Category Archives: Technology

SnapLogic: Tackling The Complex Features Of The Cloud

SnapLogic: Tackling The Complex Features Of The Cloud

SnapLogic: Tackling The Complex Features Of The Cloud

The very concept behind the development of the cloud is based on user friendly apps that allow for a much broader range of functionality for people who don’t really have anything to do with the IT world. And when SnapLogic was first developed in 2006, it became instantly famous because it took even the few technologically challenging aspects of interacting with the cloud and made them accessible to non-IT specialists.

The very concept was perfectly symbolized by the snap technology integration that would allow even the HR department of a company to integrate their legacy on site software with the services the company owned online. However the system does have its drawbacks, as many IT specialists pointed out, since those issues were the ones keeping them from doing their job. So even though the snap connections provided do allow integration of many cloud services like Amazon S3, CheetahMail, Google Apps, Oracle, SAP and NetSuite, they cannot guarantee the 100% uptime that dedicated IT departments are responsible for.

So the latest SnapLogic release called “Enterprise Integration Platform” was actually designed to provide the higher degree of control that the IT departments require. The new platform could be regarded as a pace offering to the specialists but it also provides some long needed upgrades that should make life easier for most of the users.

Probably the most sought after feature that has been integrated in the new platform is the rollback function that allows users to go back to a stable configuration if one of the integrations or updates they have implemented is creating problems for the system. And for those situations or workstations where the users are completely uncomfortable with handling IT issues there is also a “smart shutdown” feature that prevents new integrations from being started until other, already started integrations are completed.

Another feature that should eliminate downtown completely is the ability to mirror metadata across multiple active servers. In simple term this means that even if one server should fail at any given time every bit of information that it contained already exists on another server that is already active and able to pick up the slack. So from a front office point of view there should not be any interruptions in the workflow while the IT specialists handle the hardware or software issues.

But the ultimate change is in the web based interface that now allows administrators to perform user management tasks across the web. So, for companies that work out of multiple locations, there is no need for separate IT departments, since every task can be handled remotely over the internet. This also means that, were company policies allow, the IT specialists will be able to work from home even if that means working from another country.

Ultimately, the point of the cloud is to make life easier for its users and, with the latest updates in the SnapLogic system, the life of the IT specialists has also been made easier. And because of that they will probably prefer the SnapLogic system whenever they will need to integrate the onsite features of an office with the cloud services that they are using.

By Luchi Gabriel Manescu

The Great Arms Race For Security: Virtualization

The Great Arms Race For Security: Virtualization

Since its infancy in the early seventies when the first computer virus was created, the malware and anti-malware business has grown into multi-billion dollar industries. No longer are script kiddies creating malware for notoriety, instead the malware industry is run by organized criminals who invest time and money in new technologies and methods to compromise systems for profit.

The evolution of malware is the driver for the progress of security. Malware propagation has gone from floppy disks, to email attachments, and on to remote exploits of vulnerabilities. Malicious software itself has become more sophisticated by using kernel-level code to hide as rootkits, effectively moving down the stack. The result: an ‘arms race’ between organized criminals and security vendors. Each party reacts to changes in the industry to gain the upper hand. Take for example the growth in broadband adoption since the early 2000’s. As broadband adoption grew so too did the number of endpoints in botnets.

Security vendors process in excess of 4 billion requests per day to stop malware from propagating. However, the basic fundamentals of security have not changed in over 20 years. Malware takes advantage of exploiting vulnerabilities in operating systems and applications that run in them. The key point is that security solutions are implemented to stop malware within an operating system; however there is no such thing as a full-proof system. Security solutions operate within the confines of an operating system privilege structure. When attempting to inspect the system it is impossible to guarantee the integrity of the execution space of the security software running in the same execution space as malware. Therefore, beyond the question of whether or not a system has been compromised, it is a matter of what has not been found. With this in mind, the challenge for the security industry is to make the cost of attack so expensive that organized criminals choose different easier methods – for example basic social engineering techniques like a 451 scam.

Just as the rise of the Internet provided new opportunities for attackers, so too has virtualization and cloud technologies provided both security experts and attackers with new opportunities. With cloud computing the security challenge is even further exacerbated simply because end-users do not have access to the underlying infrastructure. Understanding how changing the infrastructure beneath endpoints affects endpoint security is elemental for security strategies. With all the benefits that virtualization brings, there are also new risks. Side channel exploitation, where a virtual machine is attacked from a neighboring virtual machine via a vulnerability are possible. This is simply due to the fact that multiple virtual machines share the same hardware via the hypervisor. In the case of cloud computing where multi-tenancy is the norm, there is no assurance that the end-user controlling a neighboring virtual machine has malicious intentions or not.

