This week’s technology news from Amicus ITS – Friday 30th August 2013

Does the size of your Cloud provider protect you more?
Amazon Webs Services was recently hit by a surge in demand causing servers to big name websites including Instagram, Vine and Netflix to go down or only provide intermittent service for several hours. Whilst the most notorious providers are Rackspace, Google, Windows Azure and Amazon, the US 2012 rankings endorse lesser known names such as Connectria, Layered Tech and Qube aggregated on average response time, availability and consistency. Being smaller and less famous should not impede your selection of the right Cloud provider and consistency and the support of virtual machines and their web applications are the new strategic goals of enterprise.

Note to IT vendors – changing the CIO to CPO
IT Directors or Chief Information Officers are seen as the intelligence disseminating arm for technology in business organisations. But the “I” might soon be changing to a “P” for Policy and Process. As business security and monitoring has to keep up with the adoption of emerging technologies, minimizing disruption whilst enabling the workforce to perform, should result in good collaboration with stakeholders and respect for standards if “P” also stands for best Practice.

Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer to retire
Microsoft has announced that CEO Steve Ballmer will be retiring within the next 12 months, having just six weeks ago announced his ‘risky re-organisation’ of the entire company. “There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time” Ballmer said. John Thompson who is director of the board will lead a committee to find the new CEO. As Microsoft makes the tricky move to a devices and services company, finding the right person to lead is more important than ever.

MIT develops 110 core processor
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has revealed the development of a 110 core processor. Called the Execution Migraine Machine, the project was aimed around reducing traffic inside chips, for faster processing and greater power efficiency. Most manufacturers have moved away from adding extra cores. With the core count from top end machines ranging from 8-16, it is quite a feat by MIT researchers to squeeze 110 in to the 10mm x 10mm chip. This is not a chip which will be available in store to buy, but the techniques used for power efficiency could find their way into mobile devices of the future.

This week’s technology news from Amicus ITS – Friday 23rd August 2013

Planning for a disaster
Disaster Recovery is blue language to many IT Directors, but prevention and preparation are necessary activities in this technological age. Checks include: could DR infrastructure and your primary datacentre be affected by the same event? Are Recovery Point Objectives and Recovery Time Objectives built into your DR solution? Do key staff have access to the DR documents and processes, should they need to be followed? Can users connect to applications post Event as the networks and primary datacentre are no longer there? So, no matter the size of organisation, companies ignore regular DR policy reviews at their peril.

The importance of software compliance
Software Asset Management (SAM) is an all-important but often forgotten factor in Enterprise. A recent report from Forrester shows that interest in SAM has increased, mainly driven by potential IT cost savings. Many organisations were found to be still paying for software or maintenance agreements for additional licences that were no longer needed. On the other side of the coin, failure to be software compliant can lead to hefty fines, damage to reputation and even imprisonment of Directors. BYOD also introduces new challenges, with employees using personal devices at work these must have corporate compliant software and not just software licenced for personal use. If they are on your network, the software will be picked up and you must be prepared to be audited.

Hacked off about risk? No, not really it would seem
Cyber attacks and mass outages are viewed as a bigger threat to the UK banking sector than the impact of the recession according to a global study by KPMG. 71% of companies may be using outdated versions of Microsoft and Adobe the study found. Hackers are now targeting cloud based servers with multi-faceted automation, and malware targeting the Google mobile Android OS is appearing to try and get around two factor authentication. With a 12% increase in online fraud and 6 of the major US banks suffering website outages in 2012 (plus the historic RBS/Natwest UK bank meltdown in Summer 2012), financial losses and interruption from computer bugs should make security a top priority for banks and all enterprise businesses.

Breaking the smart phone mould
We recently asked who will be next in shaking things up from the now standard smart phone design. Samsung is the first to answer our cry and is bringing something new to the table. The Samsung Galaxy Golden when closed, looks like the modern all-screen smart phone, however it can be flipped open to reveal a classic T9 numeric pad with another screen behind the first. It seems Samsung is trying to use the Galaxy Golden as a bridge device, attracting users who are still holding onto their flip phones, but could later be swayed into buying an all-touch device, after using the touchscreen on the Galaxy Golden in its closed position. Important or not in terms of market penetration, it does not drive forward design for the tech enthusiasts. It seems we still have some time to wait until we see the next step in smart phone evolution.


This week’s technology news from Amicus ITS – Friday 16th August 2013

Is privacy is a dirty word in Google’s vocabulary?
Google is defending its extensive data mining activities which are on a scale rivalled only by the US’s National Security Agency. The US Consumer Watchdog’s class action against Google follows Google’s claim that email users have no legitimate expectation of privacy. A robot reads an email for keywords and directs targeted advertising at the consumer. However the email recipients as well as users are affected by implied consent and subject to automated processing. Knowing what a company does with your data is fundamental. Delivering on those promises is critical, whatever the size of the business if trust is to be maintained.

Outsourcing – best practice considerations
Companies increasingly outsource elements of their business as part of their organisational strategy. A variety of cloud solutions are driving changes to back office functions, infrastructure hosting and systems development. If 3rd party security standards are not robust enough there is always the threat of cyber attack. Businesses need upfront and detailed due diligence with clear contractual arrangements and strict security privileges. Any failure in IT governance and the resulting potential for financial loss or damaged reputation should prompt businesses to regularly review their security operations and not fear change if it can be shown to be in their best interests.

