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Spring Journal

Volume 29, Issue 2

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Jon Seals

The world’s biggest technology companies are handing over the keys to their success, making their artificial intelligence systems open-source.

Traditionally, computer users could see the end product of what a piece of software did by, for instance, writing a document in Microsoft Word or playing a video game. But the underlying programming – the source code – was proprietary, kept from public view. Opening source material in computer science is a big deal because the more people that look at code, the more likely it is that bugs and long-term opportunities and risks can be worked out.

Openness is increasingly a big deal in science as well, for similar reasons. The traditional approach to science involves collecting data, analyzing the data and publishing the findings in a paper. As with computer programs, the results were traditionally visible to readers, but the actual sources – the data and often the software that ran the analyses – were not freely available. Making the source available to all has obvious communitarian appeal; the business appeal of open source is less obvious.



More companies are creating data science capabilities to enable competitive advantages. Because data science talent is rare and the demand for such talent is high, organizations often work with outsourced partners to fill important skill gaps. Here are a few reasons to consider outsourcing. What can go right and wrong along the way?


A great number of companies are investing in data science, but the results they're getting are mixed. Building internal capabilities can be time-consuming and expensive, especially since the limited pool of data scientists is in high demand. Outsourcing can speed an organization's path to developing a data science capability, but there are better and worse ways to approach the problem.

"The decision to outsource is always about what the core competency of your business is, and where you need the speed," said Tony Fross, VP and North American practice leader for digital advisory services at Capgemini Consulting. "If you don't have the resources or the ability to focus on it, sometimes outsourcing is a faster way to stand up a capability."



Most times, “underwater” and data center are only together in a sentence about the financial condition of a failed company, not computers actually covered by liquid. Yet, Microsoft has gotten great attention from the experiment they publicized in January, putting a “capsule” containing computers 30 feet underwater for 105 days. People appear to be fascinated with the idea of underwater data centers, an idea that conjures up images from Jules Verne’s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.


Don’t get me wrong, I like the boldness of the idea and the innovation required to tackle Project Natick. But since we’re in the election season in the US, let’s do some fact checking to see whether this idea can do more than tread water.

The virtues proposed by Microsoft researchers and industry analysts include reduced cooling costs; the ability to use clean, renewable tidal energy; lower latency and better application performance for the 50 percent of the world’s population that lives within 200km of the ocean; and reduced deployment time of mass-produced capsules, from years to weeks.



For small businesses, a data breach can be expensive - it could even cost you your business. According to some studies, it’s been estimated that around half of companies are forced out of business within six months of a cyber breach.
One unfortunate trend that’s being picked up is that smaller businesses are increasingly becoming the targets of cybercrime - it’s not just major companies that are being held to ransom by hackers. It doesn’t help that a lot of smaller businesses rely on third-party services and growing amounts of computer equipment, both of which leave them ever more open to the threat of an attack.
It’s the big companies that make all the headlines, but this can be a factor in lulling smaller businesses into a false sense of security when in fact they are most at risk - more than 80 per cent of breaches are estimated to happen to small businesses. But with limited resources, how can you effectively secure your business against cyber threats?
Monday, 22 February 2016 00:00

Are HR Chiefs The Biggest Cyber Threat?

Chief human resource officers (CHROs) are not taking cyber threats seriously, and they are failing to train employees on how to deflect even the simplest hacks.

90% of all malware requires human interaction before it can infect its target (i.e. clicking on an email and opening a Word doc), according to Dell Secureworks, a security awareness training provider.

Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles, Calif. declared an internal emergency earlier this month when the hospital had its computer systems cyber attacked and held ransom by hackers, according to an NBC News report. The hospital was infected with the “Locky” virus. CMS Wire reported the hospital staff were unable to turn on their computers and radiation and oncology departments unable to use their equipment. If the hospital employees were trained up on Locky – then they would have known exactly what do when they saw the suspicious email and Word doc.



Monday, 22 February 2016 00:00

Montgomery May Need Backup 911 Center

(TNS) - Will Montgomery County build a backup 911 call center or opt for a regional service?

County officials, who have been mandated by the state to offer a backup facility, will have to make a decision concerning the center. The practicality of a backup was made plain the week of July 4, 2012, when a strong wind ripped the roof from the current center.

