This week’s technology news – 6th June 2014

Microsoft excluded from Gartner’s Magic Quadrant
Gartner’s newly released report has failed to include Microsoft this year for Enterprise Mobility Management (“EMM”). Gartner say this is strictly based on Microsoft not meeting their business metrics and technical capabilities. Microsoft acknowledge it was a matter of timing as they only launched Windows InTune in Autumn 2013 and the window to the EMM Magic Quadrant in January 2014 was too short a proving space. With an Enterprise Mobility Suite combination of Windows Intune (for MDM and mobile application management), Microsoft Azure Rights Management and Microsoft Azure Active Directory Premium, Microsoft were confident it presented quite a strong offering. Gartner commented: “”The offering has promise, but Microsoft must drive adoption and demonstrate that it can meet enterprise requirements.” Microsoft remains confident it will be firmly in the “zone” next year.

Vodafone reveals it is vulnerable to government wire taps
Mobile network giant Vodafone currently operates across 29 countries worldwide. Despite the majority of countries having legal process requirements for warrants to be submitted should law enforcers or intelligence agencies wish to intercept communications, the BBC has established there are six governments which have a permanent link to monitor their communications.

Vodafone will not name the six countries, but the disclosure has emerged as new transparency efforts are being made by telecoms companies between their customers and governments. Data privacy is a theme regularly in the news following US whistleblower Edward Snowden’s leaks and his influence in causing telecoms and governments to offer more transparency. Liberty director, Shami Chakrabarti described news of the ease of access “unprecedented and terrifying”. However, the main difficulty in making meaningful comparisons are the different laws operating in each country and a lack of willingness to discuss the issue. Whatever the outcome, the net effect is to reinforce broad customer distrust against government and major corporates wherever personal data is held.

Samsung – without the Android
Samsung is the TOP Android manufacturer, pushing out more Android smartphones than anyone else. No-one else comes close. In fact with Android leading the Smartphone OS race, Samsung jumping ship would stir up the whole industry. Samsung has been developing its own smartphone OS called “Tizen” over the last few years and is finally ready to put it on their next Smartphone, the Samsung “Z”.

Samsung with its Galaxy line has been building up huge brand recognition, arguable more than the Android name itself, if they were to put Tizen on their next flagship Galaxy phone and tablet instead of Android, Tizen would likely get the stab in the arm needed to make it a viable platform going forwards. How hard Samsung pushes their own Tizen over Google’s Android on their devices will be interesting to watch going forwards.

As tempting as it must be for them to switch everything over to Tizen – they would likely frustrate users if the software didn’t match Android’s feature set, so they will have to walk a careful tightrope act between the two until Tizen reaches feature parity. If however Samsung does play its card’s right, it not impossible to imagine a future where Samsung can beat Google at their own game.

Gravel driving a greener power in the renewables market
The mission to find an alternative power source for storing electrical energy created by wind and solar power on windless and cloudy days, may just have got a step nearer. British company Isentropic has developed a system using a gravel-filled silo with Argon gas. Using a heat-exchange pump it drives an engine to create the power needed for the grid. Despite a 75% efficiency for the system, this energy solution may be a very intelligent one as it is low cost, easy to install and argon gas is highly available (being the third most abundant gas in the planet and 23 times more abundant than carbon dioxide). More ideas like this are desperately needed if we are to successfully service an increasingly power-hungry world – and all the better when sometimes it is not a high tech solution that captures headlines.

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The Week’s Technology News – 28th March 2014

A little more seasoning with that sensor, Sir?
The first international factory for ingestible sensors, is to be built in the UK by US company, Proteus Digital Health.  The factory will have the NHS and the UK Government as partners.   Portable devices such as these are decentralising healthcare and will transform the way healthcare can be delivered in partnership with the patient. The technology is swallowed and the stomach fluids power the sensor by transporting it via stomach fluids.  A body worn patch sends information captured to a mobile device.  Such technologies have the potential to be transformative to healthcare, as the collection of data and mobile management tools enable diagnosis, faster assessment and more accurate treatment, linking the patient, their carer and clinician to help them stay well.  The technology will become more affordable and convenient as specialists in consumer technology are conjoining with medical technology and identifying commercial opportunity.  For an already overstretched NHS this sounds like a welcome IT technological advance.

