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IDG Contributor Network: What happens when ‘Net Neutrality’ becomes ‘Pay-To-Play’?

April 28, 2017 - 10:23pm

Net neutrality is like a public park that anyone can use. ‘Pay-To-Play’ is a private club that only rich members use.

What happens to the internet when access isn't equal? (Or to paraphrase George Orwell in Animal Farm, "We're all equal, but some are more equal than others"). 

How could this impact consumers, businesses and non-profits?

“Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission outlined a sweeping plan to loosen the government’s oversight of high-speed internet providers, a rebuke of a landmark policy approved two years ago to ensure that all online content is treated the same by the companies that deliver broadband service to Americans”, reports the NYT.

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Microsoft and Google riding the cloud wave

April 28, 2017 - 8:48pm

Google and Microsoft are both benefiting from solid growth in enterprise cloud services. Both companies released earnings reports this week that highlighted significant momentum in G Suite, Office Suite, respectively, and more sophisticated cloud platforms for business.

“We crossed a major milestone with more than 100 million monthly active users of Office 365 commercial,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said during a conference call. “Office 365 commercial seats grew 35 percent year-over-year and revenue is up 45 percent.” Microsoft also reported a 15 percent year-over-year gain in revenue from Office 365 and other consumer products. The company ended the quarter with 26.2 million Office 365 consumer subscribers.

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FAQ: How to skip a Windows 10 upgrade

April 27, 2017 - 10:00pm

Enterprises that try to slow down Microsoft's upgrade train by skipping one of the twice-yearly Windows 10 refreshes will have to hustle to stay in support, according to the company's latest scheduling disclosures.

Corporate users of Windows 10 may have as little as two months to deploy a feature upgrade after passing on the one prior. Only if IT administrators are willing to roll out a consumer-quality version -- one that Microsoft has not yet given the approved-for-business green light -- will they have up to six months to upgrade employees' PCs.

Those limitations come from Microsoft's latest pledge to support any given Windows 10 feature upgrade for 18 months, and the company's long-standing timeline on how it moves each upgrade from development to release, first to consumers and then to commercial customers.

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Cyber infrastructure: Too big to fail, and failing

April 26, 2017 - 5:04pm

Even the good news is bad news.

While Joshua Corman didn’t use that exact line in his opening keynote at SOURCE Boston this week, that was a pervasive, and sobering, theme.

Corman, a founder of I am The Cavalry and director of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative for the Atlantic Council, said he was there to tell some “uncomfortable truths” about the state of cybersecurity – among them that, “the critical infrastructure of our space is too big to fail, and it’s failing.”

He said the current statistics are depressing enough – that the database of CVEs (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures), “which is the predicate for all of our intrusion detection,” holds only about 80 percent of those in existence, and that there is security “coverage” – blocking or detection technology – for only 60 percent of that number. “So you’re at 60 percent of 80 percent,” he said. “At best, you’re getting about 50 percent coverage of the knowns. When you make a risk decision, you’re doing it with a 50 percent blind spot.

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IDG Contributor Network: Fog is coming, and that's good news for the cloud

April 20, 2017 - 3:36pm

The cloud has been in the news a lot lately, and mostly for bad behavior. It’s been slow, expensive, insecure or simply MIA — taking major corporations offline for hours and raising questions about the future of cloud computing.

Is cloud computing going away? Absolutely not, but a rapidly emerging new technology may mean that we won’t be stuck with our cloudy blues for long.

Imagine enabling organizations to leverage the benefits of both cloud and on-site IT, with the speed, resiliency, bandwidth and scalability to run existing workloads — regardless of location — and to power new technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning.

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IT execs tout benefits of SD-WAN

April 18, 2017 - 5:08pm

Enterprises are adopting software-defined WAN to simplify branch office connectivity, improve application performance, and better manage WAN expenses, according to Gartner, which predicts that spending on SD-WAN products will rise from $129 million in 2016 to $1.24 billion in 2020.

“While WAN architectures and technologies tend to evolve at a very slow pace — perhaps a new generation every 10 to 15 years — the disruptions caused by the transformation to digital business models are driving adoption of SD-WAN at a pace that is unheard of in wide-area networking,” Gartner writes.

