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Jon C | 18 Dec 2012 | 3 comments

Home working was once the domain of the few, from teachers with stacks of exercise books, to executives taking home briefcases full of paperwork. In general, the ‘work’ was limited to what people could carry. Successive generations of technology, from portable laptops to cloud-based services, have all had an impact on what it has been possible to do at home.

Waves of home working

We saw the first wave of technology-driven home working in the 1990s, when the price of personal computers dropped to ‘just’ a few thousand pounds. Most computer-based work took place ‘offline’ with data transfers initially by diskette; then, with the arrival of laptops, documents and data were synchronised by plugging into the corporate network.

Reliable, adequate bandwidth signalled a second wave in home working, initially limited to data transfers via modems and using rudimentary email. The rapid growth of Internet capabilities...

Jon C | 28 Nov 2012 | 1 comment

Concerned about the relative costs of cloud computing? Released earlier this year is a joint report from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) concerning the costs of cloud for research. Specifically focused on cloud server infrastructure, the 64-page report is an essential read for anyone considering using hosted processing resources rather than in-house systems, not just research organisations.

So, what does the report tell us? First that costing the cloud is complicated, not least because of the variety of costing models used by different cloud providers. Numerous factors need to be taken into account, from physical hardware and software – through licensing, electricity and other and running costs – to operational overheads including the people required to...

Steve Cullen | 15 Nov 2012 | 1 comment

There’s a lot of talk about cloud security be it (1) security for the cloud, which protects your cloud initiatives such as data stored in the cloud or (2) security from the cloud, also known as security-as-a-service (SecaaS), which uses the cloud to deliver some aspect of protection, like messaging, anti-virus or web security. Though proven and effective, many SMBs overlook SecaaS because the cloud still feels like an unknown for many, and we naturally fear what we don’t understand.

Today, SMBs can’t afford to be dismissive when it comes to security. The harsh reality is SMBs have never been targeted with attacks like they are now. In the first half of 2012, 36 percent of all targeted attacks...

Jon C | 09 Nov 2012 | 1 comment
Throughout recent decades, cybercriminals have proved to be pretty adept at turning innocent technologies to dastardly ends. From Word macros to Google docs, email to cloud-based processing, each time some clever individual comes up with a good idea, some equally bright bad guy thinks of something nefarious to do with it. 
The latest buzz around 'big data' - a.k.a. the ability to derive insight from huge quantities of information - is likely to prove no exception. Forewarned is forearmed, as they say, so what kinds of risks does big data bring, and what can organisations do about them?
To answer this, we can first look at the two main areas where big data is said to be of benefit. First, it is seen as an extension to traditional analytics, offering (in the simplest terms) mechanisms to derive insight from larger quantities of information than in the past.
Second, given its...
Digital Dave | 08 Nov 2012 | 0 comments

The show floor at Cloud Expo West this week is buzzing with discussion around securing data in the cloud. It’s no wonder when you consider just how comfortable employees are tossing corporate data in the cloud, which consequently makes IT folks very uncomfortable.

You really can’t blame employees for wanting to use cloud applications. After all they’re just looking to get their jobs done efficiently. And, it likely comes as no surprise that employees are not always asking IT for permission. So how does this tug-of-war between employees and IT departments play out?

Symantec conducted a two-prong survey to understand the behavior of employees when it comes to use of cloud applications at work. First, we asked employees, who regularly use computers for their job, a series of 10 questions about cloud applications, including email, file share, storage/backup, productivity apps and contact manager apps, and policies in the workplace. Then, we asked the...

Digital Dave | 31 Oct 2012 | 0 comments

The first hospital in Las Vegas was a tent with two doctors. These doctors were generalists that did everything, and they did their best to meet the needs of patients. But, you essentially went to the hospital and hoped for the best.

Jump forward 100 years, Las Vegas has multiple large, highly modern hospitals. Within their walls, generalists have been replaced by specialists in every sort of medicine and the environment has been designed to minimize risks to patients and staff and maximize quality care. The path to this modern hospital required specialization, assessment of quality/accreditation, patient security/visitor access and information controls to ensure compliance and data privacy regulations.

The evolution of clouds is not unlike hospitals. While clouds will be the norm in the not too distant future, today many cloud providers are closer to the guys in the tent. They are generalists in the early stages of what will be something very different. Realizing...

Jon C | 17 Sep 2012 | 4 comments

A few weeks ago I was speaking to a travel-related site about some flight bookings. The person on the other end of the line was inordinately helpful, to the extent that they gave a first name I could call them back on. As an experiment, I looked them up using Google, entering first name (which wasn't that common) and company name.

Before long I found them on LinkedIn and Facebook, and I even had a reasonably good idea of where they lived. While I was merely experimenting, it's not hard to imagine a disgruntled customer who decides to take matters beyond the call centre.

This simple example shows why many people and organisations feel more than a little apprehensive about social networking and its relationship with the workplace. Not since the Domesday book have we had access to a facility that is quite so intrusive. The dilemma, despite what is a clear invasion of privacy and has very obvious risks, we continue to use such tools. The 800 million or more people...

bduckering | 08 Aug 2012 | 0 comments

At no other time since the introduction of the personal computer has enterprise IT undergone as monumental of a shift as it is now. Traditionally thought of as a control center first and service department second, it is becoming the exact opposite; whether IT likes it or not. IT’s new role is that of enabler.

This transition is being driven by the consumerization of IT. This trend, though certainly not new, is enjoying what might very well be considered its heyday and has led to a status change for the user. In essence, the user – and the user experience – has become a driving force in enterprise technology. This is all largely thanks to the fact that consumer technology has reached unsurpassed levels of features and performance. There are three specific technologies leading the charge: cloud, social media and mobile.

For most users, their montage of Internet-connected devices all but requires them to use some sort of cloud service for storing and...

akennada | 29 Jun 2012 | 4 comments

If turning back the tide is not an option, where should organizations start?

Once upon a time, work was very much a nine-to-five thing. Of course there were exceptions – workaholics who couldn't leave the office on time, or those who would struggle home with a briefcase full of papers. However these tended to be the minority and, more importantly, they conducted any late-night working on their own, without being distracted by email, instant messaging, etc. Indeed, it was the thought of no interruptions that often led people to take work home in the first place. 

How different things are today. We've heard quite a lot in recent years about "Consumerization" -- that is, how individuals are bringing shiny new devices, handy programs and useful web sites into work. Underlying the phenomenon is a question of price points. When gadgets become cheap enough for a consumer to cost-justify, it will be bought -- particularly if peers...