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Winter Journal

Volume 29, Issue 1

Full Contents Now Available!

Jon Seals

Much attention was on the retail sector this past holiday season, as a strengthening economy fueled expectations of unprecedented activity and projections that shoppers would take advantage of seasonal deals and yet-further-expanded shopping hours.

However, overshadowing the energy of the holiday shopping season was the specter of possible data breaches.  Past incidents sit more and more heavily on the minds of consumers and companies alike.  As shoppers whip out their credit cards and swipe their debit cards at millions of point-of-sale (POS) terminals, will the data on those cards be secure, or will they get their post-holiday statements, only to find mysterious charges and unfamiliar purchases?

The past few years have seen hundreds of data breaches of companies large and small. The ones that makes the headlines, of course, are the ones that involve millions and tens of millions of customers. But what can be done about the security of customer information? Where are the holes? And is there any hope of a victory over cyber criminals whose only job is to find ways around and through corporate security measures?



How many people in your enterprise use their personal mobile devices for work? How many benefit from a smartphone, tablet or laptop provided by the company, and that they can use outside work? How much risk is there in each case of data loss or compromise? Nowadays, we are increasingly dependent on our mobile devices for professional and personal reasons. A device that is lost or stolen can mean losing all our data, if no other precautions are taken. So how much can enterprises encourage data protection on mobile devices, and how far should they go to enforce it?



Thursday, 11 February 2016 00:00

Protecting Compliance in the Public Cloud

When it comes to compliance, different regulations exist for different industries. For example, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is the granddaddy of healthcare-related compliance. Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) oversees the credit card industry, while Sarbanes–Oxley (SOX) regulates the reliability of financial reporting by public companies and their accounting firms. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) administers a large set of compliance regulations for banks, investment institutions and insurance firms. And there are many more including US–EU Safe Harbor, ISO, FDA and a whole set of federal regulations around information processing, security management and risk management.

Even so, we can boil down compliance standards to key similarities: Is the regulated data secure from digital and physical intrusion? Can you prove it with reports and audits? How can you verify environmental controls such as data location? How do you administer access control? When and where do you apply encryption? Can you verify data segmentation from non-regulated data or multiple tenants?

These questions and their answers are critical for on-site data storage, including on-premise private cloud infrastructure. But when you include public clouds in the picture, you up the ante – and the complexity – on compliant data storage. And if a service provider restores compliant data for you on the public cloud, the complexity grows even larger.



Thursday, 11 February 2016 00:00

Nixle in Action: Winter Storm #Jonas

Across the East Coast and Midwest, harsh weather has affected near 85 million people, stopped flights and forced many residents to stay inside.   Winter Storm Jonas was one of the biggest storms to hit the East Coast as a result of the anticipated El Nino season. Because of the intensity of Jonas, ten states declared states of emergency.

Although each community experienced Jonas to a different extent, they were still equally prepared for what may come during the El Nino Season. Monroe Township in NJ received a few inches of snow per hour during Jonas and kept their residents updated with Nixle messages. Such large storms often have negative effects on a community’s infrastructure including power lines, homes, and roads.



Thursday, 11 February 2016 00:00

Dealing with the Complexity of Cloud Storage

Storage has long been the main draw of the cloud, both for consumer and professional enterprise users. But there is a big difference between bulk storage and the kinds of advanced architectures required of complex data environments. So the question many organizations face these days is not whether to store data in the cloud, but how.

By all indications, the public cloud will continue to gain more of the storage load as enterprises look to cut costs and provide greater access for both traditional workloads and emerging Big Data and mobile-facing applications. According to 451 Research, spending on public cloud storage is on pace to double by 2017, from just 8 percent of the total spend today to more than 17 percent. This will come at the expense of traditional, on-premise infrastructure, which will decline from 70 percent of the total to about 58 percent.  This is still the majority of storage budgets worldwide, but the trend lines are clear: more data heading to the cloud and less to the local storage array.

But simply using the cloud as a giant storage farm fails to capitalize on its true potential – kind of like driving a Ferrari to the local supermarket each week. The cloud is at its best when coupled with advanced capabilities like Storage as a Service (STaaS), which enables everything from remote access to full disaster recovery. Technavio has the STaaS market gaining at an annual rate of nearly 38 percent for the rest of the decade as top enterprises look to reduce costs and gain the kind of flexibility and reliability that can make or break critical business functions going forward.



Combined heat and power (CHP), also known as cogeneration, is the simultaneous production of heat and electric power from the same source of fuel. From data centers to universities, interest in CHP systems as sustainable standby power supply is rising.

Historically, CHP was reserved for very large installations. For example, waste heat from a coal-fired power plant could be used for greenhouses or large apartment complexes. Today, significantly smaller facilities, such as hospitals, hotels, commercial buildings, and some data centers are reaping the benefits of utilizing heat that would otherwise be wasted from the production of electricity. Because CHP systems require less fuel than separate heat and power systems, a reduction in operating cost, despite rising energy cost, is guaranteed. Over the long term, CHP can significantly reduce energy expenditures that can be applied to the bottom line—as long as there is a simultaneous need for electric power and heating (or cooling) for most of the year.



