HP's Mårten Mickos on Eucalyptus & cloud: in unambiguously Finnish terms

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Okay so we called out (now ex-) Eucalyptus CEO Mårten Mickos for changing his stance on OpenStack and his move to join HP as senior vice president and general manager of its cloud business reporting to Meg Whitman -- but what did Mickos have to say for himself?

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Many media channels (including this one) jumped on the immediate news with commentary resonating around:

a) Mickos' newfound affection for the OpenStack open-source cloud computing software platform.
b) HP's rebranding moves (in May 2014) with its cloud services stack now bolstered by new products and sat under the product family name HP Helion.
c) Some of the wider disquiet felt throughout the open standards cloud industry a the moment outside of HP's sphere.

Alkaenhevosen suusta

But what the story from Mickos himself, from the horses mouth in unambiguously direct Finnish terms (or -- alkaenhevosen suusta -- as he might say in his native Finnish) then?

Yes Mickos does that vendors spokesperson thing and has been well trained to repeat customers, customers, customers -- but this is a guy who has touched code and reminds us of his first startup company with two college buddies, which was an operation focused on client/server software development.

In 2001 he was invited to join MySQL as the CEO and got his hands dirty with the LAMP (Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP/Perl/Python) stack -- and then it was Eucalyptus and the rest is history.

Today in 2014, Mickos talks on the HP website saying this of the cloud:

"Today we talk about public and private and managed and hybrid clouds as if they are all distinctly different. In the future we may treat them as providers to the same need. We will have application workloads that can migrate to whichever environment provides the most suitable environment for that moment. Our old thinking of 'this app runs on this machine'will be entirely outdated."

In an official blog on the Eucalyptus website he says that his team nurtures three key dreams that drive its behaviour:

1. To make open source win in cloud infrastructure environments.
2. To enable effortless application workload mobility between private and public clouds.
3. ... and to deliver what he calls "complete" clouds.

As generic and big picture (and arguably vague) as point #3 is, it may be the most telling because he clearly views cloud not as the notion of outsourcing compute cycles and storage -- it HAS to do more now.

Leaving aside the "we are honoured and HP is lovely" elements, Mickos does says that cloud should thought of as both:

• an IT architecture and...
• a way to build and deploy your own cloud

"Just like you may brew your own coffee or go to a café to let someone else do it for you, you must be able to run your application workloads on your own hardware or on someone else's. That's what customers are telling us, and we are now seeing enterprises increasingly deploy their own clouds," he said.

We're know you're sailing on the big ship now Mårten, but keep it technical and keep it real please.

Is software monetisation 2.0 a developer wake up call?

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As a committed reporting resource dedicated to examining the manifold machinations and manoeuvrings across the software application developer landscape, the Computer Weekly Developer Network recently sat down with the communications team for information security company SafeNet.

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Discussions centred around breaking the shell surrounding our existing perceptions of the way applications are built, secured, deployed -- and, quite crucially, monetized.

(Ed - surely we mean monetised with an s?) -- ok so we left it in this time.

So how does SafeNet think it has encapsulated the zeitgeist of the developer psyche at this time?

Here's the scenario...

The software application developer builds it i.e. the next big software application that's going to change lives -- so now needs to get it to market and wait for the demand to flood in.

This programmer is no no fool, though and he/she has built in basic software security features to stop unauthorised use of the software.

Monetization 2.0... not just 1.0

But SafeNet heeds, "What about taking into consideration how different types of customers want to purchase your application. Do they like all the features you provided or are they just using one? Can you segment these users into certain groups and offer different users different packages, and how much to charge for these packages?"

We need these questions answered:

• Do you have the internal resources to open the code and start re-writing, QA-ing, internal approvals, etc?
• How about the users that may want a trial first?
• Maybe users want only certain features?
• Maybe they want a per-seat license, how do we do that?

In order to maximise revenue, a programmer will need to offer all of these options and more -- and need automated management to minimise costs.

According to SafeNet, it's not only that, "You need to better understand how users use your software to help set the development roadmap, and you need to better understand usage to optimise pricing for premium features and create compelling feature bundles to address increasingly segmented markets. All this, and it needs to be like flipping switches for non-engineers. In fact, you need to stop annoying engineering altogether so they can focus on their core competency -- building the product."

Welcome to the new world

The company argues that from fledgling start-ups to seasoned legacy app developers, everyone needs to accept that there is more to the software business than just app dev.

In the highly competitive software industry, SafeNet says that license enforcement is just the tip of the iceberg - the real gravy comes with advanced customer analytics that not only improve profitability, they help create better relationships with customers.

This is what SafeNet does i.e. its Sentinel software monetisation solutions are sold on a promise of being able to help software developers grow their top and bottom lines, and provide the flexibility to adapt to changing market conditions.

IBM Watson Analytics versus Sarah Palin's modern anti-intellectualism

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There are IBM Watson lovers and haters.

Watson haters (aka "cognophobes") deride IBM for showboating its Watson analytics natural language-based cognitive service as a contrived route to making traditional old Big Blue look sexy again.

As the Economist wrote back in 2011...

"Watson, as the computer is called, is just a powerful machine with a vast store of data, they say, it still can't fully understand language, recognise objects, or appreciate human subtleties."

But it's a dangerous game to lay derisory comment down upon i.e. so-called 'machine learning' is a cutting edge element (or at least a very interesting part) of software application programming design (as we stand in 2014 at least) for those looking to engineer intelligent devices inside so-called Internet of Things (IoT)-based systems with increasing sophisticated Machine-To-Machine (M2M) and Human Computer Interaction (HCI) capabilities.

Modern anti-intellectualism

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The Economist went on to bemoan America's fascination with world domination, its national superiority complex and the 'modern anti-intellectualism' championed by Sarah Palin (she's no expert, but she knows the so-called experts are wrong) -- so let's get back to machine intelligence.

Back in Armonk, New York... the IBMers are waving flags (blue ones, presumably) to celebrate Watson Analytics, a natural language-based cognitive service that can provide access to predictive and visual analytic tools.

According to analysts (so the following statement must be true): only a small fraction of business people use analytics tools as part of their decision making today.

The first release of Watson Analytics will include a freemium version of its cloud-based service designed to run on desktop and mobile devices.

The product offers access to data refinement and data warehousing services that make it easier for business users to acquire and prepare data - beyond simple spreadsheets -- for analysis and visualisation that can be acted upon and interacted with.

