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Volume 29, Issue 4

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Industry Hot News

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By Talkin’ Cloud

2016 could provide many growth opportunities for cloud services providers. Here’s why:

1. Total Cloud Infrastructure Spending Could Grow

International Data Corp predicted total spending on cloud IT infrastructure (server, storage and Ethernet switch, excluding double counting between server and storage) would grow by 24.1 percent to $32.6 billion in 2015. In addition, IDC noted it expected cloud IT infrastructure spending to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.1 percent through 2019.

2. Cloud Security Will Remain a Top Priority

Cloud application security provider Elastica recently found that the cost of exposed data in software-as-a-service (SaaS) may total up to $13.85 million per incident. However, CSPs can resolve security issues for businesses, ensuring these companies can protect their sensitive data that is stored in the cloud at all times.



Muda. It’s the Japanese word for waste and the enemy in modern supply chain management and manufacturing. Since the 1980s, lean thinking has revolutionized the way businesses operate by seeking to eliminate muda and free capital held in wasteful assets—that is, assets that do not add value to the overall process (e.g. excess inventory or underutilized equipment). Lean thinking is important and helps businesses to improve their processes and their bottom lines. It does however beg one key question that risk managers and business continuity professionals must ask: “how lean is too lean?” Wantonly cutting out all perceived muda to save money can actually have the opposite effect down the road. Organizations with global supply chains inherit significant risk due to the potential impact associated with a supply chain disruption.  In some cases, a disruption could threaten an organization’s ability to continue business or require large amounts of capital to recover. Organizations must fully examine their processes and supply chains to identify risk and make informed decisions on how lean is too lean.

This perspective—the third in the Risky Business Series—leverages a case study of the recent west coast dock worker strike to demonstrate the inherit risk of a supply chain that is too lean due to a virtual monopoly. This article also revisits evaluation and mitigation strategies from the first two Risky Business perspectives that organizations can use to reduce risk to an acceptable level.



Sticking to the rules of business continuity

Why do we have business continuity management programmes? Is it because we want to make sure our organizations are able to respond to a disruption? Probably yes! It is common sense that we would want to be prepared for any future crisis.

In some cases however, it is also because there is a legal obligation to do so. Many organizations are tightly regulated depending on what sector they are in or the country they are based, and therefore must have plans in place to deal with certain situations. Furthermore, the rules and regulations that govern us are often being revised, and sometimes it can be difficult to keep up with which ones are applicable.

There is a solution however. The Business Continuity Institute has published what it believes to be the most comprehensive list of legislation, regulations, standards and guidelines in the field of business continuity management. This list was put together based on information provided by the members of the Institute from all across the world. Some of the items may not relate directly to BCM, and should not be interpreted as being specifically designed for the industry, but rather they contain sections that could be useful to a BCM professional.

The ‘BCM Legislations, Regulations, Standards and Good Practice’ document breaks the list down by country and for each entry provides a brief summary of what the regulation entails, which industries it applies to, what the legal status of it is, who has authority for it and, of course, a link to the full document itself.

The BCI has done its best to check the validity of these details but takes no responsibility for their accuracy and currency at any particular time or in any particular circumstances.

A new year brings new resolutions—commitments to achieve certain goals or make specific improvements.  While it’s certainly a good time for pledging to lose those few extra pounds, it’s also a great time to make resolutions for improving your business continuity communications. Maybe your mass notification program could use an improved diet and more exercise in 2016?

Feeding Your Emergency Communications System

A successful notification program starts with “feeding” the service with the right data. Accurate, up-to-date contact information is essential for effective enterprise alerting. Consider these tips for improving your notification system’s data diet:



Nearly four-fold increase in computing capacity to innovate U.S. forecasting in 2016


NOAA’s Weather and Climate Operational Supercomputer System is now running at record speed, with the capacity to process and analyze earth observations at quadrillions of calculations per second to support weather, water and climate forecast models. This investment to advance the field of meteorology and improve global forecasts secures the U.S. reputation as a world leader in atmospheric and water prediction sciences and services.

The computers — called Luna and Surge — are located at computing centers in Reston, Virginia and Orlando, Florida. They are now running at 2.89 petaflops each for a new total of 5.78 petaflops of operational computing capacity, up from 776 teraflops of processing power last year.

“This significant investment in our operational supercomputers equips us to handle the tidal wave of data that new observing platforms will generate and allows us to push our science and operations into exciting new territory, said Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., NOAA’s administrator. “The faster runs and better spatial and temporal resolution that Luna and Surge provide will allow NOAA to improve our environmental intelligence dramatically, giving the public faster and better predictions of weather, water and climate change. This enhanced environmental intelligence is vital to supporting the nation’s physical safety and economic security.”

Sullivan said the ultimate goal of investment in operational and research supercomputing capacity is to build resilient communities in the United States by arming people with reliable environmental intelligence to make good decisions, as NOAA works to build a Weather-Ready Nation.

The increase in supercomputing strength will allow NOAA to roll out a series operational model upgrades throughout 2016. For example:

  • Upgrades to the High Resolution Rapid Refresh Model (HRRR) will help meteorologists predict the amount, timing and type of precipitation in winter storms and the timing location and structure severe thunderstorms.
  • Implementation of the Weather Research and Forecasting Hydrologic Modeling System (WRF-Hydro) will expand the National Weather Service’s current water quantity forecasts at 3,600 locations to forecasts of flow, soil moisture, snow water equivalent, evapotranspiration, runoff and other parameters for 2.67 million river and stream locations across the country, representing a 700-fold increase in spatial density. This new information, provided nationally at the neighborhood scale, will enable forecasters to more accurately predict droughts and floods, and better support water resources decisions.
  • Upgrades to the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting Model (HWRF) will mark the first time NOAA models have had direct connections between the air, ocean and waves to improve forecasts of hurricane tracks and intensity. This upgrade will increase the number of storms NOAA can forecast for at any given time to 8.

The increase in supercomputing capacity comes via a $44.5 million investment using NOAA's operational high performance computing contract with IBM, $25 million of which was provided through the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 related to the consequences of Hurricane Sandy. Cray Inc., headquartered in Seattle, serves as a subcontractor for IBM providing the new systems to NOAA.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and our other social media channels.

Business continuity priorities don’t come much bigger than having a properly functioning supply chain. Whether an organisation is in the private or the public sector, supply chains have to work without interruption, profitably and to the satisfaction of end-customers. Over time, observations and experience have helped put together the following list of tips for BC management of this critical part of all companies. As we progress through 2016, here’s what to look out for.



Tuesday, 12 January 2016 00:00

Revive Your PC or Mac with an SSD

SSD hard drive technology is extremely fast in terms of reading data. It can either optimise a PC that is usually dedicated to video games with premium features, such as 4K or 3D, or revitalise an old PC or Mac. Most importantly, the computer can be adapted to accommodate a standard 3.5″ desktop or a 2.5″ laptop hard drive.

What is the procedure to be followed?

Changing a hard drive requires several steps. It can be done by yourself or by a professional. There are several things you should know before having a go at this task, in particular, including software that allows copying from one hard drive to another if you want to keep your regular working environment. In addition, you may need more specific software if you intend to copy a Macintosh hard drive (a PC can copy Macintosh hard drives) because the purpose of the drive-to-drive copy is that the software knows how to copy correctly the so-called partitions.

In the case of Macintosh, these are partitions of the HFS+ type, while Windows partitions are of the NTFS type. Generally, it is best to have a desktop PC running Windows (7, 8 or 10) to perform the operation because you may actually use the original PC drive to work with the copying software. This is then used to copy to the replacement drive or to copy the laptop drive to the SSD that will replace it.



Organizations are moving past the hype and into actual value when it comes to big data and analytics implementation, according to a new survey by CompTIA. But challenges remain, including a skills gap and the struggle to wrangle the growing quantity of data generated.

Companies are moving to the next stage with big data -- past the hype and into broader adoption. But new challenges are on the horizon, such as how to master all that data. Those are a couple of several key findings in a recent Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) study.

The industry organization surveyed 402 IT professionals for the report released in December and found that 72% of respondents said big data projects had exceeded their expectations, and about 75% said their businesses would be stronger if they could harness all of their data.



Tuesday, 12 January 2016 00:00

The Hybrid IT Mash-up

Matt Gerber is CEO of Digital Fortress

Love it or hate it, hybrid IT is here in force and it’s here to stay. The global market for hybrid cloud computing is estimated to grow from $25.28 billion in 2014 to $84.67 billion in 2019, according to a 2015 study published by Markets & Markets. Nearly half (48 percent) of enterprise respondents say they will adopt hybrid cloud systems and services in the near future.

Public cloud purists don’t like the idea of companies taking a steppingstone approach to cloud adoption; yet the reality is, many large companies are not ready to make a wholesale change. Compliance and regulatory requirements may stand in the way, or, they have invested too much money in on-premise systems that are still business-critical and don’t transition easily to the cloud. Hybrid cloud is, for many companies, a wonderful blend of the old and the new, offering a highly practical and manageable approach to innovation. You can maintain your highly customized, workhorse ERP system inside your own data center, while adding new agile customer-facing apps to the cloud.



One of the first use cases that most organizations have for the cloud involves some form of data protection. Rather than invest in a massive amount of infrastructure to house data that will be rarely accessed, many organizations prefer to take advantage of low-cost cloud services.

With that in mind, Quantum Corp. today extended its support for AWS with the release of Q-Cloud Protect, a virtual data deduplication appliance that serves to reduce the amount of data that organizations host on AWS. As a monthly service, Eric Bassier, director of product marketing for Quantum, says that unless AWS is actively managed, the amount of data on the cloud service can grow rapidly. Over time, the cost of hosting that data on AWS grows as well. Q-Cloud Protect is designed to reduce the amount of data on AWS by working with other data protection software from Quantum on AWS to identify data that is duplicated, says Bassier.

Bassier notes that over an extended period of time, storing data on AWS and other public clouds can wind up being more expensive than hosting it locally. For that reason, many organizations prefer to archive data in a public cloud, while using data protection software to store a copy of their more recent and important data locally. That hybrid cloud approach frequently eliminates the need to access data in AWS in all but the most dire of disaster recovery scenarios, says Bassier. That’s critical because while storing data in AWS is relatively inexpensive, accessing that data remotely over the network is an expensive proposition. More challenging still, the amount of time it can take to pull data down from the cloud probably exceeds most organizations’ recovery time objectives.



The city of Sacramento, Calif., is at the center of a video warning presumably posted by the hacker group Anonymous regarding an anti-camping ordinance aimed at the homeless Jan. 6.

In the roughly three-minute video, shown below, a masked figure claiming to represent the group said the city would face the “formidable talents” of its hackers unless the ordinance disallowing camping in public spaces was reconsidered.

Though the reported cases of Anonymous targeting local governments are relatively few, cities and counties nationwide have experienced similar threats over the last few years: In November of 2013, a Missouri town was singled out for the way it handled the rape investigation of two teenage girls; in December of 2014, the city of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.’s website was targeted due to laws passed around homeless behavior; and in mid-May of 2015, the Hancock County, Miss., Department of Human Services was included among threats made by the group as it pushed for reform in child protection agencies and family courts.



(TNS) - The unique topography of southern W.Va. has dictated a somewhat steady regime of flooding events.

In Logan County, the confluences of streams from Island Creek, Copperas Fork and Mud Fork into the Guyandotte River as well as myriad other streams and waterways have presented a constant challenge for residents.

Over the last year, fema.gov reports there were five disaster declarations in W.Va., and three of the five included flooding-related events in Logan County.

In response to continued problem in Logan County, local and state governments have addressed the issue with mitigation projects at Garrets Fork, Island Creek, Deskins Addition and Copperas Fork.



(TNS) - The federal government's disaster relief agency has sent three officials to assist Michigan with the Flint drinking water crisis at the state's request, but Gov. Rick Snyder has not yet requested federal financial aid in connection with the ongoing public health emergency, a Michigan State Police spokeswoman said Saturday.

Rafael Lemaitre, director of public affairs for the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington, D.C., said on Twitter on Friday that FEMA has deployed two liaison officers to the Michigan Emergency Operations Center to provide technical assistance. A third FEMA liaison officer arrived Saturday, a state police official said.

Capt. Chris Kelenske, deputy director of emergency management and homeland security for the state police, asked FEMA on Wednesday to send the officials "to provide support if we have any questions" about the emergency response process, MSP spokeswoman Nicole Lisabeth told the Free Press on Saturday.



(TNS) - With their own muscle and help from platoons of volunteers, victims of the recent flood spent much of last week hauling soggy debris out of their homes.

Hopes for quickly repairing their lives hinge on two questions: Did they have flood insurance, and did they have enough of it?

Joe Nelson didn’t. His little wood-frame home in Eureka had 20 inches of water in the first floor. When the water went down, he called his insurance company. “They said there was nothing they could do for me,” he said.

Nelson rents the house from his 97-year-old grandfather. Nelson had a renters insurance policy, but standard policies don’t cover flood damage. To get coverage, renters must buy a separate policy.



(TNS) - Lori Lawrence said she was standing in the hallway of her home near Central and Hillside on Wednesday night when the bedroom door started rattling. It was, she said, the sixth earthquake she’s felt in the past two years.

Friends filled up her Facebook feed with comments about the latest quake, which was actually two back-to-back quakes, the largest of which had a magnitude of 4.8.

It was intense enough that the city of Wichita, for the first time, sent out a team to examine whether any of its infrastructure had been affected by an earthquake. Reports had already been coming in about three water lines that had burst around the time of the quake. After a day of inspections, a few more potential cracks had turned up, including one at a wastewater treatment plant.



For years, cyber security has been the province of IT specialist and technicians. Those days are long gone. If you ask a Board of Directors to identify a company’s most significant risk – cyber security is tops.

That is no big surprise. When you consider the consequences of a cyber intrusion or a more likely breach, companies suffer serious reputational and financial harm. Directors, senior executives and compliance officers should be concerned about cyber security.

But what is the role of the Chief Compliance Officer in cyber security risk management?

A CCO is not the sole owner, or even the most significant owner, of cyber security risk management. The Chief information Security Officer (CISOs) owns the risk. However, the CCO should be a strategic partner to the cyber security risk management program.



Monday, 11 January 2016 00:00

5 Steps To Good Social Media Governance

“How can compliance officers meet the challenge of building good governance in a world where new communications are consistently emerging?” asked Melissa Callison, Global Marketing and Corporate Affairs Compliance Executive of Bank of America during a recent event. Callison joined other financial services compliance professionals on a panel to discuss how to enable the business to use social media and other new forms of communications while meeting the regulatory requirements for communications with public.

In the end, it boils down to five key steps:

Clarify Everything

Callison said the first step is to define the entire social media program. Clarify the channels that you plan to use. Discover which entity of the business wants to use social media and why. Various job functions and activities within your firm may be regulated differently, so you need to know exactly who will be using social media so you may set employee use polices that comply with various rules and regulations. Build those policies by bringing the key stakeholders into the conversation to identify and mitigate risks together. These could include representatives from the business, sales, marketing, investor relations, compliance, risk, HR, Data, Security, Privacy and IT. Callison concluded by saying “good governance is really good social.”



Monday, 11 January 2016 00:00

Who May Buy Verizon’s Data Centers?

While officially Verizon remains quiet about the alleged auction for its massive data center portfolio, the report that it is looking to offload some $2.5 billion worth of data centers isn’t far-fetched.

Other telecoms too have realized they aren’t prepared to spend as much as they learned was necessary to grow a data center business and stay competitive. This is generally considered a good time to sell, and at least some of the data centers in Verizon’s portfolio are highly valuable from a strategic point of view. There are plenty of companies that could benefit from taking them over, given that the price is right.



(TNS) - The ranking member on the congressional committee overseeing the American Red Cross wants answers to how the organization's West Virginia chapter responded to several natural disasters in the state.

A letter, sent by Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., presses the organization's CEO Gail McGovern on how layoffs and cutbacks have affected its ability to respond to disasters. Thompson, the second-highest member sitting on the House's Homeland Security Committee, specifically asked about the effects on West Virginia and California.

Heavy criticism is aimed at the organization's national office in Washington, D.C., as McGovern leads the Red Cross through unprecedented cuts in both services and manpower while focusing more attention on fundraising. As a result, local emergency officials, not-for-profits and people closely associated with the regional chapter said services have declined drastically.



Monday, 11 January 2016 00:00

Avnet CIO: Put Business At The Center Of IT

As an IT and electronics distributor, Avnet is in a unique position to view the trends driving the technology industry. It's also in the position of implementing those trends itself, including cloud computing and customer self-service. Here's how CIO Steve Phillips aligns IT with business at Avnet.

The giant tech distribution companies that serve as conduits between technology buyers and sellers are uniquely suited to observe trends in the IT space. Distributor Avnet's vantage point offers a particularly broad view, because it serves not only the IT market -- its Technology Solutions market -- which is in the midst of a big transformation to digital business, but also the Electronics Marketing business, serving the component market, which has gained more visibility with the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT).

And Avnet is not simply witnessing the transformation of the tech market, it's experiencing it, too.

Avnet CIO Steve Phillips, who also serves as a member of the InformationWeek Editorial Advisory Board, is driving that transformation within the distribution company by aligning his IT organization with the goals of the overall business. It's not a job he started yesterday, either. He's been in the role for 10 years at this $27.9 billion company, which has 19,000 employees in 90 countries.



The National Capital Region (NCR), a collection of 18 sovereign jurisdictions including DC and parts of Maryland and Virginia, is responsible for promoting a safe environment for over five million residents. Equally important, NCR needs to communicate securely and effectively to their resident-base during both emergencies and non-emergency events.

After 10 years with the same notification system, NCR was looking for additional technology.  They turned to Sulayman Brown of Fairfax County for help. Sulayman, who is the Assistant Coordinator for the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management, led the team charged with identifying and implementing a technology that could facilitate communication within and between jurisdictions.

We recently sat down with Sulayman who took us through the selection and implementation process and then described the system usage, not only for Fairfax County but for NCR as a whole.  Sulayman detailed the challenges the team faced throughout the entirety of the project, as well as the lessons learned.



Defining your data via data discovery and classification is the foundation for data security strategy. The idea that you must understand what data you have, where it is, and if it is sensitive data or not is one that makes sense at a conceptual level. The challenge, as usual, is with execution. Too often, data classification is reduced to an academic exercise rather than a practical implementation. The basics aren’t necessarily simple, and the existing tools and capabilities for data classification continue to evolve.* Still, there are several best practices that can help to put you on the road to success:



Time Warner Cable (TWC) has reported the email addresses and passwords of up to 320,000 of its customers may have been compromised.

And, as a result, TWC tops this week's list of IT security newsmakers to watch, followed by Uber, WhatsApp and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

What can managed service providers (MSPs) and their customers learn from these IT security newsmakers? Check out this week's edition of IT security stories to watch to find out:



Andres Rodriguez is CEO of Nasuni.

Two seemingly incompatible forces have collided in the enterprise over the past few years. The standard approach to storing and protecting files has come into direct conflict with the employee’s demand for mobile access to data. Employees want their files no matter where they are or what device they happen to be using. And they have proven that they’ll do anything to get those files, even if it means circumventing IT departments and all their carefully constructed security and enterprise controls.

So, how should enterprises extend employees the mobile access they demand without sacrificing performance and access for control, security and compliance? Most providers have approached this problem from one of two directions – consumer file sharing or enterprise storage.



The flooding  in the UK during Christmas of 2015 has been truly saddening. Many people losing homes, livelihoods and irreplaceable mementoes. While the political world points fingers at one another they seem to forget that people, like you and I are caught up in all of this. Worst of all storm Frank is moving in as I write this on the 29th of December 2015. This is expected to bring more heavy rain and with that, more flooding. With the water courses already at capacity it is a prediction that will most likely come true.

On the 29th I was finally able to catch up with a few of my friends from the affected areas to get their thoughts on how they were coping and if I could offer help. First and foremost I’m happy to say everyone is well and safe.

The overwhelming message I received was that no one knew what was going on. There was no communication to tell people to evacuate. Or areas that were given a risk level in the morning, were revised later in the day and the residents didn’t get the updated message. For example, an area deemed as low risk just outside of Blackburn unexpectedly flooded. This left a young man with health issues marooned in his home with no idea what to do. “We were told it was safe and nothing more, we did not know what to do when the river burst its banks”. This is a story that is repeating its self over and over again.



Friday, 08 January 2016 00:00

Why Working Sets May Be Working Against You

Lack of visibility into how information is being used can be extremely problematic in any data center, resulting in poor application performance, excessive operational costs, and over-investment in infrastructure hardware and software.

One of the biggest mysteries in modern day data centers is the “working set,” which refers to the amount of data that a process or workflow uses in a given time period. Many administrators find it hard to define, let alone understand and measure how working sets impact data center operations.

Virtualization helps by providing an ideal control plane for visibility into working set behavior, but hypervisors tend to present data in ways that can be easily misinterpreted, which can actually create more problems than are solved.



Friday, 08 January 2016 00:00

Data Security Needs To Improve

2015 was very much the year when the media woke up to the potential damage that data theft can bring for consumers and businesses.

The most covered hack was the Ashley Madison hack, where 32 million users had their details stolen. This was more than simply their credit card numbers and addresses, as it included extremely personal aspects such as fetishes and what they were looking for in a partner. When the hacker's demands were not met and the information was made public, the damage went far beyond financial loss - there have been reports of divorces, loss of reputations and at least two reports of suicides.

Ashley Madison may have been the most high profile leak, but the larger and potentially more serious hacks at Anthem saw 80 million people having their records stolen from the medical insurer. Although the number of people affected was astronomical, arguably the most serious was Carphone Warehouse, where 2.7 million customer had their personal details and credit card information leaked.

