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Summer Journal

Volume 29, Issue 3

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Jon Seals

Google’s new push into public cloud portends to accelerate the already torrid pace of business adoption and force managed service providers (MSPs) to reassert their value to customers - including some who question if they still need third-party support.

The tech behemoth last week announced it's investing billions for more capacity and enterprise-critical enhancements, declaring its intention to seize market share in a competition now led by Amazon and Microsoft.

But the explosive proliferation of cut-rate cloud services threatens to disrupt many MSPs, with some needing to quickly add cloud offerings and others forced to resell clients on the importance of the managed services relationship in the new paradigm.

“It’s having an impact on our ability to acquire new customers because business owners think they can do this themselves,” said Joe Popper, who still works at the successful MSP he sold two months ago, after 25 years as its owner.

Aggressive marketing for products like Office 365 tout free migration and an average 20 percent savings in IT expenditure. Popper said he’s run across business owners who view the cloud as a means to cut costs by shedding monthly service subscriptions.

“'Cloud’ is one of the very few (IT) buzzwords – other than ‘Internet’ – that the layman understands,” Popper said. “The problem is that they think they can get everything out of the cloud ...  But if it blows up, they're in a world of hurt."



For any large-scale internet company, data center efficiency and profit margins are closely linked, and at scale like Google’s, data center efficiency is everything.

Designing for better efficiency is a never-ending process for Google’s infrastructure team, and since cooling is the biggest source of inefficiency in data centers, it has always gotten special attention.

“Since I’ve been at Google, we have redesigned our fundamental cooling technology on average every 12 to 18 months,” said Joe Kava, who’s overseen the company’s data center operations for the last eight years.

This efficiency chase has produced innovations in water and air-based data center cooling. The company has developed ways to use sea water and industrial canal water for cooling; it has devised systems for reclaiming and recycling grey water and for harvesting rain water.



(TNS) — In the wake of the terrorist attacks on the airport and subway system in Brussels, a group of lawmakers in Congress is pushing to increase funding to provide better security on the United States’ mass transit systems.

On Wednesday, 66 House Democrats urged the Homeland Security appropriations subcommittee to set aside $105 million to help local transit systems improve security. That’s $20 million more than President Barack Obama requested in his 2017 budget proposal and a drop in the bucket compared to the billions the country spends annually on aviation security.

An explosion in the Maelbeek Station on the Brussels Metro killed 20 people Tuesday. One of the suspected bombers, Khalid El Bakraoui, was killed in the suicide attack, which happened near the headquarters of the European Commission.



(TNS) — A new maritime SWAT team that can be rappel-ready by next year’s Sail Boston Tall Ships Regatta and a regional response shelter unit trained to comfort people and their pets top this year’s anti-terrorism priorities for Boston and its eight contiguous neighbors.

Other submissions were scrapped either because of cost — like Brookline’s bid for a $250,000 trailer “to support regional coordination in the event of simultaneous terrorist attacks” — or because they are not eligible for federal funding, like the Hub’s $200,000 appeal for intelligence-gathering drones.

Just two days after ISIS bombers attacked Brussels, killing 31 and injuring 260, safety, security and planning experts from Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Quincy, Revere, Somerville and Winthrop agreed yesterday to a $4.56 million wish list of training and equipment needs.



On the PC, various hardware and software resources must function in harmony in order to produce something useful. This is why smart people invented the operating system.

In the data center, you have pretty much the same resources – compute, storage, networking – except on a larger, more distributed scale. Most data centers feature any number of management systems, many of which are optimized for a particular resource or application, and this has served as the data center operating system to varying degrees of success.

But now that the data center is about to be redefined from hardware to software, and then distributed not just across a building or a campus but across town and around the world, the need for a cohesive data center operating system is becoming evident.



New survey of Board members and executives worldwide sheds light on most pressing risk issues for organizations

More organizations are realizing that additional risk management sophistication is warranted given the fast pace at which complex risks are emerging, according to results of the fourth annual joint survey assessing the current risk environment by global consulting firm Protiviti and the Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) Initiative at the North Carolina State University Poole College of Management.

Released today, Executive Perspectives on Top Risks for 2016 (www.protiviti.com/TopRisks) summarizes the concerns of 535 Board members, C-suite and other top-level executives around the world and across industries. In the survey, respondents rate the significance of 27 risk issues for the coming year, spanning three risk categories: macroeconomic, strategic and operational.

Regulatory change and heightened regulatory scrutiny is the number one risk cited by survey respondents for the fourth consecutive year, highlighting its dominance on the minds of Board members and executives worldwide. The majority (60 percent) of respondents believe this risk will continue to have a significant impact on their organizations, indicating business executives remain highly concerned about the effect of the regulatory landscape on their strategic direction.



For some reason, bad ideas often attempt to make a comeback – typically, after enough time has passed and the very reason they were discarded or abandoned in the first place is forgotten.

Bad ideas certainly are not exclusive to popular culture; in fact, articles and case studies litter the internet documenting both public and private organizations attempting to resurrect failed models and strategies in hopes that new capabilities or use cases will finally make a particular idea just as good in practice as it was in theory or on paper.

In the wake of several high-profile, unpredictable, catastrophic incidents (“Black Swan Events”) in 2012, Avalution received a number of requests to develop highly-specific, scenario-based plans from our clients. Planning for Every Scenario is “For the Birds” explains that Black Swan Events cannot be predicted, and advises that organizations that implement flexible strategies, applicable in almost any type of scenario to manage response and recovery, enjoy the highest levels of success when faced with a disruptive incident.

However, the demand for scenario-based plans seems to be back.



Here’s part two of our interview with Amir Michael, who spent most of the last decade designing servers for some of the world’s biggest data centers, first at Google and then at Facebook. He was one of the founders of the Open Compute Project, the Facebook-led open source hardware and data center design community.

Today, Michael is a co-founder and CEO of Coolan, a startup that aims to help data center operators make more informed decisions about buying hardware and make their data centers more efficient and resilient using Big Data analytics.



Emergency notification systems through email and phone have become an integral part of instant messaging. Colleges send out text messages warning students of serious incidents on campus, local authorities send out severe weather alerts, and police often send messages to those who have signed up to receive information during community emergencies. While the number of businesses and individuals using these types of notification systems are increasing, there are, unfortunately, cases in which messages have been inaccurate and caused confusion during a crisis situation. “Communication is Key” is starting to sound like a broken record. However, effective communication should be the key to communicating in a crisis situation.



Effective information security controls are a good defense against cyber threats. However, will that be enough to keep the doors of your company open for business over the long term?

Hiring a capable and effective information security analyst staff, or increasing your budget to expand information security jobs in your organization may prove your upper management’s support for keeping your company’s data safe from hackers …but….it may not be enough to help guarantee an enterprise’s ability to continually satisfy its customers.

Companies that can do that are often considered to have strong organizational resilience qualities embedded within their corporate culture and how they run their companies on a day to day basis. Research indicates that many leadership teams will agree that, to ensure lasting success, their organization must become ‘resilient’.