Businesses are able to use this tool to ask questions such as:

What are the key drivers of my product sales?
Which benefits drive employee retention the most?
Which deals are most likely to close?

"Unlike analytics offerings designed primarily for data scientists and analysts predominantly focused on visualization, IBM Watson Analytics automates steps like data preparation, predictive analysis, and visual storytelling for business professionals across data intensive disciplines like marketing, sales, operations, finance and human resources," said the company, in a press statement.

Bob Picciano, senior vice president of IBM's information and analytics group has explained that with its 'Natural Language Dialogue' Watson Analytics speaks the language of business and people by enabling someone to simply type in what they would like to see.

This service, like other IBM Cloud solutions, will be hosted on SoftLayer and available through the IBM Cloud marketplace.

Founder and CEO of Platfora, Ben Werther isn't so sure on this news though...

"Watson Analytics is a novel approach to bringing simple data sets and natural language questions together for common business use cases. It is a piece of the puzzle, but doesn't directly attack the problems of big data analytics -- i.e. making sense of massive datasets across transactions, customer interactions and machine data and giving business analysts visual tools that are native to this scale to amplify their understanding."

Platfora's big data analytics software works in tandem with open-source Apache Hadoop to assist companies and government organisations with data analysis, data visualisation and sharing

What is the correct time for a keynote?

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It is technical conference season, let's face it -- the time has come.

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BoxWorks and Intel Developer Forum are already out of the way.

London has even been getting in on the act with Gartner events and others -- Westminster's Park Plaza hotel and Grange Hotels group are becoming more and more familiar to many in the tech industry.

But what is the correct time for a technology conference keynote?

Here's the beef ...

10 am would obviously be too late; nobody needs to lie bed in that long.

But 8 am or 9 am? That is the question.

It might sound petty, but conferences often involve serious chunks of international travel and that extra hour makes all the difference.

Oracle (for Open World) doesn't even mess about and has been known to start at 4 pm on the Sunday night.

So Mr or Mrs conference agenda organiser person... remember those of us with bleary eyes when you lay out that next agenda please.

8 am keynotes mean 7 am breakfasts mean 6 am showers and 5 am starts if you want to clear your email first when you wake up.

What a difference an hour makes.

Intel Developer Forum 2014

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One of the (arguably) better tech events of the year is staged this week in San Francisco, Intel Developer Forum.

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With sessions devoted to wearables, mobile processors, datacentre computing power and most things in between, Computer Weekly has already reported news of the company planning develop smartphone processors for the Google Android operating system.

Computer Weekly also carries reports this week on Intel unveiling faster server processors and a roadmap for its multi-core processors, which it said could boost the performance of the PC's memory architecture threefold.

Nothing without a datacenter

Intel is openly talking about a "broad set of computing initiatives to enable new market segments" where everything is smart and connected -- indeed, the firm's Diane Bryant held a keynote address where she stated that all these devices are nothing without a datacenter behind them.

Intel Corporation CEO Brian Krzanich has said that his firm's product portfolio and developer tools span key growth segments, operating systems and form factors.

"Intel offers hardware and software developers new ways to grow as well as design flexibility," said Krzanich.

The technical conference's format and content were revamped this year to appeal to an expanded range of engineers and programmers, reflecting Intel's efforts to extend the reach of Intel technology.

The agenda and technology showcase content expanded beyond PCs, mobile and the datacenter to also include the Internet of Things (IoT) and wearables and other new devices created by so-called "makers" and inventors.

For developers

Intel announced the Analytics for Wearables (A-Wear) developer programme for (you guessed it) wearable applications with data-driven intelligence.

The developer programme integrates a number of software components, including tools and algorithms from Intel and data management capabilities from Cloudera -- CDH all deployed on a cloud infrastructure optimised on Intel architecture.

NOTE: Developers of Intel wearables will use the A-Wear developer program free of charge.

More than 4,500 people are attending the forum this week from around the world.







Moki CEO: developers should prioritise security

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With the Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit kicking off today in London, UK -- the Computer Weekly Developer Blog figured that this would be the right time to feature guest commentary from Tom Karren, former developer and CEO of Moki, a mobile application security company.

Why prioritise security

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It's refreshing to be at an event where security is the focus of discussion.

I find that it's often difficult to get mobile application developers to prioritise security. But apps are becoming a significant target for malicious attacks... and precaution is paramount.

Development workflow for security

Integrating security practices into development workflow can quickly fall by the wayside when developers are under the gun to churn out new updates and products as fast as possible. However, app security failures can bring companies under great scrutiny, for example, when it was discovered that Fandango's app left sensitive personal information at risk from predatory apps earlier this year.

Companies that deal with a large volume of personal information such as HP and Walmart are continuing to utilise apps to engage with their customers -- and appropriate security measures are vital.

Why security failures happen

I think the majority of security failures happen in one of two situations: First, when developers don't consider security a priority and choose not to take the appropriate steps; and second, when well-meaning developers, many of them new to the industry, are not well informed about what needs to be done to secure an app.

Some of the most common mistakes I've seen centre on developers trying to cobble together a security plan at the end of development, when it should be incorporated throughout the process.

I've also seen many developers do an excellent job securing parts of their code, but they neglect to take a step back and look at their code as a whole. Security needs to be holistic and systematic.

Editorial note: Moki says it helps to make sure applications are secure before they go to market by testing them and showing their vulnerabilities.

Verisign & Webroot: the next layer of security is in the cloud

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The Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit is held this September in London, UK.

Now you might occasionally deride Gartner for its (arguably) not-very-enchanted Magic Quadrants, but the CWDN blog will come out in defence of Gartner this week because:

a) The organisation has some amazing software application developer focused analysts with Merv Adrian surely the standout star.

b) Of all the "analyst" firms putting on vendor-wide events this autumn, Gartner is one of the few organisations to offer open press invites -- there's even a press room, these guys know what they are doing.

c) The content of the show is broad, non-salesy and (arguably) pretty compelling

The event's opening and core theme centres around the suggestion that companies firms should be 'smart' about risk?

What does that mean?

It means firms should think about trying to balance 'security' on one hand with 'opportunity' on the other.

Verisign VP Danny McPherson suggests that highly-orchestrated DDoS attacks feature prominently in the kind of Internet attack we see today.