These kinds of hacks are not only happening at irresponsible companies. The Office Of Personnel Management had a significant breach, and according to Reuters - 'said data stolen from its computer networks included Social Security numbers and other sensitive information on 21.5 million people who have undergone background checks for security clearances.' This is perhaps some of the most personal and important data that can be stolen, potentially leaking the (remove) information of some of the most important and powerful people in the US.



In recent hearings on Capitol Hill, Congress pushed the Small Business Administration (SBA) for its cybersecurity failings. Lawmakers claim that SBA isn’t following recommendations made by the Government Accountability Office to put more emphasis on cybersecurity. As the House Small Business Committee reported:

Until SBA fully implements all of the required IT management initiatives, the agency cannot provide reasonable assurance that its IT investments are cost-effective, meet agency goals, or are effectively managed.

I understand the concern. After all, look at the fallout from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) breach. Victims of that breach go well beyond government employees and contractors. (One of my holiday “gifts” was the formal letter from OPM telling me that my personal information was compromised, but I’m not a government employee or contractor. However, my personal information was required as part of someone else’s background check. You see how these breaches can spread well beyond the anticipated borders.) We also know that government agencies overall aren’t doing a good enough job with cybersecurity from multiple breaches over the past couple of years. So no, it doesn’t make sense that the SBA isn’t doing enough to meet standards set in September – unless there are budget issues, which seems to be the primary stumbling block for so many organizations.



(TNS) -- Virginia Beach could soon be up in the air.

The city is considering buying drones to help find missing children, respond to disasters and locate distressed boaters.

The Police Department as well as others in the city would be able to use the devices, Deputy Chief Tony Zucaro said Tuesday during a presentation to council members .

Drones might be new technology for the area, Zucaro said, but many cities already use them.

By the end of 2013, the Federal Aviation Administration had approved 550 applications to fly drones, according to the agency’s website.



FEMA Releases Severe El Nino Disaster Response Plan For California, Arizona, Nevada
Combined Federal, State task force to meet today at Governor’s Office of Emergency Services

SACRAMENTO, Calif. --  The FEMA Region 9 office, in Oakland, CA has established an El Niño task force charged with preparing the regional office and its partners for the impacts of El Niño.  Today, the FEMA Region 9 Office released its Severe El Nino Disaster Response plan and will convene a regional interagency steering committee meeting in Northern California to exercise the plan.

The task force has evaluated the core capabilities needed to prepare for, respond to, recover from and mitigate against any El Niño related incident that occurs across the office’s area of responsibility. The task force has developed an Executive Decision Support Guide, or response plan, and an interactive flood decision support tool to enhance the regional office’s ability to respond to potential El Niño flood events during the winter of 2015-2016. The plan seeks to align actionable decision points that provide critical information that leaders need to make informed decisions by determining the hazard level potentially impacting lives, public health, safety, property, and critical infrastructure.

The objectives of the task force developed in the plan:

  • Establish actionable processes and procedures to identify the location, potential impacts, and probability of occurrence of natural hazards
  • Identify key at-risk populations, critical facilities and natural/cultural resources
  • Identify gaps in core capabilities needed to overcome the threat
  • Develop key messages to motivate partners to prepare and act

The task force consists of subject matter experts from the FEMA Region 9 office as well as other federal, state, local, tribal and community partners.

"California is at risk for many types of disasters,” said Mark Ghilarducci, Director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.  “These joint exercises with our partners allow us to prepare for and respond to emergencies.”

“Utilizing a ‘whole community’ approach to emergency management reinforces the fact that FEMA is only one part of our nation’s emergency management team,” said Bob Fenton, FEMA Region 9 Administrator. “The exercise gives us an opportunity to learn from each other, and from the experts in the areas where solutions will come from.”

“There aren’t many types of disasters capable of impacting all Arizonans, but a strong El Niño could cause flooding, evacuations and power outages anywhere (and everywhere) in the state,” said Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs Deputy Director Wendy Smith-Reeve. “It takes a team effort to plan for, respond to and recover from the kinds of widespread consequences being talked about, which is why we’re invested in the education and training of and outreach to the whole community.”

FEMA recognizes that a government-centric approach to emergency management is not adequate to meet the challenges posed by a catastrophic incident.  Utilizing a “whole community” approach to emergency management reinforces that FEMA is only one part of our nation’s emergency management team.

The El Nino task force has focused on interpreting data in areas of California, Arizona and Nevada that have proved historically vulnerable in order to develop risk projections of current El Niño events.  It is through this assessment the task force seeks to determine the critical decision points needed by senior leaders during all phases of an incident from pre-incident, incident onset, through response and recovery.

Today, the FEMA Region 9 Office will participate in a Rehearsal of Concept (ROC) exercise with its disaster response partners to exercise the response plan and its flood decision support tools.  During this exercise, participants will identify issues, gaps and shortfalls that will be incorporated to enhance the plan’s utility.  The task force will leverage best available data from predictive modeling and other analytical tools to keep senior decision makers informed throughout potential El Niño events.  The efforts undertaking by the task force during the ROC will enable the FEMA Region 9 Office, its partners and ultimately the disaster survivor to make intelligent decisions for any El Niño related event.

Friday, 08 January 2016 00:00

Big Data Is Now Key To Company Success

The manner in which businesses compete with one another and engage their customer bases has changed. While the global economy presents some unique opportunities for small to mid-sized businesses to thrive, the competition in most of these industries is at an exceptionally high level, meaning that businesses have to constantly work to maintain a competitive edge, while remaining focused on providing the optimal experience for their customers. Big data has taken on a major role in the process of equipping and preparing a business to compete, as well as providing the information that will ensure that they are able to effectively engage their customer base. Big data has become the new competitive advantage.

The Importance of Guarding Innate Vulnerabilities

The comprehensive nature of big data allows companies to guard themselves in areas of weakness. In the past, it was significantly more difficult for businesses to predict the movement and behavior of their competitors but through big data they can level the playing field by providing a wealth of data to project behavior. Large pools of data can be compiled to create a predictive system that can identify patterns allowing businesses to make better decisions.



As the first of this year’s El Niño storms hits California, the state’s biggest city has launched a map to keep citizens up to date and help guide them to resources they might need in case of flooding.

The City of Los Angeles Information Technology Agency’s “El Niño Watch” website shows users a map of the county, including a layer showing rainfall severity and pins that show where residents can find sandbags, shelter, hardware stores and other resources. The map also lets users know the status of power outages and shows traffic alerts.

According to The Los Angeles Times, Tuesday's storm is already causing some flooding around the city.

The application runs in Google Maps, allowing users to plug in directions to pins on the map into smartphones.



The architecture of data centers and network infrastructure is undergoing a major transformation driven by mobility and accelerated by the Internet of Things. At a macro level, rather than seeing the need for 50 servers in one data center in the middle of nowhere, we are seeking out servers in 50 data centers very close to the edge.

The advancements in technology and platforms, as well as advancements in the broadband infrastructure, is also contributing to this transition. With more broadband networks being deployed and computing platforms advancing, pricepoints for outsourcing are decreasing. The fact that outsourcing eliminates the need to staff multiple environments makes it an even more attractive option.

The requirements in the smaller markets are similar to those in Tier-1 markets. For a third-party data center provider, it’s a very capital-intensive business. There has been so much demand, focus and investments in Tier-1 markets that Tier-2 or smaller markets are largely ignored. However, you’re going to start seeing a shift in focus into these smaller markets.



Each week over 1 million people move into a city. Never before have the requirements for protecting citizens, property and infrastructure been more pressing. Sophisticated, applied technology can yield insights that shorten the cycle from incident to resolution. This infographic highlights several surprising statistics about topics ranging from weather forecasting to the average cost of crime.

Key Data Points

  • $9.6 billion in lost sales, jobs and investment in Mexico, due to urban crime and violence
  • 38% of security leaders, worldwide, believe a cyber attack will soon damage national infrastructure
  • $3257.20 The average cost of crime per US taxpayer
  • $300 billion in annual average global economic loss from natural disasters
  • $10 billion in estimated costs from cyclone Haiyan in the Phillippines
  • 9 of 10 public emergency calls in Nairobi go unanswered



Thursday, 07 January 2016 00:00

CyberSecurity Trends for 2016

Cyber-security continued to be a key area of concern and struggle among organizations of all sizes in 2015, and, to no one’s surprise, cyber security related activities are going to most definitely affect many in 2016.
From its presence in the board room to political campaigns, cybersecurity related activities will continue to dominate tech news and trends in 2016. Organization leaders and the IT teams they oversee should continue to dedicate time to better understanding cybersecurity risks and solutions in the year ahead.
With the cybersecurity landscape constantly evolving, security and preparedness requirements and protection solutions must remain constantly vigilant and ready to match, if not anticipate, the cyber-attacker’s next moves.


By Ben J. Carnevale, Managing Editor

An emergency management plan is a course of action developed to mitigate the damage of potential events that could endanger an organization’s ability to function.

And, if your organization’s disaster preparedness team has had a difficult time getting the attention of upper management to support and fund your recommended initiation, evaluation and implementation of that plan …. then you might well have encountered a normalcy bias behavior from upper management.

For example, if that upper management team in the situation expressed above does not really believe that disasters may not be as much of a threat to the organization than your team does, then management may well be assuming that its current state of preparedness is just fine.

More Californians Preparing For Severe El Nino Flood Risk:  Residents Purchase 28,000 New Flood Insurance Policies in California
28,084 New National Flood Insurance Program Policies Purchased in California since August

OAKLAND, Calif. – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today released new data on

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Policies, showing an increase of more than 20,000 new NFIP Policies written in California during the month of November 2015.

There is a 30 – 90 day waiting period for new policies to be reported to FEMA and the latest available data, released today, shows an increase of 28,084 new flood insurance policies purchased in California from August 31 – November 30, 2015.

“Flooding is the most costly and devastating disaster we face as a nation,” said FEMA Region 9 Administrator Robert Fenton.  “The major increase in flood policies show Californians are taking the threat seriously and taking powerful steps to protect their families and property.  Those who may need and not have a flood policy should act today, as policies generally take 30 days to go into effect.”  

The 12% increase is the first of its kind in recent history.  The previous reporting period showed that policies increased 3% from August 31 to October 31.  During that timeframe, 7,181 new federal flood insurance policies were written in California.   

“We are encouraged by the number of Californians that are becoming financially prepared for the flooding that is expected from El Nino,” said Janet Ruiz, California Representative for the Insurance Information Institute.   “It is crucial to protect our families and homes by preparing for catastrophes ahead of time.”

FEMA administers the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and works closely with more than 80 private insurance companies to offer flood insurance to homeowners, renters, and business owners.  In order to qualify for flood insurance, the home or business must be in a community that has joined the NFIP and agreed to enforce sound floodplain management standards.

Flooding can happen anywhere, but certain areas are especially prone to serious flooding.   Many areas in California are at increased flood risk from El Niño, as a direct result of wildfires and drought.

  • Residents should be aware of a couple things:
    • You can’t get flood insurance at the last minute. In most cases, it takes 30 days for a new flood insurance policy to go into effect. So get your policy now.
    • Only Flood Insurance Covers Flood Damage. Most standard homeowner’s policies do not cover flood damage.
    • Get all the coverage you need.  Your agent can walk you through the policy.
  • Know your flood risk.  Visit FloodSmart.gov (or call 1-800-427-2419) to learn more about individual flood risk, explore coverage options and to find an agent in your area.
  • Flood insurance covers flood, but there are other affects from flooding that may apply to you.   Damage from mudflows is covered by flood insurance; damage from landslides and other earth movements is not.   Speak to your agent.

NFIP is a federal program and offers flood insurance which can be purchased through private property and casualty insurance agents.  Rates are set nationally and do not differ from company to company or agent to agent.  These rates depend on many factors, which include the date and type of construction of your home, along with your building's level of risk.

FEMA’s Region 9 office in Oakland, CA has established an El Niño Task Force and is working with the California Office of Emergency Services with the mission of preparing the Region and its partners for the impact of El Niño.  The task force is evaluating the core capabilities needed to protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from any flooding that occurs across the region this winter.  Last month, the FEMA Region 9 Office released its Draft Severe El Nino Disaster Response plan and convened a regional interagency steering committee meeting in Northern California to exercise the plan.

FEMA recognizes that a government-centric approach to emergency management is not adequate to meet the challenges posed by a catastrophic incident.  Utilizing a “whole community” approach to emergency management reinforces that FEMA is only one part of our nation’s emergency management team.

Visit Ready.gov for more preparedness tips and information and follow FEMARegion9 on Twitter.

Corporate policies on anything from safety to ethical sourcing are all about rules. Do this; don’t do that! Often created from the experience of everything that went wrong in the past, policies can soon turn into large, unwieldy documents. IT security also has its rules, some of them born of common sense, others of past problems. These rules for checking attribution of user access rights, encrypting data volumes and similar precautions, can easily mount into the hundreds. Some cloud services vendors now make rules-based management services part of their offering to customers, but with a key advantage that sets them apart from those other chunky policy documents that managers must cope with.



A broad ensemble of very rare, but extremely high impact, events have the potential to cause wide-area devastation. However, they are normally ignored in contingency plans, being written off as too unlikely, or too difficult to prepare for. This attitude, while understandable, adds to the risk as, although rare, these events will occur at some point: and it is as likely to be this year or this decade as it is to be hundreds of years into the future.

A report published last year looked in detail at the risks of such extreme events and made proposals for preparations that could be made to increase the chance of community and organizational survival.

Extreme Geohazards: Reducing the Disaster Risk and Increasing Resilience’ was a joint initiative by the European Science Foundation (ESF), the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and the Geohazard Community of Practice (GHCP). It addresses several types of geohazards, but puts special emphasis on the impending risk of catastrophic effects on populations and infrastructures should our growing and increasingly interconnected modern society be exposed to a very large volcanic eruption. The paper highlights the urgency of establishing an effective dialogue with a large community of stakeholders in order to develop robust risk management, disaster risk reduction, resilience, and sustainability plans in the coming years and decades.



Wednesday, 06 January 2016 00:00

Cabling solutions for tomorrow’s data center

As they become increasingly vital to the functioning of global societies and economies, the way in which data centers and networks are designed and used is changing rapidly.  The role of data centers has changed significantly in recent years. The data center is no longer a repository of huge volumes of information, but helps make all kinds of services possible. This has been triggered by a wide range of developments: the rise of ‘Big Data’, the Internet of Things, new ways of (remote) working and the rise of portable computing devices like tablets and smartphones.

Computing devices are increasingly equipped with communication capabilities. According to research firm Gartner, the Internet of Things will encompass 26 billion interconnected devices by 2020. By that time, Smart Buildings and Smart Cities will also be generating vast amounts of data. All this will lead to further changes and demands placed on data center networks and structured cabling.



Wednesday, 06 January 2016 00:00

The Next Energy Challenge of Computing

Computing always seems to be facing an energy crisis.

In the 1940s, mainframes were powered by power-hungry (and fragile) vacuum tubes. If you tried to make a Google data center out of early supercomputers like the ENIAC, it would consume as much energy as all of Manhattan.

Back in the ’90s and early 2000s, chip designers warned that chips could begin to emit the same amount of heat—for their size—as rocket nozzles or nuclear power plants, a trend that was stemmed with the advent of multithreaded and multicore devices.



Just two months ago I wrote about how the Internet of Things will fundamentally reshape the future of cyber warfare, evolving the cyber threat from simple website defacements, denial of service attacks, and data breaches, to affecting the physical world. Two weeks ago an hours-long power outage in Ukraine may have offered a preview of this new world as hackers were claimed to have disabled a portion of the nation’s power grid.

On the evening of December 23rd, power was lost across multiple cities in Ivano-Frankivs’ka oblast in Western Ukraine, leaving nearly half the region in the dark for almost six hours. While it has not yet been proven that a cyber attack was responsible for the outage, key related malware was found on the computer systems of the affected power company. More troubling, the malware in question not only had the capability to create a remote backdoor that would have allowed power to be cut off, but also included tools designed to permanently delete files and disable the hard drives of the industrial control computer systems.

Just last year was the first confirmed case of physical damage to a non-military target being caused by a cyber attack, when a German steel mill was “massively” damaged. The US Government is among many racing to develop offensive “lethal” cyber weapons designed to “trigger a nuclear plant meltdown; open a dam above a populated area, causing destruction; or disable air traffic control services, resulting in airplane crashes.”



(TNS) - On the evening of April 25, 1994, Ellen Clark looked out the window of her Lancaster office and saw the sky had turned to a strange hue of green and gold.

“Somebody’s going to get a tornado tonight,” she said.

She was right. Eighteen minutes after she left her office, the building, along with the rest of Lancaster’s historic town square, was flattened by a tornado that left three dead and damaged about 700 homes and buildings.

It was one of the deadliest tornado outbreaks in recent North Texas history, before the storms last month that swept across Garland and Rowlett, killing 11 and causing an estimated $1.2 billion in damage.



(TNS) - Monett and the railroad have a long history together.

Founded in 1887, the town was named after Henry Monett, a passenger agent for the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Co.

It was laid out at the junction of what was then the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway Co. and a southbound branch, but apparently without much concern about Kelly Creek, which flows just north of the present railroad tracks.

That creek has been an ongoing source of trouble for Monett.



The rise of digital has revolutionized how business work and serve their customers, but it has also added new dimensions of risk for financial services firms.  Five out of every six large companies – those with more than 2,500 employees – were attacked in 2014, a 40% increase over the previous year.  The costs of digital attacks are also increasing; the average annual cost per company of successful cyber-attacks increased to $20.8 million in financial services last year.  And many incidents go undetected for long periods of time, so the true scale of the problem is even greater.

Faced with these growing threats, banks, insurers and capital markets firms are strengthening their defenses.  But the attackers are nimble and adapt quickly to new countermeasures.  Some criminals are already inside the walls of the organization and cannot be stopped by traditional means.

Financial services firms need not only to bolster their defenses, but make themselves more resilient.  That means being better able to detect and contain cyber security breaches, to recover from them more quickly, and to maintain business continuity while suffering less operational, reputational and financial damage.



Wednesday, 06 January 2016 00:00

Big Data Is Needed For Our New Urban Landscape

The concept of smart cities has been around for a while. The basis of it is simple - through using technology and data you can create a better, more sustainable urban environment.

According to the World Health Organisation, 54% of the global population live in urban areas, with the biggest growth shown in developing countries. The rate of growth is profound given that in 1960 only 34% of the global population lived in urban areas. These increases are unlikely to abate any time soon as they are predicted to be 1.84% per year between 2015 and 2020, 1.63% per year between 2020 and 2025, and 1.44% per year between 2025 and 2030.

With this kind of growth in urban areas, the pressure on almost every aspect of urban infrastructure will be significantly increased; however, through the development of so-called ’smart cities', dealing with this pressure will be much easier. The success of this transformation will generally fall to innovative data initiatives - below we have outlined some of the key areas where it will have the biggest impact.



HIPAA Secure Messaging Not Widely Adopted at Healthcare Institutions

It is a widely known fact in the healthcare industry that communication about protected health information (PHI) is not to be transmitted via unsecured devices. However, a recent study conducted by Infinite Convergence Solutions, Inc. found that 92 percent of healthcare institutions are not using HIPAA secure messaging.

“We are seeing a rapid adoption of mobile messaging in healthcare as the industry looks to work faster, improve patient care and reduce wasteful spending,” said Anurag Lal, CEO of Infinite Convergence Solutions. “The problem is that many healthcare institutions are not aware that the messaging apps and services are popular for daily personal use do not follow the administrative, physical and technical safeguards that HIPAA requires.”



Wednesday, 06 January 2016 00:00

Web-Scale Storage: It’s Not All About Size

Bigger and faster. Those two words will be the running theme for storage infrastructure in the coming years as the enterprise steps up to the demands of Big Data, collaboration and other advancing initiatives.

But even though these two goals are relatively clear-cut, determining exactly how they are to be accomplished is still in limbo, with the biggest question remaining: Where should the bulk of storage infrastructure reside, at home or in the public cloud?

The ramifications of these decisions are already playing out in the vendor community in the form of continued consolidation. Following the much publicized merger between Dell and EMC late last year, NetApp announced an $870 million purchase of Flash developer SolidFire. Not only does this bring a scale-out, all-Flash array into NetApp’s portfolio, it also provides advanced data management and software-defined storage capabilities that will allow the company to compete more firmly for the highly dynamic data architectures that are taking hold in the enterprise and in the cloud. NetApp is already targeting web-scale applications like Hadoop and the rising tide of Dev/Ops functions that are poised to remake IT architecture.



Wednesday, 06 January 2016 00:00

Oil, Gas, Big Data and Big Changes

As gas prices have been falling steadily, many might begin to wonder if it's just the season, or if there's more going on with the man behind the curtain. And in fact, there is. As we see gas and oil prices plummet it's not just because the summer and fall traveling seasons are over. Instead, it's because gas and oil companies are beginning to turn to big data to help save on costs and get the most efficiency out of the oil infrastructure.

The term 'big data,' when applied to the oil and gas industry, describes large quantities of data coupled with increasing diversity and rate. Collecting and analyzing huge quantities of data rely on VSAT services to store and scrutinize the result. VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) is an acronym for a satellite based communications system that is utilized for business. Because the large oil and gas corporations must determine where to drill new wells and avoid environmental concerns simultaneously, they are beginning to rely more on massive amounts of data to avoid risk and increase profits.



Switch, operator of the massive SuperNap data center campus in Las Vegas, has signed its second solar power purchase agreement, which will ensure all of its Nevada data centers are fully powered by renewable energy.

The company announced last year an agreement to buy energy generated by a 100 MW solar farm in southern Nevada and made a commitment to powering its data centers 100 percent with renewable energy, as it became one of the first two data center providers to join the White House-driven climate pledge for the private sector. Switch signed the second PPA, for energy from an 80 MW solar project that’s also being built in southern Nevada, in December.

