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Volume 29, Issue 3

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Jon Seals

(TNS) - At least three people have died in severe weather in the southern states of the United States, where tornadoes, damaging hail and flash floods left a swath of destruction.

Tornadoes churned across many states, from Louisiana to Georgia, but the most destructive were in Louisiana and Mississippi.

More than 30 people were injured in the storms. Two people died in the hamlet of Convent, Louisiana, after a tornado demolished more than 160 mobile homes.

The third casualty died in a trailer park in Purvis, Mississippi.

The storm left tens of thousands of people without power in Louisiana, and John Bel Edwards, the state governor, declared a state of emergency in seven parishes.

The powerful storm developed when the jet stream dived across the region on Tuesday. A jet stream is a fast-flowing ribbon of air, blowing high above the Earth's surface, which can dictate the path of storms and can also encourage their development.



Thursday, 25 February 2016 00:00

Zika Virus Exposes Weaknesses in Public Health

State health officials were heartened when President Barack Obama this month asked Congress for $1.8 billion to combat the spread of the Zika virus because they fear they don't have the resources to fight the potentially debilitating disease on their own.

Budget cuts have left state and local health departments seriously understaffed and, officials say, in a precariously dangerous situation if the country has to face outbreaks of two or more infectious diseases -- such as Zika, new strains of flu, or the West Nile and Ebola viruses -- at the same time.

"We have been lucky," said James Blumenstock of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, of states' and localities' ability to contain the flu, West Nile and Ebola threats of the last five years.



Thursday, 25 February 2016 00:00

The Hybrid Cloud: Your Cloud, Your Way

Cloud computing has become a significant topic of conversation in the technology industry and is being seen as a key delivery mechanism for enabling IT services. Today’s reality is that most organizations already are using some form of cloud because it opens up new opportunities and has become engrained in the fabric of how things are done and how business outcomes are achieved.

Cloud offers a host of service and deployment models: both on- and off-premises, across public, private, and managed clouds. We see some organizations starting with public cloud because of the perceived ease of entry and lower costs. Some organizations, such as test and development groups, use public clouds because they need to quickly stand-up infrastructure, test and run their application and take it down, and this can’t be supported by their existing IT team. Other companies, such as startups, use public clouds because they simply don’t have the resources to build, own and manage a private cloud infrastructure today. We’re also seeing a rather significant shift back towards private clouds, which are becoming much easier and quicker to deploy and still come with IT control and piece-of-mind security benefits.

That said, every organization’s cloud is a unique reflection of its business strategies, priorities and needs; and this is why there is a great variation in how companies go about implementing their own specific clouds.



We’re constantly hearing about how the lack of rain in much of the Southwest has contributed to the worst drought in the history of the region, but the subject of water doesn’t come up much with respect to data centers.

However, it should garner just as much attention—specifically water treatment programs—according to Data Center World speaker Robert O’Donnell, managing partner of Aquanomix.

“The water management program is a huge risk in data centers; one that many facility owners don’t understand or give enough credence to,” he says.



5 Things You Really Need to Know About Zika Virus

Outbreaks of Zika have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and most recently in the Americas. Because the mosquitoes that spread Zika virus are found throughout the world, it is likely that outbreaks will continue to spread. Here are 5 things that you really need to know about the Zika virus.

Zika is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito.

Many areas in the United States have the type of mosquitoes that can become infected with and spread Zika virus. To date, there have been no reports of Zika being spread by mosquitoes in the continental United States. However, cases have been reported in travelers to the United States. With the recent outbreaks in the Americas, the number of Zika cases among travelers visiting or returning to the United States will likely increase.

These mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters. They also bite at night. The mosquitoes that spread Zika virus also spread dengue and chikungunya viruses.

The best way to prevent Zika is to prevent mosquito bites.Zika_prevent mosquito bites

Protect yourself from mosquitoes by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.  Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.

Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. When used as directed, these insect repellents are proven safe and effective even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old. Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs. Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.

Read more about how to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

Infection with Zika during pregnancy may be linked to birth defects in babies.

Waiting for a baby. Close-up of young pregnant woman touching her abdomen while sitting on the couch

Zika virus can pass from a mother to the fetus during pregnancy, but we are unsure of how often this occurs. There have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly (a birth defect in which the size of a baby’s head is smaller than expected for age and sex) in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. Additional studies are needed to determine the degree to which Zika is linked with microcephaly. More lab testing and other studies are planned to learn more about the risks of Zika virus infection during pregnancy.

We expect that the course of Zika virus disease in pregnant women is similar to that in the general population. No evidence exists to suggest that pregnant women are more susceptible or experience more severe disease during pregnancy.

