Category Archives: Top Lists

IDC Reveals Worldwide Internet of Things Predictions for 2015

IDC Reveals Worldwide Internet of Things Predictions for 2015

Within the next five years, more than 90% of all IoT data will be hosted on service provider platforms as cloud computing reduces the complexity of supporting IoT “Data Blending”

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– International Data Corporation (IDC) today hosted the IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Internet of Things 2015 Predictions Web conference. The presentation provided organizations with insight and perspective on long-term industry trends along with new themes that may be on the horizon. The Predictions Web conference series and accompanying IDC FutureScape reports are designed to help company leaders capitalize on emerging market opportunities and plan for future growth. An audio replay of today’s Web conference will be available this afternoon. To access the replay, please visit: http://bit.ly/IDCioTFutureScape2015.

The predictions from the IDC FutureScape for Internet of Things are:

  1. IoT and the Cloud. Within the next five years, more than 90% of all IoT data will be hosted on service provider platforms as cloud computing reduces the complexity of supporting IoT “Data Blending”.
  2. IoT and security. Within two years, 90% of all IT networks will have an IoT-based security breach, although many will be considered “inconveniences.” Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) will be forced to adopt new IoT policies.
  3. IoT at the edge. By 2018, 40% of IoT-created data will be stored, processed, analyzed, and acted upon close to, or at the edge, of the network.
  4. IoT and network capacity. Within three years, 50% of IT networks will transition from having excess capacity to handle the additional IoT devices to being network constrained with nearly 10% of sites being overwhelmed.
  5. IoT and non-traditional infrastructure. By 2017, 90% of datacenter and enterprise systems management will rapidly adopt new business models to manage non-traditional infrastructure and BYOD device categories.
  6. IoT and vertical diversification. Today, over 50% of IoT activity is centered in manufacturing, transportation, smart city, and consumer applications, but within five years all industries will have rolled out IoT initiatives.
  7. IoT and the Smart City. Competing to build innovative and sustainable smart cities, local government will represent more than 25% of all government external spending to deploy, manage, and realize the business value of the IoT by 2018.
  8. IoT and embedded systems. By 2018, 60% of IT solutions originally developed as proprietary, closed-industry solutions will become open-sourced allowing a rush of vertical-driven IoT markets to form.
  9. IoT and wearables. Within five years, 40% of wearables will have evolved into a viable consumer mass market alternative to smartphones.
  10. IoT and millennials. By 2018, 16% of the population will be Millennials and will be accelerating IoT adoption due to their reality of living in a connected world.

vernon-turner

The Internet of Things will give IT managers a lot to think about,” said Vernon Turner, Senior Vice President of Research. “Enterprises will have to address every IT discipline to effectively balance the deluge of data from devices that are to the corporate network. In addition, IoT will drive tough organizational structure changes in companies to allow innovation to be transparent to everyone, while creating new competitive business models and products.”

The IDC FutureScape report that this Web conference is based on will be published and available within the next 24 hours. To learn more about IDC Predictions and IDC FutureScapes, please visit:www.idc.com/Predictions2015.

About IDC FutureScape

IDC FutureScape reports are used to shape IT strategy and planning for the enterprise by providing a basic framework for evaluating IT initiatives in terms of their value to business strategy now and in the foreseeable future. IDC’s FutureScapes are comprised of a set of decision imperatives designed to identify a range of pending issues that CIOs and senior technology professionals will confront within the typical 3 year business planning cycle.

About IDC

International Data Corporation (IDC) is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. IDC helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community to make fact-based decisions on technology purchases and business strategy. More than 1,000 IDC analysts provide global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries. In 2014, IDC celebrates its 50th anniversary of providing strategic insights to help clients achieve their key business objectives. IDC is a subsidiary of IDG, the world’s leading technology media, research, and events company.

You can learn more about IDC by visiting www.idc.com. Follow IDC on Twitter at @IDC.

