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Volume 29, Issue 3

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Jon Seals

Global Report Shows Nearly Half of Businesses Experienced Migration Failure, 70% Do Not Calculate Average Cost of Downtime Delaying Critical Business Decisions

IRVINE, Calif.  Vision Solutions Inc., a leading provider of disaster recovery, high availability and migration software and services, revealed major findings in its 2016 State of Resilience Report. The study provides a global look at today’s migration, HA/DR, cloud, and data sharing trends. This year, the report also includes professional services insights, including a list of the challenges IT leaders face when aligning their strategies with the goals of their organization. Primary challenges reported are protecting and recovering growing volumes of data, how best to leverage the cloud, and how to minimize the rate of failed migrations, which continues to trend upward.

The comprehensive study features candid responses from more than 2,000 CTOs, CIOs and other IT leaders. To recognize the importance of globalization, the 2016 report includes regional comparisons between North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Highlights of the 2016 State of Resilience Report include:

  • Despite advancing technology, almost half of global IT leaders experienced a migration failure; moreover, the percentage of organizations that had a migration failure increased by more than 20 percent between 2014 and 2015

  • 70 percent of IT professionals worldwide reported they did not calculate the average estimated hourly cost of migration downtime

  • Globally, 85 percent of professionals said they either had no recovery plan or were less than 100 percent confident their recovery plan was complete

  • Even though some companies have implemented better HA/DR plans, respondents reported more data loss than the previous year, illustrating the pace at which databases are growing is eclipsing the implementation of more effective HA/DR solutions

  • Use of hardware-based storage solutions and software-based storage solutions were evenly split among global respondents (35 percent each)

  • 25 percent of IT professionals said their future plans for data protection will include third-party services such as managed services, cloud, and DRaaS

  • When migrations fail, over half (58 percent) of Latin American IT professionals incur greater than expected downtime, compared to 42 percent in North America and just over a third (38 percent) in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

  • 70 percent of IT professionals are concerned there may be inconsistent information stored in different databases within their organization, delaying critical decisions and spending valuable time which should be spent elsewhere

    “Even one imbalance in the IT system – which includes data, applications, hardware, networks, external vendor software and partners – can be the tipping point between an organization’s success and failure,” said Alan Arnold, Vision Solutions executive vice president and chief technology officer. “In a world where data insights lead business growth, it’s essential that IT leaders take a close look and identify the best tools and solutions to ensure resilience.”

    Overall, Vision Solutions’ 2016 State of Resilience Report sheds light on the “must haves” for IT leaders to maintain a competitive edge in a world where technology is quickly advancing. True resilience calls for IT leaders to realistically and creatively address the challenges of migration, HA/DR, cloud, and outsourcing in an “always on” environment. If an IT leader cannot be nimble and react quickly, they risk both the health of their data strategy and the health of the business.

    Download the complete 2016 State of Resilience Report to read more about how today’s IT leaders are addressing their IT systems in balance with the business.

    About Vision Solutions (www.visionsolutions.com)
    Vision Solutions is the premier provider of software solutions designed to protect data, minimize downtime and maximize resources for the modern data center. It is the only company to deliver migrations, high availability, disaster recovery and data sharing across multiple operating systems, on any storage platform and in any physical, virtual or cloud environment. Its solutions perform near-zero downtime migration of data, applications and servers. It utilizes real-time replication to prevent data loss. And its software enables different database platforms to seamlessly share and consolidate data in real-time. Vision Solutions has been serving enterprises and managed service providers for over 25 years through our portfolio of Double-Take®, MIMIX® and iTERA® product brands. 

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. – Yesterday a severe storm system with strong winds, rain and hail moved through the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, causing damage to communities throughout the area. 

 

In response, Farmers Insurance® claims representatives, agents, other personnel and resources have been helping customers in communities impacted by the adverse weather. Catastrophe claims staff are closely monitoring incoming claims volume and triaging claims, in addition to providing front-line assistance to customers in the affected areas. 

