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Volume 27, Issue 4

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Jon Seals

January 31, 2014

Lessons from Atlanta

What many would call a “dusting,” we Atlantans would call a “snowpocalypse” as evidence by this week’s 2 inches of snow which crippled the city, causing severe gridlock across the metro area, stranding school children and commuters who were forced to abandon cars on the highway. The mayor of Atlanta and Governor Deal have been making the media circuit, trying to explain what happened to cause the city to grind to a halt, but regardless of who’s fault it was, it’s time to take a look at the situation and see what we can learn from a preparedness perspective. Here are our top 5 lessons learned, that don’t just apply to folks in the Deep South, but to everyone who might be caught in an emergency situation.

  1. You can always count on…yourself. We’d like to be able to tell you that someone from your local, state, or federal government will always be available 24/7 to help everyone during an emergency, but that’s just not realistic. First responders are there to help the people in the most need, it’s important that everyone else be self-sufficient until emergency response crews have time to get the situation under control. That means you need to be prepared for the worst, with supplies, plans, and knowledge to make sure you can care for yourself and your family until the situation returns to normal.
  2. Keep emergency supplies in your car. So much of our lives revolve around our vehicles. For most of us that’s how we get to and from work everyday, shuttle our kids, and buy groceries. And in places like Atlanta many of us have long commutes, during which time anything could happen. You have emergency supplies in your house, why not in your car? Many motorists were stranded on the highways for 10 hours or more. You need to make sure you have a blanket, water, food, and other emergency supplies stored away in your trunk just in case.
  3. Make a family emergency plan. If you can’t pick up your kids who will? Many parents were stranded on the interstate and unable to get to their children’s schools. Sit down with your family and go over what you would do in different emergency situations. Is there a neighbor or relative in the area that can help out if you aren’t able to get to your kids. Let them know you’d like to include them in your plan. Make sure you also come up with a communication plan, that includes giving everyone a list of important phone numbers, not just to save in your cellphone but to keep in your wallet or kids’ backpack. Many commuters’ cell phones died while they were sitting on the roadways for hours. If all your important phone numbers are saved to your device and it died, would you be able to remember your neighbor’s number to ask them to check in on the kids when a Good Samaritan loans you their phone?  
  4. Keep your gas tanks full. This is important to remember in other emergencies like hurricanes, when people are trying to evacuate.  If there’s a chance you’re going to need your car, or your ability to get gas is going to be restricted (due to road closures or shortages), make sure you fill up your tank as soon as you hear the first warning. Many of the motorists trying to get home this week ran out of gas, worsening the clogged roads and delaying first responders from getting to people who really needed their help.  
  5. Listen to warnings. The City of Atlanta and the surrounding metro area was under a winter storm warning within 12 hours of the first flakes, but residents and area leaders were slow to listen, most people didn’t start taking action until the snow began to fall, which lead to a mass exodus of the city. While no one likes to “cry wolf” in situations like these, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Learn the difference between a watch and a warning, and start taking action as soon as you hear the inclement forecast.

http://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2014/01/lessons-from-atlanta/

Earlier this week, I wrote about the challenges of data illiteracy. I think it’s particularly a problem in fields where data has been collected, but maybe is not seen as a way to guide strategy or output.

Education is one such field (they hate being called an industry, even though, let’s face it, they are). While education as a whole is data-heavy, its main focus is not on managing data or information, but on student output. And while data has been used to produce change, it’s not often used in a particularly strategic way. When test scores go down, that data triggers policy and sometimes theory change, but seldom is the data used to inform that change.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/integration/data-dives-a-step-in-the-right-direction.html

Data Privacy Day was earlier this week. I can’t think of a time when data privacy was more discussed among businesses and individuals than right now, and yet, this day to focus on privacy went largely unnoticed. At least, I had no idea it was coming until a couple of people alerted me. Now I know it falls every January 28.

Of course, data privacy isn’t something we should be thinking about only one day a year. Nor should data privacy be seen only in relation to NSA spying and Edward Snowden. It is something that should be practiced regularly and improved upon whenever possible in order to keep information from getting into the wrong hands (and I don’t mean the government).