The company doesn’t disclose how much power its data centers consume. However, according to Adam Kramer, executive VP at Switch, the 180 MW in capacity it has contracted for will be enough to offset consumption of its existing Las Vegas campus as well as the new one it is building near Reno, Nevada, where the anchor tenant will be eBay.



Apple has filed for approval to build another massive data center campus adjacent to the existing Apple data center site in Reno, Nevada, local officials told the Reno Gazette Journal.

Codenamed “Project Huckleberry,” the plans call for a new shell with multiple data center clusters and a support building. Its design is similar to the company’s existing campus at Reno Technology Park, called Project Mills.

Mills isn’t fully built out yet, and when it is, it will consist of 14 buildings, totaling more than 400,000 square feet.

Apple applied for a permit to build a new 50 MW electrical substation at the site last year to support its growth in Reno. The campus is currently being served by a 15 MW feed from the utility NV Energy, according to the Gazette Journal.



By: Kathryn Landis

Don’t get caught winging it! Follow these tips for a safe and healthy winter.

As the temperatures get colder, make sure you know how to stay warm. Wear warm winter clothes and plenty of extra layers, and listen for radio or television reports of travel advisories issued by the National Weather Service.

Play it Safe Outdoors  

Penguin sliding on ice

Unfortunately, we don’t have downy penguin coats to keep warm. When going outside, do not leave areas of the skin exposed to the cold. Learn to recognize the symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite.

When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up your body’s stored energy. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know it is happening and won’t be able to do anything about it. Victims of hypothermia are often elderly people with inadequate food, clothing, or heating, babies sleeping in cold bedrooms, and people who remain outdoors for long period.

Warnings signs of hypothermia include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech, and drowsiness. If you notice any of these signs, take the person’s temperature. If it is below 95°, the situation is an emergency—get medical attention immediately.

Visit CDC’s Outdoor Safety page for more information

Driving in a Winter Wonderland

Driving in severe winter weather can be dangerous and lead to accidents. Be sure to prepare a winter emergency kit for your car.  Include blankets, a flashlight, a shovel, an ice scraper, water and snacks, and a first aid kit. Make sure your car is serviced and has a full gas tank before a storm. Consider signing up for an all-weather driving course in your area to practice winter driving skills, and know what to do if you ever become stranded in your car.

penguin huddle

Stay Warm and Save $$$

Huddling is great, but may not be enough to keep you warm when winter weather hits. Learn how to prepare your home for winter weather and save on your electricity and heating bills. Insulating walls and attics, and putting weather-strips on doors and windows keeps heat inside and maximizes warmth.

Handle Heating Equipment Safely

When you need to warm up, take proper precautions and review instructions before handling heating equipment and fires. Have your heating system serviced by a qualified technician every year. Make sure fireplaces, wood stoves, and other combustion heaters are properly vented to the outside. Never leave children unattended near a space heater. Learn more by reading CDC’s Indoor Safety Guide.

Don’t Forget Your (Other) Furry Friends

walk like a penguin

If you have pets, make sure to bring them indoors. If you cannot bring them inside, provide adequate shelter to keep them warm and make sure they have access to unfrozen water.

Stay Chill around Ice

Walking on ice is dangerous and can cause serious falls on driveways, steps, and porches. Use rock salt or sand to melt the ice on driveways and sidewalks.If walking on ice can’t be avoided, walk like a penguin! Bend your back slightly and point your feet out – this increases your center of gravity. Stay flat-footed and take small steps or even shuffle for more stability. Keep your arms out to your sides to help balance.

Support Each Other

Holding Hands Penguins

Although it’s best to not leave the nest when severe winter weather hits, maintain your support network by checking in with family, friends and neighbors. Your neighbors might need extra help before and after a winter storm, so check in to make sure everyone is okay and has adequate heat. Use CDC’s PSAs and Podcasts to help spread winter preparedness messages. We’re all in this together!

Know how to prepare your ‘nest’ for upcoming winter weather using CDC’s Winter Weather Checklists.

Communities weighing choices for capital improvement projects intended to improve their resilience to severe weather, wildfires, earthquakes, or other types of hazards now have a new guide to help them sort through the costs and benefits of each when deciding which investment is best for their particular circumstances.

Prepared by US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) economists, the ‘Community Resilience Economic Decision Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems’ details steps for evaluating the economic ramifications of contemplated resilience investments as well as the option of maintaining the status quo.

NIST's Community Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems lays out a six-step process to help communities improve their resilience by setting priorities and allocating resources to manage risks for their prevailing hazards. The new economic guide focuses on step four, plan development.

To download the Community Resilience Economic Decision Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems, go to: http://dx.doi.org/10.6028/NIST.SP.1197

Wednesday, 06 January 2016 00:00

The top issues for cyber security in 2016

Imperva has made five predictions for what the main 2016 information security trends will be. The predictions come from an analysis of the data collected by its products in installations around the world, as well as from working closely with over 3,500 customers from across many verticals. 

The 2016 predictions are:



The data loss

An American producer of construction materials received a big surprise when he opened a virtual tape library and noticed that the Commvault Media Agent database file was corrupted and all of the content was gone. The virtual tapes and the files stored in the Media Server were still intact, but they were not accessible via the Commvault Media Agent. The data storage solution of the client consisted of the Commvault Server and the Media Agent under the Commcell management system. Commvault Simpana 9 was the tool of choice for backup and archiving.

Initial attempts proved futile

Specialists from the Commvault support tried to retrieve the missing files from the volume of the Media Agent, which was located on a Dell MD 1200 storage system, using the Commvault Explorer Tools. But their effort to get the data this way proved to be unsuccessful. More than 3,500 virtual tapes and 25 tape sets were initially lost and because of that more than 230 million data were no longer accessible. In this situation, the Commvault specialists turned on Kroll Ontrack for help.



Wednesday, 06 January 2016 00:00

Data Center Design: Which Standards to Follow?

The data center is a dedicated space were your firm houses it’s most important information and relies on it being safe and accessible. Best practices ensure that you are doing everything possible to keep it that way.

Best practices mean different things to different people and organizations. This series of articles will focus on the major best practices applicable across all types of data centers, including enterprise, colocation, and internet facilities. We will review codes, design standards, and operational standards. We will discuss best practices with respect to facility conceptual design, space planning, building construction, and physical security, as well as mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection. Facility operations, maintenance, and procedures will be the final topics for the series.

Following appropriate codes and standards would seem to be an obvious direction when designing new or upgrading an existing data center. Data center design and infrastructure standards can range from national codes (required), like those of the NFPA, local codes (required), like the New York State Energy Conservation Construction Code, and performance standards like the Uptime Institute’s Tier Standard (optional). Green certifications, such as LEED, Green Globes, and Energy Star are also considered optional.



What do chief information officers (CIOs) and IT managers expect from a managed service provider after a sale is completed?

A new survey from JDL Technologies, a Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based MSP, highlighted customer expectations for MSPs after the sale. 

JDL Technologies found 52 percent of CIOs and IT managers cited responsiveness as their top expectation after a sale is completed, and 49 percent named the ability to resolve issues quickly as a major priority.



Two texts. That’s all it takes to avoid potential stomach pains in Evanston, Ill.

Or at least, that was the goal behind an endeavor that pairs the city’s restaurant inspection scores on Yelp with text message alerts for diners. When the SMS program launched early in 2015 it was a quiet release. In fact, Erika Storlie, Evanston’s deputy manager, described the undertaking as more of a four-month side project than anything else.

The city had just completed a project with Yelp to feed restaurant inspection scores to the review site and wanted to investigate joining the scores with its 311 non-emergency texting app. The problem was, Evanston’s 311 app required a person on the other end to retrieve or record data and submit replies.



Tuesday, 05 January 2016 00:00

Manufacturing Vs. IT: Mind The Gap

If businesses have been automating factories since the Carter administration, why is manufacturing the last acceptable data silo in so many companies? And when will that change?

Until recently, absorbing the factory floor into the enterprise has been too expensive and complex for all but the biggest companies.

Assuming the hardware (primarily sensors) and software needed to gather, disseminate and analyze manufacturing data continues to evolve at the current pace -- a safe assessment -- the mainstreaming of manufacturing integration should occur in less than a decade.



Tuesday, 05 January 2016 00:00

Cloud Services are Eating the World

Shlomo Kramer is the Co-Founder and CEO of Cato Networks.

The cloud revolution is impacting the technology sector. You can clearly see it in the business results of companies like HP and IBM. For sure, legacy technology providers are embracing the cloud. They are transforming their businesses from building and running on-premise infrastructures to delivering cloud-based services. The harsh reality is that this is a destructive transformation. For every dollar that exits legacy environments, only a fraction comes back through cloud services. This is the great promise of the cloud – maximizing economies of scale, efficient resource utilization and smart sharing of scarce capabilities.

It is just the latest phase of the destructive force that technology applies to all parts of our economy. Traditionally, technology vendors touted benefits such as personnel efficiencies and operational savings as part of the justification for purchasing new technologies – a politically correct way to refer to fewer people, offices and the support systems around them. This has now inevitably impacted the technology vendors themselves. Early indicators were abundant: Salesforce.com has displaced Siebel systems, reducing the need for costly and customized implementations; and Amazon AWS is increasingly displacing physical servers, reducing the need for processors, cabinets, cabling, power and cooling.



Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, is planning to build a data center specifically to collect and analyze data from cars equipped with a new type of Data Communication Module, an upcoming feature that will enable the company’s next-generation connected-vehicle framework, which will transmit data over cellular networks.

“To build the IT infrastructure needed to support this significant expansion of vehicle data processing, the company will create a Toyota Big Data Center (TBDC) in the Toyota Smart Center,” the company said in a statement. “TBDC will analyze and process data collected by DCM, and use it to deploy services under high-level information security and privacy controls.”

Connected cars are one of the new quickly growing sources of data expected to drive growth in demand for data transmission, storage, and processing capacity, collectively referred to as the Internet of Things.



Emergency response, information technology, and healthcare communications are three scenarios in which notification systems play a critical role. Recent disasters have demonstrated the benefits of crowdsourcing during response efforts, so notification systems are leveraging this responsiveness through two-way communication technology that can both disseminate and receive information.

The critical communications world continues to evolve, resulting in users taking a closer look at their existing notification systems to determine whether they remain effective tools for communicating crucial information. However, before these systems can be assessed, it is important to first understand a few of the ways these tools are being utilized, the challenges faced within each use case, and how, as we look forward to 2016, these hurdles can be overcome.



Barrels of apples can go bad, both literally and figuratively, because of just one rotten apple. The rot spreads from one apple to another until the whole barrel is infected. Not so long ago (in 2014), experts from security company ESET discovered 25,000 servers infected with malware, some of these servers being grouped together in a network and infected together. The common factor was the installation of the Linux/Ebury malware, allowing login information to be harvested and communicated to the attackers that installed the malware. According to the experts, attackers needed to compromise just one server to then gain easy access to others in the same network. But was this one bad apple – or the whole lot?



The Business Continuity Institute’s North America business continuity and resilience awards will take place on March 15, 2016, at DRJ Spring World 2016 in Orlando, Fla.

Entries are now open and this year’s categories include:

  • Continuity and Resilience Consultant 2016
  • Continuity and Resilience Professional (Private Sector) 2016
  • Continuity and Resilience Professional (Public Sector) 2016
  • Most Effective Recovery 2016
  • Continuity and Resilience Newcomer 2016
  • Continuity and Resilience Team 2016
  • Continuity and Resilience Provider (Service/Product) 2016
  • Continuity and Resilience Innovation 2016
  • Industry Personality 2016

The deadline for entries is February 14th 2016.

To enter, click here.

Tuesday, 05 January 2016 00:00

A new approach to business continuity…

Mel Gosling explains why he believes that business continuity needs a new way forward, and why the traditional business continuity plan no longer works for today’s organizations.

There is a growing body of business continuity practitioners that believe that a new approach to the discipline is both required and overdue. An example of this is the recent debate opened up by the publication of ‘The Continuity 2.0 Manifesto’ by David Lindstedt and Mark Armour.

I have recently added to that debate with a presentation to the November 2015 Business Continuity Institute’s BCI World conference entitled ‘The BC Plan is Dead!’, and in researching examples of companies that have stopped using traditional document based business continuity plans I have identified a set of key practices that I believe will drive the new approach. One of those companies, Marks and Spencer, gave an excellent practical demonstration at the end of my presentation of what they have managed to achieve with a new approach, ensuring that the audience understood that this is already happening and is not just a nice theory.



If you come across the name Booz Allen Hamilton, it’s usually in connection with defense-agency IT services contracts worth tens of millions of dollars. The tech consulting and engineering giant, more than 100 years old, is primarily in the business of solving big technology problems for government agencies, although it does also work in the private sector.

What you don’t see is Booz Allen mentioned in the context of open source technology. But that’s something that may soon change, as the company’s recently formed group charged with driving the giant’s participation in the open source community picks up speed. Most of this group’s work is focused on data centers and cloud, Jarid Cottrell, a Booz Allen senior associate who leads its cloud computing and open source practice, said.

The reason Booz Allen now has an open source practice is the same reason companies like GE, John Deere, Walmart, and Target dedicate resources to open source. Like the manufacturing and retail giants, Booz Allen’s customers in government and in the private sector want to build and run software the same way internet giants like Google, Facebook, or Amazon do, and they want the kind of data center infrastructure – often referred to as hyper-scale infrastructure – those internet giants have devised to deliver their services. Market research firm Gartner calls this way of doing things “Mode 2.”



Tuesday, 05 January 2016 00:00

Close of 2015 Sees More Rate Reductions

Insurers’ competition and ongoing fight for market share resulted in a composite rate down 4% in December for the U.S. property and casualty market. But while market cycles are here to stay, the current cycles are tame compared to some previous years. In 2002, there was a mean average rate increase of 30% and, in 2007, a mean average decrease of 13%, according to MarketScout.

“Market cycles are part of our life, be it insurance, real estate, interest rates or the price of oil. Market cycles are going to occur without question. The only questions are when, how much and how long.” MarketScout CEORichard Kerr said in a statement. “While it may seem the insurance industry has already been in a prolonged soft market cycle, we are only four months in. The market certainly feels like it has been soft for much longer, because rates bumped along at flat or plus 1% to 1½% from July 2014 to September 2015.” He pointed out that the technical trigger of a soft market occurs when the composite rate drops below par for three consecutive months.



Valve, the company behind gaming platform Steam, said a recent caching issue allowed Steam users to see pages that included other users' account information.

And as a result, Valve tops this week's list of IT security newsmakers to watch, followed by Hyatt Hotels (H), Livestream and the Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA).

What can managed service providers (MSPs) and their customers learn from these IT security newsmakers? Check out this week's edition of IT security stories to watch to find out:



It’s that time of year when the industry pauses and reflects on what trends have emerged, what new technologies have arrived on the scene, and how business models have evolved. In the spirit of the season, here are three areas that I see continuing to positively impact the IT channel in 2016:



Enterprise infrastructure is at a weird inflection point as 2016 rolls around. In some cases, it is getting larger, as with the hyperscale cloud providers, but elsewhere it is getting smaller, as with the new hyperconverged platforms hitting enterprise channels.

Both of these trends are the product of similar demands from providers of data services for increased modularity, density and energy efficiency. A hyperscaler seeks to leverage these features to produce maximum scale, while a hyperconverger wants to enable reasonable scale on the smallest possible footprint. At the same time, they require increasingly sophisticated management, automation and optimization to provide customized service to an ever-expanding application environment.

But while most of the headlines surrounding hyper-infrastructure highlight commodity, OEM hardware, the fact is that traditional vendors stand to gain as well, although perhaps not as much as in rack servers and storage arrays. Dell recently combined its two hyperscale businesses into a single entity, dubbed the Extreme Scale Infrastructure, which will address what the company calls hyperscale and sub-hyperscale markets. Both of these segments are looking for fast, scalable infrastructure, although they may have differing levels of in-house expertise in advanced architectures.



As retailers know, the closing weeks of the year can represent nearly half of annual profits.  From Black Friday through New Year’s, retail sales increase exponentially, and employees and IT systems feel the strain.  In order to mitigate the effects of this added pressure and to prepare for any catastrophic event this holiday season, the experts at MissionMode have some business continuity tips to share to help you maximize holiday sales.

Safeguard Retail Sales with a Strong IT DR Plan

Whether your holiday rush happens online or in-store, system downtime can have extremely adverse effects on your holiday sales.   With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, shoppers can be both harried and impatient. When faced with system-related delays at a retailer, they are very likely to go elsewhere to complete their purchases.  In order to ensure as close to 100% uptime as possible, it’s critical to have a strong IT disaster recovery plan in place. Key components of the plan should include:



The Identity Theft Resource Center has been tracking security breaches since 2005, and it’s abundantly clear with the release of the organization’s latest report that the threat continues to grow each year. Although there were widely publicized breaches such as the U.S. government’s Office of Personnel Management, VTech Learning Lodge and Anthem in 2015, there are many more records that have been compromised to some extent, but that don’t get the press coverage or qualify as an official IT incident within the definition of the study.

For purposes of their report, the Identity Theft Resource Center defines a  breach as “an event in which an individual’s name plus Social Security Number (SSN), driver’s license number, medical record, or a financial record/credit/debit card is potentially put at risk – either in electronic or paper format.” According to the report, as of December 22, 2015, there had been 766 breaches that exposed 177,840,420 records so far in 2015.



WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the State of Oklahoma to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe winter storms and flooding during the period of November 27-29, 2015.

The President's action makes federal funding available to state, tribal and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe winter storms and flooding in Alfalfa, Beckham, Blaine, Caddo, Canadian, Custer, Dewey, Ellis, Grady, Grant, Kingfisher, Kiowa, Logan, Major, Oklahoma, Roger Mills, Washita, and Woods counties.

Federal funding is available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

William J. Doran III has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.  Doran III said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.

Follow FEMA online at blog.fema.gov, www.twitter.com/fema, www.facebook.com/fema, and www.youtube.com/fema.  Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at www.twitter.com/craigatfema.  The social media links provided are for reference only. 

FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.  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.

If the cloud didn’t exist, disaster recovery experts would want to invent it. The two fit together that well.

One of the key elements of a disaster recovery/business continuity (DR/BC) plan is geographical diversity. Simply, if the equipment in one location goes down – and carries the data with it – it is a reasonable idea to have a duplicate of both elsewhere. That idea predates the cloud (or, at least, the latest version of it). But it is exactly what the cloud provides.

At Datamation, Christine Taylor offers insight into the use of the cloud for DR. It is important to remember that though the cloud is a tremendous tool for DR, it must be proactively managed to realize the full benefits. A very important point is that there are limitations to the cloud’s DR capabilities – unless the enterprise takes the appropriate steps.



Monday, 04 January 2016 00:00

FEMA: Help Us Help You

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continue working together to help survivors of the Butte and Valley wildfires. More and more survivors continue to find temporary housing accommodation; as they do, they should continue to stay in touch with FEMA.

FEMA’s Individual and Households Program – which includes rental assistance and Manufactured Housing Units – is intended as a temporary solution to help bridge the gap for survivors until they can find a permanent housing solution.

Wildfire survivors and their families eligible for and living in temporary housing as of Dec. 28, 2015:

  • 838 households are receiving rental assistance.
  • 31 households have received Manufactured Housing Units.

Additionally, 521 households have been able to remain in their homes thanks to financial assistance that pays for home repairs or to replace necessary household items so they can remain safely at home.

There are 37 households using the Transitional Sheltering Assistance program, which offers temporary sheltering at hotels and motels for eligible applicants until they secure alternative housing accommodations.

 As a reminder, survivors who registered for housing and other federal assistance should keep in touch with FEMA and keep their contact information current, especially if they have changed their phone number, email address or mailing address.

FEMA may need to contact survivors for a number of reasons and without current contact information, the agency will not be able to reach them. After several attempts, cases are put on hold until the survivor contacts the agency.

Applicants can track their case status and should notify FEMA if they receive insurance settlements or discover additional damage.

How to stay in touch with FEMA:

  • Go to www.DisasterAssistance.gov.
  • Dial the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585.
  • For those who use 711 Relay or Video Relay services, call 800-621-3362.
  • These toll-free numbers are operated from 6 a.m. to midnight daily.
  • Multilingual phone operators are available on the FEMA Helpline. Choose Option 2 for Spanish and Option 3 for other languages.

In addition to temporary housing programs, these services remain available to survivors:

  • Crisis Counseling services provided through the Calaveras and Lake County Mental Health Departments. Crisis Counseling is designed to help both children and adults cope with the emotional stress associated with a disaster. 
    • Call the Calaveras County Mental Health Crisis Hotline: 800-499-3030 (the main office number is 209-754-6525).
    • Reach the Lake County Mental Health Crisis Hotline by calling 800-900-2075.
  • Disaster Legal Services (DLS) are provided to survivors free-of-charge through the Young Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association. Legal advice is limited to cases that will not produce a fee. Services include assistance with insurance claims, advice on landlord/tenant disputes, home repair contracts and contractors, mortgage-foreclosure issues, assisting in consumer protection matters, guidance on replacement of wills and other important legal documents. Disaster Legal Services can be reached at 800-657-0479 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., Monday through Friday. For TTY, dial 711.

For more information on California’s wildfire recovery, visit: Cal OES and http://www.fema.gov/disaster/4240. Follow us on Twitter @femaregion9 and @Cal_OES and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FEMA and https://www.facebook.com/CaliforniaOES.

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.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been disability or hearing loss and use a TTY, call 800-462-7585 directly; if you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.