Virtualization and cloud computing is changing the security industry, both from a technology standpoint and the way it is consumed. With the benefits of a pay-as-you-grow model that cloud computing offers, end-users are able to quickly deploy IT infrastructure that addresses the business need without a large capital outlay. The security industry is evolving to meet this same licensing model requirements. However, even by meeting the needs of end-user license model requirements in the cloud; the challenge still remains the same. It is impossible to guarantee the integrity of the execution space of the security software running in the same execution space as threats.

With virtualization technology we now have the opportunity to exponentially raise the cost of attack on a system by gaining full visibility into the entire stack.

By utilizing hypervisor introspection technology it is possible to ensure the integrity of critical operating system areas, like the kernel for example. Through these introspective techniques threats are prevented from hiding or executing certain payloads within an operating system. Hypervisor introspection provides the security industry with the tooling to exponentially raise the cost of attack, by gaining full visibility into the execution space without operating in the same space that threats operate in. Similar to the movie “Minority report” where in the future criminals are arrested before they commit a crime, so too does virtualization technology enable security vendors to gain full visibility into systems and operate outside of the execution space that threats exist in.

By Gavin Hill, director of virtualization and cloud security research, Bitdefender

For over a decade, Gavin Hill has been the driver of security technologies for global organizations in markets that encompass North America, Europe, and Asia. With extensive technical-to-business experience that spans development, product management, and marketing, Hill has a proven record of success in driving first-to-market solutions. At Bitdefender, Hill is leading the product management and product marketing groups for virtualization and cloud security solutions.

Companies That Pass On UCaaS Don’t Know What They’re Missing

Companies That Pass On UCaaS Don’t Know What They’re Missing

Companies That Pass On UCaaS

As the helicopter hovers above the water, a young lieutenant checks his HUD. It shows an altitude at 8 meters with wind gusting at 17 knots. His eyes flick to the right and he checks his position. Right on target. 

“Team Alpha, this is Bravo. Are you ready?” The diver receives an affirmative response. But then a warning sounds, followed by a computerized voice: Priority message alert – Rescue target identified as known drug smuggler. Proceed with caution.

Did you hear that, Alpha? Let’s abort. Get your guys ready for this and we’ll come back around in five.

Though the above scenario might seem like something out of an action movie, cloud computing is already making it a reality. Gimmicks aside, most of us don’t have a vested interest in military technology, but the ability to communicate and transmit complex information instantly over any distance is as important to business as it is rescue work and drug busts.

At the heart of both successful rescue operations and efficient workplace collaboration lies the unified communications (UC) field. For anyone who who’s still stuck back in the aughts, UC brings together voice, video, IM, email, calendar, project management, file sharing, and more into a single integrated platform.

A recent Information Week survey found that 36% of businesses have already deployed a UC solution and 31% plan on deploying one within the next 6 to 24 months. But that still leaves one third of all companies who have no plans for adopting UC (though that’s down from 39% in 2011). A large percentage of the businesses uninterested in adopting UC reported seeing little business value in the technology, but chances are they just don’t know what they’re missing.

Consider the following  survey results recently published on IPsmarx.com:

  • Employees spent an average of 33 minutes a day unsuccessfully trying to schedule meetings.
  • Employees reported that 36% of their work days were spent trying to contact co-workers or find information that they thought should be easily accessible.
  • The average employee wasted 39 minutes a day duplicating communications and information sent to multiple people or departments.

The latest flavors of UC, especially UC as a Service (or UCaaS), address all of these inefficiencies (and more) by offering companies a low-cost, infrastructure-free solution that requires a minimal amount of training.

Consider Avaya’s recently launched UCaaS and cloud collaboration platform. By Providing UC as a service, Avaya allows companies to deploy a vendor-neutral platform that lets employees instantly find every available means of contacting any other employee or business partner. Once they’re in touch, workers can turn an instant message into a conference call, answer the office phone from an iPhone on the beach, or respond to an email by talking into a handset.

