[session] A Better Approach to Cloud Security By @AlertLogic | @CloudExpo #Cloud

How will your company move to the cloud while ensuring a solid security posture? Organizations from small to large are increasingly adopting cloud solutions to deliver essential business services at a much lower cost. According to cyber security experts, the frequency and severity of cyber-attacks are on the rise, causing alarm to businesses and customers across a variety of industries. To defend against exploits like these, a company must adopt a comprehensive security defense strategy that is designed for their business. In 2015, organizations such as United Airlines, Sony Corp, Anthem and the Office of Personnel Management experienced data breaches through malware and other targeted attacks.

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An Overview of an Original Equipment Manufacturer

Original Equipment Manufacturer When purchasing IT products, you may encounter the term “Original Equipment Manufacturer” (OEM). Originally, OEM had a broader meaning as a company that manufactured a product which was then sold to another company for rebranding or reselling purposes. However, the meaning has changed over time. Today, the term OEM is mostly used […]

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[session] Take Full Advantage of Everything Azure By @HanuSoftware | @CloudExpo #Cloud

The cloud era has reached the stage where it is no longer a question of whether a company should migrate, but when. Enterprises have embraced the outsourcing of where their various applications are stored and who manages them, saving significant investment along the way. Plus, the cloud has become a defining competitive edge. Companies that fail to successfully adapt risk failure.
The media, of course, continues to extol the virtues of the cloud, including how easy it is to get there. Migrating to the cloud is a simple affair – just call up a cloud provider and your wishes come true. The reality is quite different, however, as enterprises struggle with a wide variety of migration issues, from security to overtaxed IT teams and everything in-between.

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UK government report advocates fairer terms for cloud storage users


Around 30% of UK adults use cloud storage in a personal capacity, according to a report released today by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) – but the governing body notes concerns over some vendor practices which conflict with consumer law.

The report, which can be found in full here at a whopping 218 pages, shares concerns, such as companies being able to change the terms of a contract at any time, for any reason, and without notice, suspending or terminating a contract without notice, and automatically renewing contracts without giving notice or withdrawal rights, as key. Dixons Carphone, JustCloud and Livedrive have committed to providing fairer terms and conditions for their customers as a result of the report’s findings.

“In this rapidly-developing market, it’s important that we act now to ensure that businesses comply with the law and that consumers’ trust in these valuable services is maintained,” said Nisha Arora, CMA senior consumer director in a statement. “We welcome the fact that a number of companies have already agreed to change their terms, and expect to see improvements from other companies.”

The report uncovered some interesting statistics; currently almost 80% of consumers surveyed do not pay for their cloud storage, while in the UK 2.5 billion gigabytes of data is being created in real time every day. The most popular file type uploaded to the cloud is photos (71%), followed by self-created personal documents (32%), music (29%), and personal documents which had been sent to them (23%).

The researchers also argue the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will take effect in less than two years, will “inevitably” have implications for the cloud storage services sector. Among the proposals outlined under the GDPR include users’ right to know if their data has been hacked, as well as greater enforcement of the ‘right to be forgotten’.

Ian Moyse, a board member of both Eurocloud UK and the Cloud Industry Forum, cites greater awareness of the GDPR as a tipping point. “Transparency and trust in cloud is going to become ever more important as the customer/consumer becomes more informed and educated on the sector and expects more,” he tells CloudTech.

“Also, as awareness, understanding and pressure comes from the combination of the new GDPR and Privacy Shield requirements on business and provider, the demands on having an understandable, clear and transparent service offering in relation to data protection [and] sovereignty, security, SLAs and offboarding processes will have mounting pressure from the industry, regulations, and the customer,” he added. “Cloud is entering the growing up phase and this will benefit the industry as a whole, not just the customer.”

In addition, the CMA has published an open letter for businesses which advises them to review their terms to ensure they are fair, as well as insist consumers get all the information they need before they buy. “If you are a cloud storage business that deals with consumers, you must ensure that your contract terms are fair and that they comply with consumer protection law,” the letter warns.