5 Surprising Ways Cloud Computing Is Changing Education

5 Surprising Ways Cloud Computing Is Changing Education

Cloud Computing Education

The benefits of cloud computing are being recognized in businesses and institutions across the board, with almost 90 percent of organizations currently using some kind of cloud-based application. The immediate benefits of cloud computing are obvious: cloud-based applications reduce infrastructure and IT costs, increase accessibility, enable collaboration, and allow organizations more flexibility in customizing their products both for their brand and for their audience. But cloud computing is having other effects as well, which have the potential to greatly change how education works, both in online courses and in traditional classrooms.

Here are five surprising ways cloud computing is changing education:

1. No more expensive textbooks. It’s no secret that university-level textbooks are expensive. The cost of textbooks has outpaced the cost of virtually everything else in education, including tuition. As a result, many students are simply refusing to buy them. Cloud-based textbooks can solve this problem as digital content is significantly less expensive than printed content. This levels the playing field so that lower-income students can have the same access to quality learning materials as their higher-income counterparts. Currently, higher education institutions across the United States are piloting an e-textbook program involving 50 publishers and close to 30,000 textbooks.

2. No more outdated learning materials. In the K-12 arena, the problem of expensive textbooks means that many of the materials students are using are outdated. The average social studies book in elementary and junior high schools is seven to eleven years old, which means that the world maps in these books are no longer correct. With cutbacks in school budgets, many districts, especially in less affluent areas, simply can’t afford to replace these outdated resources. Cloud-based materials are easy to update in real time so that students always have access to the most current learning resources.

3. No expensive hardware required. Cloud-based applications can be run on Internet browsers, but most are compatible with mobile devices as well. This means that schools and students do not necessarily need to own expensive computers—a $50 smartphone can access these applications just as well as a $500 laptop. Students also don’t need to purchase external storage devices as there are plenty of companies, like Google, that offer free cloud-based storage.

4. No expensive software required. One of the biggest advantages of cloud-based computing is the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. Many software programs are now available either free or on a low-cost subscription basis, which substantially lowers the cost of essential applications for students. For example, instead of purchasing a single Microsoft Office student license for $140, students and their families can purchase a cloud-based subscription for five computers and five mobile devices for only $10 per month. Even better, they can use Google Docs for free. Institutions can also save big by using SaaS applications—traditional learning management systems can cost upwards of $50,000 or more, but cloud-based learning management systems like ProProfs’ Training Maker are available starting at $60 a month with no per-user fee.

5. Reaching more, and more diverse, students. Cloud computing opens up a world of new possibilities for students, especially those who are not served well by traditional education systems. For example, until education moved online, the options for adult students who didn’t finish high school were very limited—now these students can earn their diploma or GED online. There are many other types of students for whom a traditional school environment simply doesn’t work, and these students now have many options for pursuing alternative forms of education.

In these and other ways, cloud computing is not only reducing costs, but also creating an environment where all students can have access to high-quality education and resources. Whether you are an administrator, a teacher, a student, or the parent of a student, now is a great time to explore how cloud-based applications can benefit you, your children, and your school.

By Sameer Bhatia

5 Mistakes That Adversely Impact Seamless Cloud Migration

5 Mistakes That Adversely Impact Seamless Cloud Migration

There is absolutely no doubt migrating a section of your IT assets, non-core business processes or the entire spectrum of business systems to the cloud makes immense sense. There are plenty of business benefits linked to cloud computing; most astute businesses are using cloud computing in some capacity or other and if you aren’t doing the same, you are missing out big time.

However, a move to the cloud must be backed by a comprehensive understanding of cloud technology, the market, your needs and what you want to achieve with cloud adoption. Deciding to move business assets and data to the cloud shouldn’t be a half-baked decision. It needs to be well-thought out so that you are able to achieve your goals without any problems whatsoever.

There are also certain pitfalls you need to keep in mind when you are thinking of migrating applications to the cloud. These are the kind of mistakes that can prove very costly in the long run, and turn your cloud move into an unmitigated disaster.