McPherson's company produces a quarterly DDoS Trends Report for deeper reading on the 300 Gbps attack experienced by a media and entertainment firm.

Cyber protest & hacktivism

Putting this rare straight bot (as opposed to use of reflective amplification techniques) attack down to hacktivism, McPherson says that DDoS attacks have become one of the two main weapons of choice (along with SQL injection for system compromise) when it comes to cyber protest and hacktivism.

"Dealing with DDoS attacks today competently means traditional methods such as bandwidth overprovisioning and firewalls, are no longer enough," he said.

Advocating cloud-based DDoS protection services, McPherson says these are more scalable, effective and affordable.

"Outsourcing DDoS mitigation and DNS availability services to a cloud-based provider allows for upstream resources to be protected from," said McPherson's

He also stressed that it helps eliminate issues such as bandwidth congestion and collateral damage in the case of an attack.

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Patrick Kennedy of Internet security company Webroot agrees with many of these sentiments and says that cybercrime means we must innovate or die.

He advises that firms are struggling to categorise and kill off new and unknown threats faster and with greater accuracy because their rate of change is faster than many current security technologies can keep up with -- so once again, turning to cloud and formalised security protection must be the way.

"Either firms are too slow to pinpoint new threats, or they are simply stunned and overwhelmed by the amount of data generated," said Kennedy.

Webroot presented its predictive threat intelligence solutions and cloud-based endpoint protection at this September's show.

Is VMware Fusion 7 relevant in the age of agnosticism?

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VMware Fusion 7 has arrived this month -- described as the easiest way to run Windows applications on a Mac without rebooting, the product may be of interest to Microsoft developers who want to cast their net slightly wider such that it encompasses the Apple empire.

NOTE: Windows accounts for over 95% of OEM's worldwide according to Gartner research, but (VMware suggests) as the popularity of Macs continues to rise, more users need a way to get support for their Windows applications.

The firm says that Fusion helps "bridge the OS divide" when users switch from Windows PCs to Mac based devices.

Agnostic angst

But in a cloud-centric world where we are becoming more device, operating system, application, platform and browser agnostic -- is VMware Fusion 7 still relevant?

... and anyway (speaking of browsers) isn't it all about the browser anyway?

Regardless of this naysaying, VMware says Fusion 7 has OS X Yosemite support (Apple's forthcoming next OS) and boats the ability to create virtual machines with up to 16 vCPUs, and 64 GB of memory.

Developer interest point

VMware is also releasing VMware Fusion 7 Pro and this includes features for technical professionals and developers that need their Windows applications to run on a Mac with higher performance and reliability.

Director of product marketing for end-user computing at VMware Nicolas Rochard calls out the product's open source compatibility -- for organisations that run the latest Linux distribution, Fusion 7 Pro supports Ubuntu 14.04, RHEL 7, CentOS 7, Fedora 20, Debian 8 and others.

"Connection to VMware vSphere or VMware Workstation is now available, allowing users to extend and scale virtual machines to a private cloud. Users can easily connect to hosted virtual machines and run, upload or download virtual machines directly within Fusion 7 Pro," said the company, in a press statement.


HP 'reimagines compute' with new server haul

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According to Merriam-Webster, COMPUTE is a transitive verb meaning: to determine especially by mathematical means; also : to determine or calculate by means of a computer.

1: to make calculation : reckon
2: to use a computer

According to HP, it is the term we will now use to describe the ethos behind its next generation of ProLiant Gen 9 systems based on Intel's forthcoming Xeon E5v3 processor chips.

"The market for server-based technology has changed and will never be the same again," said Peter Schrady, VP and GM of Rack & Tower Lines for HP Servers Worldwide.

READER NOTE: A more complete story analysis is provided here on Computer Weekly:
HP launches cloud and SDDC-ready ProLiant servers.

Schrady and team were in residence at London's Shangri-La hotel at The Shard this week to explain how mobility and the use of Internet connected devices are driving change back down the technology chain today from front end devices down to servers.

The new HP ProLiant Gen9 portfolio is said to be a milestone in HP's 'compute
Strategy', which seeks to address IT demands with a pool of processing resources that can be located anywhere, scaled to any workload and available at all times.

The servers are optimised for convergence, cloud and software-defined environments.

"HP created the x86 server market 25 years ago, and we have led this market ever since with innovations that have dramatically transformed the datacentre, such as HP Moonshot and HP Apollo. Now, we're setting the stage for the next quarter century with HP ProLiant Gen9 Servers and compute, which combines the best of traditional IT and cloud environments to enable a truly software-defined enterprise," said Antonio Neri, senior vice president and general manager, Servers and Networking, HP.


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Image: Glorious close up inside the HP ProLiant DL380 Gen9 taken using Microsoft Windows Phone 8 Nokia Lumia 1020.

HP explains that ProLiant Gen9 Servers span four architectures:

  • blade,
  • rack,
  • tower and
  • scale-out

This (so says HP) provides triple compute capacity and increase efficiency across multiple workloads at a lower total cost of ownership with design optimisation and automation.

Uniquely Gen 9?

HP couldn't stop itself using the word "unique" (Ed - ouch! I thought only snowflakes were unique) at the ProLiant Gen 9 systems launch and pointed to PCI Express workload accelerators and HP DDR4 SmartMemory (that increases compute capacity) as part of the goodies on offer here.

HP SmartCache and FlexFabric adapters also feature here and these have been included to try and provide improved performance as they sit alongside converged management tool offerings which span servers, storage and networking.

The new HP ProLiant Gen9 servers will be available through HP and worldwide channel partners beginning Sept. 8.

The hashtag for those interested in this news is #Gen9 -- but it is worth noting that this is also a popular hashtag used by the Christian community when discussing the merits of Genesis chapter 9.

Is Salesforce1 Community Cloud more friendly?

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As we know, companies like HP and IBM now talk about "vertical servers" these days.

These are big old boxes of compute power that have been pre-engineered with the right mix of Input/Output (I/O) technologies, or memory-specific components, or processing power, or other.

They're not exactly vertical as such - okay, they could be very well engineered for particular finance applications... but at the end of the day it's still basically the same box.

Cloud companies like to play this game too.

Salesforce.com sits close to Oracle with its Human Capital Management Cloud (that's HR, or personnel if you're stuck in the 1970s) and so on.