As Guidance Software’s Anthony Di Bello pointed out in a blog post, data privacy and security needs to be used everywhere for it to be effective. The best practices used at work should extend to home. The trick is making sure employees understand why instituting best practices for privacy is so important. Di Bello provided an example from a chief information security officer (CISO) with whom he works, and I think this advice should be shared:

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/data-security/data-privacy-day-should-be-every-day.html

NETWORK WORLDThis vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter's approach.

If you've built something yourself rather than buy it, like a book shelf or a bird house, you know the satisfaction of shaping something to your needs. And as long as nothing goes wrong, you're in good shape. But if it breaks you can't return it to the store for an exchange; you have to fix it yourself. And while repairing a bookshelf is one thing, recovering applications in a data center when they fail is something else entirely.

Linux is an excellent tool for creating the IT environment you want. Its flexibility and open-source architecture mean you can use it to support nearly any need, running mission-critical systems effectively while keeping costs low. This flexibility, however, means that if something does go wrong, it's up to you to ensure your business operations can continue without disruption. And while many disaster recovery solutions focus on recovering data in case of an outage, leaving it at that is leaving the job half done. Having the information itself will be useless if the applications that are running it don't function, and you are unable to meet SLAs.

...

http://www.cio.com/article/747433/How_to_Keep_Your_Linux_Heavy_Data_Center_Up_and_Running

Network World — An MIT research team next month will show off a networked system of flash storage devices they say beats relying on DRAM and networked hard disks to handle Big Data demands.

The copious amounts of data now collected for analyzation by organizations overtaxes computers' main memory, but linking hard disks across an Ethernet network to solve the problem proves too slow, according to the researchers.

Their Blue Database Machine, or BlueDBM (sounds like an IBM product!), consists of flash devices controlled by serially networked field-programmable gate array chips that can also process data. The researchers say flash systems can find random pieces of information from within large data sets in microseconds, whereas the seek time for hard disks can be more than double that.

...

http://www.cio.com/article/747432/MIT_Researchers_Resort_to_Flash_for_Big_Data_Storage

CSO — Unless you're been living under a rock in North America, it's pretty hard to have missed news of recent high profile data breaches.

I'd venture to say these stories have made their way into the wider, global purview (note: as I write this, another report regarding a massive data breach in South Korea affecting 20 million cardholders was released). While the number of retailers and account holders impacted by these events continues to increase and make headlines, issuers and merchants alike must address ways to instill confidence in their customers in short order.

Upon hearing this type of news, cardholders immediately think "Was I impacted? What do I need to do? Will my account be closed? Will I get a new account number and new debit or credit card?" These and many more questions likely flood the support lines as customers want to understand their real-life implications and steps they need to take to protect themselves.

...

http://www.cio.com/article/747513/Positioning_Your_Institution_s_Response_in_the_Face_of_Data_Breach

ATLANTA — There are bad commutes, and then there is what happened here this week.

When a light snow started falling early Tuesday afternoon, Saquana Bonaparte, 31, left her factory job and headed out to get her daughter from school in one of the city’s northern suburbs.

She ended up inching along in her car for almost 12 hours and survived on a half bag of beef jerky and a small bottle of Mountain Dew. Unable to get to a bathroom, she did what she had to do as she drove. Twice.

Ms. Bonaparte spent the night on jammed roads with tens of thousands of other desperate Atlanta-area drivers who had never seen anything like the sheet of ice that coated the city.

...

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/30/us/ice-storm-southern-united-states.html

ARMONK, NY. and Waltham, MA –  4 Feb. 2014 IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced a new data virtualization service for its portfolio of cloud-based enterprise offerings. The new service – IBM SmartCloud DataVirtualization (SCDV) – will enable customers to decouple their application data from their physical infrastructure, improving business resiliency, agility, andthe ability to move more seamlessly into the cloud.

As organizations move toward cloud-based systems, many struggle with the complexity and cost associated with application data bound to physical infrastructure. Independent silos of hardware and software built to support backup, business continuity, dev & test, analytics, and compliance make it difficult to move data where it needs to be, to both safely protect and quickly develop the applications on which a business often depends.

By virtualizing data management, IBM SmartCloud Data Virtualization breaks down the walls of these silos. A single, physical copy – stored wherever it makes the most sense for a given customer – can be used to create multiple virtual copies, in support of any business application. Infrastructure is collapsed as data protection and availability SLA’s are improved, resulting in compelling economic and strategic value created for the customer.