Farmers advises customers in the impacted areas, who have sustained damage from the storms, to call their agent or the 24-hour claims center for assistance.

  • Farmers Claims Contact Center number: 1-800-435-7764. 
  • Foremost and 21st Century customers can also use the 1-800-435-7764 number for immediate assistance. 
  • Bristol West customers can call 1-800-274-7865 for immediate assistance. 
  • Spanish-language claims assistance is available to Farmers customers by calling: 877-RECLAMO (877-732-5266). 

Immediately following a storm, Farmers Insurance recommends the following actions when safe: 

  • Walk around the home inside and out to identify potential damage 
  • Take photographs of any damage noted to the property 
  • Make emergency repairs or temporary emergency repairs as needed to prevent further damage, if you are unable to do so yourself, you may want to consider hiring a professional 
  • Do not forget to check your landscaping 
  • Talk to your Farmers agent if you have questions regarding damage and the claims process

For tips on how to prepare for future spring storms review the Seasonal Smarts Digest (SSD) at www.farmers.com/news/seasonal-smarts/. The digest is released at the beginning of each season and the 2016 Spring Edition will be available on Thursday, March 10. 

 

About Farmers
"Farmers Insurance®" and "Farmers®" are trade names for a group of affiliated insurers providing insurance for automobiles, homes and small businesses and a wide range of other insurance and financial services and products. Farmers Insurance is proud to serve more than 10 million households with over 19 million individual policies, across all 50 states, through the efforts of more than 48,000 exclusive and independent agents and approximately 21,000 employees. Farmers Insurance Exchange, the largest of the three primary insurance insurers that make up Farmers Insurance, is recognized as one of the largest U.S. companies on the 2015 Fortune 500 list.

For more information about Farmers Insurance, visit Farmers.com, Twitter and Instagram, @WeAreFarmers, or Facebook.com/FarmersInsurance.

Rising water and flooding, window breakage and drowsy driving all present drivers with significant challenges as the weather warms 

 

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. – The start of spring means it's the beginning of tornado season, which often produces sudden and severe hail storms that drivers may find themselves trying to navigate through, according to the Farmers Insurance® Seasonal Smarts Digest.

 

Farmers data between 2013 and 2015 shows that more than half (58 percent) of all hail related auto claims occur between March and May, with May itself historically producing more than one-quarter (29 percent) of an entire year's claims. During the springtime months Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Montana all see hail account for approximately three-quarters of claims in each state, while hail accounts for more than half of the claims in Texas during the spring.

 

"Despite the moderating temperatures of spring, drivers cannot let their guard down as this season typically brings a collection of weather-related hazards that motorists must be prepared to face," said Paul Quinn, head of claims customer experience at Farmers Insurance. "Hail, which is frequently sparked by or precedes tornadoes, can be as large as softballs and can cause critical damage to vehicles, windows and sometimes injure occupants. Add to that the threat of rising water and flooded road conditions from spring storms, as well as potholes that occur on roads due to winter water seepage, and spring driving can become downright difficult."

 

Hail storms can be serious for drivers as they produce layered ice balls formed when water droplets are carried upward into very cold layers of the atmosphere. Once hail stones become too heavy to remain aloft, they rain down and can wreak havoc for drivers. 

Drivers should be prepared to encounter hail storms while on the road by heeding the following tips, Quinn said:

  • Watch the sky for a green tinge, which can indicate that severe weather, such as a hail storm, is imminent. 
  • Avoid stopping under an overpass, which can put you in greater danger if that hail storm precedes a forming tornado. Stopping under an overpass can result in even more damage to your car and occupants if high winds – and the debris picked up by those winds – move through the underpass. 
  • Brace for shattering glass and, if at all possible, stay away from front and rear windshields and sun roofs which are most prone to breakage. Cover yourself and occupants with a blanket or jacket. 
  • Stay in your car until the storm has passed, if you have safely navigated off the road and parked in a safe location. If you're traveling with small children, place them under your body and shield their eyes to protect from them from injury. 
  • Cover your car even if you don't have a carport or garage. You can purchase a hail blanket or other car covers if you're forced to keep your car outside, and you may be able to move your car into a covered parking lot for the duration of the storm if there's time.

