How worldwide blockchain spending is set to double in 2018

A blockchain acts as a digital distributed ledger of transactions or records. The ledger, which stores the information or data, exists across multiple participants in a peer-to-peer network. There's no single, central repository. Distributed ledgers technology (DLT) allows new transactions to be added to an existing chain of transactions using a secure cryptographic signature.

Worldwide spending on blockchain solutions is forecast to reach $11.7 billion in 2022, according to the latest global market study by International Data Corporation (IDC).

Blockchain market development

IDC expects blockchain spending to grow rapidly throughout the 2017-2022 forecast period, with a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 73.2 percent. Moreover, worldwide blockchain spending will reach $1.5 billion in 2018 — that's double the amount spent on the emerging technology during 2017.

The United States will see the largest blockchain investments and deliver more than 36 percent of worldwide spending throughout the forecast. Western Europe will be the next largest region for blockchain spending, followed by China and Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan and China).

All nine regions assessed by IDC will experience significant spending growth over the 2018-2022 forecast period, with Japan and Canada leading the way with CAGRs of 108.7 percent and 86.7 percent, respectively.

Blockchain spending will be led by the financial sector ($552 million in 2018), driven largely by rapid adoption in the banking industry. The distribution and services sector ($379 million in 2018) will see strong investments from the retail and professional services industries while the manufacturing and resources sector ($334 million in 2018) will be driven by the discrete and process manufacturing industries.

In the U.S. market, the distribution and services sector will see the largest blockchain investments. The financial services sector will be the leading driver in Western Europe, Middle East and Africa (MEA), China, and Asia-Pacific in 2018.

The industries that will see the fastest growth in blockchain spending will be process manufacturing (78.8 percent CAGR), professional services (77.7 percent CAGR), and banking (74.7 percent CAGR).

Within the financial sector, blockchain lends itself to a number of common use cases including regulatory compliance, cross-border payments & settlements, custody and asset tracking, and trade finance & post-trade/transaction settlements. In the distribution and services sector and the manufacturing and resources sectors, the leading use cases include asset/goods management and lot lineage/provenance.

Cross-border payments & settlements will be the use case that sees the largest spending in 2018 ($193 million), followed by lot or lineage provenance ($160 million) and trade finance & post-trade or transaction settlements ($148 million). These three use cases will remain the largest in terms of overall spending in 2022 as well.

"We continue to see the greatest spending and growth for blockchain around lot lineage and asset and goods management. Highly visible scandals combined with complex supply chains and incomplete information set the stage for investments and projects in these areas," said Jessica Goepfert, program vice president at IDC.

Outlook for blockchain technology investment 

From a technology perspective, IT services and business services (combined) will account for roughly 70 percent of all blockchain spending throughout the forecast with spending fairly well balanced across the two categories.

Furthermore, blockchain platform software will be the largest category of spending outside of the services category and one of the fastest growing categories overall, along with security software.

Google Cloud Platform offers services to address variety of workload requirements

Google has introduced some new database features along with partnerships, beta news and other improvements that help users get most of their databases for their businesses.

One can choose cloud to host applications from a portfolio of database options – such as SQL, NoSQL, relational, non-relational, scale up/down, scale in/out – but Google Cloud Platform (GCP) provides a comprehensive package of managed database services to address a variety of workload requirements.

This is what Google is now offering:

  • Oracle workloads can now be brought to GCP
  • SAP HANA workloads can run on GCP persistent-memory VMs
  • Cloud Firestore launching for all users developing cloud-native apps
  • Regional replication, visualisation tool available for Cloud Bigtable
  • Cloud Spanner updates

Google is joining hands with managed service providers (MSPs) to provide a fully managed service for Oracle workloads for GCP customers. Such partner-managed services unlock the ability to run Oracle workloads and leverage the rest of the GCP platform.

It's possible for users to run their Oracle workloads on dedicated hardware and then connect the applications running on GCP. It can offer fully managed services for Oracle workloads with the same advantages as GCP services by collaborating with a trusted managed service provider.

Users can choose the offering that suits their requirements, along with existing investment in Oracle software licenses. Google is providing an opportunity to customers and partners whose technical requirements do not fit neatly into the public cloud. They will be able to move their workloads to GCP by working with partners and take advantage of the benefits of not having to manage hardware and software.

Recently, Google collaborated with Intel and SAP to offer Compute Engine virtual machines supported by the upcoming Intel Optane DC Persistent Memory for SAP HANA workloads.

Google Compute Engine VMs with this Intel Optane DC persistent memory will offer higher overall memory capacity and lower cost compared to instances with only dynamic random-access memory (DRAM).

The company is continuing to scale its instance size roadmap for SAP HANA production workloads. It is working on new virtual machines that support 12TB of memory instead of the currently used 4TB by the summer of 2019, and 18TB by the end of 2019.

Google is expanding the availability of the Cloud Firestore beta to more users by bringing the UI to the GCP console.