Thursday, 11 February 2016 00:00

Zika Virus Comes to Ohio by Way of Haiti

(TNS) - Two Northeast Ohio residents who visited Haiti on unrelated trips brought home the same unwanted souvenir in January: Zika virus.

State health officials Tuesday said a 30-year-old Cuyahoga County woman and a 21-year-old Stark County man have the first confirmed cases of Zika in Ohio. They did not disclose the names of the woman or man, but said their contraction of Zika is not related.

The woman’s symptoms appeared at the end of January, the man’s occurred earlier in that month, officials said.



Thursday, 11 February 2016 00:00

Don’t Look Now … But Your Skype is Showing

Skype for Business is growing at a trajectory few solutions have seen before and bringing with it massive gains in efficiency and productivity.

But these gains, as you may have read in Part 1 of this blog series, bring with them new concerns for security and data protection.

Now, there are several ways you can approach security with Skype for Business. The “Tools – Options” tab has a subset of about 15 categories, each with options that can be enabled or disabled, changing the security level within Skype.



The modern data center has evolved into an engine that drives the entire business, and the pressure to maintain uptime is greater than ever. Since companies rely more and more on their data centers, are there better, more resilient mission critical support systems?

At Data Center World this March, Justin Jurek, regional sales manager at Pillar USA, will talk about the applicability of microgrids in the mission critical market and an elegant approach to microgrid systems that has been adopted by multiple end users.

Remember, we’re seeing an evolution taking place in the business and in the data center. Market strategies are now built around the capabilities of your facility. Changes around governance, uptime classification, and even weather patterns are all impacting facility uptime:



Confirmit selected for multi-year agreement on strength of extensive Market Research and panel management capabilities


London – Confirmit has been selected by Home Innovation Research Labs, a research, testing and consulting firm in the home building industry, to power its survey research. Home Innovation selected Confirmit Horizons to replace its existing software due to the strength of Confirmit’s technology, panel management solution and competitive offering.


Home Innovation’s Market Research team provides the home building industry with survey and research services, including market sizing, product and message testing, and customer segmentation. The firm surveys homebuilders, remodelers, and consumers, providing the home building industry with insight into the market for products and services. The majority of Home Innovation’s custom research is derived from its panel of 9,000 US-based homebuilders. Confirmit’s panel management solution will enhance Home Innovation’s existing panel research through more customisation and management options, allowing the company to be even more nimble and responsive to client needs.


“We had outgrown the capabilities of our previous provider and needed to implement a solution that would support our Market Research needs now and in the future. Confirmit Horizons has the power to do just that. Its advanced and flexible panel management solution was a key factor in our selection,” said Chris Steuble, associate director of Home Innovation’s Market Research division. “We need a solution that allows us to build and manage our panel, more easily view and customise elements such as demographic makeup, and manage the overall panelist experience. Since implementation, our experiences with Confirmit Horizons have been very positive and we’re looking forward to taking advantage of its many capabilities moving forward.”


Dave King, President, Americas at Confirmit, added: “The combination of an effective Market Research platform and a competitive value proposition makes Confirmit Horizons a powerful choice in the MR landscape. We’re looking forward to helping Home Innovation Research Labs build on its established and respected research capabilities in the homebuilding marketplace.”


About Home Innovation Research Labs

Home Innovation Research Labs, located in Upper Marlboro, Md., is a full-service research, testing, and consulting firm determined to improve the quality, durability, affordability, and environmental performance of single- and multifamily homes and home building products. Founded in 1964, Home Innovation’s team has been integral in solving many of its client’s most difficult product and technology issues, and helping to introduce some of the most groundbreaking innovations in residential construction. Through an interdisciplinary research approach – including market research, building science analysis, laboratory testing, and standards development – the company helps clients thrive in the residential construction industry. Visit www.HomeInnovation.com for more information.


About Confirmit

Confirmit is the world’s leading SaaS vendor for multi-channel Voice of the Customer, Voice of the Employee, and Market Research solutions. The company has offices in Oslo (headquarters), Chengdu, Cologne, Grimstad, London, Moscow, New York, San Francisco, Sydney, Vancouver, and Yaroslavl. Confirmit’s software is also distributed through partner resellers in Madrid, Milan, Salvador, and Tokyo.

Confirmit powers Global 5000 companies and Market Research agencies worldwide with a wide range of software products for feedback / data collection, panel management, data processing, analysis, and reporting. Customers include Aurora, British Airways, British Standards Institution, Cross-Tab, Dow Chemical, GfK, GlaxoSmithKline, GMO Research, JTN Research, Keep Factor, Morehead Associates, Nielsen, Research Now, RONIN, RS Components, Sony Mobile Communications, Swisscom and The Wellcome Trust. Visit www.confirmit.com for more information.