Irritation with spammers creates collaboration amongst mobile giants and ICO
EE, O2, Three and Vodafone and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) are working together to prevent nuisance text messages of spammers and fraudsters spreading across the UK’s four major mobile networks. This is being done by the mobile group signing up to the GSMA Spam Reporting Service. This will be coupled with mechanisms in real time to find the perpetrators. Those who have breached the Privacy of Electronic Communication Regulations (PECR), will have monetary penalties issued against them.  In 2012, the ICO issued a £440,000 fine to two men running a spam texting operation.  The GSMA platform will collate and analyse the details of users’ reported spam to id patterns and origins of attack. The collaborative aim of the group is to isolate and prevent spread to other networks.  The ICO is also looking to extend this into nuisance calls.  Vigilance against threats to mobile devices are an ongoing challenge for MSPs, as mobile workforces become ever more commonplace. Reducing fear and threat should certainly get the thumbs up from the marketplace.

Keep your MITs off our data
A group of MIT researchers have created a new platform for creating spy proof websites by building secure sites, services and applications, called Mylar.  This is in response to the high profile Snowden leaks of government agency incursions in the USA to capture people’s private data and to counter the increase in identify theft and hacking efforts internationally.  With Mylar, the data remains encrypted all the time in its servers and only decrypted when accessed from your computer, with correct password authentication.  The system is being tested by a group of patients in the US to share medical information with their doctors and the designers are exploring their own chat, photo sharing and calendar applications.   Whether this leads to a more commercial take up remains to be seen, as web providers may be reluctant to use a technology which restricts clients’ websites from accessing user data to serve targeted ads.

Gartner take time out to stare up at the clouds
One of Gartner’s leading Storage Technology and Strategist Directors, Valdis Fink, has been thinking afresh about how Cloud needs to develop, versus how it has been used.   For organisations, a primary benefit of Cloud has been to shift capital costs to operational costs.  SMEs who have had their own servers or back up options, are increasingly taking up the opportunity to outsource to secure data centres.  However, data centres have remained the same with centralised grid computing architecture which has got larger and the offerings cheaper, so data (and apps) has essentially just been re-centralised elsewhere. Fink maintains that real cloud computing should be location and device independent, safe and accessible from anywhere, within the internet, on peoples’ computers and devices, in data centres and in hyper-scale data centres, using information dispersal algorithms.  Such technologies are available today, which synch and secure. So the challenge for forward thinking MSPs is to drive the thinking, rather than follow major vendors to ensure your service is “leading edge” and right for your clients who have every right to expect the best.

Technology through our eyes – Amicus ITS

Underground Wi-Fi

Virgin Media announced its offering of free Wi-Fi service for the London Underground during the Olympics. With the end of this free service imminent, Virgin Media have enlisted both Vodafone and EE (the UK’s first 4G provider) as partners.  From early next year only customers of these networks will be able to gain access. This long overdue increased Wi-Fi service confirms the demand to be ever mobile and always available.

HP and Autonomy – $5 billion write off

HP has accused Autonomy of inflating their financial value before the acquisition.  It seems that HP’s eagerness to capitalise on Big Data may have seen their governance standards slip, costing them over $5 billion. This should be a warning to other technology giants to think carefully before taking drastic steps to try and get a foothold into future technologies.

Bring Your Own…

BYOD is changing the way users live and work, and as many organisations see its steady increase, a new angle has emerged.  The BYOS (Bring Your Own Service) trend incorporates the cloud, allowing end users to introduce apps and services that allow file synchronization for the movement of data across numerous devices. Our concerns remain with security.  Until organisations are able to offer a secure IT environment, the safety of company information can’t be guaranteed.