Spring Ahead Tips for Driving

Although severe weather storms can spring up out of nowhere with little or no warning, there are steps drivers can take now to prepare for the unexpected when driving this spring, said Quinn:

  • Know your surroundings. More than half (51 percent) of all rising water and flooding claims happen between March and May, so it's important to know if you are driving or parking near drainage channels and other areas that could quickly flood if a sudden downpour occurs. Never drive through large puddles, which can mask deep potholes in a road, can cause you to lose control of your steering and braking ability, or flood your engine. 
  • Be prepared for a tornado's funnel cloud. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of the full year's tornado claims occur during the spring. If you spot a funnel cloud, don't try to outrun it. You'd have to drive 70+ miles per hour to outrun the fastest tornado. Instead, exit your car and seek shelter in a sturdy building or underground shelter. Otherwise, find a ditch or area lower than the roadway to get into; lie down and cover your head with your hands until the storm passes. 
  • Watch for signs of fatigued driving. Farmers data showed an increase of 37 percent in sleep-related accidents in 2015 over 2014. Pay attention to your body's signs of fatigue – and the need for an off-road nap or a switch in drivers – to prevent drowsy driving or, worse, falling asleep at the wheel.

"Having to think ahead and properly prepare for the chance of an unexpected but quick-moving spring storm occurring while you are driving may not be at the top of your to-do list," Quinn said. "But devising a plan now, and knowing what to do and, equally as important, what not to do if you encounter a hail storm, tornado or flood waters while behind the wheel can keep you and your passengers safe as you travel this spring."

The complete Farmers Seasonal Smarts Digest, detailing spring's common and uncommon hazards as well as safety and preparedness tips to help keep drivers and their cars safe, can be found online at http://www.farmers.com/news/seasonal-smarts

 

About the Farmers Seasonal Smarts Digest

The Farmers Seasonal Smarts Digest is released four times per year to provide drivers and homeowners with knowledgeable, straightforward and proactive tips to help mitigate potentially dangerous and costly insurance losses. The digest examines a three-year window (2013 to 2015) of Farmers Insurance's historical claims database to identify seasonal perils and the states where they most commonly occur.

 

About Farmers Insurance

"Farmers Insurance®" and "Farmers®" are tradenames for a group of affiliated insurers providing insurance for automobiles, homes and small businesses and a wide range of other insurance and financial services and products. Farmers Insurance is proud to serve more than 10 million households with over 19 million individual policies, across all 50 states, through the efforts of more than 48,000 exclusive and independent agents and approximately 21,000 employees. Farmers Insurance Exchange, the largest of the three primary insurance insurers that make up Farmers Insurance, is recognized as one of the largest U.S. companies on the 2015 Fortune 500 list. For more information about Farmers Insurance, visit Farmers.com, Twitter and Instagram, @WeAreFarmers, or Facebook.com/FarmersInsurance.

Survey of 570 U.S. Data Center Professionals Benchmarks Knowledge of Data Center Practices and Trends in Five Key Areas

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Emerson Network Power, a business of Emerson (NYSE: EMR) and the world’s leading provider of critical infrastructure for information and communications technology systems, in conjunction with the Ponemon Institute, today released the results of the Data Center IQ Survey, the latest report in the Data Center Benchmark Series. Survey results, and a condensed, online version of the quiz are available atwww.EmersonNetworkPower.com/Benchmarks.