Cloud Firestone is a serverless, NoSQL document database that simplifies storing, syncing and querying data for your cloud-native apps at global scale.

According to the company, it will also support Datastore Mode in the coming weeks. Currently available in beta, Cloud Firestore is the next generation of Cloud Datastore that offers compatibility with the Datastore API and existing client libraries.

Google Cloud Bigtable – a high-throughput, low-latency, and massively scalable NoSQL database – is an ideal option for analytical and operational workloads. The company has announced its general availability for regional replication. It has also launched client libraries for Node.js (beta) and C# (beta).

Google will is also planning to launch Python (beta), C++ (beta), native Java (beta), Ruby (alpha) and PHP (alpha) client libraries in the coming months.

What are your thoughts on Google's latest announcements? Let us know in the comments.

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Why the cloud is key to mitigating the menace of phishing

After the rise of ransomware over the last few years (largely combatted through better detection of the malware and more attention paid to having decent backups), phishing has stormed back onto the IT security manager’s radar.

According to our latest survey on IT security in the UK and Ireland, phishing is now the second most pressing cybersecurity issue after data breaches. The survey of 104 IT and security managers found that the majority of organisations report that their security was increasingly failing to block phishing emails over the past year.

With the intensity of phishing attacks increasing, simply waiting for malware to hit the endpoint is not enough. Many organisations have appliances in place within their infrastructure to check data coming into the network to see if it contains malware or phishing attacks. These appliances have to match suspicious content against signatures or carry out heuristic analysis. They also have to be constantly updated as threats change.

Not only that, these email and web content security solutions take up a lot of an IT professional’s time with such tasks as creating spam rules, examining quarantines and creating blocklists. If filtering is too aggressive, there will be more false positives, meaning more time spent in support calls and dealing with complaints. Such manual interventions are a direct result of technology failure.

Users can also be less than vigilant when it comes to clicking on links they see in emails or on the web. User training can help, but it only takes one person to click on something suspicious for an infection to occur.

Cybercriminals are getting smarter and will adapt quickly to any security measures put in place – basic security measures may weed out a lot of spam, but are no good against today’s sophisticated, targeted phishing attacks. In order to better protect an enterprise’s infrastructure, preventing phishing and malware should be automatic; it should just work.

Leveraging the cloud

In order to combat the evermore sophisticated phishing attacks we see today, we have to speed up the time it takes to detect and block such attacks. The cloud is by far the best way in which to do that, as everything gets updated instantaneously.

Why is that? Well imagine a vendor with an anti-phishing appliance in their customer’s network. If a vendor’s analysts spot something on that device and decide that it is malware or a phishing attack, they then have to update other appliances (sometimes running into the thousands) around the world. This takes a long time – even if a vendor is really fast, it could still take an hour. Most of the time, it takes far longer. If a vendor uses the word update, they are probably not secure.

All the while, attackers are looking to advanced cloud automation and evasion techniques to bypass these cyber perimeters. A legacy response just isn’t fast enough.

The key to a quick response is not just the cloud, but also automation and artificial intelligence. You have to be proactive to identify and mitigate evolving threats before they become a problem.

The cloud allows you to have a large, distributed system that can actively track millions of new domains and websites every day. This proactively fetches traffic, takes the output from that, whether that is URL lists, drive-by downloads, DNS transactions, etc. and harvest it in a multiple-cloud sandbox in real time without waiting for customers to harvest any data themselves.

Machine learning, analytics and automation

To process all of this information requires big data analytics, large-scale automation and machine learning. With this in-built intelligence, a system, such as the one we offer, can spot anomalies based on the behaviour exhibited. Instead of focusing in on one particular vector, we can analyse a multitude of different vectors including files, emails, domains, among others.

Multiple sandboxes are used in analysis to pinpoint suspicious activity and determine threat levels. This is used to prevent threats way before they can infect systems, saving a lot of money and heartache. Once a threat is detected, all users are protected – instantaneously – that’s the beauty of the cloud.

This new approach to internet security means that enterprises have the means to get ahead of the threats facing their business and protect themselves in seconds, not hours.

Will automation steal your job or secure your future?

Movies habitually dramatise artificial intelligence (AI) as a not just a threat to our jobs, but to humanity itself. But in the real world here and now, AI-driven automation is offering much more in the way of opportunity than threat. Imagine a future where automation is enhancing the work of IT teams, rather than replacing it.

It is well known that IT employees spend a lot of time on repetitive, manual maintenance tasks that could easily be automated. But, with growing demands coming from every angle of the business, the IT team simply can't keep doing everything manually. This is where automation comes in. It’s not going to steal jobs, but rather free up time, enabling the IT team to work on more valuable initiatives and focus on forward-thinking projects and developments that are driving business success in a digital age.

Some businesses have taken the first baby steps to automation by trialing it within specific functional teams, but this has not been replicated throughout the business as a whole. However, with the proliferation of data-intensive applications being used within day-to-day businesses tasks, automation is becoming a clear CIO-priority and gaining traction more widely across organisations.

