Category Archives: Data

Basil Faruqui, BMC: Perfecting cloud strategies, and getting the most out of automation

Could you tell us a little about what BMC does and your role within the company?  BMC delivers industry-leading software solutions for IT automation, orchestration, operations, and service management to help organisations free up time and space as they continue to drive their digital initiatives forward. We work with thousands of customers and partners around… Read more »

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41% of UK data is unused or unwanted

Against the backdrop of the climate crisis and increasing energy costs, comes the worrying new findings that a lack of data management accountability in the UK means that two-fifths (41%) of data is being stored for no reason. Conducted by NetApp, the Data Waste Index surveyed IT leaders in data management roles in the UK and… Read more »

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Next generation of phishing attacks uses unexpected delivery methods to steal data

Netskope, a specialist in secure access service edge (SASE), has unveiled new research that shows how the prevalence of cloud applications is changing the way threat actors are using phishing attack delivery methods to steal data.  The Netskope Cloud and Threat Report: Phishing details trends in phishing delivery methods such as fake login pages and… Read more »

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Virtualization Visualized: How Users Virtualize with Parallels Desktop

If you’re in the market to run Windows® on your Mac®, you should consider the award-winning #1 solution for virtualization: Parallels Desktop for Mac. We’ve answered the who, what, when, and why customers have chosen Parallels Desktop as the #1 virtualization option to run Windows on Mac since 2006. The data below comes to you directly […]

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Tibco announces stream of new updates

Cloud data sharing conceptTibco has announced four new updates for its Spotfire, LiveView, community support and IoT offerings.

The company’s current focus is on leveraging analytics for augmented intelligence to discover new insights then productively share those insights across the enterprise in the shortest amount of time possible.

“Some in the industry would lead you to believe that computers are going to replace people. We think that’s dead wrong,” said Mark Palmer, SVP at Tibco. “Computers should serve to augment human experience and intellect. At Tibco, we focus our industry-leading visual, advanced, embedded and, streaming analytics solutions on delivering a pragmatic approach to cognitive computing, which we achieve by combining enhanced intelligence features with algorithmic automation capabilities.

“This combination encapsulates the essence of our Fast Data analytics platform – it balances human insight with intelligent technologies for superior productivity and a competitive advantage in end users’ respective markets.”

The Spotfire offering now includes self-service data preparation, management, and utilisation functionality to extend the platform’s analytics capabilities. The team highlighted the product requires no third-party coordination for data preparation, as the inline datawrangling functionality in Spotfire is built-in.

The company has also launched open source, BSD-licensed Accelerator package for Apache Spark and the IoT. The offering includes five subsystems; Connector, for edge connection to IoT and enterprise data; Digester, a stream data preparation layer; Finder, predictive model discovery template; Automator, a streaming analytics-based automation engine for Apache Spark; and Tracker, to monitor predictive models and automatically invoke model retraining.

LiveView now includes a code-free HTML5 operational-intelligence dashboard development platform for use with the Live Datamart. Finally, the team have introduced a new developer community space for sharing end-user-driven technical expertise, insights, and Wiki articles.

Managed Cloud Storage – What’s the hold up?

Boxes on trolley in warehouseOrganisations operating in today’s highly competitive and lightning-speed world are constantly looking for new ways to deliver services to customers at reduced cost. Cloud technologies in particular are now not only being explored but are becoming widely adopted, with new Cloud Industry Forum statistics showing that 80% of UK companies are adopting cloud technology as a key part of their overall IT and business strategy.

That said, the cloud is yet to be widely accepted as the safe storage location that the industry is saying it is. There is still a great deal of apprehension, in particular from larger organisations, to entrust large volumes of data to the cloud. Indeed, for the last 20 years, storage has been defined by closed, proprietary and in many cases monolithic hardware-centric architectures, which were built for single applications, local network access, limited redundancy and highly manual operations.

Storage demands are changing

The continuous surge of data in modern society, however, now requires systems with massive scalability, local and remote accessibility, continuous uptime and great automation, with fewer resources having to manage greater capacity. The cloud is the obvious answer but there is still hesitancy.