Two early adopters of SD-WAN shared some of the gains they’re realizing from the technology. The Bay Club Company and Autodesk are deploying SD-WAN technology from VeloCloud and CloudGenix, respectively, to transform the way they provision and support remote sites.

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Move to public cloud displays CIO’s clout

April 17, 2017 - 3:00pm

In December 2016, Steve Randich took the stage at Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) re:Invent conference to tell the story of how his organization made a daring move to the public cloud.

He ticked through a series of benefits to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the privately held, independent regulator of financial markets. One of them — the performance gain of 400 times — must have been mind-boggling to many (including the headline writer for the official YouTube video, which still states the gain as 400 percent).

All of the results were impressive, particularly because this wasn’t some low-value deployment. Instead, FINRA put its mission-critical market surveillance platforms on AWS, along with 90 percent of its data. In a time where many companies were flirting with the public cloud, Randich and his team were going all-in.

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Secrets of bimodal IT success: Tiger teams, skunkworks and the camel’s nose

April 17, 2017 - 11:08am

For such a seemingly obvious idea, Gartner ignited quite a firestorm with its proposition that, to remain relevant, IT must be broken into two distinct realms: one focused on keeping the lights on, or, in Gartner parlance, Mode 1, and one devoted to the cool stuff that business people want, or Mode 2.

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(Insider Story)

An agile Air Force slashes time to roll out new IT capabilities

April 13, 2017 - 4:12pm

Can an organization really cut development time more than 70 percent by embracing the agile philosophy and open architecture? The intelligence-gathering arm of the U.S. Air Force says it's done just that.

The Air Force's Distributed Common Ground System, a network of 27 surveillance and intelligence-gathering sites, projects that it will ultimately save hundreds of millions of dollars by moving to agile development, open architecture, and infrastructure-as-a-service, said Wes Haga, chief of mission applications and infrastructure programs at the Air Force Research Lab.

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6 vulnerabilities to watch for on the factory floor

April 12, 2017 - 7:01pm

Industrial control systems (ICS) that run the valves and switches in factories may suffer from inherent weaknesses that cropped up only after they were installed and the networks they were attached to became more widely connected.

FireEye iSIGHT Intelligence

Sean McBride

The problems are as far ranging as hard-coded passwords that are publicly available to vulnerabilities in Windows operating systems that are no longer supported but are necessary to run the aging gear, says Sean McBride, attack-synthesis lead analyst at FireEye iSIGHT Intelligence and author of “What About the Plant Floor? Six subversive concerns for industrial environments.”

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Inside look at Hewlett Packard’s next-generation infrastructure

April 11, 2017 - 1:27pm

In the 18 months since the company split from its sister consumer business, Hewlett Packard Enterprise has been in an almost constant state of refining its strategy.

The company backed out of the public cloud market; sold off its Enterprise Services Business to competitor CSC for $8.5 billion; dealt other “non-core” assets to Micro Focus in an $8.8 billion deal; and dumped its OpenStack and Cloud Foundry development efforts off to Suse. HPE also bought all-flash storage vendor Nimble storage for $1 billion last year and snapped up hyperconverged infrastructure vendor Simplivity for another $650 million in January.

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Fight firewall sprawl with AlgoSec, Tufin, Skybox suites

April 10, 2017 - 11:32am

New and innovative security tools seem to be emerging all the time, but the frontline defense for just about every network in operation today remains the trusty firewall. They aren’t perfect, but if configured correctly and working as intended, firewalls can do a solid job of blocking threats from entering a network, while restricting unauthorized traffic from leaving.

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(Insider Story)

10 things to worry about when your vendor divests

April 5, 2017 - 10:56am
Potentially difficult times

Image by Thinkstock

In tech, divestitures are a fact of life and solutions are bought and sold all the time. But that doesn’t change the fact that when it happens to a solution that your company uses, it can make things difficult for you. Although your vendor’s divestiture is out of your control, you can at least do your due diligence in limiting any negative impact to your company. With that in mind, ZL Technologies lists 10 things you should worry about if your vendor divests.

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IDG Contributor Network: Is open source the transformative solution for activism?

April 3, 2017 - 2:02pm

Organizing public rallies really is rocket science. A successful launch needs careful planning and good software. Especially when highly vocal users are involved!