So, let’s take a look at five such mistakes:

  1. Not choosing the Right Cloud Providers

Not all cloud providers are the same when it comes to reliability, scalability, connectivity, security and support. Research the market thoroughly before zeroing in on the cloud provider you believe is perfect for your needs. Choosing to go with one of the top cloud services providers is a good idea as the big players in this field will not only offer you the best prices but a wholly satisfying services portfolio as well. A word of warning – don’t get sucked into a service-level agreement without going through the agreement in detail. Avoid signing up for a service that you are not 100% happy with.

Another thing – you might come across a cloud player who is offering services for bottom of the barrel rates. Don’t just get attracted to the price; make sure the provider meets the highest standards of security compliance and offers the kind of elasticity and support you need. You don’t want to end up in a situation where your data gets compromised and the service is not to your liking.

This is why choosing the right service provider is an absolute must.

  1. Not Choosing the Right Delivery Model

What do you want to use cloud computing for? This is the question that needs to be answered threadbare. Inability to get a perfect understanding of your needs and requirements might see you choosing a delivery model that is not suited for your needs; as can be imagined this results in a failure to reap the benefits of the cloud.

If you want to affordably implement complex solutions like Human Resource Management (HRM), Management Information Systems (MIS) etc., you will need to pick Software as a Service rather than Platform as a Service. On the other hand, if you want to outsource complete infrastructure to support your business operations, Infrastructure as a Service will be a perfect choice. Making the wrong choice will deliver diminishing returns or no returns at all.

  1. Wrong Cloud Environment

What if you want to maintain complete control over the cloud and want greater levels of security and control? This is non-negotiable because your business is operating in a domain where the management, control and protection of data are of paramount importance. Now think of a situation where you decide to deploy some sensitive processes to the public cloud. The fact that such clouds are managed by third party providers means you will have to relinquish control. In this particular case, you have made a big mistake in choosing the public cloud; a better choice would have been a private cloud.

In case you are ok surrendering control of non-critical processes, and want to maintain control of the business critical processes, you could pick the hybrid cloud.

Picking the right cloud environment is therefore very important. In a worst case scenario, the wrong environment can lead to your sensitive data passing into unauthorized hands.

  1. Not Planning for Risks

Depending on cloud providers for running your applications or for data storage and trusting their security, maintenance and support structure is all well and good, but what happens if and when things go wrong. You need to plan for the unexpected before moving to the Cloud. For e.g. what happens if an unauthorized party breaches the cloud. What happens to your data then? How soon can this breach be plugged? In such cases, will the personnel administering the cloud at the service provider’s end be able to see your data? What happens if there are technical problems? Does your business have a system in place where it can still access necessary data?

You might think such situations are in the realms of conjecture and can never happen. But, they can. It will be a good idea to plan for them so that you have a solution on hand if and when things go wrong. For this to happen, you not only need to thoroughly assess the risks associated with the cloud but find a solution for the same.

  1. Not Having Cloud Expertise

This is another mistake that a business mustn’t make. While your third party providers have all the experience and expertise needed to ensure their cloud services run smoothly, you still need in-house technical expertise to make sure your use of the cloud is able to deliver the returns you are looking for. Also, somebody with the requisite knowledge of cloud technology can help you put in place solutions for the risks we discussed in the earlier point. You need a person/team that can implement your business’s cloud strategy for you and ensure it is optimally managed and controlled. This is how you can maximize the potential of the cloud for business benefit.

Conclusion

The idea is to make informed decisions when you decide to move applications/processes/data/IT assets to the cloud. Know everything there is to know about cloud technology, its deliverables, risks and the migration process before you actually get started on the whole exercise. This will help you take the right decisions and maximize your benefits from the cloud.

By Stan Roach

Cloud Infographic – What Are Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASBs)?

Cloud Infographic – What Are Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASBs)?

What Are Cloud Access Security Brokers?