 

The study was designed to determine the domain knowledge of data center personnel in the U.S., while also collecting data on application of best practices and current operating conditions within participants’ data centers. The survey report includes the results for 25 knowledge questions that comprise the quiz, as well as 12 operating practice questions. Results are presented by individual question as well aggregated by industry, data center size and participants’ age range and functional role. All knowledge questions are multiple choice and run the gamut from simple, such as what does PUE stand for, to more complex, such as identifying the seven capabilities a DCIM tool must provide.

 

“Our goal as an organization is to provide the industry with the tools, technology and knowledge to optimize data center performance, and this report supports that goal in a fun and interactive way,” said Dan Draper, marketing director, data center programs for Emerson Network Power in North America. “With the survey and the quiz we want to shed light on trends and best practices and help participants identify gaps in their knowledge. Working with the Ponemon Institute, we were able to benchmark industry knowledge of terms, practices and trends related to data center availability, productivity, risk management, speed-of-deployment, and cost management.”

 

The quiz questions are based on basic information and reported research from a variety of industry sources, including the Uptime Institute, The Green Grid, Emerson Network Power’s Data Center User’s Group and IEEE. On average, participants achieved 9.4 correct responses out of the 25 total knowledge questions. Only seven participants out of the 570 who took the quiz achieved a perfect score. Other results include:

  • Data center and facility managers scored the highest on the quiz, averaging 11 correct responses. IT management/operations professionals scored lowest with an average of 7 correct responses.
  • Participants with data centers larger than 10,000 square feet scored better than those with smaller data centers.
  • Participants in the 30-49 year age range scored better than those younger and older.
  • In terms of vertical industries, participants from the colocation sector scored the best, with an average score of 12, followed by cloud/hosting and financial services at 11.

The full report, along with the condensed version of the quiz and prior reports in the Benchmark Series is available at www.EmersonNetworkPower.com/Benchmarks.  

 

About Emerson Network Power
Emerson Network Power, a business of Emerson, is the world’s leading provider of critical infrastructure technologies and life cycle services for information and communications technology systems. With an expansive portfolio of intelligent, rapidly deployable hardware and software solutions for power, thermal and infrastructure management, Emerson Network Power enables efficient, highly-available networks. Learn more at 
www.EmersonNetworkPower.com.

 

About Emerson

Emerson (NYSE: EMR), based in St. Louis, Missouri (USA), is a global leader in bringing technology and engineering together to provide innovative solutions for customers in industrial, commercial, and consumer markets around the world.  The company is comprised of five business segments: Process Management, Industrial Automation, Network Power, Climate Technologies, and Commercial & Residential Solutions. Sales in fiscal 2015 were $22.3 billion.  For more information, visit Emerson.com.

  • Focus: Innovation, Security and Education
  • Investment on top of current programs
  • Digitization: "A unique opportunity for Germany"

 

BERLIN, GERMANY – Cisco announced an investment of $500 million in Germany over the next three years, to help accelerate the country's digitization.

"Digitization goes beyond connectivity. It gives you the ability to secure data, act on data and deliver value based on data," says Oliver Tuszik, general manager Cisco Germany. "Digitization benefits countries, cities, companies and every one of us. It creates competitiveness, improved public services and better quality of life, particularly amongst the demographic changes over the next years. We would like to make our contribution to this transformation, in addition to our ongoing investments."

The program is called "Deutschland Digital" and focuses on innovation, security and education. Planned investments foresee funds for specific digitization projects, research projects, an expansion of the Cisco Networking Academy®, and direct investments in venture funds, as well as to human resources and infrastructure spending.

Chuck Robbins, CEO of Cisco, commented: "Germany has long been known for its focus on innovation, and digitization opens up unprecedented opportunities for the country. With our increased investments in education, innovation and security, we can help create a digital Germany that can bring even greater value to the country and its citizens. Cisco is honored to partner with Germany on 'Deutschland Digital.'"

Innovation
"Innovation is an interdisciplinary exercise," says Tuszik, "and no organization can address the challenges of digitization on its own. Therefore, we want to bring together customers, partners, startups and research institutions and work together on solutions." openBerlin is a Cisco® innovation center that opened in 2015 and will play an important part in this.