Last Updated: 
December 30, 2015 - 16:34
State/Tribal Government or Region: 

Chipotle is in the midst of a do or die crisis–well, maybe not die but suffer a long, painful recovery. I’m very curious how this will play out. How will they attempt to recover their reputation and more than that, their loyal fan base.

That is one thing I see as a real problem for them and for any company that attempts what I called earlier a holier-than-thou branding. This kind of intense brand-based loyalty, like Apple or maybe GoPro or even Starbucks, is based in part on a perceived alignment of personal values. Apple’s values are still linked in many ways to the 184 ad that set the tone for the company even though it is likely that few current Apple buyers have ever even seen the ad.

Chipotle was working hard to tie in to the healthy food values of the majority of Millenials and had earned high marks and strong loyalty based on those values–even though many of their “integrity” claims such as not using GMOs were questionable. While many believe (without much factual basis in my humble opinion) that the buy local and other integrity strategies results in healthier food, Chipotle is causing some deep questioning of that. Truth is, our traditional food production system is subject to the highest levels of scrutiny and inspection. Farmer’s market food isn’t. That’s an uncomfortable truth to many promoting healthy foods.



With 2015 almost behind us, it’s time to look ahead to the amazing things that we will likely be hit upside the head with in 2016. You see, here in the tech space, we aren’t satisfied with just screwing up your work week. We want you to know that, during a time when you’d otherwise be recovering from a New Year’s hangover, there’ll be plenty of reasons to want to get drunk next year as well. So let’s look ahead to the technology wonders of 2016.

Everything You Have Is Obsolete

This, of course, is a given. Whatever the technology you were told was wonderful in 2015 will largely be obsolete and will generally suck in 2016. This is the industry’s way of letting you know that you’ll have a long and storied career defending what you bought last year against the amazing things you should have waited for this year. Aren’t you glad you are in the technology world? Don’t you envy the folks who have service jobs who typically don’t have to worry about this?



The data center has undoubtedly become much greener than it was even a decade ago. This was largely the result of fortunate circumstances: Scrutiny of IT industry power consumption habits came just as virtualization made it easier to support larger workloads with less infrastructure.

But like all initiatives, the greening of the data center must run its course, leaving one question. Has the real progress toward energy efficiency already been made, leaving only incremental gains going forward, or are new technologies waiting in the wings capable of producing equal or better improvement as we’ve seen in the past?

Looking at the numbers, it seems that green IT is only getting started. According to a new report from WinterGreen Research, the market for green enterprise solutions is approaching $70 billion, more than double that of 2009. And it isn’t necessarily new forms of data hardware like virtualization and Flash storage driving the change either, but improvements to tried-and-true platforms like the mainframe. The IBM zEnterprise 196 mainframe, for instance, is 60 percent faster than previous generations, meaning it pushes data through much quicker and uses less energy to process workloads. Also, top platforms like the new HP Integrity servers and EMC Ionix storage system are placing energy efficiency as a core attribute rather than a simple value-add.



(TNS) - Recovery efforts continue in North Mississippi after damaging storms and tornadoes swept through the region Christmas Eve eve and Christmas Day.

As the clean-up continues, municipalities and counties across the state have shown support for the communities affected.

A group of Tupelo city officials and Mayor Jason Shelton traveled to Holly Springs Thursday morning to meet with Holly Springs Mayor Kelvin Buck, who is a Tupelo native.

The group spoke with Buck about their own experiences dealing with the aftermath of the Tupelo tornado in April 2014.



(TNS) - Despite extensive flooding in the St. Louis region, hospital officials say it's business as usual.

Days after intense rains, area rivers are pouring into homes and spilling onto major thoroughfares, impeding access to hospitals south of St. Louis.

SSM Health St. Clare Hospital in Fenton near Highway 141 and Interstate 44 is one of the hospitals located in an area with limited access to major highways.  

Jamie Sherman, spokeswoman for the Creve Coeur-based health system, said despite major flooding there has been no influx of patients or need for emergency services.



(TNS) - The year ended Thursday with the Mississippi River cresting at Alton some 3 feet short of the National Weather Service’s original prediction, a New Year’s gift to the city.

“It couldn’t have gone any smoother, with the city staff and volunteers that held it (water) back with a 1,000-foot-long wall, it was absolutely amazing,” a relieved Mayor Brant Walker said of the city’s Downtown flood containment efforts.

Walker spoke to a reporter as the river level at Melvin Price Locks and Dam 26 had stabilized at 35 feet plus varying fractions that fluctuated slightly throughout the day. The Service had kept to its prediction of 35.7 feet it made Wednesday for New Year’s Eve Day, making it the fourth-highest river crest recorded in Alton.



If you are thinking about a career change in 2016, then you might want to have a look at the burgeoning cybersecurity market which is expected to grow from $75 billion in 2015 to $170 billion by 2020.

A knack for cat and mouse play may indicate that you have an aptitude for cybersecurity. It is a field where the good guys — cybersecurity professionals — are pitted against the bad guys — cybercriminals a.k.a. hackers. Assuming you’d want to be a good guy – a career can mean a six-figure salary, job security, and the potential for upward mobility.

More than 209,000 cybersecurity jobs in the U.S. are unfilled, and postings are up 74% over the past five years, according to a 2015 analysis of numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics by Peninsula Press, a project of the Stanford University Journalism Program.



Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama's emergency disaster declaration issued for the State of Missouri.

Assistance for the State and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:

  • FEMA is authorized to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the designated areas.
  • Specifically, FEMA is authorized to provide debris removal and emergency protective measures (Categories A and B), limited to direct Federal assistance, under the Public Assistance program at 75 percent Federal funding.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders and 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.

Stay informed of FEMA’s activities online: videos and podcasts available at http://www.fema.gov/medialibrary">www.fema.gov/medialibrary and http://www.youtube.com/fema">www.youtube.com/fema; follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/fema  and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fema.

During the final quarter of 2015 Continuity Central conducted an online survey asking business continuity professionals about their expectations for 2016. Whilst many of the survey findings are similar to the same survey a year earlier, there are some interesting changes.

203 responses were received, with the majority (80.7 percent) being from large organizations (companies with more than 250 employees). The highest percentage of respondents were from the United States (35 percent), followed by the UK (33 percent). Significant numbers of responses were also received from Australia and New Zealand (10 percent) and Canada (5 percent).



Monday, 04 January 2016 00:00

Big Data Predictions For 2016

The hype around big data and analytics has gone through cycles over the past couple of years, starting with excitement about how much data we have and the potential for it. That moment was followed by that let-down, "now what?" feeling after organizations put the storage and tools in place and found themselves wondering what to do with it. There are so many technologies and trends to track -- machine learning, AI, advanced analytics, predictive analytics, real-time analytics, Hadoop, Spark, other Apache Foundation projects, open source, cloud-based-as-a-service offerings, self-service, and more.

Sponsor video, mouseover for sound

This past year was no exception. Everybody talks about the promise and the potential of big data. Yet there's a sense of disenchantment as CIOs search for use-cases to inspire change inside their own companies. They want to be shown, not told. They want the signal and not the noise.

We noticed that 2015 was a noisy year, and 2016 seems like it will be equally as loud. It's not something that CIOs can afford to tune out. With digital transformations and pure-play startups disrupting established industries -- Uber is the example everyone mentions first -- the pressure is on to leverage data in new ways for competitive advantage. CIOs need to straddle two different worlds -- satisfying their existing customer base while moving fast to deliver instant, data-driven services to customers, or they risk losing ground to market upstarts.



Here are some of the most popular stories that ran on Data Center Knowledge in December.

How the Colo Industry is Changing – Customers are getting smarter about what they want from their data center providers; enterprises use more and more cloud services, and the role of colocation data centers as hubs for cloud access is growing quickly as a result; technology trends like the Internet of Things and DCIM are impacting the industry, each in its own way.

Hot Data Center Startup Vapor IO Raises First Round of Funding – Vapor IO, which came out of stealth earlier this year with a radical new design of the data center rack and sophisticated rack and server management software, has closed a Series A funding round, led by Goldman Sachs, with participation from Austin’s well-known VC firm AVX Partners.



Monday, 04 January 2016 00:00

Enterprise Software Cloudification

More and more, software functions traditionally executed by the client are now pushed to the server and, moreover, to the Cloud.

One such example is media transformation, like when YouTube allows users to upload a video in one of the several formats, transforms and then serves it in number of formats and resolutions for all common video players; the resulting increase in productivity and convenience is tremendous.

Citrix is moving in the same direction and a recent XenApp/XenDesktop feature (Call Home Telemetry Service) uses Cloud-based Citrix Insight Services (CIS) to bring best experience to customers and Citrix support engineers. Here is a simplified schema of how telemetry facility is typically built:



Monday, 04 January 2016 00:00

Major earthquake hits northeast India

An earthquake measuring 6.7 magnitude hit northeast India near its border with Myanmar and Bangladesh early Monday, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) confirmed. At least eight people were killed and 100 injured by falling debris in Imphal and elsewhere in Manipur state, police said.

The quake struck at 4:35 a.m. local time (6:05 p.m. ET on Sunday), about 20 miles northwest of Imphal, the capital of Manipur.

Media reports said five people were killed by the earthquake in neighboring Bangladesh, but there was no immediate confirmation from authorities.

Strong tremors were felt across the region, the BBC reported. Witness accounts reported a quake that was unlike anything they had felt before, NBC News reported, with residents awakened by shouting relatives and an intense shaking that lasted from 35 seconds to two minutes.



Healthcare is an industry that can benefit significantly from the use of big data and analytics, although it is currently lagging behind in terms of uptake due to the restrictive policy-driven protection that surrounds medical data.

However, as the ability to anonymize data has developed due to new technological innovations, the implementation of successful big data initiatives is likely to have an exponential effect on the industry. This data driven impact is a widely held belief too, with Health IT Analytics claiming that 95% of global healthcare leaders believe patient care is likely to change drastically.

This future may be closer than many people realize and almost every healthcare provider is utilizing data in one way or another at the moment. According to the Guardian, ‘Most healthcare organizations today are using two sets of data: retrospective data, basic event-based information collected from medical records, and real-time clinical data, the information captured and presented at the point of care (imaging, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, heart rate, etc).’ That being said, there are still several limitations to what can be done.



Much of the advice provided to automakers in a new McKinsey report has as its unspoken theme some level of information technology, including software development, data collection and analysis, and Internet of Things connectivity. In fact, the report said, software competence is becoming one of the most important differentiating factors for the auto industry, according to the report.


How automakers manufacture and sell cars has been pretty much the same for the past hundred years. That is about to change, according to a McKinsey & Co. report released today, and information technology -- particularly data collection and analytics -- will play a major role.

According to the report "Automotive Revolution -- Perspective Towards 2030," software competence is becoming one of the most important differentiating factors for the industry in areas including automobile safety systems, Internet connectivity, and infotainment. "As cars are increasingly integrated into the connected world, automakers will have no choice but to participate in the new mobility ecosystems that emerge as a result of technological and consumer trends," the McKinsey report said.



Salesforce has contracted for 40 megawatts of wind power from a West Virginia wind farm, becoming the latest cloud giant to enter into a utility-scale renewable-energy purchase agreement for its data centers.

The purchase covers more capacity than all of the cloud-based business software giant’s servers consume in data centers that host them. Unlike other cloud giants, Salesforce doesn’t own and operate its data centers, leasing capacity from commercial data center providers instead.

While companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, which own and operate a lot of their data center capacity have been signing larger renewable energy purchase agreements and more frequently, there’s been an uptick in renewable energy investment by data center providers this year. This uptick indicates there’s now more interest from major data center customers, such as Salesforce, in carbon-neutral colocation.



Google has bought a defunct semiconductor plant in Clarksville, Tennessee, not far from Nashville, planning to convert it into a data center, state officials announced today.

The company expects to invest $600 million in the project. This will be the eighth Google data center in the US.

Hemlock Semiconductor built the $1.2 billion polysilicon plant in 2013 but did not launch it because of deteriorating market conditions for the material, used to make photovoltaic panels. The site has access to a lot of power and has a lot of infrastructure in place that Google can adapt for data center use.



The escalating threat from cybercrime is set to force companies into increasing the skills of their boardroom executives in 2016, a global security and risk management consulting firm has predicted.

"There is a lack of specialist cyber skills in boardrooms worldwide, which is likely to become increasingly clear as 2016 progresses," said Ed Stroz, executive chairman of Stroz Friedberg.

"Companies are under growing pressure from investors, customers and regulators seeking reassurance that cyber risks are being actively managed and that they have the capability to deal with the aftermath of an incident."

Stroz believes that cyber trends - from hacktivist and insider threats to implications of potential cyber legislation in 2016 - will push corporate boards into reviewing their options to ensure they are better informed and comfortable making risk management decisions.



Geary W. Sikich looks at the emerging business and political risks which organizations need to be aware of and make plans for.

It is December 16th 2015 as I write these lines. Today is Beethoven’s birthday, we are at the yearend and as Christmas approaches it is time to look at what 2016 may bring us. How well will we do, or, how poorly will we perform when, and if, unplanned for crises emerge from threats that we continue to overlook? 

My top picks for threats, emerging crisis issues and high impact risks in 2016 and their current status are:



Throughout 2015, Everbridge was proud to work hand-in-hand with corporations of all sizes, across all industries to deliver top-notch security and safety for stakeholders.  Corporations are under immense pressure to keep employees, infrastructure and customer safe during various types of events – weather related emergencies, building security failures, data breeches etc.  The past year proves how critical it is for corporations to leverage a notification system to communicate with stakeholders and improve business continuity. With 2016 quickly approaching, we took a trip down memory lane and gathered some of our “best of 2015″ quotes, inclusions and testimonials from our partners, employees and customers.  Throughout the “best of” list, several themes persist including threat monitoring, IT Alerting and the Internet of Things.   

Thanks for taking some time to reflect on 2015 — here goes!



Tuesday, 22 December 2015 00:00

BCI: Time to spread goodwill

Time to spread goodwill

As business continuity professionals, we do our best to make sure that our organizations are able to withstand disruption and carry on in as normal a way as possible. But how do you cope when the disruption is so widespread? Even if by some miracle your organization remains intact and functional, devastation still lies all around you. Your customers and suppliers may not be able to access you. Your customers and suppliers may no longer exist.

This is what the people of Chennai are facing, a city in India where the BCI has only recently set up a new Forum. Torrential rain has resulted in terrible flooding. Hundreds of people have died, and thousands of families have been displaced. As many of us celebrate the season of peace and goodwill, it is important that we share a little bit of that with others. In a season when we can become so obsessed with what we get as presents, it is important that we keep our minds open to what we can give.

It has become traditional for the Business Continuity Institute to make a donation at this time of year and this year we will be sending money to the Chennai Flood Relief Fund being organized by Global Giving. Initially, the fund will help first responders meet survivors' immediate need for food, fuel, clean water, hygiene products, and shelter. Once initial relief work is complete, the fund will transition to support longer-term recovery efforts run by local, vetted organizations. If you would like to make a donation, just visit the Global Giving website.

The BCI wishes all our Chapter Leaders, Forum Leaders, the BCI Board, Global Membership Council and fellow business continuity and resilience professionals around the world, Seasons' Greetings and a healthy 2016.

Note that the BCI Central Office will be closed on the 25th and 28th December and the 1st January 2016, re-opening on Monday 4th January 2016. On the 29th, 30th and 31st December, the office will be staffed between 10am and 3pm only (GMT).

Tuesday, 22 December 2015 00:00

Nixle in Action: Preparing for El Nino

How do you prepare for the unexpected? What can you learn from past severe weather events? Are you ready for the next big El Nino? 

Communities along the Southern Pacific Ocean are forced to ask themselves these questions with the upcoming storm, predicted to arrive in January and stay as long as May. El Nino typically cycles every three to seven years and brings unusually wet conditions causing flooding, mudslides, frequent storms, buckled roads, and destroyed homes. [1] A climatologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab warned that “these storms are imminent…El Nino is here. And it is huge.”

Communities that are in locations prone to the storm have already started preparing and have learned lessons from the strongest El Nino reported which was in 1988. With this year’s El Nino predicted to be the second largest by the National Weather Service, [2] no precaution is being overlooked. The California Department of Transportation has increased their maintenance staff by 25% and in Malibu, public works departments will be on call 24/7 during the storm. [3]



Tuesday, 22 December 2015 00:00

Joplin Storm Serves as Guide for Code Changes

(TNS) - The International Code Council has approved building code changes recommended by the National Institute of Standards and Technology after it conducted an in-depth investigation into the EF-5 tornado that struck Joplin, Mo., on May 22, 2011.

Enhanced protection will be required for new school buildings and additions to buildings on existing school campuses, as well as high-occupancy structures associated with schools where people regularly assemble, such as a gymnasium, theater or community center.

Under the updated codes, storm shelters must be provided that protect all occupants from storms with wind speeds of 250 mph, representing the maximum intensity category of EF-5.



(TNS) - Security at France’s 58 nuclear power plants was purportedly raised to its highest level last month as a result of the terrorist attacks in Paris, stoking concern over the safety of Japan’s nuclear facilities.

After the triple meltdown in Fukushima in 2011, Japan shut down all 48 of its viable commercial reactors in light of the crisis. But attempts are now being made to bring many back online.

And despite opposition from anti-nuclear activists and groups, two reactors in Sendai, Kagoshima Prefecture, were restarted this fall and summer, with applications for 26 more pending Nuclear Regulation Authority approval.



Hoping to exploit the edge over VMware in the enterprise data center it has due to the massive scale of its public cloud, Microsoft is preparing to launch the first preview release of Azure Stack – a private Azure cloud environment a company can stand up in its own data center that will look exactly like the public version of Azure to users and be seamlessly integrated with the public cloud.

This is a similar angle on hybrid cloud VMware has been pursuing since 2013, when it announced its vCloud Hybrid Service that was later rebranded into vCloud Air. VMware promised a virtual extension of a customer’s on-premise VMware environment into the cloud.

The public cloud portion of VMware’s hybrid cloud is hosted in fewer data centers than Azure, relying on smaller footprint in colocation facilities, while Microsoft spends billions of dollars on massive data centers around the world, in some cases building on its own and in other cases leasing large facilities wholesale.



Much of IT security revolves around the question of how much you believe users can think for themselves. Password salting is a solution likely to appeal to those who think users are unreliable, careless or otherwise unable to behave correctly when it comes to the proper use of passwords. Yet the brain is a muscle and needs regular exercise, including password push-ups and security question squats. Which way should you go? To help answer that question, first try our super-fast primer on what password salting actually is; or if you prefer, how to explain its importance to your CEO.



Tuesday, 22 December 2015 00:00

Safely incorporating BYOD into your workplace

One of the biggest trends in the tech sector at the moment is undoubtedly mobile. With smartphones and tablets becoming more powerful every year, many people now view them as a practical replacement for their desktop or laptop PC.

In the third quarter of 2015 alone, nearly 353 million smartphones were sold around the world – a 15.5 per cent increase over the same period the previous year, according to Gartner. And it is not only in people’s personal lives where these devices are set to make an impact, as businesses across all sectors can expect to see these gadgets entering the workplace more frequently.

Often, business smartphones and tablets won’t be issued by the company, but will be the personal devices of employees. This trend is known as bring your own device (BYOD), and if you haven’t yet encountered it, you can expect to do so sooner rather than later.



Regulatory compliance is a fact of life for every enterprise. And since security has been in the hot seat lately, everyone’s paying more attention – and concern – to compliance. Businesses face increased scrutiny and are tasked with managing a growing number of regulatory requirements that must be met. At the same time, com­petitive pressures are mounting with the development of new technolo­gies and the evolution of customer expectations for digital experiences. Is it possible for businesses to deliver new products and services at high velocity while still satisfying their obligations for compliance?

In every company, software is playing an increasingly pivotal role. Software-based services are often the primary way a company connects and communicates with customers. From sophisticated banking services accessed entirely through mobile phones and browsers to automobiles differentiated in the market by how well they integrate with the consumer’s technology ecosystem, software is today’s competitive currency.

Enterprises have more motivation than ever to reconcile the conflict between complying with regulatory requirements and competing in the fast-moving digital marketplace. Insert DevOps.



Christmas is rapidly approaching -- but is your customers' sensitive information safe? IT security remains a top concern for many IT professionals, which is reflected in recent data.

The June 2015 Spiceworks Voice of IT survey revealed about three-quarters of IT professionals considered their organizations at risk for technology, IT security and man-made disasters or incidents. 

In addition, 60 percent of respondents said they believe their organizations are not adequately investing in IT security.

Managed service providers (MSPs), however, can help customers improve their security and safeguard their sensitive data throughout the holiday season and into 2016.



The recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino serve as reminders that man-made disasters are a growing reality in today’s world. Business resiliency, security and information technology professionals know they have a responsibility to prepare their organizations for frightening and disruptive events such as these. Further, these preparations must include methods for communicating across the organization in a secure, rapid and accurate way.

While typical mass notification methods such as SMS, telephony and email are viable channels in many cases, they each have their limitations. Take, for example, SMS service in Paris after the terrorist attack. The volume of SMS spam traffic into France compelled the government to block the delivery of certain types of international text messages (particularly two-way messages). This move negatively impacted the ability of certain businesses to communicate with employees and other stakeholders in the region via this widely-used channel.

Resiliency managers can’t control the actions of foreign or domestic governments. However, they can deploy the latest communication technologies that minimize or eliminate communication barriers, while gaining a greater degree of control over stakeholder interactions.



SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) have approved more than $30 million in disaster recovery grants and loans for survivors of the Butte and Valley wildfires.

“The job isn’t finished,” said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Tim Scranton. “We continue working with all of our recovery partners through the holiday season to help the survivors and communities in Calaveras and Lake counties recover and rebuild.”