For medium to large corporations, a move to UCaaS can also mean significant cost savings. Many companies cobble together several services to provide UC-like capability, all of which either have their own subscription costs—or, even worse, require IT infrastructure on-premises and the associated personnel to maintain it. It’s hard to believe any company would knowingly choose that over a UCaaS solution that brings together conferencing, messaging, meetings, and more all under the same umbrella, typically for a much lower price than an on-premises on piecemeal approach.

In a world where professionals are mobile and information wants to be free, workers need tools that empower them to be as efficient and productive as possible. By giving employees fast and easy access to all of their communication tools on any device at any time no matter where they are, corporations can improve workflow, speed the decision making process, and deliver results faster.

What business doesn’t want that?

This post is sponsored by Avaya.

By Robert Shaw

Webinar: Integration Made Easy In The Cloud

Webinar: Integration Made Easy In The Cloud

Using SAP as an ERP: Dell Boomi Reaches Out to Draw Integration Seekers Inside the Boomi Atom Technology

Struggling with assimilating SAP with other systems and cloud based applications? Dell Boomi’s fresh approach utilizing their Boomi Atom and Boomi molecule is looking to serve up enterprise grade functionality formerly reserved for deep pockets.

You’re invited to sit with Michael Hubbs the Director of IT at Emtech, Steve Tseng the Enterprise Architect at Dell Boomi, and Wes Manning the Sales Engineer at Dell Boomi for a live event. Entitled, “SAP and Salesforce.com: Integration made easy in the cloud” the 60-minute conference is scheduled to explain Salesforce.com’s example of successfully integrating SAP within the cloud resulting in a real game changer for this organization.

Too many companies fail to optimize their business enterprise processes fully due to the expense, complexity, and struggles employing a new approach successfully. Dell Boomi seeks to change that dynamic through their cloud middle ware applications. The company’s technology acts as a conduit integrating any grouping of both cloud-to-cloud configurations and premise to cloud combinations.

By accepting their invitation to learn how the Boomi Atom and the Boomi Molecule can handle parallel processing alongside high volumes of transactions and records, you will investigate the following topics:

  • SAP integration fundamentals, including IDocs, BAPIs and RFCs
  • Live demonstration of a Dell Boomi SAP-to-Salesforce.com integration
  • Emtec, Inc’s immediate ROI and improved quote-to-cash process

If one of your goals is the promotion of seamless, safe, and secure environments that effortlessly promote various integrations with shortened time-to-value, this may be exactly what you are looking for.

Reserve your spot today in order to optimize fully for tomorrow.

 

Phase Two Of The Cloud Revolution Is Well Underway

Phase Two Of The Cloud Revolution Is Well Underway

It began with the biggest inbox storage available on the market and it grew to 5GB of free server storage but it did not stop there. We are talking, of course, about the host of services that Google has brought to the PC world. And now they have the upper hand in the fight with Microsoft’s Office Suite as they are trying to move in the space of cloud computing. Office 365 is one of the latest Microsoft creations aimed at delivering the same type of productivity we have enjoyed from them for years but through online apps.

But, while in the real world Microsoft Office is still the undisputed champion, in the online app environment, Google is by far the favorite since their products are free and offer basically the same functionality and aesthetics.

However, the fight between these two giants is certainly going to last for many years to come and we are already seeing an entire host of online services being built on top of the current Google offer. BetterCloud is one of the most successful developers to take advantage of an already existing online app and provide a better customer experience through their service.

They have noticed that, while the Google Apps front end experience was nearly perfect, the administrative support was somewhat lacking. Not that it does not exist, but every function is hidden somewhere under the sub-menu of a menu. So what their FlashPanel does is to provide administrators analytics options for every document that their team uploads.

The Flash Panel is meant to be used in concert with the Apps Butler. It is a chatbot with whom the users can communicate over Google Talk and ask it to perform a number of basic functions. So, for example, if a manager would like to send a message to everyone in their team he could simply use his smartphone to connect with the Apps Butler and ask it to deliver the message.

And for those who are not quite familiar with every functionality of the BetterCloud or what Google Apps can do there are over 100 videos on the AskTheGooru part of the Better Cloud site detailing each functionality of either tool.

BetterCloud has certainly went all in betting on the success of Google Apps and, seeing how they have grown from 300,000 beta testers of the Flash Panel in late July of this year to 2.75 million users this month, we can certainly conclude that they have managed, not only to be a part of the Google Apps success, but also to built upon it.