Security is, I would say, our top priority because for all the exciting things you will be able to do with computers – organizing your lives, staying in touch with people, being creative – if we don’t solve these security problems, then people will hold back.” – Bill Gates

Cloud Access Security Brokers, known as CASBs, are opening a brand new window into our everyday security and safety with regard to information and high-technology trends. Increasingly, cloud-focused applications and services applied by enterprises are going to be kept much more secure with the help of CASB platforms by 2016.

Gartner Inc., has recently announced a top 10 technological advances for information security. Here they are:

1) Cloud Access Security Brokers – cloud-based points, which are used for security policy enforcement purposes, and are placed between cloud service providers and cloud service consumers.

2) Adaptive Access Control – a type of control with context awareness access.

3) Pervasive Sandboxing (Content Detonation) and IOC Confirmation – a great option to detect intrusions as soon as possible, and to reduce hackers’ chances to cause damage to sensitive information.

4) Endpoint Detection and Response Solutions – used to record numerous network events and endpoints, and store the information in a centralized database.

5) Big Data Security Analytics at the Heart of Next-generation Security Platforms – a fine option for storing your monitoring data to carry out retrospective analysis.

6) Machine-readable Threat Intelligence, Including Reputation Services – a form of real-time and dynamic rating to be used for the integration with intelligence feeds and external context.

7) Containment and Isolation as a Foundational Security Strategy – an excellent means to create a defense-in-depth protection for enterprise systems.

8) Software-defined Security – aims at moving the intelligence and value into software.

9) Interactive Application Security Testing – used to provide a higher level of accuracy of application security testing via the interaction of the DAST (dynamic application security testing) and SAST (static application security testing) techniques.

10) Security Gateways, Brokers and Firewalls to Deal with the Internet of Things – associated with the Internet of Things and directed towards providing security and protection for future interconnected devices, sensors and systems, which will mainly be controlled without human involvement.

Below, you can find an interesting infographic on CASBs provided by bitglass.com

Def.Guide-CASBs

By Lilit Melkonyan

Ten Tips For Successful Business Intelligence Implementation

Ten Tips For Successful Business Intelligence Implementation

Business Intelligence Implementation

The cost of Business Intelligence (BI) software goes far beyond the purchase price. Time spent researching, implementing, and maintaining your BI investment can snowball quickly and mistakes are often expensive.

Your time is valuable – save it by learning from other businesses’ experiences. We’ve compiled the top ten tips on successfully implementing BI software from professionals who have already taken the plunge.

1. Prioritize your goals

Know your options and match them to your business goals,” says Boris Kontsevoi, President and Founder of Intetics. “For example, some BI platforms are free, but take a longer time to properly setup (up to 4 weeks). Others are subscription-based, but can be installed in a week. Do you care more about the cost or time?

2. Recognize your non-negotiable criteria

Harold Leusink, CEO of Peritas Solutions advises, “Before you even start looking at solutions, separate out your ‘musts’ from your ‘nice-to-haves’.” Peritas Solutions, a consulting firm that has been helping companies find insight in their increasingly large data sets since 2001, finds that “your musts are non-negotiable, and so should be the first thing you talk to vendors about. Your ‘nice-to-haves’ give you a set of criteria you can use to objectively judge any solutions that passed through your musts filter.

3. Utilize built-in tools first

Opt for built-in analytics,” says Christy Delehanty, Content Lead at PandaDoc. “Instead of piling apps on apps on apps, try to make use of the analytics built in to the tools,” suggests Delehanty, “often, these dashboards provide the simplest peek at actionable data with the least set-up on your end.”

4. Clean data only

Make sure you data is clean,” warns Jamie Lin, CEO of Gizmo Global. “This is obvious, but the biggest issue during implementation. Cleaning your data before you implement makes the entire project easier.”

Chandra Siv, General Manager of Data and Analytics Solutions for North America at Mindtree, agrees that addressing data quality is a must. Siv adds that “the confidence level and trust in the data used for decision making is a critical success factor.”

