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Volume 29, Issue 5

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Jon Seals

Jon Seals

One of the bigger challenges associated with any Big Data project is mastering the interplay between all the technologies such an initiative entails. Between Hadoop and a host of associated platforms such as the Apache Spark in-memory computing framework and the Kafka messaging system, there’s a lot that can go wrong.

Looking to provide IT organizations with a means of actually monitoring the performance of Big Data environments, Unravel Data this week launched a namesake performance intelligence platform for Big Data applications.

Unravel Data CEO Kunal Agarwal says that Unravel, fresh off raising an additional $7 million in funding, has spent the last few years analyzing over eight million jobs run on Big Data platforms. It has used that information to create a catalog of events that in one way or another lead to performance degradation of a Big Data application. It is now using that repository to compare events in specific Big Data environments to determine the root cause of any given Big Data application issue, says Agarwal.



The Travel Risk is Real

You don’t have to look long to find news of terrorist attacks, natural disasters, political unrest, and other safety threats around the world. It can be a scary place, especially if you’re a frequent traveler. Not too long ago, business travelers only had to be concerned with logistics and language barriers. Today, they have to be on alert everywhere they go, both home and abroad.

The Global Business Travel Association found millennials are nearly twice as likely to want to travel more for business than Baby Boomers and 57% of millennials believe technology can “never replace face-to-face meetings to get business done.” These numbers help explain the boom in business travel. Nearly 500 million business trips were taken in 2015 and that number is expected to grow considerably in the coming years.



Friday, 23 September 2016 00:00

The Rise and Fall in Compliance Costs

Many leaders of financial services companies complain about the rising cost of compliance and fraud detection. Larger institutions fear they are not seeing the economies of scale that typically arise with size. When it comes to compliance, the greater “surface area” and the greater complexity of environment offset the traditional economies of scale.

Increasing costs inevitably create a demand for creative cost containment. The usual proposed solutions are automation, reviews of capital or operating expenses and outsourcing.  All three of these are combining to stem the tide of rising compliance costs, but all require re-engineering of business operations to achieve those savings.

Historically in financial services, automation of business interactions – ranging from deposits and withdrawals to derivatives trading – was the first driver of business volume growth.  However, as the amount of transactions and other data requiring review grew, so did compliance costs, and businesses had incentives to move from manual to automated auditing and reporting processes.



A fire extinguishing test at a Bucharest data centre belonging to the Romanian arm of ING saw the bank’s customers unable to make card payments, ATM withdrawals and online transactions for several hours on Saturday.

The bank says that services were knocked out for around 10 hours thanks to the damage caused when it tested its extinguisher system, which expels a mix of nitrogen, argon and carbon dioxide, known as inergen.

Inert gas is used to combat fires at data centres because it does not normally damage electronic equipment. It is stored in cylinders and released at high pressure out of nozzles spread around the site. The high-pressure release of the gas produced a loud noise – over 130 decibels – and the associated vibration destroyed dozens of hard drives.



The Central Bank of Ireland (Bhainc Ceannais na hÉireann) has published guidance on IT risk management and cyber security for financial services firms and warned that cyber risks are now a key concern.

Incidences of cyber attack related business interruption are increasing and firms should assume they will be successfully targeted, says the Central Bank, and the security and resilience of IT systems, their governance and management must improve to reflect this reality.

The Central Bank expects boards and senior management of regulated firms to:

  • Fully recognise their responsibilities for cyber risk issues and to put them among their top priorities.
  • Robustly address key issues such as alignment of IT and business strategy, outsourcing risk, change management, cybersecurity, incident response, disaster recovery and business continuity. Firms need to make sure that they understand these risks and that they are managed effectively. 

The new guidance, ‘Cross Industry Guidance in respect of Information Technology and Cybersecurity Risks’, sets out the Central Bank's expectations of firms in the above areas.

Director of Policy & Risk, Gerry Cross, said:

“Developments in technology have fundamentally changed business processes and models in financial firms.  These advancements have resulted in benefits for firms and their customers.  However, they also bring significant risks as firms become increasingly interconnected and more reliant on complex IT systems, including outsourcing service providers.  

“The Central Bank is demanding increased effectiveness in this area.  We are undertaking considerable work to require improved IT risk management and cyber resilience across regulated firms. This includes enhanced supervisory capabilities and increased focus on these risk areas."

Read the guidance document (PDF).