How well does open source work for such a demanding application with hundreds of simultaneous events and millions of followers? How is information flow optimized and diverse applications integrated? Designing such systems where a small error could leave thousands stranded, isn’t for the faint of heart.

A team of progressive coders, open standards experts and veteran developers from Microsoft and Netscape show how it can be done. Their application integrates open source, cloud based infrastructure and content delivery networks to ensure that millions of people get to the right event at the right location, every time.

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What makes IT pros happy? One thing ranks higher than pay

March 30, 2017 - 2:13pm

Coworkers can make or break a good job. For IT pros, it’s all about their peers, managers, and end users.

“I tossed out money as a contributor to happiness a long time ago,” said IT pro Michael Studte. “Although my salary, work hours, and vacation time are important to the equation, I’ve been the happiest in companies where management will listen and take my recommendations seriously, and where I’m able to build a good rapport with my users.”

Spiceworks shared Studte’s comments along with results of its latest survey, which polled IT pros from the U.S. and U.K. on the topic of job satisfaction. (Related: 10 reasons to look for a new job)

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IDG Contributor Network: Transform your IT from cash-eater to profit-maker with managed IT as a service

March 23, 2017 - 6:33pm

The vast majority of cloud migration programs supporting IT transformation rarely end up with the promised business benefits.

These scattered initiatives, decided in the CIO’s office, are often disconnected from any basic business strategy. Who can objectively pretend that leveraging the cloud to cut IT costs and streamline IT operations is enough to help the business become an innovation champion, prevent market share erosion or stop customer churn? These are actually the challenges.

The fact of the matter is, these short-term initiatives result from a combination of weaknesses ranging from misunderstanding of industry disruption’s impacts on businesses and blurred IT strategies to deficient IT transformation approaches and guidance. They’re still based on the now outdated belief that what business units (BU) expect from IT is massive cost reduction and speedy IT operations.

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Critical infrastructure: Off the web, out of danger?

March 22, 2017 - 12:40pm

The debate over the chances of a catastrophic cyber attack taking down a major part of the nation’s critical infrastructure (CI) has been ongoing for a generation.

But it hasn’t been settled – in some ways it is more intense now than ever.

On one side are those, including high government officials, who warn of a “cyber Pearl Harbor” that could leave swaths of the country in darkness and cold – without electric power – for months.

Retired Adm. James Stavridis, dean at Tufts Fletcher School and a former NATO supreme allied commander, used that term just three months ago, saying such an attack would be aimed either at the electrical grid or the financial sector.

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IDG Contributor Network: What the Snap IPO means for the future of cloud infrastructure

March 8, 2017 - 2:27pm

Millions of words have probably been written about the public market debut last week of Snap Inc., the parent of the social media service Snapchat.

[ Related: Snap soars on IPO, now what? ]

The IPO was the first tech-related issue of 2017, raised $3.4 billion, and when its first day of trading closed on Thursday, Snap’s $24.48-per share price valued it at north of $33 billion, making it the biggest debut since China’s Internet giant Alibaba debuted in a 2014 offering valued at $167 billion. Snap shares have since declined in value by more than 10 percent. 

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MapR and Outscale partner on big data PaaS

March 6, 2017 - 6:52pm

At the Big Data Paris event in Paris, France, today, MapR Technologies and French enterprise-class cloud provider Outscale announced that they have joined forces to provide a big data platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering built on the MapR Converged Data Platform.

Outscale will provide the new premium cloud service in Europe, North America and Asia and says it will provide customers with a cost-effective and flexible platform to support their big data journey — from initial proof of concept to prototype and application deployment, all with unlimited scalability.

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How to get your infrastructure in shape to shake off scriptable attacks

March 2, 2017 - 12:11pm

According to F-Secure’s The State of Cyber Security 2017 report, criminal hackers perform most cyber-attacks using basic, scriptable techniques against poorly maintained infrastructure. This will continue as long as there are loads of attack scripts and plenty of poorly secured networks.

The number of attack scripts is climbing as elite hackers continue to create these scripts and sell them to others, says Itzik Kotler, CTO and Co-Founder, SafeBreach. There doesn’t seem to be any stopping this trend.

CSO examines scriptable attacks and the part of the problem that you can control: getting your infrastructure in shape to shrug off these breaches.

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