County Manager Matthew Woodard said the N.C. Legislature has passed a bill mandating that counties have a reserve facility in case the regular call center goes off-line or a widespread emergency requires backup. He said that in the case of the 2012 windstorm, emergency communications could have been disrupted if rain had damaged equipment.



(TNS) - Floodwaters, like many natural disasters, are not contained by political boundaries.

But on Monday, when overflowing Cowiche Creek inundated county and city homes, emergency management staff for both jurisdictions were not talking to each other about services for displaced residents.

“Between our office, the Red Cross, and the individuals in the Riverview Manor Mobile Home Park, there were some difficulties getting ahold of the city,” said Scott Miller, director of the Yakima County Office of Emergency Management.



In a recent threat report, cloud email management company Mimecast warned they had seen a 55% increase in whaling attacks over the past three months. As we reported in this month’s Risk Management cover story “The Devil in the Details,” social engineering fraud schemes like whaling (which is phishing that targets higher-profile employees and executives) resulted in a total losses of more than $1.2 billion worldwide between October 2013 to August 2015. According to the Mimecast Business Email Threat Report 2016, released yesterday, IT security professionals clearly recognize the risk, with 64% of respondents in the new saying they see email as a major cybersecurity threat to their business. Yet only 35% feel confident about their level of preparedness against data breaches, while 65% feel ill-equipped or too out of date to reasonably defend against the risk.

“Our cyber-security is under attack and we depend on technology, and email in particular, in all aspects of business. So it’s very disconcerting to see that while we might appreciate the danger, many companies are still taking too few measures to defend themselves against email-based threats in particular,” said Peter Bauer, chief executive officer of Mimecast. “As the cyber threat becomes more grave, email attacks will only become more common and more damaging. It’s essential that executives, the C-suite in particular, realize that they may not be as safe as they think and take action. Our research shows there is work still to be done to be safe and we can learn a lot from the experience of those that have learnt the hard way.”



Invented by Sabey Data Centers engineer John Sasser, the portable device will obsolete the legacy use of costly load banks and rack-mounted fan systems 
Providing a real life commissioning environment in a manner that simple load banks cannot attain


SEATTLE, Wash. - Sabey Data Centers, one of the nation’s largest privately-owned multi-tenant data center owners and developers, and McKinstry a full-service design, build, operate and maintain firm, jointly announced today that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued a patent for Sabey’s new and innovative Mobile Commissioning Assistant.


The new cart-mounted, portable apparatus is designed to replace a costly legacy testing methodology that employs heat-generating load banks and separate fan units to simulate the heat density of a full server load and test the capacity of air handling systems within a data center. 


The device allows data center developers to test both power and airflow in data centers that use hot aisle containment. It provides a real-life commissioning environment in a manner that simple load banks cannot attain.


Invented by John Sasser, Sabey Data Centers’ Vice President of Operations and built by McKinstry, the Mobile Commissioning Assistant will be produced and marketed under a business agreement with McKinstry. Both companies are based in Seattle, WA. Interested parties may purchase the devices from Sabey’s partner, McKinstry.

John Sabey, President, Sabey Data Centers, said, “Cooling systems in data centers protect against equipment failure and significant revenue loss. Testing the capacity of these systems is a critical final step before the servers go live. But most data center operators rely on unwieldy load bank heaters that don’t simulate actual operating conditions. Our Mobile Commissioning Assistant uses a heating unit, a fan and an adjustable duct output to simulate both the

thermal load and the airflow of a fully-operational data center with a hot-aisle containment system.”


Mr. Sasser said, “Data center capacity is typically described in terms of kilowatts, or kW. In other words, how many kilowatts of computing load the power systems can support. Electrically this makes sense in a system that has to support a certain number of kW.  Mechanically, however, it's not just the kW that is relevant, but also the airflow, measured in cubic feet/minute (CFM). Traditional load banks don’t adequately test airflow. You may leave a commissioning event thinking the systems work as designed, only to find later that there are airflow deficiencies.”