5. Identify key metrics beforehand

Before implementing business intelligence software, determine what data you need and what format you want it in,” adds Gina Cerami, Vice President of Marketing for Connotate. “Look for a technology solution that can deliver clean data with actionable insight. Web extraction and monitoring solutions go hand-in-hand with business intelligence and fuel informed decision-making.

Know what you are trying to show before you start,” says Jon Mills, Director at Paige Technologies. “It is easy to get caught up in the rabbit holes of correlation instead of causation if you don’t have clear metrics in mind before you start.”

6. Start small – choose a few goals to focus on in the beginning, then add more

Michael J. Smith, CEO for Raster Media, advises companies to “focus your BI integration on one or two business objectives initially.” In Smith’s experience, “this will speed up the integration and allow the integration team to focus their efforts rather than being overwhelmed with delivering results for dozens of business objectives. Additional goals can be added once the initial integration is complete.”

7. Don’t ditch currently effective processes without reason

Evaluate which tools and functionalities will actually benefit your company and ensure your entire team is using only those that you’ve determined are valuable,” says Sam Zietz, CEO of technology company, TouchSuite. “Although every tool in BI software was added to that solution (because) there is a need within the industry, many businesses already have successful processes in place that make those tools obsolete. In this case, implementing those tools might actually work against your company, particularly if some team members are inputting information in one system, and others within the new BI solution.”

In order to maximize productivity, Zietz says to “make sure your team is clear on which tools should be utilized and which should not be accessed within the solution. If applicable, you may want to consider putting administration locks on those systems within the solution that you do not want accessed.”

8. Make the technology work for you, not the other way around

Make sure that you align business activities with corporate strategy,” says David Reischer, Chief Operations Manager for LegalAdvice.com. According to Reischer, “the key is to extract useful information when needed.”

9. Empower end users by simplifying the toolset and infrastructure

You’ll never be able to gather all the requirements from the users of BI so they need to be empowered to create, change, and filter reports in order to meet their BI needs,” says Craig Abramson, Marketing Director for Third Wave Business Systems. However, “if the infrastructure is too complex then data anomalies are inevitable,” Abramson warns, “complex toolsets take away the user’s ability to be self-sufficient.”

10. Don’t just stop at a more intelligent business

BI is about better intelligence, but then what?” asks Stuart Easton, CEO of TransparentChoice. Easton says “that intelligence is fed to a group of people to make a decision and that’s where the value generated by better intelligence gets diluted by poor decision making practice. Without addressing better decision making, any investment in BI is going to have a very limited impact.”

The best way to avoid making costly mistakes when choosing BI software is to do your research. Check out the features, demo the products if you can, and make sure to evaluate them using defined criteria.

Do you have any additional tips on implementing BI software from your organization’s experience? Become part of the conversation in the comments section below.

By Keith Cawley

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 services.blog-pict-choose-your-cloud-CloudEndure

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.

5 Products That Will Take Off Due To Cloud Growth

5 Products That Will Take Off Due To Cloud Growth

5 Products That Will Take Off Due To Cloud Growth

Historically, numerous new products, services and job openings accompany successful inventions. Take software development, for example — the niche all but didn’t exist before the advance of PCs. Cloud computing is apparently a successful invention, so it’s reasonable to think that related industries, jobs and of course products will spring up. Here, however, let’s narrow our focus to finished products that are about to become (or are already becoming) very, very popular due to cloud growth.

1. Chromebooks

Chromebook sales are set to triple by 2017, says Gartner. The sales will have increased by 79% in 2014 in comparison to 2013. The sudden upsurge can be explained by the bursting of the so-called netbook bubble, as well as greater demand that could very much spring from the fact that more and more users start realizing they do all but everything on the internet. These cheap notebooks are essentially built for the cloud as Chromebooks depend on cloud-based storage and apps. They’re great for pupils, but businesses looking to streamline their collaborative efforts may be quick to realize that the Chromebook has something in store for them as well.