So when Salesforce this week launches its Salesforce1 Community Cloud for customer engagement, should we actually expect anything new?

The firm says that customers can task their software application developers with using this product to create what it calls "trusted destinations" for customers, partners and employees.

Virtual destinations

These virtual destinations will be personalised and mobile like LinkedIn, but connected to core business processes.

"More than 2,000 active communities have gone live since we first offered a communities product just over a year ago," said Nasi Jazayeri, executive vice president of Salesforce1 Community Cloud, salesforce.com.

Jazayeri says that based on the success his firm has seen with customers, salesforce.com is now "doubling down" on communities with its new Community Cloud.

"Any company can benefit from creating an engaged community," said Vanessa Thompson, research director of enterprise collaboration and social solutions, IDC. "Salesforce.com raises awareness of the immense value of community solutions with Salesforce1 Community Cloud by putting business processes at the center of engagement."

The Internet of Customers

This product forms part of what Benioff calls the so-called Internet of Customers and according to IDC, spend on collaboration tools is forecasted to grow to $3.5 billion from 2013-2018, framing the massive market for communities that could exist here and, crucially, the need for software application developers to create products for this still very growing area.

The Community Cloud is connected directly to Salesforce CRM and essential business processes. Now resellers can update leads, employees can create and escalate service cases and customers can review and rate products all from within the community.

Additionally, with new SEO optimisation and unauthenticated access, companies can now attract potential new members through their Internet search engine queries. For example, a musician can discover and join a brand's community based on an Internet search on a specific guitar model.







Internet of Things apocalypse, Now

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This is a guest post by Trevor Pott, professor emeritus of full-time nerdyness, systems administration, technology writing and consulting. Based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada these days, Pott helps Silicon Valley start-ups better understand systems administrators and how to sell to them.

Safe definitions

First off, I think we need to define what mean when we talk about the Internet of Things.

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Some people talk of sensors, others about "wearable computing/quantified self" technologies and still others about "home automation." I think that we can safely define "the Internet of Things" as the collection of computers - big and small, from sensors to satellites - that are largely unattended and/or unmanaged.

I think this is an important distinction.

A computer that receives regular management or is regularly used by a human is very likely to receive regular updates, to have its behaviour monitored and for compromises on those systems to be noticed. Unattended computers, however, are the "scut work" technological robots of our society. Largely ignored unless they break or we need something from them, they idle away for years without maintenance.

Here you could put sensors

From Google's Nest to the array of sensors making sure oil pipelines keep working. Baseband Management Controllers (BMCs) that provide lights out management to servers are in this category; they are their own separate computer from the larger unit they serve and yet the BMCs themselves are frequently ignored and left un-updated.

Throw in security cameras, ATMs, even the VoIP phones on your desk or the "public phones" that adorn your local airport and you begin to glimpse the barest fraction of what we're dealing with. There are hundreds of thousands of computers driving displays in cities all around the world. There are computers running - quite literally - planes and trains and automobiles.

A disaster with no realistic end

Wearables, iPods, even the army of computers in our cars are increasingly Internet connected (at least some of the time), and don't get the kind of "patch Tuesday" TLC we afford our primary systems. It's a disaster that has already happened, it will get worse, and I see no realistic end.

Internet of Things apocalypse, now

New standards, APIs, protocols and radio tricks aren't going to make the Internet of Things less of an accelerating security - and privacy - apocalypse. Like any "movement" in computing, the Internet of Things is here, now, today. It is largely a reclassification of that which was already occurring, but has not become enough of an issue - and an opportunity - to earn a cute moniker.

Literally thousands

There are literally tens of thousands of different models of device using thousands of APIs on hundreds of variants of the same 10 or so basic operating systems. Even if we stopped all development of new IoT computer systems tomorrow it would take us the next 50 or so years to find every installed unattended computer on the planet and secure it. And we're adding new computers at a rate that simply cannot be measured.

Future systems need a fundamental change in approach. We need to build our IoT devices with the idea in mind that they are compromised by default. We need to be adding in hard firewalls with application layer gateways and whitelisting the possible commands (and possibly origin points of those commands) that the onboard computers of our IoT equipment will eve process.

We need automated update systems, automated monitoring. We need a means to do all of this and more while still protecting the privacy of individuals and corporations. As scare as the idea of someone turning your 50,000 IPv6 lightbulbs into a botnet that can form a platform launching real attacks against your corporate network is, the privacy implications of having every aspect of our lives monitored is so very much worse.

1984 cometh in 2014

Imagine what insurance companies - or governments - would do if they could track everything you eat, everything you excrete, how much of what exercise you're getting, how much you pay attention when driving, how engaged you are when presented with various images/slogans/policies/pornography/"seditious materials"...you name it. Now consider that the technology to track all of that - and far, far more - not only already exists, much of it is in our homes and we don't even realise.

Smart TVs have already been caught spying on us . Many come with cameras, and the XBox is equipped with not only cameras, but enough sensors to detect if your heart goes pitter pat that little bit faster when presented with blondes, or with redheads.

Start putting it all together, add in the fact that we're all supposed to connect everything to "the cloud", using our online identities, and storing all our information with the IT megaliths from the privacy-averse United States of America and I suspect you'll be able to connect the dots. 20 years ago this would have been the stuff of dystopic science fiction. In fact, 15 years ago it would have been considered the ultimate in tinfoil hat paranoia.

Today, the panopticon is taking shape all around us. The only question that really remains is who will ultimately have access to the data; cyber criminals who only want your money, or corporations and governments who both desire a far more insidious and total level of control.

Early adopters

Nowhere in all of this do I see an out for the average man or woman. What are technologies embraced today only by a few "early adopters" will be mainstream in five years, socially mandatory in 10 and in all likelihood legally requisite in 25. Mark my words, we will look back on such gross social manipulation exercises as "think of the children" or "we need to fight the terrorists" with fondness. The quaint concepts of a more naive time.

We already live in a world where the average person cannot hope to defend their technological footprint against a targeted attack from even a mediocre cyber-criminal. A skilled practitioner of the arts can bowl over the defences of even trained professionals. We are adding millions, eventually billions of devices onto the internet to track our every move and we have just barely begun to think about how we might defend them.

If that isn't bad enough, our future is one in which we will be monitored 24/7, and if we aren't doing "our share" for society we will be penalised. Less tax breaks, higher insurance...who knows where that ends?