UK Competition and Markets Authority gives cloud providers a telling off

The seamstress the neck sews clothes in the StudioThe Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is concerned a proportion of cloud storage providers could breach consumer protection law in their terms and conditions, as well as business practises.

Alongside the report, the CMA has sent an open letter to all cloud providers outlining guidance on how the organization can ensure they remain true to the Consumer Rights Act 2015, as well as advice to consumers on the topic.

The concerns are mainly focused around three areas. Firstly, some cloud providers are currently able to change the service or the terms of the contract without giving customers prior notice. Secondly, the cloud provider currently has the ability to suspend or terminate the contract without notice for any reason. And finally, cloud providers are able to automatically renew a contract at the end of a fixed term without giving notice or withdrawal rights.

“Cloud storage offers a convenient means of keeping family photos, favourite music and films and important documents safe, and accessing them quickly from any device,” said Nisha Arora, CMA Senior Director for Consumer. “Our review found that people find these services really valuable. However, we also heard some complaints resulting from unfair terms in contracts. If left unchanged, these terms could result in people losing access to their treasured possessions or facing unexpected charges.

“In this rapidly-developing market, it’s important that we act now to ensure that businesses comply with the law and that consumers’ trust in these valuable services is maintained. We welcome the fact that a number of companies have already agreed to change their terms, and expect to see improvements from other companies.”

Although the CMA has not confirmed which cloud providers were potentially in breach of consumer protection law, it did comment Dixons Carphone, JustCloud and Livedrive have committed to changing their terms, as well as business practises.

The CMA also commented that while they were confident there would not be any breaches of consumer protection law following the report, any non-compliance in the future could lead to enforcement action and the CMA could apply to a court for an enforcement order. If that were breached it could be contempt of court and lead to an unlimited fine.

Santander implements Blockchain in international payments app

Santander Apple PaySantander has claimed it is now the first UK bank to use Blockchain technologies transfer live international payments between £10 and £10,000 24 hours a day.

The implementation is currently being rolled out as a staff pilot, though the team have not announced when it will be available for customers to use. Blockchain technologies are beginning to gain more traction in the cloud world, as it can enable faster and more accurate transfer of data and value.

“The need for finance has evolved from providing a physical Pound in your pocket or card in your purse, where you pay at a till, to being seamlessly integrated into a new, always on, connected lifestyle,” said Sigga Sigurdardottir, Head of Customer and Innovation at Santander.

“At Santander we work hard to ensure our banking is simple, personal and fair and believe new Blockchain technology will play a transformational role in the way we achieve our goals and better serve our customers, adding value by creating more choice and convenience.”

The new app connects to Apple Pay, where users can confirm payments using Touch ID. The Blockchain technology underpinning the app is provided by Ripple, which has been the recipient of investment through Santander Innoventures, the company’s global corporate venture capital fund, focused on early stage FinTech investments.

“As an early adopter and pioneer in the banking industry, Santander is the first bank in the world to transfer real funds externally. In doing so, they are creating a new, exemplary standard of service,” said Chris Larsen, CEO at Ripple.

Intel continues to innovate through Itseez acquisition

IntelIntel has continued its strides into the IoT market through the acquisition of Itseez, a computer vision and machine learning company.

Itseez, which was founded by two former Intel employees, specializes in computer vision algorithms and implementations, which can be used for a number of different applications, including autonomous driving, digital security and surveillance, and industrial inspection. The Itseez inclusion bolsters Intel’s capabilities to develop technology which electronically perceive and understand images.

“As the Internet of Things evolves, we see three distinct phases emerging,” said Doug Davis, GM for the Internet of Things Group at Intel. “The first is to make everyday objects smart – this is well underway with everything from smart toothbrushes to smart car seats now available. The second is to connect the unconnected, with new devices connecting to the cloud and enabling new revenue, services and savings. New devices like cars and watches are being designed with connectivity and intelligence built into the device.

“The third is just emerging when devices will require constant connectivity and will need the intelligence to make real-time decisions based on their surroundings. This is the ‘autonomous era’, and machine learning and computer vision will become critical for all kinds of machines – cars among them.”