Each Mobile Commissioning Assistant produces 100kW of heat and pulls about 16,000 cubic feet per minute (CFM) of airflow, putting enough airflow into the room to simulate a 20° temperature differential between inlet (cooled air) temperature to the servers and exhaust air heated by the servers. 


Mr. Sasser explained, “For example, if there is a designed 300,000 CFM in the server room, in addition to supplying the heat, we will pull 300,000 CFM with about 18 Mobile Commissioning Assistant carts and then see if the air handlers can keep up, and the back-up uninterruptable power supply (UPS) units and generators can do what they were designed to do. This represents a much more realistic test and is today part of our standard commissioning process.”


“The Mobile Commissioning Assistant will pay for itself after only three commissioning event uses, compared to renting other commercially available equipment,” said Thomas Tellefson, McKinstry business development director.” It will accurately test the capacity of your cooling systems, thereby preventing catastrophic equipment failure. It will also allow the data center operator to avoid the inconvenience of renting testing equipment that really doesn’t test what the operator actually needs. The Mobile Commissioning Assistant is not only very useful in new construction, but in recommissioning facilities as well.”


Mr. Tellefson added,“Servers don’t just emit heat. They also create airflow patterns throughout the data center. The Mobile Commissioning Assistant tests the cooling system’s capacity to handle this air pressure.”


About Sabey Data Center Properties

With a portfolio of more than three million square feet of mission critical space, Sabey Data Center Properties is one of the oldest and largest privately owned multi-tenant data center owner/developer/operators in the United States.  Sabey specializes in scalable, custom-built solutions including data center ready shell space and fully turnkey data centers managed by Sabey’s award-winning critical environment staff. Consistently recognized for its reputation for operational excellence through its world-class data centers and sustained uptime, Sabey is proud to provide data center services to many of the world’s top financial, technology and healthcare companies. www.sabeydatacenters.com.


About McKinstry 

McKinstry is a full-service, design-build-operate-and-maintain (DBOM) firm specializing in consulting, construction, energy and facility services. The firm’s innovative, integrated delivery methodology provides clients with a single point of accountability that drives waste and redundancy out of the design/build process. With nearly 2,000 professional staff and trades people throughout the United States and operations in more than 15 states, McKinstry advocates collaborative, sustainable solutions designed to ensure occupant comfort, improve systems efficiency, reduce facility operational costs, and optimize profitability “For The Life of Your Building.” For more information, visit www.mckinstry.com.


CARMEL, Ind. – A $50,000 donation from HOPE (Health Opportunity through Partnership in Education) is helping the American Red Cross provide safety and comfort to families nationwide after disaster strikes their communities. With this donation, HOPE has now contributed a total of $100,000 to support the American Red Cross national disaster relief programs.


Since 1982, HOPE has worked to promote good health; encourage scientific research; and educate the public about prevention, detection and treatment of cancer and other serious diseases and accidents.


HOPE members, including more than 180,000 Washington National Insurance Company certificateholders, generously contribute to the HOPE foundation to support and promote its mission through partnerships with established nonprofit organizations, such as the American Red Cross. 


"We are honored to partner with the American Red Cross to support efforts that focus on helping disaster survivors during and after an emergency," said Barbara Stewart, president of HOPE. "Once again, we are grateful to Washington National customers and HOPE members for making this gift possible."


"The American Red Cross saw an unprecedented level of domestic disaster activity in 2015—assisting with 176 large disasters. As our disaster workforce continues to rise to each new opportunity to help people when they most need it, it is gratifying to know that like-minded organizations, such as Washington National and HOPE, are beside us," said Chad Priest, CEO of American Red Cross Indiana Region. 


About HOPE
HOPE is a nonprofit organization incorporated in 1982. HOPE's mission is to promote good health; to encourage scientific research; and to disseminate information about the prevention, detection and treatment of cancer and other serious diseases and accidents. For more information, visit HopeMembers.com.


About Washington National Insurance Company
Washington National Insurance Company, a subsidiary of CNO Financial Group, Inc., has helped Americans since 1911 to protect themselves and their families from the financial hardship that often comes with critical illnesses, accidents and loss of life. The company's supplemental health and life insurance products are designed to help give policyholders and their loved ones peace of mind. To learn more, visit WashingtonNational.com.


About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.