“We have excellent teams who are dedicated to the mission,” said Cal OES State Coordinating Officer Charles Rabamad. “I’m continually inspired by the hard work and focus everyone has on trying to get those who were burned out of their houses into homes for the holidays."

Here is a snapshot of state and federal disaster assistance approved to date:

  • The registration period for federal assistance ended Nov. 23, 2015. During that timeframe, more than 3,700 Californians contacted FEMA for information or registered for assistance with FEMA.
  • $940,000 approved for survivors through California’s State Supplemental Grant Program.
  • More than 1,500 survivor households have been approved for a total of more than $11.5 million in FEMA Individual Assistance grants.
    • Of that, nearly $7.5 million was approved in Housing Assistance, which can include grants to help cover home repair and replacement costs as well as financial rental assistance.
    • 833 survivor households are receiving rental assistance. Of that number, 606 are renters and 227 are homeowners.
    • More than $4 million was approved for Other Needs Assistance, which helps survivors cover the cost of replacing lost contents and other disaster-related expenses.
  • SBA has approved $19.2 million in low-interest disaster loans to help business owners and residents with their recovery.
    • $16.9 million approved for 190 homeowners and renters.
    • $2.2 million for 34 businesses.
  • 35 survivor households are currently sheltering at hotels and motels through FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance program. The program is designed to provide temporary sheltering until alternative housing accommodations are made available.

Helping survivors find a safe, secure temporary place to live is the number one priority of the state and federal recovery team. FEMA is working with eligible survivor households in both counties to ensure their temporary housing needs are met. When it comes to temporary housing for survivors, the first option is always rental assistance as it is the fastest and most efficient form of temporary housing.

FEMA continues connecting eligible survivors with available rental resources within a reasonable commuting distance from their community. For survivors in areas where rental resources are not available, the agency is working to provide Manufactured Housing Units on both private sites and commercial sites.

FEMA, the state and the counties are coordinating to complete debris removal, secure utilities and complete required local licensing to move more Manufactured Housing Units onto feasible private sites. FEMA is also working with property owners at various commercial sites to complete required upgrades and move more units onto those locations.

Survivors can make changes or track their grant status online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362; TTY 800-462-7585; 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.

Although the deadline has expired to apply for property damage loans from SBA, small, non-farm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations of any size may continue to apply for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. EIDL assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any property damage. These loans help meet financial obligations and operating expenses, which could have been met had the disaster not occurred.

EIDL applicants may apply online via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.  Disaster loan information and application forms are also available from SBA’s Customer Service Center by calling 800-659-2955 or emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may call 800-877-8339. For more disaster assistance information, or to download applications, visit www.sba.gov/disaster.

For more information on California’s wildfire recovery, go to caloes.ca.gov and fema.gov/disaster/4240 and follow us on Twitter @femaregion9 and @Cal_OES, and on Facebook at facebook.com/FEMA and facebook.com/CaliforniaOES.

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.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). If you have a speech disability or hearing loss and use a TTY, call 800-462-7585 directly; if you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.

FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who are referred to SBA for a disaster loan must apply to be eligible for additional FEMA assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.

The SBA is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners and renters fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. These disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations. For more information, applicants may contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by calling 800-659-2955, emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

Given the fact that most IT organizations are now storing orders of magnitude more data than they ever did in the past, it should not come as a surprise that usage of data deduplication tools is on the rise. The challenge is that different types of data respond better to different types of data deduplication algorithms.

To make it simpler for IT organizations to invoke those algorithms at the right time, Exablox this week announced that it is adding support for variable-length deduplication to its OneBloxstorage appliances alongside existing support for fixed-length deduplication and inline compression.

Sean Derrington, senior director of product management for Exablox, says that means within the context of a single storage pool, IT organizations can now apply policies to data that automatically invoke the most appropriate approach to data deduplication based on the type of data being stored.



Monday, 21 December 2015 00:00

Man-made Disaster Losses Increase in 2015

Natural catastrophes made up the lion’s share of global insured disaster losses in 2015, but a man-made loss was the year’s costliest.

Preliminary estimates from Swiss Re sigma put insured losses from disaster events at $32 billion in 2015, of which $23 billion were triggered by natural catastrophes and $9 billion by man-made disasters.

The explosions at the Port of Tianjin, China in August are expected to lead to claims of at least $2 billion, making it the costliest event of the year and the biggest man-made insured loss in Asia ever, sigma said.



(TNS) - Ohio ranks in the bottom tier of states when it comes to preparing for and handling outbreaks of infectious disease, according to a new report.

The state received points for just three of 10 indicators examined in the report, “Outbreaks: Protecting Americans From Infectious Diseases.”

That means Ohio tied six other states — Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah — for last place.

The five highest-scoring states — Delaware, Kentucky, Maine, New York and Virginia — received points for eight of 10 indicators.



A new hazard mitigation plan lays out how local community officials can reduce vulnerability to natural and man-made hazards in Chatham County. That reduced vulnerability, in turn, can lead to lower flood insurance rates.

Emergency planners explained the latest edition of Chatham County's hazard mitigation plan at a public meeting Thursday afternoon at Garden City City Hall.

For the first time, the 2015 plan includes the threat of sea level rise, a reality that's becoming more apparent as high-tide flooding more frequently swamps area roads.

"In all coastal counties we're seeing a lot of that," said Margaret Walton, project manager for Atkins, the consulting company that helped produce the plan.



Monday, 21 December 2015 00:00

Has ISIS Become The Top Cyber Threat?

The media coverage and public debate following the November terror attacks in Paris might give one the impression that ISIS has suddenly become the top cyber threat to Western countries. Officials in France, the U.K., and Canada have seized on the Paris attack to promote a number of cyber security initiatives. In the United States, we have seen a renewed debate over encryption, as well a calls from both leading Democratic and Republican presidential candidates to censor the Internet to combat the threat that ISIS poses there. This is despite the fact that the Paris attacks were not cyber attacks and were planned “in plain sight” and without widespread use of sophisticated encryption technologies by the attackers.

We should ask two questions: First, has our attention really shifted towards ISIS as a cyber threat? Second, if so, is this shift warranted? In short, my answer to these questions is yes, there is reason to believe our attention has shifted, and no, this shift is not warranted.

As I have argued in my previous work, close observers of the history of the U.S. cyber security debate have noted a tendency for cyber threat perceptions to mirror larger national security concerns. That is, the perception of cyber threat actors can be influenced by other perceived threats that are not primarily about cyber security. Paris seems to provide an example of this phenomenon.



Microsoft made a data analytics acquisition. IBM expanded its IoT Watson efforts with new APIs. Apple shut down its Twitter analytics acquisition. For this week's big data roundup, let's start with the threat of evil algorithms and robot overlords.

Well, maybe it's not that drastic, but if that dystopian future is coming, we may be better prepared now, thanks in part to Tesla founder Elon Musk.

Musk, together with several other tech firms and entrepreneurs, are pooling their fortunes to launch OpenAI, a nonprofit artificial intelligence research company. The aim is to advance digital intelligence in a way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by the drive for financial return.



Monday, 21 December 2015 00:00

Reporting DR & BCM Program Status as Red

I’ve noticed recently that many individuals working on various projects and programs, including Disaster Planning and Business Continuity, seem afraid to actually communicate some of the difficulties they’re encountering.  With most projects and programs, executives and sponsor expect to receive a regular update on the efforts and whether there are any major issues they need to be aware of.  In the majority of cases projects are reported on as either being;

1. GREEN – all is well and tracking to schedule, scope and budget;

2. AMBER (Yellow) – some minor hiccups and need to deal with some smaller issues or risks, which may need some participation by the sponsor to ensure scope, budget and schedule get back on track; and,

3. RED – all heck’s has broken loose and we’ve got a major problem.



As we close out the year, it is now time to begin the retrospective reviews and predictions for the New Year. I will try to keep them to a minimum but I find it important to reflect and look forward to new challenges.

Compliance is a fast moving profession. More attention is being paid to the compliance function, and more companies are embracing the importance of compliance. The last twenty years has seen an explosion in enforcement, and the natural response of compliance.

As compliance begins to mature and establish itself on the governance landscape, there are many important challenges and trends. Compliance has to continuously evaluate itself as a function and as a profession. More structure is needed around training, professional standards and formal education programs. Until these issues are addressed, compliance is a profession in search of subject-matter experts.



Monday, 21 December 2015 00:00

Structuring Your Data Team: 9 Best Practices

Structuring a solid data team would be a lot easier if there were a common blueprint that worked equally well for all organizations. However, since each organization is unique and change is constant, companies must continually reassess their needs.

Technology hype and competitive pressures tend to frustrate strategic thinking, however. Instead of defining goals and identifying problems that need to be solved up front, organizations sometimes acquire technology or talent without a plan, which tends to negatively affect ROI.

"You need to have a really well-defined business case beforehand," said Jonathan Foley, VP of science at a recruiting software provider Gild, in an interview. "Companies are building out data science teams before they need them, before they understand what data science is and what is going to be the desired effect on the business. It's a me-too phenomenon where it's seen as something that can have a competitive advantage. But unless the leadership really understands the expected outcome of having data science and machine learning, it just becomes a difficult task. You don't know who to hire and you don't know how to manage the team once you have it."



Monday, 21 December 2015 00:00

Is the Enterprise Destined for Dev/Ops?

Amid all the technological changes set to take place in the coming year, the enterprise is on the verge of a momentous operational and organizational transformation as well. One of the most significant aspects of this is the rise of Dev/Ops as the driving force behind the delivery of IT services.

Before long, virtually the entire data stack will sit atop a virtual architecture residing on commodity hardware. Sure, there will always be a need for bare-metal functionality, but even then, those resources will be treated like managed services within an automated, software-defined ecosystem.

This means knowledge workers hoping for a new application won’t have to wait for coders and IT technicians to come together in a months-long development process that usually ends in either marginal success or abject failure. In the future, a combined Dev/Ops team, including the business unit in need of the app, will create the code, test it in the lab, provision the virtual resources, and then launch it into production environments, all within a matter of days or weeks.



Monday, 21 December 2015 00:00

Getting to the True Data Center Cost

Will it be cheaper to run a particular application in the cloud than keeping it in the corporate data center? Would a colo be cheaper? Which servers in the data center are running at low utilization? Are there servers that have been forgotten about by the data center manager? Does it make sense to replace old servers with new ones? If it does, which ones would be best for my specific applications?

Those are examples of the essential questions every data center manager should be asking themselves and their team every day if they aren’t already. Together, they can be distilled down to a single ever-relevant question: How much does it cost to run an application?

Answering it is incredibly complex, which is the reason startups like TSO Logic, Romonet, or Coolan, among others, have sprung up in recent years. If you answer it correctly, the pay-off can be substantial, because almost all data centers are not running as efficiently as they can, and there’s always room for optimization and savings.



The National Guard Bureau will deploy 13 new cyber protection teams composed of about 500 soldiers across the nation to help protect the network infrastructure, the military arm announced Dec. 9. The Air Guard will also deploy four new "Cyber Operations Squadrons" in Idaho, Michigan, Texas and Virginia, along with a "cyber Information Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) squadron" in California and a "cyber ISR group" in Massachusetts. Collectively the deployments are geared toward a federal effort to protect against mounting cyberthreats. The teams will run simulations, and share contacts, information and resources with local organizations to help thwart and prevent attacks.

The cyber protection teams will be deployed across Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin, joining four teams already deployed across California, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan and Ohio.

The teams are positioned around the nation's 10 Federal Emergency Management Agency response regions. This infrastructure is needed to support operations in the growing cyber world, said Air Force Col. Kelly Hughes, chief of the Space and Cyber Warfare Operations Division at the Air National Guard Readiness Center.



In case you haven’t seen our latest news, this morning we announced we have received a third-party certificate of HIPAA compliance across all of our facilities, including Mail-Gard, by independent assessor, Crimson Security Inc.

Data security and compliance is critical to all of our customers, but especially to those in the highly regulated healthcare industry. Compliance to HIPAA requirements has always been a focus of our healthcare clients. We are considered a Business Associate under the HITECH Act, which extended our clients’ compliance requirements to companies such as ours.

While the third-party review is a new undertaking, IWCO Direct has focused on HIPAA compliance for years. In fact, our first self-evaluation dates back to 2006. Since that time we have continued annual audits and regular enhancements. However, as a means to measure and assure that our own internal audits and self-certifications were valid, this year we engaged Crimson Security to assess our HIPAA/HITECH control environment. This independent assessment provided us a “second set of eyes” that reinforced our internal security and compliance team efforts, as well as reassured our healthcare client base of our strong corporate security posture.

- See more at: http://www.iwco.com/blog/2015/12/18/hipaa-compliance-certificate/?utm_source=IWCO+Speaking+Direct+Newsletter&utm_campaign=7102768a10-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6225488a32-7102768a10-104311797#sthash.6jhG8ION.dpuf

In case you haven’t seen our latest news, this morning we announced we have received a third-party certificate of HIPAA compliance across all of our facilities, including Mail-Gard, by independent assessor, Crimson Security Inc.

Data security and compliance is critical to all of our customers, but especially to those in the highly regulated healthcare industry. Compliance to HIPAA requirements has always been a focus of our healthcare clients. We are considered a Business Associate under the HITECH Act, which extended our clients’ compliance requirements to companies such as ours.

While the third-party review is a new undertaking, IWCO Direct has focused on HIPAA compliance for years. In fact, our first self-evaluation dates back to 2006. Since that time we have continued annual audits and regular enhancements. However, as a means to measure and assure that our own internal audits and self-certifications were valid, this year we engaged Crimson Security to assess our HIPAA/HITECH control environment. This independent assessment provided us a “second set of eyes” that reinforced our internal security and compliance team efforts, as well as reassured our healthcare client base of our strong corporate security posture.

- See more at: http://www.iwco.com/blog/2015/12/18/hipaa-compliance-certificate/?utm_source=IWCO+Speaking+Direct+Newsletter&utm_campaign=7102768a10-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6225488a32-7102768a10-104311797#sthash.6jhG8ION.dpuf
Friday, 18 December 2015 00:00

A Sobering View of International Cybercrime

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to sit in on a talk given by Christian Karam, a digital crime officer, cyber innovation and outreach, with Interpol, at G DATA’s 30th anniversary celebration. It was a fascinating discussion (and I got to continue it a bit on a shared cab ride with Karam the next day) about how cybercrime is universal yet regional, and how it is continuously evolving.

Karam’s talk focused on the difficulties facing law enforcement when it comes to stopping cybercrime internationally. Unlike security companies, law enforcement – Interpol specifically – isn’t just concerned with stopping cybercrime, but with putting the cybercriminals in prison. Why? Karam said:

If you just stop the criminals from their activities, they will come back with a smarter, faster, more elegant way to do damage.



European Union’s three regulatory bodies have reached an agreement on common rules for governing data privacy across all member states. Europe’s data privacy reform has been in the making for at least three years and now finally appears close to enactment.

While addressing what businesses can and cannot do with users’ personal data and outlining rules for access to personal data by law enforcement, the packages do not address cross-border data flows, which until recently were governed by a set of rules called Safe Harbor but was stricken down by the European Commission, causing a stir in the cloud services industry, where the biggest players are by their nature operating globally distributed data center infrastructure.

“Our next step is now to remove unjustified barriers which limit cross-border data flow: local practice and sometimes national law, limiting storage and processing of certain data outside national territory,” Andrus Ansip, VP for the Digital Single Market, said in a statement on the recent agreement, reached earlier this week. Digital Single Market is an EC initiative to promote a unified single digital economy across the EU, governed by a common set of laws.



The number of Fortune 500 companies successfully using Big Data analytics as a way to improve business intelligence and efficiency is not very high. According to a Forbes article, it’s anticipated that the number could be as low as 15 percent. Among SMBs, that percentage is likely even lower.

One of the reasons so few are using Big Data is due to the lack of skilled professionals available to analyze the massive amounts of information being generated. Companies still don’t understand how to best leverage the collected data.

However, Big Data can be a real asset when properly utilized. It can customize customer offerings based on past purchases, it can anticipate supply and demand, and it can anticipate potential problem points and generate solutions. In short, Big Data can be a game changer for a business, as it was for these companies.



— The emails arrived overnight Monday into Tuesday. They threatened the safety of hundreds of thousands of students in the nation’s two largest school districts, promising that a violent plan already had been set in motion and raising the specter of guns and bombs inside numerous classrooms.

New York City officials opted to open their public schools on time Tuesday, calling the message an amateurish hoax imitating a popular television series. But across the country in Los Angeles, Superintendent Ramon Cortines took a different tack, closing every school in his sprawling district in a move that disrupted the daily lives of more than 640,000 students and their families.

Maybe the threat wasn’t real. But maybe it was. And at a time when the world is reeling from terrorist attacks — including two weeks ago in San Bernardino, just an hour’s drive from Los Angeles — Cortines said he had no choice but to be cautious.



At this point, almost every modern data center will have worked with some type of virtualization technology. A recent Cisco report noted that cloud workloads are expected to more than triple (grow 3.3-fold) from 2014 to 2019, whereas traditional data center workloads are expected to see a global decline, for the first time, at a negative 1 percent CAGR from 2014 to 2019.

Traditionally, one server carried one workload. However, with increasing server computing capacity and virtualization, multiple workloads per physical server are common in cloud architectures. Cloud economics, including server cost, resiliency, scalability, and product lifespan, along with enhancements in cloud security, are promoting migration of workloads across servers, both inside the data center and across data centers (even data centers in different geographic areas).

With this in mind, it’s important to note that the modern hypervisor and cloud ecosystem have come a long way. VMware, Microsoft, Citrix, and others are paving the way with enterprise-ready technologies capable of consolidating an infrastructure and helping it grow harmoniously with other tools. Today, many systems are designed for virtualization and cloud readiness. In fact, best practices have been written around virtualizing heavy workloads such as SQL, Oracle, Exchange, and so on. Taking advantage of these cloud-ready platforms will make your data center more agile and more capable of meeting market demands.



Thursday, 17 December 2015 00:00

3 Reasons to Outsource IT Security to an MSP

A new Webroot survey of 300 IT decision-makers indicated many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) intend to increase their security budgets next year. 

The survey, titled "Are Organizations Completely Ready to Stop Cyberattacks?," revealed 81 percent of respondents said they plan to increase their annual IT security budget for 2016.

In addition, 81 percent noted they believe outsourcing IT solutions (including cybersecurity endeavors) would increase their bandwidth to address other areas of their business.

"SMBs play a pivotal role in helping drive the economies of all the countries polled, but past experiences have taught them they face an uphill battle when it comes to cybersecurity," said George Anderson, Webroot's director of product marketing, in a prepared statement. "This perception must change."



Technological advances and market forces are driving demand for data scientists, and universities are stepping up to fill the need by expanding their curriculums. Here's a closer look at some of the programs.

Data science isn't new, but as technologies and the job market have changed to create more demand for these skills, university offerings must change, too.

In some cases, existing courses and degree programs are simply being rebranded. In other cases, faculty members are purposely adding data science concepts to existing courses and creating new courses and degree programs.

"A case can be made that every student should develop data science skills. Computational thinking is another core part of the curriculum for a well-educated individual whether or not they become a programmer so they can understand the nature of what's involved and apply critical thinking to data analysis and data analytics," said Dan Lopresti, chair of Lehigh University's department of computer science and engineering, and also director of Lehigh's interdisciplinary Data X initiative.



In theory at least, a standard platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environment should greatly advance hybrid cloud computing by providing a common layer of software that abstracts away the underlying infrastructure complexity. To make sure that actually happens, the Cloud Foundry Foundation (CFF) announced today that it has created a certification through which IT organizations will be assured that multiple implementations of the open source Cloud Foundry PaaS are compatible with one another.

The first providers of Cloud Foundry PaaS software to attain a Cloud Foundry PaaS Certification include CenturyLink, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Huawei, IBM, Pivotal, SAP and Swisscom.

Cloud Foundry CEO Sam Ramji adds that this technology certification is the first step in a much broader certification effort that Cloud Foundry will embark on in 2016. As part of that effort, Cloud Foundry is working with some of the leading systems integrators in the industry to create a Cloud Foundry certification for technical professionals as well, says Ramji.



Thursday, 17 December 2015 00:00

Five Data Center Trends to Watch in 2016

Yossi Ben Harosh is President & CEOof RiT Technologies.

All signs indicate that 2016 will be a year of many challenges. Disruptive technologies will be introduced, the exponential increase in computing power will continue, while businesses will demand a prompt response to quickly changing requirements. At the same time the requirement to be highly resource efficient will stay the same.

As a result of these challenges we predict these changes will emerge in 2016:



(TNS) - During its first meeting since the Dec. 2 terror attack in San Bernardino in which 14 people were killed and 22 wounded, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved several measures that will ramp up security at county facilities, seek state and federal funding assistance and extend paid leave for environmental health employees.

The meeting began with an emotional remembrance ceremony for the victims. Board Chairman James Ramos led a prayer.

“We pray for the families of those that are going through this tragic time. We ask now that the continuing of prayers continue to come in to San Bernardino County, and specifically to our (Environmental Health Services) department,” Ramos said.



Each year my team of futurists puts together a list of big trends for the coming year. We analyze how right we were with our “15 for 2015” and compile our “16 for 2016” (they must be dreading 2030). I’m relieved to see our methods are working; in 2015 we were right on the money – and money was one of the major things to change.

2015 saw Goldman Sachs as the first financial juggernaut to invest in Bitcoin, and I started to pay my daily London commute with Apple AAPL -1.83% Pay on my iWatch, along with 40% of Londoners now using contactless payments for the tube; Fintech has now entered a revolution.