Let’s face it though, anyone who is starting out today is unlikely to go out and buy a whole bunch of servers to deploy locally. They are much more likely to sign up for cloud-based managed services for functions like accounting, HR and expenses, and have a laptop with a big hard drive to store and share files using Gmail, Dropbox and so on. It is true to say that smaller businesses are increasingly using storage inside cloud apps, but for larger businesses, this option is not quite so simple or attractive. Many enterprises are turning to the cloud to host more and more apps but they still tend to keep the bulk of their static data on their own servers, to not only ensure safety and security but also to conduct faster analytics.

Open Door LightThe cloud storage door is only slightly ajar

With increasing data volumes and accelerated demand for scalability, you would expect many businesses to be using cloud-based managed storage already. However, the fact remains that there are still many businesses burying their heads in the sand when it comes to cloud storage. As a result, there is quite a bit of fatigue amongst the storage vendors who have been promoting cloud for some time, but not seeing the anticipated take-up. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the door the industry is pushing against is only slightly ajar.

As with most things, there are clouds and there are clouds. At the end of the day, cloud-based storage can be anything an organisation wants it to be – the devil is in the architecture. If you wanted to specify storage that incorporates encryption, a local appliance, secure high-bandwidth internet connectivity, instant access, replication, green and economical storage media – a managed cloud storage service can actually ‘do’ all of these things and indeed, is doing so for many organisations. There is take-up, just not quite as much as many storage vendors would like.

It’s all about the data

Nowadays, for most organisations it is about achieving much more than just the safe storage of data. It’s more and more common to bolt-on a range of integrated products and services to achieve a wide range of specialist goals, and it’s becoming rare that anyone wants to just store their data (they want it to work for them). Most organisations want their data to be discoverable and accessible, as well as have integrity guarantees to ensure the data will be usable in the future, automated data storage workflows and so on. Organisations want to, and need to, realise the value of their data, and are now looking at ways to capitalise on it rather than simply store it away safely.

Some organisations though, can’t use managed cloud storage for a whole raft of corporate, regulatory and geographical reasons. The on-premise alternative to a cloud solution, however, doesn’t have to be a burden on your IT, with remote management of an on-site storage deployment now a very real option. This acknowledges that storage capabilities that are specific to an industry or to an application are now complex. Add on some additional integrated functionality and it’s not something that local IT can, or wants to, deal with, manage or maintain. And who can blame them? Specialist services require a specialist managed services provider and that is where outsourcing, even if you can’t use the cloud, can add real value to your business.

What do you want to do with your data?

At the end of the day, the nature of the data you have, what you want to do with it and how you want it managed, will drive your storage direction. This includes questions around whether you have static or data that’s subject to change, whether your storage needs to be on-premise or can be in the cloud, whether you want to backup or archive your data, whether you want an accessible archive or a deep archive, whether you need it to be integrity-guaranteed or something else, long or short term. Cloud won’t always necessarily be the answer; there are trade-offs to be made and priorities to set. Critically, the storage solution you choose needs to be flexible enough to deal with these issues (and how they will shift over time) and that is the difficulty when trying to manage long-term data storage. Everything is available and you can get what you want but you need to make sure that you are moving to a managed cloud service for the right reasons.

Ever-increasing organisational data volumes will continue to relentlessly drive the data storage industry and today’s storage models need to reflect the changing nature of the way in which businesses operate. Managed storage capabilities need to be designed from the ground up to facilitate organisations in maximising the value they can get from their data and reflect how those same organisations want to access and use it both today, and more importantly, for years to come.

Written by Nik Stanbridge, VP Marketing at Arkivum

One in four cloud service clients willing to be held to ransom – study

mobile tablet securityOne in four companies would be willing to pay a ransom to criminals who stole their information, with 14% of them willing to pay over a million dollars, says a study. Companies with cyber insurance are most likely to hand over cash.

This revelation comes from a survey of cross industry sample of 200 IT and security professionals by the Cloud Security Alliance. The study’s objective was to examine how industries around the world are managing cloud adoption.