2. The smart home

Not really a product but rather a set of products, the smart home is the most life-changing technology we’ll see widely adopted within the next few years. A study by Acquity states that, of all ‘Internet of Things appliances’, consumers are most aware of smart, cloud-connected household gadgets like thermostats, fridges or security systems. And you all know what that means: hefty, hefty sales for manufacturers of said gadgets.

consumers-smartphone

3. Software

Software has been around for quite a while. Why would it suddenly ‘take off’, and what would that even mean? Well, it isn’t just “taking off”, it’s becoming different. By moving apps, such as PhotoShop and Autocad, to the cloud, software companies are making these products more and more accessible to smaller businesses and individuals. That in turn means more and more people and businesses will adopt such software. For example, SAP SE, an European enterprise software developer, saw its cloud-generated revenue grow by 52 percent last quarter.

4. CPUs

Moore’s law still holds true. CPUs are getting better (and cheaper) quickly, but there definitely needs to be more of them. While no one can really fathom even an approximate of the computing power demand in the world, it is safe to say it’s growing faster than ever before. Telltale signs include: a huge money influx into cloud computing; the soaring popularity of streaming services; and, of course, the cloud is getting even heavier, with the Internet of Things driving its growth significantly.

5. Wearables, wearables, wearables

This one comes as no surprise as well, does it? In the next five years, fitness wearables and smart watches are to be adopted by some 43 and 25 percent of consumers respectively, says the aforementioned study by Acquicity. However, you can’t really argue with 31 billion devices connected to the cloud in 2020. People are likely to quickly realize the most benefit in exactly these wearables, not least because they aren’t as cutting-edge as Glass–pedometers have been around for quite a while.

By Lauris Veips

Four Key Steps To Prepare Your IT Staff For Automation

Four Key Steps To Prepare Your IT Staff For Automation

Four Key Steps To Prepare Your IT Staff For Automation

Mind the gap between the vision of automation and the reality

Automation of IT procedures and services holds the promise of bringing tremendous efficiencies to the organization. Being able to deploy automatically, update, and repair your IT infrastructure according to approved and consistently applied procedures is key to realizing the full potential of cloud computing. Without functioning automation and orchestration procedures on the back end, all the innovation on the front end with software-as-a-service and agile, cloud-enabled applications is like trying to implement a state of the art command center supported by a bunch of frantic IT guys in the back room running on ever-accelerating treadmills.

A better long-term strategy would be to implement automation aligned with effective IT service management. This is the path you will need to navigate, but, don’t assume it’s going to be a walk in the park. Unless you tightly integrate your technology with associated processes and procedures, automation can set loose any number of devils from the details within your IT environment.

I know this from experience. Within every IT infrastructure, there are so many layers accessible by so many people with a wide range of skills and intentions that you need to approach automation very carefully.

automation

Here are four key steps you need to take to prepare your IT environment and your staff for automation:

Learn to walk before you run

  • The best way to get hands-on experience with automation is to begin with purpose-built tools that are easy to deploy, access and use. Don’t rush into the assortment of one-size-fits-all tools in the market. Without the experience, the wide array of capabilities of big tools can be overwhelming. Give yourself time to develop some understanding of what automation can do for your IT organization before you commit to a more systemic automation approach implicit in a comprehensive toolset. Start by implementing automation on a small scale, and use that direct experience to help you evaluate which capabilities you really need. Before you throw the harness over a big toolset, you need to understand strategically what you want to accomplish.

Avoid Obstacles 

  • Look for firewalls and other obstructions that could prevent automation from reaching specific areas of your IT environment. If you access a multi-tenant cloud, you have the advantage of separate environments running on shared resources, but you have also walled off each of those environments from the reach of automation. Automation has the potential to give your systems an intelligent way to respond to changing demands and capacities, but the intelligence has to come from you. Automation can’t think for itself. If you don’t tell it about the firewall, or any other impediment, the best automation script will run right into the wall.