The acquisition bolsters Intel’s capabilities in the potentially lucrative IoT segment, as the company continues its efforts to diversify its reach and enter into new growth markets. Last month, CEO Brian Krzanich outlined the organizations new strategy which is split into five sections; cloud technology, IoT, memory and programmable solutions, 5G and developing new technologies under the concept of Moore’s law. Efforts have focused around changing the perception of Intel from a PCs and mobile devices brand, to one which is built on a foundation of emerging technologies.

Intel’s move would appear to have made the decision of innovation through acquisition is a safer bet than organic, in-house innovation. There have been a small number of examples of organic diversification; Apple’s iPhone is one example, though the safer bet to move away from core competence is through acquisition.

Intel has dipped its toe into organic diversification, as it attempted to develop a portfolio of chips for mobile devices, though this would generally not be considered a successful venture, similar to Google’s continued efforts to organically grow into social, which could be seen as stuttering. On the contrary, Google’s advertising revenues now account for $67.39 billion (2015), with its platform being built almost entirely on acquisitions. The AdSense and Adwords services have been built and bolstered through various purchases including Applied Semantics ($102 million in 2003), dMarc Broadcasting ($102 million in 2006), DoubleClick ($3.1 billion in 2007), AdMob ($750 million in 2009) and Admeld ($400 million in 2011).

While diversification through acquisition can be seen as the safer, more practical and efficient means to move into new markets, it is by no means a guaranteed strategy. Intel’s strategy could be seen as a sensible option as there are far more examples off successful diversification through acquisition compared to organic growth. The jury is still out on Intel’s position in the IoT market but there are backing the tried and tested route to diversification.

Why the PaaS market is not quite what it seems


According to research from Gartner, the platform as a service (PaaS) market crossed the $4 billion mark in 2015. Clearly, the growing maturity of PaaS offerings is reflected in its continuing double-digit annual growth with more than 130 vendors across 15 different categories of specialised PaaS services now vying for a piece of the action.

Of course, PaaS was always going to be the next big thing. In 2013, Gartner boldly predicted that by 2017, “75% of new SaaS offerings will be developed using a generally available application PaaS software or service.” With the target date of this prediction only six months away, it’s now clear the thinking was too optimistic for the pace of maturity the PaaS market has experienced, despite its impressive momentum. But that’s not to say that PaaS couldn’t still be the next big thing.

The problem is, like so many industries and companies, delivering value is never as easy as it seems. From my vantage point as chairman of a company that works in the PaaS space, solving the value problem is something we strive to do every day. When PaaS vendors start solving this value problem, companies will finally catch the promise of the space and then, and only then, will customers come flocking.

One of the first big hurdles that stands in the way of the PaaS market rising to its potential is understanding the customer need. This sounds so simple but from my time overseeing Morpheus Data, I’ve witnessed how so few players actually take ample time to do this. Customer needs are diverse, and the challenges are real. At Morpheus Data, our sales team is seeing a definite trend toward CIOs/CTOs who are frustrated with current DevOps offerings. Life doesn’t have to be a series of “no pain, no gain” purchase decisions. PaaS should deliver the gain without the pain.

Common frustrations we often hear include slow provisioning – applications should take minutes, not hours to deploy; cloud lock; broken promises – everyone claims they’re ‘infrastructure and cloud agnostic’, so who actually delivers? – and soaring costs. It’s not uncommon to hear of millions being spent to halfway set up and partially run programs. Think of it – millions spent on software before you know it works; sounds like the early CRM implementations that Salesforce solved, and the current ERP implementations that perhaps only NetSuite has solved.

Complex implementations like Mesosphere, VMware, Cloud Foundry and the many varieties of OpenStack require endless professional services support to install and maintain and are subject to service interruptions and cloud lock. To illustrate a specific pain point, Morpheus Data client Spireon, one of the largest mobile resource management companies in the industry, had its DevOps engineers spending months developing Chef scripts to automate the company’s hybrid cloud infrastructure. With Morpheus, Spireon was able to accomplish this in one day and bring everything into a single interface. The ability to promote from dev to test to production in a repeatable fashion is important to any DevOps team, and understanding customer needs is the first step in helping them maintain consistency and achieve value across complex computing environments.