Automation advantages

One of the biggest challenges faced by IT teams is striking a balance between management and innovation, and this is where automation can help. Automation can absorb mundane and repetitive tasks such as data input and basic infrastructure monitoring – it can essentially lessen the burden on managing so that the team can do more of the innovating. It is also the key to empowering IT teams to deploy more and fail less by removing human errors from the software delivery process. This then enables employees to refocus that time into strategic work and customer experience.

For example, reporting and auditing in financial organisations is critical, but can be a rather onerous task, as well as a time consuming one. With the correctly configured automation platform and tools this can be a faster process for producing more comprehensive reports for the IT team that can easily be read by auditors. In addition, as these reports often change in line with regulatory requirements, having an automation system that can be updated easily for the new requirements is crucial to free your IT team from constantly trying to update the system manually. This means that during this time the IT team can continue to work on strategic tasks like application development, rather than spending all their time manually pulling these documents together.

Now, once businesses have dipped their toes in the automation waters, they may have only seen success by practising it within specific teams. While trialing a new technique in a small group first is an understandable approach, it is not an effective way of utilising this technology and, more often than not, will fail when expanding across the business. Practising automation in silos leads to an abundance of tools adopted by different teams to solve particular problem, which creates additional problem in terms of maintenance costs, team collaboration and skills requirements. It also adds to the complexity generated by operating from a diverse infrastructure, from on-premises to public and private clouds to containerised environments.

Embracing widespread automation is not as simple as just deciding to do it – it is a whole journey which starts with gaining the visibility and insights required to make informed decisions.

Security and compliance

In today’s rapidly evolving IT landscape, most organisations operate a heterogeneous mix of infrastructure spanning on-premises and public cloud environments. This can make it a particularly difficult task for IT teams to implement and maintain security and compliance regulations, be it company or government issued. Compliance regulations are challenging enough, but add to the mix cloud and containers, which are more ephemeral in nature than traditional infrastructure, and more often than not the IT team doesn’t know what they have or where it is – this is the first challenge.

But once the business discovers what it has, and where it all resides, the IT team can clearly see which resources need to be automated most urgently, enabling them to effectively prioritise and take action to ensure the infrastructure remains secure and meets any compliance requirements. This is of particular importance when it comes to auditing, especially in the wake of more stringent regulations like GDPR.

Human errors naturally occur in the software delivery process; in fact 70% of all IT service outages are due to system misconfigurations. However, automation can be used to help IT teams to keep the infrastructure secure and compliant. They can define the businesses’ security and compliance policies as code, and have the automation platform automatically enforce those policies, and remediate any unauthorised changes. In turn this empowers the IT team to focus on other priorities while knowing that the system is ensuring the business remains compliant.

Imagine the possibilities

IT professionals have skills and experience that far supersedes automation platforms. A team that is built into the core of an organisation, that can navigate the ever-changing technology landscape, support the company values and other employees, can never be replaced by automation.

So rather than stealing your job, automation means that the IT team can spend less time inputting data, manually pulling auditing reports or worrying about consistently adhering to compliance regulations. Instead they can refocus and spend it by putting their skills to good use, collaborating to create new applications and enhance and deliver on business objectives.

More emphasis on cloud usage required before DevOps dreams can be realised, firms warned

The good news is that many organisations across Europe are looking to embrace a DevOps-centric approach to their application development and delivery. The bad news is that plenty of hurdles have to be overcome first to achieve this ambition.

That is the key finding from a new study by Claranet, which argues a greater emphasis on cloud usage and automation needs to be seen before DevOps dreams become a reality.

The report, which polled 750 IT professionals across Europe, found almost three in 10 (29%) had already moved towards a DevOps approach, with a further 54% expecting to make the switch in the coming two years. Yet three quarters of those (74%) who had migrated had experienced challenges of some kind, with operations teams limiting the potential of DevOps, and a lack of clear business objectives within management cited.

The company adds that some businesses may see DevOps as a magic switch – which of course will lead to lower expectations.

“DevOps can’t simply be implemented overnight – it requires a period of iterative change in which both the technology and the people at an organisation need to be made ready for it,” said Michel Robert, Claranet UK managing director. “Increased automation is essential to achieving the agility that characterises a successful DevOps approach, so businesses need to take steps to implement new measures to facilitate this.”

Claranet argues that making a shift from continuous integration (CI) to continuous development (CD), where releases are not fixed but can be done in smaller chunks once or twice a week, will help ease the pressure on organisations. “Combining this with the flexibility of cloud will deliver maximum benefits,” added Robert.

This warning strikes a similar note to a piece of research published by the Ponemon Institute in June. According to the Ponemon study, a significant gap remained between organisations’ ideal DevOps and microservices capabilities and what they are actually able to deliver. More than two thirds of respondents said they were ‘constantly challenged’ with the management and tracking of assets in their cloud ecosystem.

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