Centralize Information

  • Look for existing processes that have built in inefficiencies. A classic example is the necessity of faxing documents for non-electronic approvals. It may be great for controls but it’s very clunky to use. If the process isn’t efficient, it isn’t going to be much improved by automation. It’s often not a technical issue. You may have a contract that requires some manual process between steps. Or you may have billing information that is isolated from the system you are automating. Automation can do a lot of things, but it can’t walk over to your accounting office and ask for data that only lives on your CFO’s laptop. You need to centralize information and have one source for the truth.

Untie The Knot

  • Look for existing controls that would conflict with automated procedures. Controls are great, but they can also be problems that need to be worked around. A good example is monitoring. You may automate a procedure for the user to turn off a Windows server, but, if you have monitoring in place, you will end up sending high-urgency alerts when the server is shut down unless you have a way to suspend monitoring as part of the automation. Basically, the left hand has to know what the right hand is trying to do, or it will have a tendency to undo it…or worse. As the scope of your automation effort expands, you have to carefully untie the knots of processes within your IT environment. Eventually, you’ll need to know everything about everything.

All these things I say with great pain because I have bumped into each one of them. Automation is an adventure. Prepare to run into the unexpected somewhere along the way.

And that’s just looking at the technical issues. Automation has to take into account all the technical complexities within your IT environment. It also has to be rolled out with a high degree of diplomacy if it is to earn the support of your IT team. Automation has the potential to free technologists and others from repetitive and/or mundane aspects of their jobs—which seems like a good thing. Eliminating aspects of what employees do for a living, however, can also make them very uneasy.

My next column will provide some guidelines to help you navigate the challenges you will encounter on your automation journey. As with any journey, setting out is not without risks, but it’s not as if you can decide to stay safe at home with the status quo. Ever increasing demands on the performance, flexibility, responsiveness, security and financial accountability of your IT environment leave you no realistic choice but to set out from wherever you are on an IT transformation journey toward the goal of a fully-realized, self-service cloud environment for your organization. It needs to be in your future.

By Brian Day

As Senior Director of Cloud Dev/Ops and Solution Development for Logicalis, Brian is responsible for managing the Logicalis Cloud and the development of new solutions.

CloudTweaks Comics
Cloud Computing Offers Key Benefits For Small, Medium Businesses

Cloud Computing Offers Key Benefits For Small, Medium Businesses

Cloud Computing Benefits A growing number of small and medium businesses in the United States rely on as a means of deploying mission-critical software products. Prior to the advent of cloud-based products — software solutions delivered over the Internet – companies were often forced to invest in servers and other products to run software and…

Cloud Computing Checklist For Startups

Cloud Computing Checklist For Startups

Checklist For Startups  There are many people who aspire to do great things in this world and see new technologies such as Cloud computing and Internet of Things as a tremendous offering to help bridge and showcase their ideas. The Time Is Now This is a perfect time for highly ambitious startups to make some…

Shadow IT To Remain A Focus For Both Cloud Vendors And CIOs

Shadow IT To Remain A Focus For Both Cloud Vendors And CIOs

Shadow IT To Remain A Focus Shadow IT, a phenomenon defined as building internal IT systems without the official organizational approval has been a growing concern for CIOs over the last few years. In 2015, it climbed to the top of the list of the emerging IT threats, with as much as 83% CIOs reporting…

The Future Of Work: What Cloud Technology Has Allowed Us To Do Better

The Future Of Work: What Cloud Technology Has Allowed Us To Do Better

What Cloud Technology Has Allowed Us to Do Better The cloud has made our working lives easier, with everything from virtually unlimited email storage to access-from-anywhere enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. It’s no wonder the 2013 cloud computing research IDG survey revealed at least 84 percent of the companies surveyed run at least one cloud-based application.…

Infographic: The Evolving Internet of Things

Infographic: The Evolving Internet of Things

Evolving Internet of Things  The Internet of Things, or IoT, a term devised in 1999 by British entrepreneur Kevin Ashton, represents the connection of physical devices, systems and services via the internet, and Gartner and Lucas Blake’s new infographic (below) explores the evolution of the IoT industry, investigating its potential impact across just about every…