What can we do?

Short of refusing to participate altogether, we are facing the true end to privacy within our lifetimes. Not some .com airy-fairy concept that "the evil Google boogyman will see what you like and advertise at you." We're entering a world where anyone - criminal, corporation, government, spouse or more - with the motivation and skills will be able to tell what you are doing, how you're doing it, and to what degree you're enjoying it.

If you think I'm off my meds, remember that we can now use wifi to see through walls.

Imagine what I could do if I could log into an entire house full of wirelessly networked sensors and gizmos, all of which haven't been updated in years? How many things in your house have infrared sensors? Your phone has how many sensors? Do you ever turn your XBox off?

The NSA is watching Ceiling Cat watch you masturbate, and within our lifetimes this will be the new normal. How will we cope with that world? How will our society deal with the idea that we have no secrets?

Companies like Supermicro are starting to invest in technologies to defend the next generation of devices. It's a welcome gesture, but they are one company amongst many millions working on IoT devices. For every Supermicro out there doing yeoman's work on behalf of the little guy, there are 100 others who just don't care.

We cannot stop what is to come.

Human nature - our apathy, our greed, or feeling of collective impotence and need to shift blame - is what stands in the way. We are our own worst enemy and we will bring the panopticon upon ourselves. It won't "get better". We won't suddenly get a handle on technology and slowly reverse a surveillance state that will have proven so politically and financially valuable to so many. It's absurdly naive to even entertain the notion.


Our society will change to accept this as normal. Unlike some, I don't think it will be a grandiose humanising revolution that will cause us to suddenly embrace one another's differences. I think we will fracture, factionalise, become even more polarised and we will feel all the more helpless and out of control besides. We are sleepwalking into an era of voluntary servitude.

Criminals, corporations and our own governments will all have more "visibility" into our lives than our own spouses. And the only good the technologists of today can hope to do is to slow this inevitable future down. If we're particularly lucky, it will be the legacy we leave future generations, but not one we ourselves have to live through.

In the meantime and betweentime, do try to enjoy the benefits of the IoT technologies. They are niche - and will continue to be for some time - but benefits do exist. These benefits are the carrot hiding the rather dark and ominous stick.

-Trevor Pott

Allons-y Kontinentaleuropa technologia!

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Should the modern Europhile not be building in conferences, exhibitions and symposia all around the continent this coming autumn (that's fall to our American cousins - Ed) to gain a complete Euro-wide impression of technology?

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One would certainly hope so.

The reality is that many conferences seem to put up more barriers to entry than you would think.

A good proportion of CIO-focused analyst-sponsored events seem to have a ban on press attending -- what are they hiding we wonder?

They tell us that the CIOs in question would feel "inhibited" if press are present -- make up your own mind here as to what level of corporate spin and subterfuge is at work.

The analyst firm most guilty of this you ask?

Well, it's not Gartner (as Gartner is in fact very welcoming)... it's a firm with three letters in its name that denote its focus as Worldwide (think of another word) Information (think of another word) Association (think of another word).

I don't C the problem, but it does.

The other challenge for the would-be Europhile is language; amazingly, some of the events staged in France and Germany are presented in French and German.

As preposterous as this sounds, where simultaneous translation (or even the existence of some press and/or other information) doesn't exist, some of these events will be effectively off limits to us as native English speakers (making the wild assumption that you are if you are reading this).

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So to pick one from many that does have:

a) open access to press and
b) internationalised materials and information
c) a strong feel for technology in its own domestic market...

... CWDN selects Mobility for Business (subtitled 'beyond mobile') as L'événement des solutions et applications mobiles pour les entreprises on Oct 15 & 16 2014

The event is described as a gathering of 130 exhibitors (manufacturers of terminals and devices, publishers, operators, wholesalers, integrators, and resellers) and 4,000 trade visitors for this the fourth year of the event.

Primarily French to start with, there will be English content at the show -- the title/name is of course offered to us in English to start with.

Should English-only speakers wake up to the need to integrate more (at a language level and also a technology level) with our other European counterparts?

Or should we all just go back to school and be more international?

Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and San Marino for our next tech events everyone?


SAP extreme sailing: big data analysis twice as fast as the wind

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Your average technical writer generally needs a really good reason before agreeing to get up at 5 am and take the early train to Cardiff central...

... but it turns out that SAP Extreme Sailing is indeed reason enough.

What is Extreme Sailing?

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Let's just be clear, the Extreme Sailing brand (and the reason we have allowed the use of it in full in this headline) is not an SAP brand; sometimes also called "stadium sailing" this is a sailing programme specifically designed for audience enjoyment staged in water where the boats run close to the shore -- and therefore, logically, close to the crowd.

The Extreme Sailing Series operates with eight stopovers around the world... places including Oman, Sydney, China, Turkey, Russia and (perhaps slightly less glamorously) Cardiff.

X2 twice the speed of wind

The boats run (and we will come on to SAP and big data analytics shortly) in an intense environment reaching speeds of 25 knots (in Cardiff at least), which is in fact twice the speed of the wind in the bay.

Really? Sailing faster than the wind? Apologies for a Wikipedia entry, but this appears to be true.

Sailing faster than the wind is the technique by which vehicles that are powered by sails (such as sailboats, iceboats and sand yachts) advance over the surface on which they travel faster than the wind that powers them. Such devices cannot do this when sailing dead downwind using simple square sails that are set perpendicular to the wind, but they can achieve speeds greater than wind speed by setting sails at an angle to the wind and by using the lateral resistance of the surface on which they sail (for example the water or the ice) to maintain a course at some other angle to the wind

The reason these boats "heel over" and run on one of their two hulls is where we start to get to the fun part with the mathematics and algorithms: water is x1000 more dense than air, so sailing with one hull out is faster.

... and this is where sensors and big data comes in.

SAP tags each boat with a GPS so that the race progress can be monitored and displayed in a virtual computer graphic.

There are also sensors to monitor:

  • degree of heeling
  • front to back pitch of the boat
  • and wind information

Yaw (as in the side to side movement of an aircraft) is NOT measured -- as this is boats, yaw is simply taken as the "heading" of the craft.

How SAP BI works on a boat

The data captured from these boats is sent to an SAP cloud service for real time analytics.

"Data analysis here is presented via a dashboard using SAP Business Objects Crystal Reports," said Milan Cerny, Business Intelligence consultant for EMEA BI & big data services at SAP.