Because of the possible association between Zika infection and microcephaly, pregnant women should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.

Pregnant women should delay travel to areas where Zika is spreading.

Until more is known, CDC recommends that pregnant women consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus is spreading. If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.

If you have a male partner who lives in or has traveled to an area where Zika is spreading, either do not have sex or use condoms the right way every time during your pregnancy.

For women trying to get pregnant, before you or your male partner travel, talk to your healthcare provider about your plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infection. You and your male partner should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.

Returning travelers infected with Zika can spread the virus through mosquito bites.

Man using insect repellant

During the first week of infection, Zika virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to a mosquito through mosquito bites. The infected mosquito must live long enough for the virus to multiply and for the mosquito to bite another person.

Protect your family, friends, neighbors, and community! If you have traveled to a country where Zika has been found, make sure you take the same measures to protect yourself from mosquito bites at home as you would while traveling. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants , use insect repellant, and stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.

For more information on the Zika virus, and for the latest updates, visit www.cdc.gov/zika.

February is American Heart Month. In light of that, it seems only fitting that we should check the pulse of a challenge faced by many in Healthcare IT: disaster recovery.

In a training class several weeks ago, Ryan, an incredibly enthusiastic sales engineer, and I had a conversation about disaster recovery. “Disaster recovery is so much more than the question of, ‘Will I pass the audit?’” he began. “Buildings fall apart, water rises, systems fail, snow falls, power surges,” he explained, making imaginary drawings in the air to emphasize his points. “Anything that stops hospital operations for a period of hours is definitely a disaster.”

“The great thing is that Citrix is on top of it,” he confidently added. Ryan backed that statement with a contrasting tale of two US hospitals – one in Texas that was plagued by human error and another in the Southwest that experienced equipment failure after a power surge.



Thursday, 25 February 2016 00:00

Security Concerns Continue Amid Cloud Adoption

The Internet of Things (IoT) generates a lot of data, which organizations can store in the cloud. But how are they keeping it all safe?

Many companies are realizing they face this challenge and are ramping up efforts to improve data security as they embrace new platforms, including IoT and cloud-based applications, according to a recent survey conducted by 451 Research.

The survey, sponsored by data and cloud security vendor Vormetric, polled 1,114 senior IT executives, representing companies ranging from $50 million to more than $2 billion in annual sales.



CHICAGO — With a forecast that includes the potential for heavy snow and high winds, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region V encourages everyone to get prepared.

“If you must leave home in dangerous weather conditions, take precautions to get to your destination safely,” FEMA Region V Administrator Andrew Velasquez III said. “Taking simple steps to prepare before the storm not only keeps you safe, but others as well.”

Follow the instructions of state and local officials and listen to local radio or TV stations for updated emergency information. If you are told to stay off the roads, stay home, and when it is safe, check on your neighbors or friends nearby who may need assistance.

Find valuable tips to help you prepare for severe winter weather at www.ready.gov/winter-weather or download the free FEMA app, available for your Android, Apple or Blackberry device. Visit the site or download the app today so you have the information you need to prepare for severe winter weather.

Follow FEMA online at twitter.com/femaregion5, www.facebook.com/fema, and www.youtube.com/fema.  Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at twitter.com/craigatfema. The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

You have probably heard the old saying that “a lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.”  But you may not have considered this: “A crisis can do half its damage before the crisis plan is even found!”

And every minute a crisis goes unmanaged, costs may be piling up.

For example—the longer your people  go without clear guidance or worst wait to execute on your crisis management plans , the more likely it is that your situation will escalate.  And what if the instructions for shutting down a manufacturing line come too late?  That expensive equipment could end up a total loss.



Application containers, namely Docker containers, have been heralded as the great liberators of developers from worrying about infrastructure. Package your app in containers, and it will run in your data center or in somebody’s cloud the same way it runs on your laptop.

That has been the promise of the technology based on the long-existing concept of Linux containers the San Francisco startup named Docker devised its application building, testing, and deployment platform around. While developers love the concept of Docker, IT managers that oversee the infrastructure those applications eventually have to be deployed on have certain processes, policies, requirements, and tools that weren’t necessarily designed to support the way apps in Docker containers are deployed and the rapid-fire software release cycle they are ultimately meant to enable.

This week, Docker rolled out into general availability its answer to the problem. Docker Datacenter is meant to translate Docker containers and the set of tools for using them for the traditional enterprise IT environment. It is a suite of products that enables the IT organization to stand up an entire Docker container-based application delivery pipeline that is compatible with IT infrastructure, tools, and policies already in place in the enterprise data center.