In addition, Cisco will organize regular innovation workshops, focusing specifically on mid-sized companies. Startups and other partners will be invited, and participants will work together on digital solutions and business models.

Cisco will also expand its investment in start-ups and venture funds in Germany with priority areas such as security, cloud, and Internet of Things (IoT). Cisco is already focused on the emerging startup ecosystem in Germany, having recently made an investment in IoT provider relayr, headquartered in Berlin.

Cisco is also looking to partner with the public sector and contribute to large-scale transformation projects such as smart cities and regions as well as healthcare and utility networks.

Security
"Security and transparency are key enablers of digitization. We aim to provide training programs and a deeper insight for experts into our technologies, thus enabling them to take better decisions when it comes to Security," says Oliver Tuszik.

Cisco plans to fund a research initiative that translates the German privacy and data protection regulations into a software architecture for cloud services. The goal is to develop a blueprint for cloud architectures with off-the-shelf data sovereignty capabilities that meet the strict requirements in Germany.

In addition, Cisco plans to establish a "Security Center of Excellence" in Germany. The aim is to build an ecosystem of customers, partners, academia, and start-ups around security-related challenges and how to solve them. The focus is on finding solutions to specific challenges within a reasonable time frame.

To help address skills shortage, Cisco will also offer dedicated IT and cybersecurity training programs as part of Cisco Networking Academy.

Digital skills, education and research
"People in Germany are the key to success in digitization," says Tuszik. "We will massively expand our educational programs, both for young people and professionals." The focus will be on providing digital competencies for non-IT professionals in small and medium sized companies, including IT skills for installers (Smart Home), nurses (Smart Health) and electricians (Smart Grid). Together with partners, Cisco will develop a learning and collaboration platform for professionals in these and other areas where they can acquire necessary skills and certifications.

In addition, Cisco is going to expand the Networking Academy. Cisco Networking Academy is a non-profit educational program that offers learning materials on IT topics for educational institutions. Cisco plans to increase the number of graduates in Germany from currently 35,000 a year to 80,000 in three years. The core element of the program will be a learning module specifically developed for the German market, focused on the Internet of Things for non-IT jobs.

"Deutschland Digital" is part of Cisco's global strategy of "Country Digitization Acceleration". In Europe, Cisco previously announced investment plans for digitization acceleration in the U.K., France and Italy. "We all understand there is enormous potential in Germany through digitization", says Tuszik. "Now, we need to accelerate and make it a success. This is where we want to make a contribution through our investment."

About Cisco
Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) is the worldwide leader in IT that helps companies seize the opportunities of tomorrow by proving that amazing things can happen when you connect the previously unconnected. For ongoing news, please go to http://thenetwork.cisco.com.

Cisco and the Cisco logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Cisco and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and other countries. A listing of Cisco's trademarks can be found at www.cisco.com/go/trademarks. Third-party trademarks mentioned are the property of their respective owners. The use of the word partner does not imply a partnership relationship between Cisco and any other company.

The Cyber Kill Chain describes the different stages of an attack, from initial reconnaissance to objective completion. In this article Richard Cassidy describes the different elements of the Cyber Kill Chain and how to use it.

Today’s attackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, using advanced techniques to infiltrate a business’s environment. Unlike in the past when hackers primarily worked alone using ‘smash-and-grab’ techniques, today’s attackers prefer to work in groups, with each member bringing his or her own expertise. With highly skilled players in place, these groups are able to approach infiltration in a much more regimented way, following a defined process that enables then to evade detection and achieve their ultimate goal: turning sensitive, valuable data into a profit. With attackers ready to pounce on any business at any moment, how can businesses stay ahead and ensure their sensitive data remains safe? Most attacks follow a ‘process’ that identified attackers’ behaviours, ranging from researching, to launching an attack and ultimately to data exfiltration: this is articulated as the ‘Cyber Kill Chain’.

