud Services Providers – Learning To Keep The Lights On

The True Meaning of Availability What is real availability? In our line of work, cloud service providers approach availability from the inside out. And in many cases, some never make it past their own front door given how challenging it is to keep the lights on at home let alone factors that are out of…

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…

The Fully Aware, Hybrid-Cloud Approach

The Fully Aware, Hybrid-Cloud Approach

Hybrid-Cloud Approach For over 20 years, organizations have been attempting to secure their networks and protect their data. However, have any of their efforts really improved security? Today we hear journalists and industry experts talk about the erosion of the perimeter. Some say it’s squishy, others say it’s spongy, and yet another claims it crunchy.…

The Cancer Moonshot: Collaboration Is Key

The Cancer Moonshot: Collaboration Is Key

Cancer Moonshot In his final State of the Union address in January 2016, President Obama announced a new American “moonshot” effort: finding a cure for cancer. The term “moonshot” comes from one of America’s greatest achievements, the moon landing. If the scientific community can achieve that kind of feat, then surely it can rally around…

Despite Record Breaches, Secure Third Party Access Still Not An IT Priority

Despite Record Breaches, Secure Third Party Access Still Not An IT Priority

Secure Third Party Access Still Not An IT Priority Research has revealed that third parties cause 63 percent of all data breaches. From HVAC contractors, to IT consultants, to supply chain analysts and beyond, the threats posed by third parties are real and growing. Deloitte, in its Global Survey 2016 of third party risk, reported…

Are Cloud Solutions Secure Enough Out-of-the-box?

Are Cloud Solutions Secure Enough Out-of-the-box?

Out-of-the-box Cloud Solutions Although people may argue that data is not safe in the Cloud because using cloud infrastructure requires trusting another party to look after mission critical data, cloud services actually are more secure than legacy systems. In fact, a recent study on the state of cloud security in the enterprise market revealed that…

Cloud-based GRC Intelligence Supports Better Business Performance

Cloud-based GRC Intelligence Supports Better Business Performance

Cloud-based GRC Intelligence All businesses need a strategy and processes for governance, risk and compliance (GRC). Many still view GRC activity as a burdensome ‘must-do,’ approaching it reactively and managing it with non-specialized tools. GRC is a necessary business endeavor but it can be elevated from a cost drain to a value-add activity. By integrating…


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