"Aggregate statistics from the sailor's activities will show 'patterns' which can ultimately be used by the teams to form their next set of tactics," added Cerny.

In break out sessions at this event, Cerny explained that mathematically the algorithms used here could be extended as SAP performs analysis on the:

1) tacks and jibes
2) bearing away (from the wind) and bearing into it
3) unclassified elements that have yet to be agreed upon

... interestingly, SAP does NOT currently track the sailors individual performance and behaviour using heart rate linked 'wearables' shirts (for example) but the firm's Cerny says that this is coming next.

The post-race automated reports use analytics solutions such as SAP BusinessObjects Explorer software and SAP Crystal Reports as well as the SAP HANA platform to handle the increasing amount of data gathered from sensors on the boats and across the race course.

These reports can be tailored to individual requirements, with the ability to break the data down to supply, for instance, an overview of a year, a specific team, an Act, a day or even a certain race. This is an important development for teams and media in particular as it is enabling them to review and compare specific moments in the Series in an easily consumable format.

"As a team we are committed to continuously improving our performance," commented Jes Gram-Hansen, co-skipper, SAP Extreme Sailing Team.

Can data analytics really help sailors sail better?

One does start to wonder whether data analytics really help sailors sail better -- sailors have, after all, been sailing on the seas, oceans and Cardiff bay for thousands of years.

The SAP crew spoke to journalists during the event to explain that very often the data analytics results often line up with what they thought might the case anyways i.e. in terms of what their human instinct told them -- so it acts as a solid affirmation.

You thought big data analytics was dull?

Try holding on to a catamaran trampoline with one hull in the air and your backside over the ocean and tell me it's dull.

Editorial Disclosure: Adrian Bridgwater works for ISUG-TECH, the wholly and completely independent technical user group dedicated to SAP programming and data management technologies -- SAP met all this journalist's expenses for this trip.

Rackspace DevOps Breakfast: DevOps is a learning process

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The great and the good of the cloud computing community gathered at the Rackspace DevOps Breakfast Panel Debate this week in London's glittering Soho district.

Attending this month's "discussion panel breakdown session" were speakers from DevOps Guys, Dataloop, Skelton Thatcher, Eagle Eye and, obviously, Rackspace.

Stephen Thair - ‎co-founder of DevOps Guys said the he believes in DevOps automation as so many of his customers have problems with Continuous Delivery.

Chris Jackson - cloud technologist and head of Rackspace's DevOps Practice Area said that he recognising there is a lot of automation in DevOps and that his company (with its very up front 'Fanatical' support offering) recognises that it now needs to address the intersection of support with automation.

The learning, learnings

The difference between ITIL and DevOps is that ITIL has a huge amount of information to draw upon, but that DevOps could (if it is done properly) is proposing an alternative model that has a perhaps more practical implementation these days with more iterative feedback into the ongoing state of the project....

... and it is this, centrally, that makes DevOps a learning process.

DevOps is a commitment to learning and experimentation (more so than a straight Waterfall development methodology).

Rackspace's Jackson is a huge fan of the CALMS acronym:

  • Culture,
  • Automation,
  • Lean,
  • Measurement or Metrics and,
  • Sharing.

This discussion moved (as might be expected) onward to whether DevOps was a technical issue or a human cultural issue -- despite audience protestations that it must be one or the other, the majority of speakers agreed that DevOps is both a human and a technical issue.

Speakers here suggested that a good route into DevOps (as a new cultural approach) could be to apply it to a smaller application inside the total IT stack and use this as test bed to bring wider DevOps approaches into an organisation -- the challenge here will be finding an application that is "separated enough" from the rest of the IT stack... but it can be done.

"Organisations must be set up to enable software systems to evolve over time -- DevOps enables this. DevOps enables the flow of metrics-based intelligence from production back to development," said Matthew Skelton, co-founder and principal consultant at Skelton Thatcher Consulting Ltd.

"Successful DevOps adoptions address the interaction technology AND teams to build and operate software systems effectively," added Skelton.

Old DevOps is a waste of time

Other suggestions emanating from this event included the suggestion that 'traditional DevOps' (i.e. not delivered as a cloud service) could in fact be a (comparative) waste of time for what are skilled systems administrators...

... what do we mean by waste of time?

If a sysadmin has to spend HOURS of time working to build operational servers, then isn't that a waste of skilled time if that server could be bought from a cloud supplier? The sysadmin could be doing something else more complex, more business-value-add and more live.

Yes, you would expect cloud (an DevOps as a service) vendors to say this kind of thing, but it is arguably quite an interesting proposition.

#DevOpsBreakfast

Windows Phone 8.1 update for developers

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Microsoft's recent Windows Phone 8.1 Update for developers includes the UK beta for Cortana.

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For those not in the know, Cortana is Windows Phone's digital personal assistant (think Android Google Now, or Apple Siri, of course) and it is powered by Bing, obviously.

Cortana speaks British, don't ya know?

Cortana has been tailored to support UK spellings and pronunciations and the voice and accent is local. Cortana's personality in the UK has also been tweaked to be more locally relevant.

Microsoft did not make any specific comment on Cortana's ability to understand the Glaswegian accent.

Cortana is accessible through the SEARCH key and offers Bing local UK data on:

• sports teams,
• the London Stock Exchange
• commuter conditions
• instant recipes from the Bing Food and Drink app
• global and local news

Users can now organise applications into folders on the Start screen (like you can with OS X) and Microsoft calls this Live Folders because the live tiles of apps appear in the tile of the folders, which is, arguably, a nice touch.

USER NOTE: To create a Live Folder, users will drag a tile over another tile and then name the folder.

"We made it easier for you to see the latest info about the latest apps and games available in the Windows Phone Store through its Live Tile. If you have the Store pinned to your Start screen on your device, you'll get updates on the newest titles - refreshed every six hours - streamed dynamically to you throughout your day," said Microsoft, in an official update announcement.

USER NOTE: Microsoft has also added the ability to select multiple SMS messages for deletion and forwarding.

... and there's more

With the somewhat over-cutely named Apps Corner, users will be able to specify which apps are displayed in a special "sandboxed" mode (Microsoft describes this as "like a protected Start screen") that restricts which apps are used.

BUSINESS USER NOTE: This feature is supposed to be for businesses so they can allow access to select apps in cases where a full MDM (mobile device management) solution isn't required.