The Cyber Kill Chain was developed by Lockheed Martin’s Computer Incident Response Team and describes the different stages of an attack, from initial reconnaissance to objective completion. This representation of the attack flow has been widely adopted by organizations to help them approach their defence strategies in the same way attackers approach infiltrating their businesses. As malicious activity continues to threaten sensitive data — whether it is personal data or company sensitive data — one certainty remains: attackers will continue to exploit weakness to infiltrate systems and extract data that they can turn into money. The best opportunity to get ahead of the hacker is to understand the steps he / she will go through, his / her motivations and techniques, and a security strategy around it.

...

http://www.continuitycentral.com/index.php/news/technology/935-knowing-your-attacker-a-guide-to-the-cyber-kill-chain

Tuesday, 08 March 2016 00:00

Solving the bulk password theft puzzle

Nick Lowe explores how current security measures against bulk data theft from organizations are broken: and how they can be fixed.

Another year, and another round of large-scale data breaches has started. We were barely a week into 2016 when Time Warner was forced to announce a breach of up to 320,000 users’ email account passwords; this followed 2015’s mega-breaches at organizations such as Ashley Madison, the US Government’s Office of Personnel Management, toy maker Vtech and many others.

Despite the scale of these ongoing data losses, and the reputational damage and remediation costs they cause, the methods for enterprise-level protection of bulk passwords and personally identifiable information (PII) have remained fundamentally unchanged over the past 20 years. And it’s evident that these approaches are simply not effective in preventing breaches.

A majority of data thefts are done from an organization’s bulk file storage. This is because once a successful attack is executed, whether via a social engineering exploit to gain administrator credentials, malware installation, or a privilege-escalation attack using known software flaws, the theft itself can be done remarkably quickly. A million username/password pairs may be stolen in just 60 seconds.

...

http://www.continuitycentral.com/index.php/news/technology/934-solving-the-bulk-password-theft-puzzle

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, or so the saying goes. When it comes to phone system resilience, this would seem to be sound advice. After all, phone availability is critical for many organisations and relying on just one solution to guarantee that availability would be foolhardy. However, single points of failure may lie in wait for the unwary, even in situations as simple as putting in a toll free number for use in an emergency.

...

http://www.opscentre.com.au/blog/telephony-resiliency-options-and-single-points-of-failure/

Most data center servers operate at only 12 to 18 percent of their capacity, yet many companies aren’t taking advantage of the cost-saving potential offered by data center consolidation. Consider this: in the last five years, the US government saved nearly $2 billion by consolidating data centers. Companies like Microsoft, HPE, and IBM have likewise saved billions.

In an effort to cut costs and regain control of the data center environment, IT managers are asking that their environments be consolidated and made more efficient. The conversation revolves around aligning IT with business needs, which today often means greater IT agility. Managers and executives are trying to drive down cost and in doing so have prioritized data center consolidation and migration projects.

In creating a consolidation or data center migration plan, high-density server equipment, applications, virtualization technology, and end-user considerations all fall under the general scope.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/03/07/want-to-learn-about-smart-data-center-consolidation/

Given the sensitivity of the data stored in customer relationship management (CRM) applications, it should come as no surprise that there is a lot of concern over how to secure that data. To address that issue, Salesforce today extended a security policy engine service that now makes it possible to limit who gets to see which data stored in its applications in real time.

Seema Kumar, senior director of product marketing for Salesforce, says the Transaction Security service is an extension of Salesforce Shield that makes use of new event monitoring tools that IT organizations can then use to either block entirely or simply generate an alert when a user tries to access a certain type of data without permission. The IT organization can use Salesforce Shield to determine the specific action across a broad set of data.

In addition, Kumar says Salesforce will soon extend this capability to not only its own applications, but all the applications that tap into the same customer records stored in the Salesforce cloud ecosystem.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/it-unmasked/salesforce-bolsters-real-time-data-security.html