IBM SmartCloud® Data Virtualization leverages Actifio’s Virtual Data Pipeline™ technology to provide a unique model for managing critical data, without the expense of managing excess copies.  Clients can reclaim production storage capacity, improve data center utilization, and quickly recover critical servers, resulting in a dramatically lower total cost of ownership than can be achieved through traditional means. 

Cloud-based recovery services are expected to provide higher degrees of resiliency, faster response, and ease of use through self-service, automation, and economies of scale greater than traditional disaster recovery services. This new offering delivers on these objectives with application recovery in minutes versus hours, point-in-time data snapshots to help eliminate traditional back-up windows, and drastically improves production storage. The recoverability of an application can be tested – in real-time – without any disruption to the production system.  Test failovers can be performed more frequently and, in the event of an actual failover, changes are logged and are automatically re-synched with the primary production system when failback is initiated. 

“IBM’s SmartCloud Data Virtualization combines the power of Actifio’s data virtualization platform with IBM’s Resiliency technology and operational reliability,” said Laurence Guihard-Joly, General Manager for IBM’sBusiness Continuity and Resiliency Services. “As part of our growing portfolio of cloud software, services and expertise that help clients tackle any IT or business challenge with confidence, security and trust, SCDV will not only offer many customers faster recovery times at better price points, it will enable them to leverage their IBM-protected data as a business asset rather than simply an insurance policy."

We’re excited IBM has chosen our platform for this strategic cloud initiative, and to be working closely with them to bring more customers the power of our combined offering as they move to take advantage of the transformative economics of the cloud,” said Actifio Founder and CEO Ash Ashutosh. “The bottom line here is thousands of IBM customers are now able to achieve better SLA’s for more mission critical applications, accelerating their business and their path into the cloud.”

About Actifio

Actifio is radically simple copy data management. Our Copy Data Virtualization platform enables customers to identify data from any production application; capture it according to an SLA they can define in just a few clicks; and manage it over it’s entire lifecycle in a dramatically more bandwidth, labor, and storage footprint efficient way than is possible with traditional, siloed systems. Virtual copies of data protected by Actifio are available to production systems – instantly – for a host of enterprise use cases including Data Protection, Business Continuity, Dev/Test, Data Insights, and Active Archive. Actifio is headquartered just outside Boston, Massachusetts, with customers in over 22 countries and offices around the world. For more information, please visit http://www.actifio.com or email info@actifio.com.

About IBM

For more information about IBM SmartCloud Data Virtualization, visit: http://www-935.ibm.com/services/us/en/it-services/business-continuity/smartcloud-data-virtualization/

CIO — Marketing organizations are gearing up to increase their budgets for big data marketing initiatives in 2014, but is their focus in the right place?

A report by data-driven marketing specialist Infogroup Targeting Solutions found that companies are continuing to ramp up their spending on big data marketing initiatives in 2014 (62 percent of companies expect their big data marketing budgets to increase). However, most of those companies are focusing on technology, not people—57 percent of companies say they do not plan to hire new employees for their data efforts in 2014.

That may be a costly error in the long run, says David McRae, president of Infogroup Targeting Solutions.

...

http://www.cio.com/article/747407/Businesses_Spending_on_Big_Data_Marketing_but_Not_Hiring_for_It

NETWORK WORLDThis vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter's approach.

As pressure mounts to deliver value with ever-increasing speed, lines of business (LOB) are often drawn to cloud computing's ease of use, flexibility and rapid time-to-value. The resultant Shadow IT created by use of consumer grade cloud computing resources usually raises questions about enterprise security, but the real risk is the potential for downtime due to inadequate A availability.

Any interruption that impacts the customer experience will affect the bottom line -- and a company's reputation -- faster than you can say "temporarily unavailable."

So what can IT leaders do about it? With the cloud movement a foregone conclusion, how can they ensure the requisite availability standards are met -- and that their investments in availability are the right ones? There are five key success factors for addressing Shadow IT while ensuring availability in the cloud:

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http://www.cio.com/article/747409/Cloud_Availability_Trumps_Security_Concerns_When_it_Comes_to_Shadow_IT