Apps Corner can also be used to boot straight to an application and Microsoft provides an example of where this scenario would come in handy.

Let us imagine employees at a distribution centre using Windows Phone devices that go straight into an inventory app they use to scan products in the warehouse when they turn on their phone. Apps Corner can also be used to setup retail demos. Retailers can export the profile of Apps Corner on one device and import it on to other devices. And developers can get data on usage from inside Apps Corner too.

According to Microsoft, "We've made some improvements in the Windows Phone 8.1 Update to keep your data and identity more protected on public networks. For example, we have added the ability for you to send and receive data through a virtual private network (VPN) when connecting to Wi-Fi hotspots giving you another layer of protection. If you're on your home wireless, creating a VPN provides anonymity to help shield your device from being identified by other devices on the network."

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Image credit: GSM Arena







1&1 launches WordPress user/developer community portal

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Everyone's favourite "we buy more double page advertisements in the technical press than any other company" web hosting company 1&1 Internet has launched a new software application developer cum user community portal.

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The portal is at this stage in beta form.

The firm's communications sage Richard Stevenson has suggested that the http://community.1and1.co.uk site will "unite an international community" of WordPress users with developers -- and 1&1 technical staff to, obviously.

Stevenson promises access to experienced technologists who will address a wide range of subjects for all levels of ability.

Everything from general overviews to complex concepts will be addressed in simple language he said.

Background information, How-To's, and tips are available on subjects like themes, plug-ins, SEO, security etc. and organised in a structured way for users ranging from the novice to the fully skilled web developer.

"Each article is marked by topic category and skill level ("Beginner" to "Expert") based on the content. The platform also features website examples created by 1&1 community members. Those browsing the community are invited to provide feedback via a rating system and join in discussions by sharing on social media," said the company, in a press statement.

Greek style blog-hurt

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This is an exceptional 'personal' technology blog rarity, normal CWDN content resumes immediately after posting.

It's rare that I ever have cause to spend a 24-hour period offline, but when Mrs B asked to go and see the 'jewel of the Med', a trip to the Aegean paradise of Santorini was inevitable -- but could I keep away from technology for a whole long weekend?

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Firstly a word of travel know-how: kayak.com has a really usable location deal finder that lies somewhat hidden from the main page menus.

Click MORE > EXPLORE > and you will find a 'zoomable' map with price tags sitting on destinations that directly link to flight bookings.

This is how we got a flight deal for roughly half of the normal cost, because it's fast and easy to look up.

Next we come to the matter of devices...

I travelled with an iPad mini (for BBC iPlayer downloads), a Nokia 1020 (for phone connection and camera), a Samsung Galaxy (for camera and maps), and finally an HP EliteBook tablet with keyboard and full Microsoft Windows 8.1 Pro (for work).

Yes, I know I could have just brought one device, don't let's go there.

Interestingly, in terms of WiFi connectivity:

  • both phones picked up the flaky Greek WiFi best of all,
  • next was the HP ElitePad tablet,
  • and last in terms of connectivity was the iPad - but Apple won't mind being last.

The HP ElitePad tablet is easy to love, the keyboard option transforms it into a working PC and the keys travel more easily than on the Microsoft Surface Pro, despite being smaller 'chicklet' style buttons. The touchscreen works extremely well (even though I still prefer a mouse) and there is the HP Mobile Connect SIM card option (which I have) meaning I can post this blog while on the train home from Gatwick.

Next we come to technology on the ground in Greece, there's not a lot of it.

I wrote a piece a few years back called a "Norwegian software odyssey" while I was working in Oslo as I was impressed by the general level of computerisation I found while travelling around.

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Santorini isn't quite as technologically developed, obviously - and it isn't going to make it up there on the list of Top 10 great European cities with free WiFi, but you can pick it up in most bars if you are prepared to start some pretty heavy drinking whenever you want to log in.

That being said, the Greeks do appear to love their phones as much as any other race --

Our bus driver thought nothing of lighting up a cigarette and then making a mobile phone call, all while driving down the side of an 800 foot ravine.

Using map apps during WiFi gaps

Many of you will know this already, but it's worth mentioning for those that don't. The iPad and Android map applications will keep a journey route in the memory cache and track your progress along it with a GPS locator 'dot' even when you leave WiFi coverage. This helped us lots of times when we were out and about.

So anyway, after five days away from the keyboard I was starting to suffer from too many Gyro-Souvlaki kebabs and develop Greek style blog-hurt... now back to cyberspace-proper and the rest of the world.

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Are we confusing the Internet of Things with embedded, already?

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Surveys are the most important, most informative, most insightful and most expressive means of understanding what is going on inside the Information Technology industry -- right?

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Well, let's assume that you are reading this because you're not fooled by manufactured un-spontaneous survey contrivance.

So the Internet of Things (IoT) is important and we need lots of surveys to assess its wider worth, correct?

Evans Data thinks so and has questioned 1,400 developers worldwide to find that 17 percent were already working on IoT-related applications... while 23 percent expected to begin projects by next January.

"We're still in the early stages of development for Internet of Things, even though forward-thinking companies like Cisco and IBM have been promoting and enabling development for an interconnected world for the last several years," said Janel Garvin, Evans chief executive.

But are we confusing the Internet of Things with embedded, already?

Evans perambulates loquaciously onward, "The technologies needed are now converging with cloud, big data, system embedded systems, real-time event processing, even cognitive computing combining to change the face of the technological landscape we live in, and developers are leading the way."

There, she said it -- she said "embedded", right there.

In so many places we see that this Internet of Things expression is simply used to convey that which we would normally refer to as embedded development.

Don't be fooled by the IT industry renaming already established conventions simply for the sake of spin...

... and (perhaps most of all) don't be fooled by analyst surveys.

How to reach a software-defined operational state of bliss

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Cirba this week issued a statement suggesting that "intelligent control" and management processes are of ultimate importance if we are to be able to build the perfect Software-Defined DataCentre (SDDC) that IT managers currently go to bed dreaming about.

But it would say that though right?

The firm is a cloud-centric software-defined infrastructure control solutions company after all.

Cirba sells automated controls for infrastructure management to help make datacentre infrastructures more software-defined.

How do network programmers use this then?

The firm offers "clever abstractions" to allow common hardware to be used to create special-purpose configurations.