The future of Blackberry
Blackberry’s launch of its latest generation of smart phones is off to a slow start. The BB10 handsets were delayed several times and it seems any anticipation around them was lost before release. Recently overtaken by Microsoft in global Smart Phone market share BlackBerry sales have been declining for years. BlackBerry is now exploring strategic options and even considering selling off its devices business to focus on software and services. With Android being an open-platform and having almost 80% of the market in the last quarter’s sales, it seems unlikely anyone would purchase Blackberry’s devices arm, leaving the future of Blackberry phones looking grim.

Gartner highlights gap in BYOD
With the popularity of the Android platform to consumers, it is now more important than ever that corporations are aware of how these mobile devices are as vulnerable to viruses as their PCs. Gartner has suggested that consumers are less likely to purchase security software for smart phones or tablets rather than their PC or laptop. With the increase usage of personal devices in the corporate workplace, the risk of security attacks will increase unless a strategic BYOD policy is put in place to address this.

This week’s technology news from Amicus ITS – Friday 9th August 2013

Poor cloud PR reinforces aversion to change
The widescale uptake of cloud services by business due to a lack of security skills and resources inhouse is holding back many firms, a recent study reports. The assessment of cloud service delivery identified that two thirds of companies believed they lacked the skills to manage the change and 72% said they lacked the resources to secure such services. The lack of persuasive and compelling argument pro cloud and its benefits (despite Government endorsement of cloud for the public sector), will continue to inhibit businesses’ full potential until they stop seeing security as a barrier to adoption.

How green is my datacentre
Whereas servers are refreshed frequently, datacentres take 2 years to design and have to last 15 years. HP advise that companies prioritise energy efficiency nowadays, not part of the original design. Lower carbon footprint, from using renewable energy sources where sites are linked to hydroelectric generators or wind farms, through to new construction and operational efficiency (including adiabatic cooling and self-scaling power adjustments) will be core drivers, as companies aspire to the magical PUE of 1.2. Server consolidation and virtualisation will increase efficiency but at the cost of energy workload if a server refresh is done. The ever increasing demand for big data analytics will drive companies to consider moving to a cloud infrastructure as a service to overcome this environmental technical challenge.

The next generation of memory
There have been two breakthroughs in memory technology this week. Crossbar has created a prototype for its RRAM and Samsung has announced the mass production of 3D NAND chips. 3D NAND is essentially today’s flash memory, turned sideways and stacked side-by-side to create a much denser unit with twice the performance. Experts are mixed on which memory will come out on top in the future. RRAM has the advantage in terms of performance and potential growth of the technology but will unlikely start mass production till 2015, giving Samsung a generous head start in the next-gen storage wars.

LG moves its buttons to the back
LG is the third biggest smart phone manufacturer today. They overtook Huawei earlier this year with the help of strong sales from the Google branded Nexus 4 made by LG. Their next big launch, the G2 tweaks the standard smartphone form factor, coined infamously from the original iPhone. The G2 will have no buttons on the front or sides of the device at all. Three buttons are placed on the back, LG claim this is easier to access on a larger phone as this is where you index fingers naturally rest. Manufacturers have all been using a similar form factor since the modern touchscreen smart phone. Clearly G2 hope they should get attention by shaking up the design. However, who will be bold enough to upend the tea table and provide us with a true next generation smart phone design?


This week’s technology news from Amicus ITS – Friday 2nd August 2013

Microsoft must rebrand SkyDrive after trademark dispute
In what may be déjà vu to those who remember Microsoft’s ‘Metro’ name fiasco before the launch of Windows 8, Microsoft has been forced to rebrand their commercial cloud storage service “SkyDrive” after a court ruling that the SkyDrive name infringed on BSkyB’s “Sky” brand. With SkyDrive in use in mobile apps, deep integration into Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Office 2013 and more, this is no small task. No new name for the service has been announced yet, but expect a slew of updates coming soon across Microsoft’s product portfolio to correct this, in addition to a new marketing campaign aimed at SkyDrive’s 250 million+ user base to save confusion when the change does happen.

Apple still making developers more money than Google
Even though Android phones and tablets have been outselling iPhones and iPads for some time now, the Apple App Store is still the most profitable app market out there. It’s not for lack of downloads either. The Google Play store now receives more downloads of Apps than Apple’s. It seems that the Android users are simply not hitting the “buy” button, as they are happy with the free offerings available. In fact Apple Apps despite fewer downloads are making more than twice the revenue of Google. Of course if you are selling Apps ideally you will cover as many platforms as possible to increase potential sales, but you can’t take for granted that the largest platform is the most profitable.

Google Glass as punishable as mobile phones when driving
Efforts in West Virginia USA, to outlaw the wearing of Google Glass when driving are crossing over to the UK, as they are being considered by the Department of Transport in the UK. Discussions are being held with the police to ensure individuals do not use the technology when driving to ensure full attention.

MIT creates perfect mirror
Physicists at MIT have created the first perfect mirror. This could lead to breakthroughs in fibre optic networks, lasers and solar power. When light hits the mirror (or any other kind of wave, including acoustic or water waves), it bounces off perfectly and preserves the original image (signal). Normal mirrors block the passage of light, sound, water or radio waves and can only reflect, which is never perfect. Reflecting a laser down hundreds of miles of optic fibre would highlight any imperfection and cause a huge drop in efficiency. Whilst the research involved a phototonic crystal, the potential is an exciting step forward for the future of data infrastructure networks.