And the future looks great with a new release of the Flash Panel. This time it will also bring administrative rights to its users. The team at Better Cloud have noticed that companies have a difficult time controlling which one of their documents are being publicly shared or internally. And so their future release will allow the manager to restrict sharing privileges of the other users and will also be able to tell, at a glance, what documents can be viewed and by whom.

The entire BetterCloud suite is certainly worth the install and it is a great thing that it is free for now. We are probably going to see a premium edition or other monetization tricks being installed now that it has been able to gather such a following.

By Luchi Gabriel Manescu

The Rise And Fall Of The Zmanda Empire

The Rise And Fall Of The Zmanda Empire

There are two kinds of online businesses: those that grow to buy other businesses or those that grow in order to be offered as tasty morsels to the first class of businesses. And until somebody buys them out or they become as titanic as Microsoft you cannot know which is which. Zmanda was founded in 2006 and is one of the companies that are a part of the second category. It was a cloud backup software company and it was recently bought by Carbonite, although the terms of the deal are not known. Still by this acquisition Carbonite has not only taken an important step towards showing its market value but has also created admirable conditions for its future development.

Zmanda offered a series of open source cloud backup tools like Amanda and Zmanda Recovery Manager for MySQL. They had open partnerships with Sun, MySQL and, through their Zmanda Cloud Backup software, with Amazon and Google. Zmanda cloud backup was one of the first software solutions that allowed users to back up their data on the Cloud although they did not provide the storage opportunities themselves. For that they had developed the partnerships with Google Cloud Storage and Amazon S3 service. Their most brilliant feature though was the ability to backup data for Microsoft SQL server, Exchange Server, Oracle, SharePoint, MySQL and PostgresSQL on virtually and platform including Linux and Solaris.

Carbonite, on the other hand, is an online backup service provider that has been able to grow steadily since the company was founded in 2005 despite the fact that they do not provide any free storage opportunity. However they were able to corner the market by being the first company to provide unlimited backup space for a fixed price. Until now they have focused on individual users, home based professionals and small businesses. However in August 2011 they went public raising $62.5 million in its offering and we are just now getting to see how they have started to use that money.

By acquiring Zmanda, Carbonite have taken the first step towards broadening their services. They are planning to use Zmanda’s ability to backup server and databases to expand on the services they are currently able to provide for small and medium businesses. In return, current Zmanda customers are getting access to Carbonite’s Business cloud services.

So is the change in management really that dramatic? Not really! Both companies’ clients are getting an enhanced service than the one they used to and the transition is being done as smoothly as possible. Chander Kant, former CEO of Zmanda, is free to develop a new company or product and now has the financial backup to do that comfortably and Carbonite has grown just that more. And yet the change in management can give pause for reflection about the purpose of most cloud services we are currently using. Zmanda users will certainly feel a change in the way their services are provided and there will be very little they can do about it so the one lesson we can take from this is to always try to partner with the kind of companies that grow into giants and not into food for giants.

By Luchi Gabriel Manescu

Top 25 European Rising Stars 2012: Zyncro

Top 25 European Rising Stars 2012: Zyncro

Top 25 European Rising Stars: Zyncro

Stay Socially Zynchronized in Enterprise 2.0: Yours Zyncro

Zyncro is a Spanish cloud startup, with its base in Barcelona. It has spanned its reach to seventeen other nations (with individual subscribers in a total of 27 nations) and its active fan base has reached 140,000. Its latest mark of success came during the awarding ceremony by a sponsor, EuroCloud, which places it as the most important startup extending solutions in the European cloud for the year in early October. So what could be so ‘golden’ about an entity that has just come as an addition to the Enterprise 2.0 wave?

Zyncro traces its success to being an Enterprise Social Networking platform. The company has drawn a whitepaper, that it claims to be the initial such paper commentating on the topic of entrepreneurial networking. The manual provides the fundamentals, the how-to’s, management guide on interactive corporate intranets, details on departmental networking and the sharing basics of the Enterprise Social Network.

The key to the windfall of success that has visited upon Zyncro is its software which is on Software as a Service dispensation, to use a cloud buzz word. It provides corporations with a flexible tool that can adapt easily to other corporate networking requirements, rather than generically. According to the site, the tool enables data “exchange” securely, flawlessly and collaboratively within an organization. It also synchronizes with other sharing platforms that already exist in-house, to improve the social interactions of enterprise at the mid and high levels.