What our software-defined future is NOT

However, the company says that SDDC nirvana is not achieved by simply bolting together:

• virtualisation,
• software-defined networking,
• other cutting-edge and software-defined technologies.

What our software-defined future nirvana IS (or, at least, might be)

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It is an "operational state" achieved by eliminating current silos of compute, storage, network and software and adopting a new way of managing and controlling all the moving parts within the infrastructure. With the trend toward software-defined infrastructure comes a new level of complexity that can only (says Cirba) be controlled through sophisticated analytics and purpose-built control software. The ability to make unified, automated decisions that span compute, storage, network and software resources, that are based on the true demands and requirements of the applications, and that are accurate enough to drive automation without fear, is the foundation of the next generation of control of IT infrastructure.

Image credit: B. Dehler

According to a press statement from Cirba, sophisticated control is key to aligning the capabilities of the infrastructure (supply) with the requirements of the applications (demand), which in many ways is the true goal of SDDC, or Software-Defined Infrastructure Control.

Cirba's 4-steps to software defined enlightenment

1. Demand Management - Much of the insight into the needs of applications (CPU and memory allocation requirements, software and compliance requirements, performance levels, storage tiers, workload profiles, etc.) exists in organizations today, but has been traditionally used to procure new hardware. SDIC allows this insight to be leveraged to match those applications to existing infrastructure or to programmatically define what the infrastructure should be, enabling IT to plan ahead and make better use of current infrastructure environments.

2. Capacity Control - Capacity management tooling is woefully inadequate in a world where the infrastructure is programmable and application demand changes on a daily basis. The old 'offline' model of infrastructure resource optimization must be replaced by an 'online' version that is constantly assessing supply vs. demand and making adjustments. SDIC makes it possible to achieve intelligent, automated control over the new decisions that need to be made every day in modern datacenters (where workloads can go, how much resource they should be assigned, and what the infrastructure must look like to deliver this).

3. Policy - At the heart of it all is the operational policy that governs how supply and demand are matched, aligned, and controlled. But if you look around most organizations today, all you will find is simplistic thresholds spread across operational tools, and individual staff who know all the details and subtleties of how the environments operate but have no way to codify them. To control a software-defined environment, or even to make a traditional environment more software-defined, these policies must be captured and used programmatically to plan and operate the environments.

4. Automation - Automating needs to go beyond just the VM provisioning process, but there is a lack of intelligence guiding most automation today. Critical is automating the routing decision of where new VMs should be hosted, locking in the capacity, placing VMs, allocating resources, the ongoing optimization of infrastructure and forecasting future requirements. This requires accurate, detailed models of existing and inbound demands, fine-grained control over supply, and policies that bring them together. The move toward software-defined is invariably coupled to the move to higher level of automation, and SDIC can help make this possible.

SDIC bridges the gap that has opened up in the data center management ecosystem and in many ways is the heart of the SDDC.

Dell Software VP: lightweight app monitoring is, well, just too lightweight

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Dell sells software as well as hardware.

Well, honestly -- you knew that anyway... and what IT vendor company doesn't now position itself as a services, cloud, datacentre, applications and software-centric business?

To be clear, Dell of course still sells an awful lot of hardware where some vendors have shrugged off previously more tangible product lines.

Dell Software (the actual company division) has been around in its current form for a handful of year now and came about on the back of somewhere approaching 40 major acquisitions including SonicWall, Quest, KACE Networks and StatSoft to name just four.

Dell Software says its pedigree comes from its position in the app and IT infrastructure monitoring market.

But in the last year a bunch of start-ups focused specifically on creating what might be described as lightweight web based app monitoring tools have been winning in some of what could have been Dell's potential customer base.

New Relic and AppDynamics are the two notable stars in the application monitoring space yet Dell claims that these companies offerings lack the "automated diagnostics and analytics" necessary to speed problem solving.

Dell says it purposefully took a year to build these products and its engineering team spoke with customers worldwide to find out exactly what they wanted in a next generation app monitoring tool.

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Steve Rosenberg, VP & GM for Dell's performance monitoring division explains the state of Dell Software's position on next generation app monitoring tools:

CWDN: Why is app monitoring so important then?

Rosenberg: When the app is the business, nothing is more important than monitoring its performance to find and fix problems before they negatively impact the business. Application teams, particularly for web & mobile businesses, need to move quickly and have neither the time nor the interest to manage complex monitoring tools.

CWDN: So you will tell us that cloud makes the situation even more pressing then?

Rosenberg: Certainly yes. Supporting cloud applications has become critical to businesses of all sizes. What is needed is an entirely new on-demand app monitoring product that can explore, uncover and fix performance issues in an intuitive way.

CWDN: Tell us what has been happening with these start up "pretenders" to your crown then?

Rosenberg: As a result of this demand, in the last year a host of start-ups focused specifically on creating lightweight, web based app monitoring tools have entered the app and IT infrastructure monitoring market.

Organisations are taking a "big data" mindset approach to all parts of their business and they want solutions that give them all the data they might need to answer performance problem questions quickly rather than be restricted to summarized and averaged data to draw their own conclusions.

CWDN: And your message to software application developers then?

Rosenberg: What developers want is: the ability to record and preserve a catalogue of every transition for historical reference along with the power to dive deep into every transaction, including mobile, browser, OS and app server. They need to be able to see all dimensions of the application sphere (browsers, carriers, EVERY request) and have a tool that captures details about every transaction running through the system to pin-point problem areas surrounding bad performing transactions that are buried inside good performing transactions.

CWDN: Does Dell really understand how tough things are at the developer coal face?

Rosenberg: I think we do. Developers face two main pain-points: proactive problem identification and the ability to dive deep enough to solve problems quickly with minimal ongoing administration. Therefore, developers want actionable analytics and insight at the foundational (transactional repository) level. To get this they need a next generation app monitoring tool which preserves a record of every data point and transaction event throughout the life of the application.

CWDN: Your opinion of these lightweight operators then is that they are, well, pretty lightweight right?

Rosenberg: AppDynamics and New Relic lack the intelligent analytics required to accelerate the performance diagnostic process. What is really needed is a solution that offers simplicity and depth for the developer community.

With a rich history to draw from and the ability to go deeper than ever into underlying performance issues, developers, web and application managers, DevOps teams and IT admins need a solution that offers both simplicity of use and technological depth.


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