Exposure is increasing, according to the survey, which indicated that IT professionals are struggling to cater for the demand for new cloud services, receiving on average 10.6 requests each month for new cloud services. Only 71.2% of companies now have a formal process for users to request new cloud services and of these 65.5% admitted that they ‘only partially’ follow it. Due diligence is impossible under the circumstances because it takes an IT security team 17.7 days on average to evaluate the security of a cloud provider, the study says.

The most common reason for rejecting a cloud service is not related to security or compliance but the fact that a comparable cloud solution is already in place. Small companies are most likely to judge a cloud service by the cost, with the lack of budget, in 28.4% of cases, being the most popular criteria for rejection.

The lack of security could cause problems in future because many companies are now putting sensitive customer information in the cloud. The most commonly purchased cloud system is customer relationship management (CRM), which was identified as a purchase by 36.3% of the survey sample. The figures may reflect a degree of complacency as ‘just 35.0% of IT and security professionals believe that cloud-based systems of record are less secure than their on-premises counterparts’, says the report.

Despite the perceived improvement in security from cloud services, 60.8% of companies have taken the precaution of appointing a chief information security officer. However, these relatively new roles are ill-defined and responsibilities, such as ransom negotiation, vary across companies.

“It’s shocking that so many companies are willing to pay even a penny’s ransom,” said Skyhigh Networks spokesman Nigel Hawthorn, “The idea that some would pay more than $1m is downright staggering. Hackers are increasingly confident they can hold businesses over a barrel.”

MapR claims world’s first converged data platform with Streams

Navigating big dataApache Hadoop system specialist MapR Technologies claims it has invented a new system to make sense of all the disjointed streams of real time information flooding into big data platforms. The new MapR Streams system will, it says, blend everything from systems logs to sensors to social media feeds, whether it’s transactional or tracking data, and manage it all under one converged platform.

Stream is described as a stream processing tool that can handle real-time event handling and high scalability. When combined with other MapR offerings, it can harmonise existing storage data and NoSQL tools to create a converged data platform. This, it says, is the first of its kind in the cloud industry.

Starting from early 2016, when the technology becomes available, cloud operators can combine Streams with MapR-FS for storage and the MapR-DB in-Hadoop NoSQL database, to build a MapR Converged Data Platform. This will liberate users from having to monitor information from streams, file storage, databases and analytics, the vendor says.

Since it can handle billions of messages per second and join clusters from separate data centres across the globe, the tool could be of particular interested to cloud operators, according to Michael Brown, CTO at comScore. “Our system analyses over 65 billion new events a day, and MapR Streams is built to ingest and process these events in real time, opening the doors to a new level of product offerings for our customers,” he said.

While traditional workloads are being optimised, new workloads from the emerging IoT dataflows are presenting far greater challenges that need to be solved in a fraction of the time, claims MapR. The MapR Streams will help companies deal with the volume, variety and speed at which data has to be analysed while simplifying the multiple layers of hardware stacks, networking and data processing systems, according to MapR. Blending MapR Streams into a converged data system eliminates multiple siloes of data for streaming, analytics and traditional systems of record, MapR claimed.

MapR Streams supports standard application programming interfaces (APIs) and integrates with other popular stream processors like Spark Streaming, Storm, Flink and Apex. When available, the MapR Converged Data Platform will be offered as a free to use Community Edition to encourage developers to experiment.

Veritas warns of ‘databerg’ hidden dangers

Deep WebBackup specialist Veritas Technologies claims European businesses waste billions of euros on huge stories of useless information which are growing every year. By 2020 it claims the damage caused by this excessive data will cost over half a trillion pounds (£576bn) a year.

According to the Veritas Databerg Report 2015, 59% of data stored and processed by UK organisations is invisible and could contain hidden dangers. From this it has estimated that the average mid-sized UK organisation holding 1000 Terabytes of information spends £435k annually on Redundant, Obsolete or Trivial (ROT) data. According to its estimate just 12% of the cost of data storage is justifiably spent on business-critical intelligence.