Other providers of Enterprise 2.0 like Yammer, which has millions of subscribers, will find this offering different in the aspect of functionality. Its Application Programming Interface has the ability to sync with other open-ended software programs in the market and scripting languages like JavaScript. If a company has a site that only operates under a given set of applications, the management can easily synchronize the virtual activity of that existing stat with the service provision of Zyncro. Users can even go a step further, especially on the PaaS platform and develop an original tool that has a foundation in Zyncro. This makes the latter less of stand-alone tool but a flexible interface for widespread integration with existing or native applications. The only drawback, with reference to Yammer, is that the latter has bagged direct synchronization with Microsoft desktop products like Windows Office 365, while Zyncro needs to write these programs into its interface after launching.


Hyper-connecting a corporation using the cloud as an economical stepping stone, for easy management and accessibility of data is the major concern of the Enterprise 2.0 dispensation of Zyncro. There are charts and graphical representations on the startup’s site that depict this hierarchical and pedagogical interconnectivity. Different departments interact and collaborate, while managers and employees discuss issues through the right channels. The ROI of an entity can rise when there is interaction between the staff and the managers, to make productivity an organizational effort that utilizes investment resources that are core to the company. Micro-blogging also earns a mention on how organizations can cooperate through their sales, finance, management and IT departments, among others, by posting daily activities online. These are some of the infographics that Zyncro presents as primary to a company’s breakthrough using an interactive technology as the bridge.

The Website

At first glance, the Zyncro site looks lackluster but on further investigation, one begins to filter the underlying professional outline. There is, for example, the forum segment that provides details about how to use the products of the startup. The forum demarcates several selections where one can share information including that of a group, activity and department. As a model of the Enterprise 2.0 wave, Zyncro, through its forum ensures that people understand both the broad terminology of the term and the specific software from the firm itself.

Zyncro qualifies as a European Rising Star because as an entrepreneurial workspace, it traverses programming shortcomings by integrating API and scripting languages. Secondly, it has already managed to create a territory for mid-and-high-tier companies through its interactive tools that have an affinity with the most advanced enterprise interaction platforms in the market today. It helps companies using intranets and private clouds to benefit most from internal interactions in their midst. Currently, its clientele base consists of well-known corporations in Spain and continental Europe.

Previous Mention: DoxOut

By John Omwamba

Is the Office 365 University Suite Really Necessary?

Is the Office 365 University Suite Really Necessary?

We are all used to doing things a certain way and sometimes even the smallest digression from that pattern means that we will not feel comfortable with the new situation. In the case of the Microsoft Office suite the simplest thing like the continuous word count in the lower left corner that MS Word displays or the way Excel has a specific style of formatting the cells, can be the reason why many people have not moved to the free alternate program Open Office. And, even though the day when MS Office will be a free program for personal use is nowhere in sight, a recent announcement from Microsoft has made it just that little bit more affordable.

In an attempt to popularize the Office 365 Suite, Microsoft will be offering the student version for $79.99 starting from the first quarter of 2013. For those not familiar with the Office 365 concept, it does not refer to the latest desktop/laptop release but to the Cloud version of all the apps that you would normally associate with MS Office. So now, instead of installing Office on your personal computer you will open your favorite program like MS Word or Excel on a webpage from any computer you may have handy at the moment. It does not need to have any support on your hard drive but Microsoft strongly recommends that you use the online apps in concert with the computer based program.

And this is really where the student offer gets really enticing because for your $80 you will receive not only access to the web based apps but also a 4 year license for 2 computers running the hard drive installed version of MS Office. In the student rendition you will get access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Access and Publisher and several more goodies that will certainly make the investment worth your while. In addition to everything you could want or hope from a Microsoft offer you also get 20 GB storage on Skydrive in addition to the 7 GB that any Skydrive user gets for free and 60 Skype “worldwide minutes”.

If you do the math, and don’t worry Microsoft have already done it and are already bragging, it boils down to a $1.67 per month subscription. And, considering what you get for it, it does sound like a very good deal. However, as it stands today, the offer does beg the question: do students really work so hard that they need the online version of Microsoft?

There are many studies out there suggesting that Facebook is a more arduous concern for students than their studies even when they are not on vacation. And if they are not on vacation, and thus away from their computer, why would they go online to work on their school projects? Of course, for Microsoft, bundling the two systems in their cheapest offer was a brilliant move because, even if a student only needs to use the online version once every year during the 4 year license, once it expires, they will likely invest in an offer that has the exact same features next because they have gotten used to it.

By Luchi Gabriel Manescu

CloudTweaks Comics
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