Cloud Computing – The Good and the Bad

Cloud Computing – The Good and the Bad

The Cloud Movement Like it or not, cloud computing permeates many aspects of our lives, and it’s going to be a big part of our future in both business and personal spheres. The current and future possibilities of global access to files and data, remote working opportunities, improved storage structures, and greater solution distribution have…

The Internet of Things – Redefining The Digital World As We Know It

The Internet of Things – Redefining The Digital World As We Know It

Redefining The Digital World According to Internet World Stats (June 30th, 2015), no fewer than 3.2 billion people across the world now use the internet in one way or another. This means an incredible amount of data sharing through the utilization of API’s, Cloud platforms and inevitably the world of connected Things. The Internet of Things is a…

The Future Of Cybersecurity

The Future Of Cybersecurity

The Future of Cybersecurity In 2013, President Obama issued an Executive Order to protect critical infrastructure by establishing baseline security standards. One year later, the government announced the cybersecurity framework, a voluntary how-to guide to strengthen cybersecurity and meanwhile, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to approve the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), moving it one…

Using Big Data To Make Cities Smarter

Using Big Data To Make Cities Smarter

Using Big Data To Make Cities Smarter The city of the future is impeccably documented. Sensors are used to measure air quality, traffic patterns, and crowd movement. Emerging neighborhoods are quickly recognized, public safety threats are found via social networks, and emergencies are dealt with quicklier. Crowdsourcing reduces commuting times, provides people with better transportation…

Cloud Computing Services Perfect For Your Startup

Cloud Computing Services Perfect For Your Startup

Cloud Computing Services Chances are if you’re working for a startup or smaller company, you don’t have a robust IT department. You’d be lucky to even have a couple IT specialists. It’s not that smaller companies are ignoring the value and importance of IT, but with limited resources, they can’t afford to focus on anything…

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Adopting A Cohesive GRC Mindset For Cloud Security

Adopting A Cohesive GRC Mindset For Cloud Security

Cloud Security Mindset Businesses are becoming wise to the compelling benefits of cloud computing. When adopting cloud, they need a high level of confidence in how it will be risk-managed and controlled, to preserve the security of their information and integrity of their operations. Cloud implementation is sometimes built up over time in a business,…

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.…

Maintaining Network Performance And Security In Hybrid Cloud Environments

Maintaining Network Performance And Security In Hybrid Cloud Environments

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

Cloud Native Trends Picking Up – Legacy Security Losing Ground

Cloud Native Trends Picking Up – Legacy Security Losing Ground

Cloud Native Trends Once upon a time, only a select few companies like Google and Salesforce possessed the knowledge and expertise to operate efficient cloud infrastructure and applications. Organizations patronizing those companies benefitted with apps that offered new benefits in flexibility, scalability and cost effectiveness. These days, the sharp division between cloud and on-premises infrastructure…

Protecting Devices From Data Breach: Identity of Things (IDoT)

Protecting Devices From Data Breach: Identity of Things (IDoT)

How to Identify and Authenticate in the Expanding IoT Ecosystem It is a necessity to protect IoT devices and their associated data. As the IoT ecosystem continues to expand, the need to create an identity to newly-connected things is becoming increasingly crucial. These ‘things’ can include anything from basic sensors and gateways to industrial controls…

Your Biggest Data Security Threat Could Be….

Your Biggest Data Security Threat Could Be….

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

Using Cloud Technology In The Education Industry

Using Cloud Technology In The Education Industry

Education Tech and the Cloud Arguably one of society’s most important functions, teaching can still seem antiquated at times. Many schools still function similarly to how they did five or 10 years ago, which is surprising considering the amount of technical innovation we’ve seen in the past decade. Education is an industry ripe for innovation…

5 Things To Consider About Your Next Enterprise Sharing Solution

5 Things To Consider About Your Next Enterprise Sharing Solution

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