We also backed autonomous machines, and the US airspace applications for drones have gone from 1 in 2014 to 50 per week as we stand today (source FAA), leading to a rapid need for “drone-ports,” where I’m sure Amazon will be keen to set up a duty-free shop. Other trends we highlighted included B2B ecommerce now rising at a rate twice as fast as B2C commerce did; “women as a customer” as all industries tackle diversity head on; and one of my personal favorites, and a brave one, was policymakers and diplomats globally coming together on trade and important policies like climate change. It was good to see that we are learning to compromise, as we saw with the climate change agreement.



Identifying and managing emerging risks is perennially a top concern for most organizations, as an unforeseen threat can quickly impact company operations in a significant way. CEB research shows that progressive companies regularly scan for new risks and embed systems and processes that enable them to detect risks early. They also work to uncover risks by encouraging contrarian thinking and questioning strategic assumptions.

With this in mind, every quarter, we survey senior executives in risk, audit, finance and compliance at leading companies on key emerging risks and the potential impact, probability and velocity for their organizations. The dashboard in Figure 1 captures the percentage of survey respondents that select a given emerging risk as one of their top five concerns, giving us insight into which emerging risk events are the most important to companies.



The traditional enterprise vendors’ hold on the data center market is said to be shaky and growing weaker by the day as new cloud and white box solutions come into vogue. But by the numbers at least, it seems like the old guard is holding its own for the moment.

According to Synergy Research Group, HPE, Cisco and Microsoft are tops in the $120 billion data center infrastructure market, which itself is growing at about 3 percent per year based largely on sales of virtualization software, blade servers and security solutions. HPE controls about 25 percent of the market, followed by Cisco at 13 percent, and then Microsoft, which has about 70 percent of the total software spend. Somewhat ironically, the cloud is driving many of these revenue gains by spurring demand for hyperscale and private cloud infrastructure.

And despite what you hear about converged, commodity infrastructure and tightly integrated computing solutions, it seems that the rack server still rules the roost in the data center, says the UK Register. About $10 billion of the $29 billion in sales for the third quarter went to the rack, with growth moving roughly in sync with the overall infrastructure market. And while HPE does rule in the established enterprise market, Cisco is tops in the fast-growing service provider segment, which is eager to match servers with advanced, high-speed networking.



Thursday, 17 December 2015 00:00

Switch CEO: Michigan Data Center Build is a Go

Now that the state legislature has approved tax breaks for data center owners and users in Michigan, the project to convert the pyramid-shaped office building outside of Grand Rapids is a go. Future of the project by Las Vegas-based data center provider Switch hinged on the bill’s passage, and lawmakers rushed it through the legislative process to get it approved before the holidays.

The bill, passed by the state House Tuesday, now heads to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk for signing. In a phone interview, Switch CEO Rob Roy said the company has decided to go ahead with its Michigan data center construction plans “100 percent.”

Those plans call for 2 million square feet of building space, including the Steelcase Pyramid and several additional buildings Switch plans to erect around it. The full build-out could take up to 10 years and include six buildings, the company’s spokesman Adam Kramer told us earlier.



Thursday, 17 December 2015 00:00

Four Steps to Achieving Safety Culture Success

When you think of safety culture, what comes to mind? Perhaps it is visions of hallway walls plastered with safety advisories, or the common “Safety First” banner that is hung high over the manufacturing or production floor. While these visual aids might make an organization appear safety-oriented, they are often not enough to build a true culture of safety.

Safety culture is defined by the shared beliefs, attitudes and practices that determine the performance of an organization’s safety and health management. As it turns out, every organization has a safety culture—whether it is good or bad, healthy or weak. Even employers with the best intentions may say they value safety in the workplace, but are unable to provide the proper resources, training and communication needed to fully engage their employees to become involved. In turn, when employers do not engage workers in the process of building a safe culture, employees may not be able to recognize an unsafe work environment or feel comfortable speaking to their managers about existing safety risks.

It’s no question that workplace safety should be a top priority, but organizations need to keep in mind that they will see the greatest success when everyone in the workforce is driving the commitment. Here are four steps organizations can take to ensure a strong safety culture:



Akamai’s Third Quarter, 2015 State of the Internet Report had a bit of good news and a bit of bad news. As usual, the report offers a lot of numbers. Global connectivity speed increased a very small amount -- 0.2 percent -- to 5.1 Megabits per second (Mbps) from the second quarter. However, the gain represented a far more impressive 14 percent year-over-year increase.

Another bit of mixed news was found in average peak connection speed. It dipped a bit – 0.9 percent – to 32.2 Mbps from the second to the third quarters. That followed, however, an increase of 12 percent during the second quarter compared to the first. The year-over-year growth for the third quarter was 30 percent.

Highlights were noted for Singapore (a 25 percent speed increase to 135.4 Mbps) and Macao (an 18 percent increase to 73.7 Mbps). Singapore remained atop the international listings. The firm found that about 15 percent of the world has broadband connections that are 15 Mbps, which the company rates as “4K ready. This represents is a 5.3 percent increase from the second quarter.” In the U.S., 10 states had 10 percent or more unique IP addresses operating at speeds of 25 Mbps or higher.



Thursday, 17 December 2015 00:00

How to Make It Through a Failed Security Audit

Embarrassing – or inevitable? How you view a failed security audit, whether in IT or at an overall organisational level, depends on whether you think security is a result or a process. There is a fundamental difference between the two points of view. In addition, current trends suggest that security is becoming less of an achievable state, and more of a continual improvement. Surveys confirm that many organisational executives consider that security breaches are no longer a question of “if”, but of “when”. In that case, a security audit should always “fail”. What counts is the reaction to such failure.



Thursday, 17 December 2015 00:00

How MSPs Improve Business Continuity

When an MSP asked a large agency within the State of Maryland if it could retrieve a file from six months ago with 100% confidence, the answer was no. What if the agency had to do a full system restore? What would that downtime look like? A week? A month? Even the organization's best-case estimate wasn’t sufficient, by today's RPO and RTO standards.

At the end of the day, the IT department at the Maryland government agency was looking to upgrade its legacy backup system, but couldn’t afford to make any more expensive upfront investments. This is why the agency turned to an MSP (SANS Technology) to simplify its disaster recovery and backup needs.

The Business Challenge: Finding a DR Solution That Could Protect Every OS and Every Server

One of SANS Technology’s customers, a large agency within the State of Maryland, was looking to move from tape backup to disk-based backup and protect an environment that included:



​First ever CBCI graduation ceremony in Malaysia

GRCCS in collaboration with the Business Continuity Institute recently carried out the first Certificate of the BCI (CBCI) graduation ceremony at the Pullman Kuala Lumpur City Centre Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The 30 graduates received their CBCI from David James-Brown FBCI, Chairman of the BCI, and witnessed by GRCCS Chairman YBhg. Tan Sri Dato’ Hj. Abd Karim B. Munisar.

The CBCI graduation ceremony was the first graduation ceremony for CBCI graduates to be carried out in Malaysia, and in the world. It is an initiative carried out by GRCCS to honour the 30 CBCI graduates on their achievement of acquiring the CBCI credential this year. All 30 CBCI graduates had attended the Good Practice Guidelines Training and CBCI Exam classes in 2015 carried out by GRCCS.

The CBCI graduation ceremony was also attended by Abdul Razak Yaacob, Chief Executive Officer of GRCCS and Chong Chen Voon, Chief Operating Officer of GRCCS, Nik Khairun Nisa Nik Mohd Khalid, Executive Director of GRCCS, other Executive Directors of GRCCS and distinguished guests from various organisations from the public sector, public listed companies, GLCs, universities and private companies, and was covered by many leading media networks including TV stations and newspapers in Malaysia. Some of the key government agencies that were present at the graduation ceremony are Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU), Prime Minister’s Department of Malaysia, Perbadanan Putrajaya (Putrajaya Corporation), and Kumpulan Semesta Sdn. Bhd. of Selangor State’s Menteri Besar Selangor Incorporated (MBI).

The 30 CBCI graduates are from various large organisations such as Bursa Malaysia (Malaysia Stock Exchange Authority), Maybank, Sime Darby, UMW Corporation, AEON, Measat, Berjaya Group, Boustead, Malaysian Technology Development Corporation (MTDC), Matrade, Malaysia Airlines, Takaful Ikhlas, Gas Malaysia, Okachi, Berjaya University College of Hospitality, MNRB, Pengurusan Asset Air Berhad (PAAB) and Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) which represents the public sector, public listed companies, GLCs, universities and private companies.

Tan Sri Dato’ Hj. Abd Karim, Chairman of GRCCS said, “This is certainly encouraging and shows that all sectors in Malaysia are indeed embracing BCM. It is also gratifying to see the representatives from the Human Resource, Heads of Divisions and CEOs also present today to witness the achievement of the CBCI graduates from their respective companies.

This is the first CBCI graduation ceremony for Malaysia. I applaud GRCCS for taking the initiative to carry out this CBCI graduation ceremony to honour and provide recognition to the business continuity professionals and trust this will encourage the future growth of the BCM ecosystem in Malaysia,” said David James-Brown FBCI, Chairman of the BCI.

Tan Sri Dato’ Hj. Abd Karim Munisar also stressed the need for business continuity to be a boardroom agenda for organizations, considering the potentially devastating financial and organizational impact of a disaster. He said "employers have the added benefit of having certified practitioners who can help towards achieving alignment or certification to ISO 22301, or to demonstrate enhanced levels of resilience which can give the organization the edge over their competition."

GRC Consulting Services (GRCCS) is an established professional consulting firm specialising in Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) Advisory Services. GRCCS is a Licensed Training Provider for the BCI to deliver BCI certification courses in Malaysia and China. The BCI training is based on the BCI’s Good Practice Guidelines which themselves are aligned with the ISO 22301. GRCCS also provides Human Capital Development Advisory and is the leading provider of GRC integrated software i.e. CURA software and Governance Manager Software; and Everbridge Mass Notification System in Malaysia.


InformationWeek is spotlighting the companies whose innovative solutions to technology and business challenges earned them a place on our 2015 Elite 100. For more on the program, and to see profiles of the Top 10 Elite 100 finalists, click here. If you're interested in nominating your company for consideration in the 2016 Elite 100, click here.

It's not every day that an IT project has internal business units jostling to use it. But that's exactly the situation Intuit IT had on its hands after the launch of the Intuit Analytics Cloud (IAC).

Sponsor video, mouseover for sound

Gathering and storing data wasn't a problem for Intuit, which offers financial software and tools such as TurboTax, QuickBooks, Quicken, and Mint.com. The challenge was deriving useful insight from all its data. That's why Intuit launched IAC: to turn lakes of data into pools of information.



Wednesday, 16 December 2015 00:00

The 5 Worst Threats to Enterprise Cloud Security

As more companies and large corporations move their business operations to the cloud, increased awareness for tighter security is gaining traction as well.  Organizations such as the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) have been leading the path toward a more secure cloud computing environment for enterprises.

Large multinational tech companies have ramped up their security service offerings, as in the case of IBM: in 2014, they introduced the Dynamic Cloud Security portfolio, which is expected to solve cloud security concerns related to access control, data protection and increased visibility.

But unless users remain vigilant in taking the necessary steps to secure their networks, hacking and other cybersecurity threats are a very real concern.  Here’s a list of the worst threats to cybersecurity and some of the countermeasures you can implement to avoid them.



Wednesday, 16 December 2015 00:00

Looming Threats in Cloud Computing

A lot has changed in a few years.

When I talked about cloud three years back, I got frownie-faces from my peers. Skeptical looks that belied a deeper-seated fear or trepidation, probably having more to do with their internal image of what a CIO should be than the promise or peril in the new technology.

Now, enthusiasm runs ebulliently through the vendor community, animating the animal spirits and spurring on entrepreneurs in search of profits and glory. Cloud has been elevated to high strategy on the billionaire chess board. Mergers and acquisitions are abuzz. Amazon, armed with an overly energetic workforce, gets hypercompetitive in all ways good and ill, supplanting Oracle as one of our most vociferous vendors and perhaps the new alpha predator. Numerous smaller vendors — tiny even in the aggregate, compared with Amazon’s might — are quickly learning the new cloud lingo, differentiating themselves from Amazon and contemplating symmetrical and asymmetrical warfare. Today it’s Everyone vs. Amazon.



(TNS) - Officials closed all Los Angeles Unified School District campuses Tuesday morning after receiving a “credible threat” of violence involving backpacks and packages left at campuses.

Authorities said they planned a search operation of all of the LAUSD’s more than 900 schools. The nation’s second-largest school district has more than 700,000 students.

“I think it’s important to take this precaution based on what has happened recently and what has happened in the past,” LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines said.



Wednesday, 16 December 2015 00:00

The Blurry Relationship Between CMOs and CIOs

Lalit Dhingra is president of NIIT Technologies’ US operations.

Transforming any part of a business can put a strain on the entire organization regardless of how well it is planned. The recent push for digital transformation is no different.

As more businesses evolve operations to be digital-first, marketing and IT departments often approach the transition from different, yet relevant, points of view that can cause tension. This is due in part because each department does not understand the intention of the other: chief marketing officers (CMOs) can perceive that IT teams don’t recognize the urgent need for integrating new data sources, though the CMO may not understand how long such a project actually takes. Likewise, chief information officers (CIOs) are forced to work within shrinking budgets which can make implementing new systems more difficult.



Wednesday, 16 December 2015 00:00

Making Disruption a Part of the Enterprise

It seems that everyone is worrying about disruption these days, whether it’s market disruption, business model disruption, or technology disruption.

Of course, it’s always better to be the disruptor than the disruptee, so it seems that a primary strategic objective for the enterprise in the coming year is to improve the ability to disrupt others while minimizing the effects of disruption at home.

This is easier said than done, but with the advent of software-defined infrastructure and rapid application and service development, it’s no longer outside the bounds of possibility.



Wednesday, 16 December 2015 00:00

Disaster Recovery: Do You Have a Plan?

To be a successful data center you need a disaster plan. In other words: what to do when something major occurs and you experience a site failure?

Everyone works at planning for high availability, the failure of a single component within the data center (and making sure it doesn’t affect user experience), and everything continues to run. But what about the loss of an entire site?

Building a disaster recovery plan is like buying life insurance. With the purchase of life insurance you’re betting you will pass away before you will have paid for the policy, and the insurance company is betting you will not.

Guess what? They win more often, but that risk is something you have to take to ensure your family’s security going forward. That is what a disaster recovery plan is, you are betting and spending money that something major will occur in your data center, and spending money to deal with it.



Wednesday, 16 December 2015 00:00

Report Reveals Growing Trends in IT Outsourcing

More and more, companies are selecting colocation providers to help them manage complex data center environments, lower capital and operating costs, and shore up physical security.

These are the key findings from a recent Ponemon Institute research initiative on how companies are better managing the complexity and costs of their IT infrastructure

Top Reasons to Outsource

Managing data centers has become more complex. The Ponemon Institute’s research reveals IT leaders’ top three reasons to outsource to data center providers.



DENTON, Texas – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urges people to buy flood insurance now – before the next flood hits.

Flooding is the nation’s number one natural disaster, a fact people in this part of the United States know all too well. Yet statistics indicate most people ignore the risks associated with flooding and do not buy flood insurance.

However, with some forecasters calling for a wet winter in many parts of the country, local residents should buck that trend, said FEMA Region 6 officials in Denton, Texas. Those wet winter forecasts come on the heels of a spring and summer that saw Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas receive major disaster declarations for flooding.

“Nobody here will forget the heartbreaking images from this spring’s devastating floods,” said Regional Administrator Tony Robinson. “Losing your family’s treasured possessions to floodwaters is hard enough; not having insurance to cover the replacement costs makes a bad situation worse.”

People who want to know whether they live in a flood-prone area and how to get flood insurance can learn more on www.floodsmart.gov. The site contains a wealth of information about the risks and costs of flooding, and the benefits of insurance.

“Once you buy an insurance policy, it takes 30 days to go into effect – so the time to act is now, before the next heavy rains,” Robinson said.

Last Updated: 
December 15, 2015 - 16:48
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Wednesday, 16 December 2015 00:00

A Practical Approach to Supply Chain Risk

This article was republished with permission from Michael Volkov’s blog, Corruption, Crime & Compliance.

A Chief Compliance Officer can get so overwhelmed with risks that it is hard to keep their focus on priorities. Risks are everywhere and no compliance program can address every risk – the trick is keeping your eye on the ball and focusing on the significant risk.

There are lots of risks surrounding a company’s supply chain. Unfortunately, vendors, suppliers and their respective vendors and suppliers can drive you crazy when you start to calculate all the permutations. A supplier of a supplier of a supplier can create real risks for anyone in the chain.

In addressing this complex situation, a clear strategy has to be developed – predicated on defining the specific risks applicable to your supply chain.



Wednesday, 16 December 2015 00:00

BCI: Terrorism as a lasting threat

Terrorism as a lasting threat

The threat of terrorism looms over many societies and has been a considerable source of concern for professionals in the protective disciplines. The Paris attacks are still fresh in the collective memory and brings to the fore how terrorism can profoundly disrupt our way of life. The latest Horizon Scan Report by the Business Continuity Institute featured acts of terrorism as one of the top ten threats that business continuity professionals worry about for the fourth year running – a sign of such lingering concern.

Terrorist acts confront our fundamental sense of security and therefore involve our emotions. Our emotions, for better or for worse, influence our judgments on risk and how we carry on with our lives. As our societies respond to this continuing threat, that tension between intellect and emotion is also played out. Given our role in the protective disciplines, we need to be aware of our personal judgments on risk which influence our professional decisions.

In the latest edition of the BCI's Working Paper Series, Tim Jordan captures this tension quite well as he discusses implications to the understanding of risk from a practitioner’s perspective, highlighting that terrorism is a persistent phenomenon. This is an important premise as it influences business continuity, the way we analyse the business impact of certain risks and our responsibility in making our organizations resilient.

The Paper concludes that the issue of managing risks associated with terrorism is complex and not easy to conceive. It is also not a topic which lies within the bounds of business continuity, risk and resilience. Nevertheless, our profession faces terrorism risks and the organizations we work for are affected directly or indirectly by terrorist acts. Therefore business continuity, risk and resilience practitioners should have a sound understanding of the issues and their accompanying effects.

In the end, terrorism and its effects influence the perception of risks and individual feelings. Business continuity, risk and resilience practitioners are not free from these effects. Given their important role, they are in a position where their tasks require them to critically examine their environment in a more considered way.

To download your free copy of ‘Terrorism as a lasting threat and its implications to practitioners’ view on risk', click here.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015 00:00

WANdisco Simplifies Replication of Hadoop Data

Replicating data across a wide area network (WAN) is generally considered too expensive and time consuming to be taken lightly by most IT organizations. The rise of Big Data naturally exacerbates that challenge.

For that reason, WANdisco created replication software for Hadoop environments that makes sure all the servers and clusters deployed across multiple date centers are fully readable and writeable, always in sync, and recover automatically from each other. Now WANdisco is extending the capabilities of the core WANdisco Fusion Platform via six plug-in modules that address everything from disaster recovery to replicating Hadoop data into the cloud.

Jim Campigli, chief product officer for WANdisco, says that as Hadoop deployments become more distributed, IT organizations are going to need to actively manage multiple deployments of Hadoop clusters. To address that issue, Campigli says many of them will need to find a way to cost-effectively keep Hadoop clusters synchronized with one another across a WAN.



(TNS) - The Newport News Community Emergency Response Team has figured out how to make a good deed even better. They turned an annual food drive into a training exercise for distributing disaster relief supplies.

Trained volunteers may be called to assist with various efforts in the aftermath of a disaster. One of those roles is to set up and manage points of distribution sites. These sites provide residents with items like water, tarps and food if damage from a disaster prevents stores from selling them.

But it's a challenge for the teams to practice the work because you have to have items to hand out, according to Dana Perry, emergency operations coordinator with the city's Division of Emergency Management.



Just a friendly reminder to all, be extra diligent when opening emails this time of year!

Hundreds of thousands of computers become infected from phishing emails appearing at first glance to be legitimate, and these email appear more than ever during the Holiday Season. Phishing is a form of online identity theft in which fraudsters trick users into submitting personal information to illegitimate web sites. Below is a list of items (from our friends at TechRepublic) that can help you identify phishing emails. If you receive one, just simply delete it permanently by holding down the shift key while pressing the delete key. This will help protect your computer as well as the company’s assets.



We know that 911 call centers frequently receive imprecise locations of callers from wireless carriers -- and some don’t get any location information at all. Calls from landline phones are linked to addresses. But today more than 70 percent of all 911 calls originate from cellphones, a number only expected to increase.

More reliable location information could save lives, and earlier this year an order from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) set targets for companies to improve both the availability and accuracy of location information. But those upgrades remain a long way off.

Under the new rules, carriers will have to provide caller location info within 50 meters 80 percent of the time by 2021, along with vertical location information -- is the caller in the basement or on the 22nd floor? -- that would have to be in place in top markets by 2023.



Ah, nothing goes easy with that $67 billion Dell-EMC deal, does it? Today the plot thickened a bit more when VMware announced in a filing with the SEC that it was walking away from the agreement with EMC to form Virtustream as a jointly owned company. Re/code first reported this news.

This whole deal has from the start been a fairly complex tale, and like the movie Groundhog Day, one we seem to be telling over and over each time a new bit of news comes our way. It takes some background, so strap in while I explain the complications on top of the complications in this merger. If you haven’t been following along at home, you may want to take notes.

For starters, EMC owns 80 percent of VMware, but the company operates as a separate entity with its own board of directors and separately traded stock. A couple of weeks after the Dell-EMC merger announcement, EMC and VMware decided to throw a little wrinkle into the deal, announcing they were forming a separate jointly-owned company called Virtustream from the company EMC had purchased in May for $1.2 billion. The companies announced further that in spite of the 50/50 split, the Virtustream’s financial results would be included on VMware’s books.