Today’s technology changes daily and it’s not enough for vendors to simply keep up, they need to stay ahead of the curve. Companies are increasingly demanding their IT departments build a culture and work processes that allow them to deploy and manage their business applications with ease across any premise or cloud infrastructure. The companies that navigate this treacherous landscape are the ones that will reap substantial rewards.

The market is progressing and more and more vendors will assure that their offerings seamlessly work on premise and/or with multiple cloud or hybrid environments. Actions speak louder than words – if your POC doesn’t deliver the benefits you were promised, don’t walk, run!

Application Server Challenges? Try App Delivery Solutions

Application Server Delivery Solutions The advent of cloud computing has reinvented business procedures. Gone are the days when employees were tied to their desks. Today, resources are shared with end users in countless ways. Application servers make this transition easier. According to Radian Insights, the application server market is expected to be worth $23.1 billion […]

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What did we learn from PwC’s local government survey?

City HallPwC has recently released findings from its annual survey, The Local State We’re In, which assesses the challenges facing local government and their responses to them, as well as looking at public opinion on the organizations capabilities.

Here, we’ve pulled out four of the lessons we learnt from the report:

Data Analytics is top of the agenda for CEOs and Local Government Leaders

A healthy 91% of the Chief Execs surveyed confirmed Data Analytics was an area which they were well equipped. This in fact was the most popular answer for this specific question, as other areas such as business intelligence (59%), supply chain management (55%) and information governance & records management (40%) fared less so.

While it is encouraging the leaders are confident in their team’s ability to perform in the data analytics world, the research also stated local government’s use of structured and unstructured data varies quite considerably. 71% of the Chief Execs agreed they were using structured data (e.g. information in government controlled databases), whereas this number drops to 33% when unstructured data (e.g. social media and data generated through search engines) is the focal point of the question.

As the consumer continues its drive towards digital and the connected world, the level of insight which can be derived through unstructured data, social media in particular, will continue to increase. Back in 1998 Merrill Lynch said 80-90% of all potentially usable business information may originate in unstructured form. This rule of thumb is not based on primary or any quantitative research, but is still accepted by some in the industry. Even if this number has dropped, there is a vast amount of information and insight which is being missed by the local government.

But data driven decision making isn’t

Throughout the industry, data driven decision making has been seen as one of the hottest growing trends, and also as the prelude to the introduction of artificial intelligence.

Despite the media attention such ideas are receiving, it would appear these trends are not translating through to local government. Only 41% of the respondents said their organization is using data analytics to inform decision making and strategy. It would appear local government is quite effective (or at least confident) at managing data, but not so much at using it for insight.

Digital Device Tablet Laptop Connection Networking Technology ConceptPublic is not confident in local government’s ability to embrace digital

Although leadership within the local authorities themselves are happy with the manner in which their organization has embraced digital, this confidence is not reflected by the general public.

76% of Chief Execs who participated in the research are confident in their own digital strategies, however only 23% of the general public are confident in the council’s ability to manage the transition through to digital. This is down from 28% in the same survey during 2015 and 29% in 2014. The findings could demonstrate the rigidity of government bodies, especially at a local level, as it would appear the evolution of emerging technologies is outstripping local government’s ability to incorporate these new ideas and tools.

There is also quite a significant difference in how the public and the Chief Execs view cyber security. While only 17% of the Chief Execs believe their organization is at risk from cyber threats, 70% of the general public are not confident local government will be able to manage and share their personal information appropriately. 2016 has already seen a number of high profile data breaches which could have an impact on the opinions of the general public. If tech savvy enterprise organizations such as TalkTalk cannot defend themselves, it may be perceived that public sector organizations are less likely to do so.

However, local government does have the backing from the public to invest in digital

The general public would not appear to currently have great confidence in the local government’s current ability to embrace the digital age however they have seemingly given their blessing for the local government to continue investments.

39% of the general public who completed the survey highlighted their preference for engagement with local government would be through a digital platform, as opposed to the 24% who would prefer the telephone and 28% who would rather engage in person. Unfortunately, while digital is the most popular option for engaging, only 37% were satisfied with the current digital access to local government, down from 38% in last year’s research.