The report blames employees and management for the waste. The first group treats corporate IT systems as their own personal infrastructure, while management are too reliant on cloud storage, which leaves them open to compliance violations and a higher risk of data loss.

The survey identified three major causes for Databerg growth, which stem from volume, vendor hype and the values of modern users. These root causes create problems in which IT strategies are based on data volumes not business value. Vendor hype, in turn, has convinced users to become increasingly reliant on free storage in the cloud and this consumerisation has led to a growing disregard for corporate data policies, according to the report’s authors.

As a result, big data and cloud computing could lead corporations to hit the databerg and incur massive losses. They could also sink under a prosecution for compliance failing, according to the key findings of the Databerg Report 2015.

It’s time to stop the waste, said Matthew Ellard, Senior VP for EMEA at Veritas. “Companies invest a significant amount of resources to maintain data that is totally redundant, obsolete and trivial.” This ‘ROT’ costs a typical midsize UK company, which can expect to hold 500 Terabytes of data, nearly a million pounds a year on photos, personal ID doc, music and videos.

The study was based on a survey answered by 1,475 respondents in 14 countries, including 200 in the UK.

Cloud industry shaken by European Safe Harbour ruling

Europe US court of justiceThe Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled the Safe Harbour agreement between Europe and the US, which provides blanket permission for data transfer between the two, is invalid.

Companies looking to move data from Europe to the US will now need to negotiate specific rules of engagement with each country, which is likely to have a significant impact on all businesses, but especially those heavily reliant on the cloud.

The ruling came about after Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems asked to find out what data Facebook was passing on to US intelligence agencies in the wake of the Snowden revelations. When his request was declined on the grounds that the safe harbour agreement guaranteed his protection he contested the decision and it was referred to the Court of Justice.

This decision had been anticipated, and on top of any legal contingencies already made large players such as Facebook, Google and Amazon are offered some protection by the fact that they have datacentres within Europe. However the legal and logistical strain will be felt by all, especially smaller companies that rely on US-based cloud players.

“The ability to transfer data easily and securely between Europe and the US is critical for businesses in our modern data-driven digital economy,” said Matthew Fell, CBI Director for Competitive Markets. “Businesses will want to see clarity on the immediate implications of the ECJ’s decision, together with fast action from the Commission to agree a new framework. Getting this right will be important to the future of Europe’s digital agenda, as well as doing business with our largest trading partner.”

“The ruling invalidating Safe Harbour is seismic,” said Andy Hardy, EMEA MD at Code42, which recently secured $85 million in Series B funding. “This decision will affect big businesses as well as small ones. But it need not be the end of business as we know it, in terms of data handling. What businesses need to do now is safeguard data. They need to find solutions that keep their, and their customer’s, data private – even when backed up into public cloud.”

“Symantec respects the decision of the EU Court of Justice,” said Ilias Chantzos, Senior Director of Government Affairs EMEA at Symantec. “However, we encourage further discussion in order to create a strengthened agreement with the safeguards expected by the EU Court of Justice. We believe that the recent ruling will create considerable disruption and uncertainty for those companies that have relied solely on Safe Harbour as a means of transferring data to the United States.”

“The issues are highly complex, and there are real tensions between the need for international trade, and ensuring European citizen data is treated safely and in accordance with data protection law,” said Nicky Stewart, commercial director of Skyscape Cloud Services. “We would urge potential cloud consumers not to use this ruling as a reason not to adopt cloud. There are very many European cloud providers which operate solely within the bounds of the European Union, or even within a single jurisdiction within Europe, therefore the complex challenges of the Safe Harbor agreement simply don’t apply.”

These were just some of the views offered to BCN as soon as the ruling was announced and the public hand-wringing is likely to continue for some time. From a business cloud perspective one man’s problem is another’s opportunity and companies will be queuing up to offer localised cloud services, encryption solutions, etc. In announcing a couple of new European datacentres today Netsuite was already making reference to the ruling. This seems like a positive step for privacy but only time will tell what it means for the cloud industry.