Ideally, neither one nor the other would happen. However, events over the past weeks have proved how uncertain times are. The attacks in Paris in November 2015 led a few days later to the “Brussels lockdown”, in which the entire capital city of Belgium and home of many European government institutions shut down overnight. News channels showed video footage of deserted streets, in which bars, cafes, restaurants and shops remained shut. That of course meant interruption of business for many enterprises. However, in business continuity terms, certain dramatic circumstances have ended up doing far greater damage in the past.



This Christmas, wearable tech is projected to be hackers’ next big target and there’s also more data at risk. Straight from the experts themselves, here are some ways to make sure you can have the best chance at keeping your connected device from turning on you.

1. You might not want to get the first generation. “With new platforms, we don’t know the vulnerabilities until some time has passed. Users can also make sure they have the most recent version for operating devices and when you get prompted for a software update, do it as soon as possible.” — John Herrema, Good Technologies.

2. Think hard about what data can be potentially taken. “Think about the worst and assume that the data could somehow get out and then ask yourself if you can truly tolerate that or not.”



Hiring new employees is always a positive sign for a growing business, but while expansion is exciting, it doesn’t come without its headaches.

While HR departments will know all too well how stressful it can be to make sure they’re hiring the right person, IT administrators often also find themselves facing difficulties with getting new starters on board – even if their role is sometimes overlooked.

After all, without the right level of access to key technologies, applications and services, they will be unable to perform their job effectively. And it’s not just for productivity reasons that IT has a role to play – they also need to make sure that the new employee is using their systems responsibly and not exposing the business to problems such as security breaches or data loss.

Therefore, it’s important that IT administrators understand what to do when new starters are getting set up. Read on to learn our top tips and best practices for technology leaders when it comes to this process, and find out what key questions you need to be asking in order to make things run smoothly.



High number of IT outages being reported by large organizations

90% of large businesses report experiencing major IT incidents throughout the year, and 60% report outages occurring on a monthly basis, yet only about half have a team dedicated to handling such occurrences. This is according to a study conducted by Dimensional Research on behalf of xMatters.

Major Incident Management Trends 2016 also revealed that nearly two-thirds of IT departments have target resolution times when an outage occurs, but three-quarters of them routinely exceed their target times.

Reliance on digital infrastructures has dramatically increased the impact and frequency of major incidents, according to the report. IT and business leaders within individual companies are mostly aligned on what constitutes major incidents and how to resolve them. However, standard definitions and processes are lacking between companies and across industries. Without these standards, IT departments lack benchmarks and best practices to help drive improvements.

According the Business Continuity Institute's annual Horizon Scan Report, IT and telecoms outages have consistently been one the top three threats to organizations with the latest report highlighting that 81% of business continuity professionals expressed concern at the prospect of this kind of threat materialising.

At long last, IT departments and business leaders are on the same page when it comes to recognizing the severity of business impact during a major incident and the importance of solving disruptions as quickly as possible,” said David Gehringer, principal at Dimensional Research and author of the study. “However, they’re unfortunately falling far short of their goals of solving problems on time and in an efficient manner, often due to poor alerting and communications management.

The survey findings show both enterprise IT teams and business leaders have come to grips with the occurrence of major incidents and IT outages, but insist on effective communications. In terms of business stakeholder frustration, we found that lack of effective communication trumps occurrence of incidents in the first place,” said Randi Barshack, CMO of xMatters.

By French Caldwell, Chief Evangelist at MetricStream

Major hacks have raised the profile of cybersecurity programs from the basement of IT operations to the board room – but cybersecurity alone is not enough to manage information risks.   In the last few months we have seen a hack that is so mammoth that there is no way to do a full loss event analysis.  The mammoth hack of security clearances and background information of 22.1 million current and former federal employees from the U.S. government’s Office of Personnel Management provides the hacker, alleged to be China’s military intelligence, access to the personal information and clearance data of people with access to the classified programs and information that is essential to national security.  It provides the hackers with the ability to run exploitation operations potentially for decades.  This is so much worse than the Snowden leaks that it is difficult to understand why such data was even available through the unclassified network connected to the internet.



(TNS) - The answer to how Pierce County’s new 911 system is working out depends on who’s asked.

Some emergency dispatchers and law enforcement officers say the new computer system — which, according to South Sound 911, is supposed to make it easier for agencies to work together — is in some cases making their jobs harder.

Administrators of South Sound 911 say the more than $5 million upgrade has important new features and that users need to give it time.

“Part of what we need to do is be open-minded about new ways of doing things,” agency director Andrew Neiditz said. “What we’ve come from was pretty unacceptable.”



Tuesday, 15 December 2015 00:00

How to Explain the Cloud to Your Customers

Do your customers understand the cloud? Recent data indicates confusion remains problematic for many cloud users. 

A May 2015 West IP Communications survey of 300 IT managers revealed many businesses were divided on the benefits and risks associated with the cloud

In addition, the survey showed cost was one of the top concerns for companies considering a change to their IT infrastructure. 

So how can managed service providers (MSPs) ensure their customers understand the cloud and its benefits?



Monday, 14 December 2015 00:00

Finding DRaaS Nirvana

The world of disaster recovery has made some quantum leaps over the last few years. Cloud computing, in particular, is helping companies of all sizes migrate applications from onsite systems to hosted environments accessible through the Internet.  The cloud is now enabling organizations to safeguard critical resources from potential disruptions--whether they be micro (for example, human error, UPS battery failures or equipment failures) or macro (such as site-wide failures caused by natural disasters).

Historically, companies looking for on-demand (or hot site) failover were required to invest heavily upfront in capital equipment as well as ongoing operational expense (excluding the staff needed to run the operation following a disaster). Based on recent research from Windstream Hosted Solutions, you can expect to spend more than $300,000 over three years to protect a minimum 2 terabytes of data stored on five mission-critical servers.

Worse still, $85,000 of this total expense needs to be paid upfront in capital equipment and infrastructure before your DR environment can even go live. And these costs can be driven significantly higher if you don’t have an IT team versed in DR recovery, leverage VMware extensively, or don’t have an up-to-date and regularly tested recovery plan.



Cost of business interruption increasing

Collapsed buildings, damaged factories or destroyed shipping containers: Whenever natural catastrophes or man-made disasters strike, the physical damage is often devastating for companies. However, the less obvious economic impact from business interruption (BI) is often much higher than the cost of the actual physical damage and presents a growing risk to operating in an increasingly interconnected world.

The Global Claims Review 2015: Business Interruption In Focus report from Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty notes that BI now typically accounts for a much higher proportion of the overall loss than was the case 10 years ago. The average large BI property insurance claim is now in excess of €2 million, which is 36% higher than the corresponding average property damage claim of just over €1.6 million.

Both severity and frequency of BI claims is increasing, which are mostly caused by non-natural hazards such as human error or technical failure rather than from natural catastrophes. The top 10 causes of BI loss account for over 90% of such claims by value, with fire and explosion being the top cause, accounting for 59% of all BI claims globally. The top ten of causes of business interruption ranked by value were:

  1. Fire and explosion
  2. Storm
  3. Machinery breakdown
  4. Faulty design/material/manufacturing
  5. Strike/riot/vandalism
  6. Cast loss (entertainment)
  7. Flood
  8. Collapse
  9. Human error/operating error
  10. Power interruption

The growth in BI claims is fuelled by increasing interdependencies between companies, the global supply chain and lean production processes,” explains Chris Fischer Hirs, CEO of AGCS. “Whereas in the past a large fire or explosion may have only affected one or two companies, today, losses increasingly impact a number of companies and can even threaten whole sectors globally."

Interdependencies between suppliers can be a big unknown and many businesses are dependent on key suppliers. Business continuity planning should not only be part of a company’s own supply chain management programme, but should also be extended to all of its critical suppliers. It is important that supply chain management is treated as a cross-functional task involving at least functions such as procurement, logistics and finance.

The growing risk to supply chains is something that was also highlighted in the Supply Chain Resilience Report, published by the Business Continuity Institute, which revealed that a tenth of organizations are not aware of who their key suppliers are, a finding that is alarming given that 74% had suffered at least one supply chain disruption during the previous year, and half of these occurred below the tier one supplier.

While Microsoft is behind Amazon in public cloud, it has no need to play catch-up inside the enterprise data center. That combined with the second-largest public cloud business puts it in a good position to dominate in hybrid cloud, which is touted overwhelmingly as the cloud strategy of choice among enterprises.

The only other players with existing presence in enterprise data centers similar in scope are VMware and IBM. Of the two, IBM may be the harder one for Microsoft to compete with in hybrid cloud, since it also has made massive investments in public cloud, while the scale of VMware’s public cloud infrastructure is quite small in comparison to the other players.

The hybrid cloud opportunity is enormous. Cloud was the number-three 2016 investment priority for CIOs who participated in Gartner’s latest global survey, following business intelligence and analytics (their first priority) and infrastructure and data center (their second).



Several cybersecurity experts are predicting cybercriminals increasingly will target Apple (AAPL) devices in 2016.

And as a result, Apple tops this week's list of IT security newsmakers to watch, followed by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) and Gemalto.

What can managed service providers (MSPs) and their customers learn from these IT security newsmakers? Check out this week's edition of IT security stories to watch to find out:



According to a recent survey of IT decision makers at small and midsize businesses (SMBs), business continuity (including data protection and recovery) was identified as a top IT challenge. So, if your customers are starting to evaluate new disaster recovery solutions to address this challenge, here are some facts to help with their 2016 disaster recovery planning.

1. No. 1 Cause of SMB Downtime Isn't What You Think

While many still think of natural disasters as the top cause of downtime, industry data indicates that hardware failure and human error are far more common. And these micro disasters are a blind spot for SMBs.

In a new report from ActualTech media, 79% of midsize companies (500 to 999 employees) couldn’t recover from a hardware failure in minutes, leaving companies in a “fix first, run later” mode. Read the full 2015 Disaster Recovery as a Service Attitudes & Adoption Report to learn more about your clients’ disaster recovery capabilities.



In the blink of an eye, the year is almost over. In looking back at what it meant for the cybersecurity industry, 2015 was predictably busy. We saw big acquisitions, including those of EMC by Dell and Websense by Raytheon. Rapid7 and Sophos both went public. Large funding rounds happened almost weekly, with the sector raising more than $2.3 billion in the first nine months.

Cybersecurity spending increased sharply and should cap out at about $75 billion by year’s end, according to leading analyst estimates. While the U.S. House and Senate continued to debate cybersecurity legislation, government agencies amassed a whopping security budget of $12.5 billion, collectively.

There were unforgettable breaches, like Anthem, BlueCross BlueShield and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, although the biggest headlines went to the Ashley Madison breach. There also were countless daily reports of breaches due to “sophisticated attacks” and resulting losses from companies whose infrastructure — despite all the spending — remained woefully vulnerable. Even President Obama stepped into the fray, cementing an agreement with China in the hope of limiting the scope of nation-state hacking.



Internet-based technology and services are expanding with such speed that security has been left behind. As the Internet evolves at an untethered pace, hackers are iterating just as rapidly as the innovation. This has left us with a technological void that is being all too easily exploited, leading to a lack of clarity on how to effectively mitigate the risk from a corporate governance perspective.

On November 10th, federal prosecutors announced charges relating to last year’s JPMorgan Chase hack. In what it referred to as, “the largest cyber hacking scheme ever uncovered,” prosecutors detailed how hackers stole information from over 100 million individuals and hacked into over 12 different organizations, seven of which were financial institutions.

“The breaches of these firms were breathtaking in scope and in size,” said Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.  “The conduct alleged in this case showcases a brave new world of hacking for profit.”



Friday, 11 December 2015 00:00

The Need for [Data] Speed

Everyone knows the fable of the tortoise and the hare. But in business, forget the moral of the story. When it comes to file and data delivery methodologies, companies will always bet on the hare, never the tortoise. Especially when business relies on software solutions to improve the speed and accuracy of data-driven decisions and confident execution ahead of the competition, this only makes sense. On this point, forward-thinking organizations constantly seek better approaches to move and manage information throughout integrated systems and to geographically disperse endpoints across complex business networks in the fastest possible way.

Why Speed Matters

In theory, faster data movement means business moves faster. Increasing the efficacy of business processes and operations through accelerated transfer speed is an effective pathway to increasing turnaround. That, in theory, spells a quicker ROI coming from new software or technology designed to facilitate rapid data movement.

High-speed file transfer signifies an optimal capacity to rapidly send large files to customers and other trading partners under strict time mandates. After all, time is money. In today’s business, if the data wasn’t important enough to get wherever it’s going quickly, it probably didn’t need to be sent at all.



Small to medium sized businesses not prepared for a cyber attack

Are small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) prepared for a cyber attack? Not according to a new study by Webroot which indicated that just 37% of IT decision makers surveyed in the US, the UK and Australia believe their organizations to be completely ready to manage IT security and protect against threats. Furthermore, many believe they lack the resources needed to protect themselves against malware attacks.

Are organizations completely ready to stop cyber attacks? highlighted that within the majority of SMBs, IT teams are expected to handle all cyber security management and concerns, with IT employees at nearly a third of companies (32%) having to juggle security along with other IT responsibilities. This leaves employees stretched thin and unable to devote the necessary time to many critical cyber security tasks.

"SMBs play a pivotal role in helping drive the economies of all the countries polled, but past experiences have taught them they face an uphill battle when it comes to cyber security," said George Anderson, director of product marketing at Webroot.

Defending a company from cyber attacks is inherently challenging, and made even more so by budgetary constraints. The vast majority of SMBs do not have security budgets remotely comparable to those of large (and previously breached) organizations such as J.P. Morgan, Target and Anthem. In fact, according to the study, nearly 60% of respondents think their business is more prone to cyber attacks because they have too few resources for maintaining their defences.

It is important that all organizations have plans in place to deal with a potential cyber attack as the latest Horizon Scan Report published by the Business Continuity Institute revealed that they are the number one threat according to business continuity professionals, with 82% of respondents to a survey expressing concern at the prospect of one occurring.

IT decision makers can point to specific areas in which they feel underprepared. According to the survey, almost half (48%) think their company is vulnerable to insider threats, such as employees. Following that, 45% believe they are unprepared for unsecured internal and external networks, such as public wifi, and 40% for unsecured endpoints, such as computers and mobile devices.

Mecklenburg County will soon offer active shooter training to its 5,300 employees -- a step County Manager Dena Diorio said Thursday is necessary to ensure workers are better prepared should gunfire erupt in a government building.

The measure comes a week after a radicalized husband-wife duo opened fire on a holiday party full of county employees in San Bernardino County, Calif., killing 14 people and wounding 21 others.

The slayings have struck a chord with local government employees, who occasionally face a disgruntled public and co-workers.

"It really brought to the forefront to me that we really need to make sure all the employees ... are prepared if the unthinkable happens here," Diorio said during a morning news conference. "The fact that this was a county building ... with county employees who were working inside really was an indication to me that while we think it could never happen here, you can never be too sure."



(TNS) - Response time from law enforcement in the recent shooting in San Bernardino was around four minutes, according to reports from law enforcement. Both San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputies and San Bernardino Police Officers swarmed the site of the shooting in a matter of minutes.

Shasta County law enforcement says the same could not be said if there were a shooting in the North State. Compared to Southern California, Shasta County has substantially fewer law enforcement officers, and depending on where those officers are within the county, response times could be stretched well past four minutes, local law enforcement officials said.

But Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko says his department does not lack the resources to combat an active shooter.



For the past month, Chipotle Mexican Grill has been mired in a food safety crisis. An e. coli outbreak linked to Chipotle has sickened at least 52 people in nine states. In a seemingly unrelated outbreak, 120 people in Boston – most of them students at Boston College – also fell ill after contracting norovirus from eating at the quick-service chain.

While food safety and product recall concerns are always a major liability for industry players, the spate of infections poses even more of a threat to Chipotle as the company has built its reputation on the foundation of a healthy, responsible supply chain, boasting its use of fresh produce, meat raised without antibiotics, and a network of hundreds of small, independent farmers. As Bloomberg put it, the company’s biggest strength is suddenly its biggest weakness. Given the chain’s 1,900 locations and the rate at which it has expanded (about 200 new locations every year), its supply chain is already under significant pressure. When an audit found unacceptable practices earlier this year, the company suspended a primary pork supplier, pulling carnitas from the menu at about a third of its restaurants nationwide. The company pointed to its decisive action as proof of its commitment to sustainable agriculture, but many analysts said it highlighted the company’s inherent vulnerability to supply chain issues.

“You can never eliminate all risk, regardless of the size of suppliers, but the program we have put in place since the incident began is designed to eliminate or mitigate risk to a level near zero,” Chris Arnold, the company’s director of communications, told Bloomberg.



Figuring out exactly what any application needed in terms of storage capacity over the long haul was historically more art than science. The trouble was that given the high margin for error, a lot of organizations routinely overprovisioned the amount of storage they required. After all, it’s generally less of a sin to spend too much on storage than it is to see application performance suddenly drop for one unexplained reason or another.

As of this week, however, Tintri says it is looking to take the guesswork out of storage capacity management on its arrays  via the preview of a predictive analytics application the company will make available next year.



The IT industry is in a significant period of transition, and the infrastructure landscape has changed a great deal. There are many options today, and the number of options will grow over the next two years. Having more options can more lead to complexity and potential limitation.  As you assess your options you need more information and context, so you can make the right choices and avoid problems down the road.

Software defined infrastructure (SDI) has made it possible to create these new categories of products.  In addition to traditional rack and blade servers and SAN storage, there is converged infrastructure, hyper-converge infrastructure and now composable infrastructure. As you evaluate these new infrastructure options, one of the most important considerations is choosing the right management software to support these products.  You don’t want to add to complexity by creating islands of infrastructure that need to be managed separately.



CAMP MURRAY, Wash. – Washington’s devastating 2014 and 2015 wildfire seasons put vast areas of the state at risk of erosion and flooding, posing additional dangers to residents and communities.  Today, a collaborative effort among all levels of government is finding ways to reduce that risk.

On Dec. 15-17, 2015, the Washington Military Department’s Emergency Management Division (EMD) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will host a three-day workshop in Wenatchee to address topics such as assessments of burned areas in Eastern Washington, efforts already undertaken to reduce threats, analysis of unmet needs, and potential funding sources for new efforts to protect people and infrastructure.

The workshop will bring together partners on the Erosion Threat Assessment/Reduction Team, or ETART, a group first formed following Washington’s Carlton Complex Fire of 2014 and reactivated following the Oct. 20, 2015, federal disaster declaration for this summer’s historic wildfires.

Federal participants on the ETART include FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Weather Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, among others.

The state and local partners include Washington EMD, the Washington State Conservation Commission, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Okanagan and Whatcom conservation districts.

ETART relies on reports and assessments developed by various Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) teams. BAER is a process created by the U.S. Forest Service and modified and used by several local teams to determine erosion risks and recommend appropriate treatments.

“When the land is stripped of trees and other vegetation by fire, healthy roots that soak up rainwater are lost,” said Anna Daggett, FEMA’s ETART coordinator. “Even moderate rain on burn scars can cause flash flooding or debris flows that can severely damage infrastructure, homes and businesses downstream.”

After the president issued a major disaster declaration for the 2014 Carlton Complex Fire, FEMA’s Public Assistance program provided about $2.4 million in grants targeted specifically for ETART-identified projects to reduce immediate threats of significant additional damage to improved public or private property. The federal share amounted to 75 percent of the total cost of $3.2 million for these projects. The state and local partners covered 25 percent, or $800,000.

ETART assessments provided important information to EMD and FEMA to justify these grants.

The 2014 measures were able to reduce substantially the effects of the wildfires by clearing culverts and ditches of debris, installing straw wattles to counter erosion, shoring up breached pond dams, and spreading grass seed over vast areas that had burned.

“ETART has shown to be an effective way to address post-fire dangers,’ said Gary Urbas, EMD’s ETART coordinator. “Merging the work of so many experienced partners allows the team to tackle tough problems in our state.”

ETART now will be looking for additional financing streams, including other FEMA and federal programs as well as local and state sources, with the goal of significantly reducing damages resulting from post-fire flooding and erosion in Eastern Washington.

More information about the PA program is available at www.fema.gov/public-assistance-local-state-tribal-and-non-profit and on the Washington EMD website at http://mil.wa.gov/emergency-management-division/disaster-assistance/public-assistance.

Additional information regarding the federal response to the 2015 wildfire disaster, including funds obligated, is available at www.fema.gov/disaster/4243.

AUSTIN, Texas – Most Texans who have registered for disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), following the October severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding, will receive an automated phone call from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

FEMA grants may not cover all damage or property loss. Private insurance and low-interest loans from the SBA are major sources of additional funding for disaster recovery.

The recorded message gives instructions on how to request an application for a low-interest disaster loan. Loans are available to help disaster survivors – including businesses, private non-profits, homeowners and renters with recovery efforts – in their recovery efforts.

Businesses of all sizes and nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets.

SBA also offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. EIDL assistance is available to businesses regardless of any property damage.

Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

SBA provides one-on-one assistance to disaster loan applicants at any of the Disaster Recovery Centers in the affected area. Additional information is available online at sba.gov/disaster or by calling SBA Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955. Deaf and hard-of-hearing persons may call 800-877-8339.

To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, SBA encourages survivors to first register with FEMA online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by phone (voice, 711 or relay service) at 800-621-3362. TTY users should call 800-462-7585. The toll-free lines are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. Multilingual operators are available.

The presidential disaster declaration of Nov. 25 makes federal assistance available to eligible individuals and business owners in 16 counties: Bastrop, Brazoria, Caldwell, Cameron, Comal, Galveston, Guadalupe, Hardin, Harris, Hays, Hidalgo, Liberty, Navarro, Travis, Willacy and Wilson.

After VMware purchased Desktone and Amazon announced their cloud workspace offerings in 2013, industry analysts have been looking forward to the year of "DaaS (Desktop as a Service).” But the tsunami of sales has yet to hit our shores. Now there’s strong speculation in the market that Microsoft will release its own Desktop as a Service (DaaS) product next year. Could Microsoft’s entrance into the market make 2016 the year of DaaS?

If independent numbers aggregated by Clarity Channel Advisors are any indication—and I believe they are—then the answer is absolutely “yes.” What's more, the numbers also give us insight into why Microsoft would push their own DaaS platform. 

Before getting to what the number reveal, here’s some background on where they come from. Hint: it’s mostly from companies like you.



Microsoft has bought property in Texas where it plans to build a massive data center campus over the course of five years.

As it continues to grow its cloud services business, Microsoft has been expanding the data center capacity to support those services around the world at a rapid pace. Global data center construction has been viewed as an expensive arms race with its chief competitor in cloud, Amazon Web Services, as companies spend billions of dollars to improve the quality of their services to users and increase the amount of locations where they can store their data and virtual infrastructure.

Microsoft announced a multi-site expansion initiative in Europe last month, and in September said it had launched three cloud data centers in India. Amazon in November announced it was preparing to bring online cloud data centers in the UK and South Korea.



It has been a year since the 2014 “Snovember” blizzard that buried parts of Buffalo, N.Y., in up to seven feet of snow and resulted in 14 deaths. In response to that disaster, Buffalo’s Office of Homeland Security/Emergency Management (OHS/EM) has taken substantial steps to be much better prepared.

Miscommunication or resistance interfered with efforts to clear streets and town officials complained that the county failed to send plows where they were most urgently needed.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz countered that town officials refused to make use of a computer-based system to coordinate the response of crews and also didn’t take part in daily conference calls.

So what went wrong? According to OHS/EM Commissioner Garnell Whitfield, Buffalo and the surrounding county were “overwhelmed” by the sheer scale of this “once in a century” snow emergency. After all, it did dump up to seven inches of snow in parts of the city over seven days. “We have a lot of new equipment and new strategies going forward,” he said.



Disasters can take many forms from weather events to database corruptions. CloudEndure, a cloud-based disaster recovery service, announced a $7 million investment today led by Indian consulting firm Infosys and previous investor Magma Venture Partners.

Today’s investment brings the total to just over $12 million.

At first blush, Infosys may seem like an odd partner, a traditional consulting firm investing in a cloud service provider, but the company was looking for a couple of different investors for this round, CloudEndure’s VP of business development, Gonen Stein told TechCrunch.



Thursday, 10 December 2015 00:00

Is 2016 the Year of Government as an API?

The new year will mark the dawn of the third decade of e-government. It comes as citizen and business expectations of government are being shaped by their digital lives — that is, the way they find information, buy things and request services in the wider economy.

Think of the companies that connect with you regularly in a rich and contextual way and there are probably application program interfaces (APIs) working below the presentation layer, connecting two or more discrete apps to create a better, fuller, more rewarding experience for the person looking to get stuff done.

Moving money and permissions reflect much of what government does, including core functions such as providing public assistance, licensing and the full spectrum of regulation. These are more effectively done in a bit-based world than an atom-based one. Open data makes these government actions more transparent, while throwing off data exhaust that is fueling the creation of useful things through the fledgling civic startup space and its nonprofit counterparts in the civic hacking space.



Thursday, 10 December 2015 00:00

Mass Alert System Officially Launched

(TNS) - After months of training and set up, Baldwin County, Ga., emergency officials are ready to launch a new mass alert system, created to notify residents of emergency situations via phone and email.

In January, local EMA Director and Baldwin Fire Chief Troy Reynolds addressed the Baldwin County Commissioners about an Emergency System Grant application that would provide an emergency notification system for residents on a wide range of emergency situations that arise in Milledgeville and Baldwin County.

In August, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) announced that Baldwin County was awarded a $17,012 Hazard Mitigation Grant for its Mass Alert Enhancement project.



(TNS) - Federal disaster officials warned Tuesday that El Niño-fueled storms in California could inflict millions of dollars in damage this winter — from mud-soaked homes to broken levees to downed electrical lines — and said they’re taking steps to minimize the toll.

A new report by FEMA details the havoc that ensued during the strongest El Niños of the past, including the 1982-83 event that caused 36 deaths, with the aim of honing current efforts to brace for landslides, flooding and outages.

This year’s El Niño is ranked to be among the three biggest in half a century. The weather pattern is marked by above-average ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific that, when really warm, tend to drive moisture toward California.



Thursday, 10 December 2015 00:00

Where Will Your Data Center Be in 20 Years?

John M. Hawkins is VP of Corporate Marketing and Communications for vXchnge.

Twenty years in technology may seem more like 100 years when compared to other industries. In just one year a company’s landscape can change significantly. Think about how businesses scale and operate on a functional level, then add in changing technologies along with the exponential increase of data and dynamic content needed to drive business.

Will your data center strategy survive 10, or even 20 years? Will the company grow like your key stakeholders expect? If so, you may need multiple data centers, strategically located, just to handle your requirements. On the other hand, your CFO might have a more conservative estimate and is responsible for how much is actually spent on a data center(s).

In addition to size, you have to consider whether your data center(s) might become obsolete in 5, 10, 15, or 20 years.



The need for greater energy efficiency and more capacity has put cooling systems high on the list of priorities in 2016 for IT, facilities, and data center managers in North America, according to new research from Emerson Network Power. Results show that before the end of next year, more than half of all data center cooling systems will be upgraded, according to Emerson.

That’s on top of the 40 percent of respondents that already did so in the past five years and another 20 percent in the process of doing so. While many are upgrading voluntarily, a combined 39 percent said the need to meet state energy codes or Energy Star LEED requirements were the catalysts.

The size of the data center seems to matter as 62 percent of the upgrades will occur in data centers under 10,000 square feet and 18 percent in those larger than 50,000 square feet. Inefficient cooling systems are an especially widespread problem in smaller data centers.



Thursday, 10 December 2015 00:00

Storage in the New Data Economy

Storage is available at a fraction of the cost of just a few years ago, but the enterprise needs so much of it these days that the overall impact on operating budgets is largely a wash.

In fact, it seems that the adage “Build it and they will come” is no longer appropriate for the storage farm. In today’s world, “Build it and they’ll want more” is more accurate.

The proof is in the numbers. Despite falling prices, worldwide factory revenues for storage systems grew 2.8 percent in the third quarter to top $9.1 billion, according to IDC. Total capacity was up a stunning 31.5 percent to 33.1 exabytes, again in the third quarter alone. A key driver is the rise of hyperscale infrastructure, which accounted for 23.4 percent of server revenues, abetted by on-server solutions that gained nearly 10 percent. The largest share of the market (more than half) still went to traditional external storage arrays, but it is telling that this segment’s sales dropped by more than 3 percent compared to 3Q 2014.



Google is launching a new privacy tool for Google Apps Unlimited users today. The new Data Loss Prevention feature will make it easier for businesses to make sure that their employees don’t mistakenly (or not so mistakenly) email certain types of sensitive information to people outside of the company.

Businesses that subscribe to this plan for their employees now have the option to turn on this tool and select one of the new predefined rules that, for example, automatically reject or quarantine any email that contains a social security or credit card number. Businesses can choose from these predefined rules and also set up custom detectors (a confidential project keyword, for example). Google says its working on adding more predefined rules, too.



Target (TGT) has reached a $39.4 million settlement to resolve claims from banks and credit unions related to the retailer's Dec. 2013 data breach.

And as a result, Target tops this week's list of IT security newsmakers to watch, followed by VTech, JD Wetherspoon and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). 

What can managed service providers (MSPs) and their customers learn from these IT security newsmakers? Check out this week's edition of IT security stories to watch to find out:



Thursday, 10 December 2015 00:00

Why Hyperconverged Infrastructure is so Hot

LAS VEGAS – Hyperconverged infrastructure did not exist as a concept two or three years ago. Today, it is one of the fastest-growing methods for deploying IT in the data center, as IT departments look for ways to adjust to their new role in business and new demands that are placed on them.

Gartner expects it to go from zero in 2012 to a $5 billion market by 2019, becoming the category leader by revenue in pre-integrated full-stack infrastructure products. The category also includes reference architectures, integrated infrastructure, and integrated stacks.

“Hyperconvergence simply didn’t exist two years ago,” Gartner analyst Andrew Butler said. “Near the end of this year, it’s an industry in its own right.” But, he added, the industry has a lot of maturation ahead of it, which means far from all vendors who are in the space today will still be in it a few years from now.



Thursday, 10 December 2015 00:00

Five Myths about Hyperconverged Infrastructure

As hyperconverged infrastructure emerges as one of the favorite new platforms underneath applications running in enterprise data centers, a number of myths have emerged about it. Because it is new – hyperconverged infrastructure didn’t exist two years ago – it’s natural that many people don’t quite understand it and that myths perpetuate.

Gartner analysts Andrew Butler and George Weiss outlined the most widespread myths about these systems in a presentation at the market research firm’s data center management summit this week in Las Vegas. Here are some of the highlights:



SnapLogic, a company that helps connect data from legacy applications to the cloud or to a centralized internal data lake, announced a $37.5 million round today.

Investors include Microsoft and Silver Lake Waterman, the growth capital arm of Silver Lake along with existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, Ignition Partners and Triangle Peak Partners. Today’s investment brings the total to $96.3 million.

SnapLogic essentially acts as a translator for data (or streams of data) moving to the cloud or into a data lake inside an enterprise, SnapLogic CEO Gaurav Dhillon explained. “We have over 400 snaps — connectors or adaptors to various systems like Workday, Concur, SAP, Twitter, Tableau and machine protocols,” he explained.



Economic impact from business interruption (BI) is often much higher than the cost of physical damage in a disaster and is a growing risk to companies worldwide, according to a new report from Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS).

Its analysis of more than 1,800 large BI claims from 68 countries between 2010 and 2014 found that business interruption now typically accounts for a much higher proportion of the overall loss than was the case 10 years ago.

Both severity and frequency of BI claims is increasing, AGCS warns.

The average large BI property insurance claim is now in excess of €2 million (€2.2 million: $2.4 million), some 36 percent higher than the corresponding average property damage claim of just over €1.6 million ($1.8 million), the global claims review found.



More organizations across a number of industries are looking at different ways to control storage and their data. Traditional storage solutions still have their place, but new methods are allowing IT shops a lot more flexibility in how they design their storage solutions, and flash is one of the most popular options. So is it really catching on? Is the world really going to solid-state?

Let’s examine one use case that’s been seeing a resurgence in the modern enterprise: VDI.

In the past, technologies like VDI were seen as heavy fork-lift projects which required time, resources, dedicated infrastructure, and big budgets. That has all changed with advancements within network, compute, and storage. Today, strong VDI offerings provide five-nines availability and greater scalability, as well as non-disruptive operations. With this in mind, it’s important to note that for a truly successful VDI deployment, all-flash storage should be part of the change in the VDI ecosystem. Ultimately, this will enable much higher performance for end users.

Often times, with sub-millisecond performance user experience with all-flash storage in the background is even better than the performance they had with physical devices and definitely better than VDI with spinning disks or even hybrid storage solutions. This type of technology has become one of the big change factors which now enable successful VDI deployments.



Nir Polak is CEO and Co-founder of Exabeam.

There’s one thing every heavily publicized data breach has in common: It wasn’t uncovered until it was too late. The breach at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in February was still active more than three months after security workers learned of it. In fact, many of them have another thing in common, preventative security measures weren’t enough to stop them.

Prevention has always been a major component of security. Firewalls stand at the perimeter of sensitive, private networks and attempt to keep every malicious file out. As the OPM breach and countless other disasters prove, though, it’s just not enough. More than 21 million records were compromised before the breach was detected in the first place. Prevention-focused initiatives have a place in cybersecurity, but there needs to be more. As we move into 2016 and confront new threats, detection needs to become an equally significant component of enterprise IT security standards. Like so many other parts of the enterprise, the answer to improving the approach to network security and eliminating disasters comes in the form of analytics derived from big data.



Pharmaceutical companies operate with a singular objective: bring drugs to market. This is how they profit, how they ensure that their products help the most people, and how they maintain the resources to continue innovating.

The lifecycle of drug development can be complex and onerous, despite improvements to the regulatory approval process over the past several years. Now, a trend sweeping the industry is forcing many pharmaceutical companies to decide under which circumstances they’re willing to divert resources from their mission of helping the masses.

Expanded Access, or “Compassionate Use,” refers to the use of an experimental drug not yet approved by the FDA to treat a critically ill patient outside of a clinical trial. The FDA received more than 1,800 requests for access to experimental drugs last year and, over the last five years, it has approved 99% of these requests.



It’s been said that in the near future the enterprise won’t need to worry about hardware – data productivity will be driven by software-defined architectures sitting atop dumb, commodity boxes.

It’s also been said that before too long the enterprise won’t have to worry about architectures or middleware either – just push everything into the cloud and let someone else deal with service provisioning.

And now we have knowledge workers accessing enterprise resources through their own preferred client devices, easing up on the requirement to supply everyone with a PC.



On 7th December 2015, the Luxembourg presidency of the Council reached an informal agreement with the European Parliament on common rules to strengthen network and information security across the EU.

The new directive will set out cybersecurity obligations for operators of essential services and digital service providers. These operators will be required to take measures to manage cyber risks and report major security incidents, but the two categories will be subject to different regimes.

Xavier Bettel, Luxembourg's Prime Minister and Minister for Communications and the Media, and President of the Council, said: "This is an important step towards a more coordinated approach in cybersecurity across Europe. All actors, public and private, will have to step up their efforts, in particular by increased cooperation between member states and enhanced security requirements for infrastructure operators and digital services".

The directive lists a number of critical sectors in which operators of essential services are active, such as energy, transport, finance and health. Within these sectors, member states will identify the operators providing essential services, based on clear criteria laid down in the directive. The requirements and supervision will be stronger for these operators than for providers of digital services. This reflects the degree of risk that any disruption to their services may pose to society and the economy.



If you don't want to send the wrong message, watch how you punctuate your texts. Text messages that end with a period are perceived to be less sincere than messages that do not, according to newly published research from Binghamton University. This finding has interesting implications for crisis communications messages.

A team of researchers led by Celia Klin, associate professor of psychology and associate dean at Binghamton University's Harpur College, recruited 126 Binghamton undergraduates, who read a series of exchanges that appeared either as text messages or as handwritten notes. In the 16 experimental exchanges, the sender's message contained a statement followed by an invitation phrased as a question. The receiver's response was an affirmative one-word response (Okay, Sure, Yeah, Yup). There were two versions of each experimental exchange: one in which the receiver's response ended with a period and one in which it did not end with any punctuation. Based on the participants' responses, text messages that ended with a period were rated as less sincere than text messages that did not end with a period.



Wednesday, 09 December 2015 00:00

How the Colo Industry is Changing

LAS VEGAS – The business of providing colocation data center services is changing in numerous ways and for different reasons. Customers are getting smarter about what they want from their data center providers; enterprises use more and more cloud services, and the role of colocation data centers as hubs for cloud access is growing quickly as a result; technology trends like the Internet of Things and DCIM are impacting the industry, each in its own way.

Some of the trends are having a profound effect on the competitive makeup of the market, where even some of the largest players are making big strategic changes and spending lots of money on acquisitions to adjust to the new world they are doing business in.

Bob Gill, a research director at Gartner, outlined eight of the most consequential current trends in the colocation industry at the research and consulting giant’s annual data center operations summit here this week:



Tuesday, 08 December 2015 00:00

Fight the Flu: Get a Vax!


As cold weather sets in, clothing layers increase, scarves are pulled tighter, and noses become redder. This time of year can also bring the dreaded running nose, scratchy throat, cough, body aches, and headache of the seasonal flu. As you fretfully try to protect yourself from the winter season with warmer clothes and hot drinks, are you also taking steps to protect yourself from the bigger threat of the flu?

Flu season is coming, are you ready to fight the flu?

An annual flu vaccine is the first and most important step to preventing the flu. Everyone 6 months and older should get an annual flu vaccine. It takes 2 weeks for protection from a flu vaccine to develop in the body, so you should get vaccinated soon after the flu vaccine becomes available.

While you may be stocking up on hand sanitizer, avoiding crowded events, and distancing yourself from friends or acquaintances who let out a sniffle or two, if you haven’t gotten your seasonal flu vaccine, you haven’t taken the most important step to protect yourself from the flu.

Getting your flu vaccine is easy, having the flu is not.

Everywhere from your doctor’s office to your local pharmacy, and even the news and social media networks, are sharing important reminders about getting the flu vaccine. Getting a flu vaccine can take just a few minutes of your day. Getting the flu, however, can put you out of work or school for days, sometimes weeks. Taking a little time for your health now could save you from missing important events, work deadlines, or opportunities in the future.

Do your part for those you love.

When you get a flu vaccine, you are not only protecting yourself from the flu, but you are also protecting the people around you who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness. As the holiday season approaches, you may be around young children, older family members, or others who have a high risk of contracting the flu or developing complications from the flu.

The flu is a serious illness that can have life-threatening complications for some people. The flu causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and thousands of deaths each year. Some people, such as older people, young children, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.

Get your flu shot to protect yourself and those around you. Do your part to protect the important people in your life.

Avoid germs during flu season.

While getting a yearly vaccination is the first and most important step in protecting against flu, there are additional steps you can take to avoid germs and the flu. Here are a few tips:

  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you are sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them. Keep your germs to yourself.
  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to get medical care. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

Don’t know where to get your flu shot?

Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies, and college health centers, by many employers, and even some schools. You don’t have to see your doctor to get a flu shot! There are plenty of locations available that provide vaccinations.

This Vaccine Locator is a useful tool for finding vaccine in your area.

Don’t wait until you are lying sick in bed to wish you had gotten a flu shot. There are steps you can take to prevent the flu and protect those around you. Get your flu vaccine today, and remind someone you care about to do the same. As long as flu viruses are circulating, it is not too late to get a flu vaccine!

AUSTIN, Texas – Renters displaced from their homes or apartments by the October storms may be eligible for federal disaster assistance, which may include grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

FEMA grants for eligible renters may include funds to cover the cost of renting another place to live.

Renters may also be eligible for Other Needs Assistance (ONA). ONA grants help survivors with uninsured or underinsured expenses and serious needs caused by the disaster, including:

  • Child care
  • Heating fuels
  • Moving and storage expenses
  • Disaster-related funeral and burial expenses
  • Disaster-related dental and medical expenses, such as wheelchairs, canes and prescriptions
  • Repair or replacement of personal property lost or damaged in the storm, including furniture and appliances, as well as job-related tools and equipment required by the self-employed
  • Primary vehicles, approved second vehicles and modified vehicles damaged by the disaster

SBA offers low-interest disaster loans to help renters repair or replace disaster-damaged personal property, including automobiles.  Survivors may be eligible to borrow up to $40,000, depending on their losses.

Texans in the following counties may register for disaster assistance for damage or losses sustained during the period Oct. 22 to Oct. 31: Bastrop, Brazoria, Caldwell, Comal, Galveston, Guadalupe, Hardin, Harris, Hays, Hidalgo, Liberty, Navarro, Travis, Willacy and Wilson.

Survivors can apply online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by phone (voice, 711 or relay service) at 800-621-3362. TTY users should call 800-462-7585. The toll-free lines are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

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All FEMA disaster assistance will be provided without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex (including sexual harassment), religion, national origin, age, disability, limited English proficiency, economic status, or retaliation. If you believe your civil rights are being violated, call 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585(TTY/TDD).

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. 

The SBA is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners and renters fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. These disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations. For more information, applicants may contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by calling 800-659-2955, emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov, or visiting SBA’s website at www.sba.gov/disaster. Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals may call 800-877-8339.

Visit www.fema.gov/texas-disaster-mitigation for publications and reference material on rebuilding and repairing safer and stronger.

Tuesday, 08 December 2015 00:00

Disruptive Change to Continue in 2016

U.S. property-casualty insurers face another year of disruptive change in 2016, according to a new report by Ernst & Young.

In its 2016 U.S. Property-Casualty Insurance Outlook, EY says that digital technologies such as social media, analytics and telematics will continue to transform the market landscape, recalibrating customer expectations and opening new ways to reach and acquire clients.

The rise of the sharing economy, in which assets like cars and homes can be shared, is requiring carriers to rethink traditional insurance models.

An outlook for slower economic growth, along with increased M&A and greater regulatory uncertainty, will set the stage for innovative firms to capitalize on an industry in flux in 2016.



Government is getting smarter. That’s one undeniable conclusion from a look back at the big news coming out of public-sector IT in 2015. As government assets go, leaders now realize the tremendous value of the multitude of information they hold: Indiana analyzed 5 billion rows of data to tackle its high infant mortality rate, while Chicago is using a number of data sets to prioritize restaurant inspections in the city. And others are still getting their feet wet in the analytics game. Detroit’s first open data portal launched this year, featuring more than 250 data sets.

Cloud technology continues to transform, with adoption rates ramping up across all levels of government, especially as agencies grow more confident in cloud security. Criminal Justice Information Services certifications for Microsoft in a growing number of states signal a sea change even for public safety agencies, traditionally the most reluctant to make the switch. But as police body camera programs take off in more and more jurisdictions, storage needs increase exponentially and the cloud is fast becoming an important part of the storage solution.

2015 saw more movement toward smart cities. High-profile support came in September with $160 million from the White House aimed at boosting R&D and smart city/Internet of Things projects. Carnegie Mellon University, for one, is equipping its campus with sensors, with Google’s help, and plans to eventually saturate Pittsburgh with the technology. San Francisco’s IoT network will be the largest in the U.S., and its partner plans to build nine more across the country.