Jive aims to 'program' best practice into business

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Jive Software is aiming to ''program in' best practice into business -- the firm has released new packaged solutions for key industries and groups.

New products include: Jive for Healthcare Collaboration, Jive for Employee Engagement and Jive for Customer Engagement.

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The software itself is driven by Jive WorkHub and it is designed to apply best practice templates, configurations and bundled professional services to solve business pain points for verticals.

Oh yes, 'purposeful experiences'

Jive WorkHub creates purposeful experiences so people can move seamlessly from discovery to conversation to action, using whatever collaboration or communication style works best for them.

The company says it is building these new focused products based upon successful implementations at 1,000 companies, such as Humana, Societe Generale, Cisco, Pearson and GoDaddy.

"Businesses need to solve a wider range of problems, working with more kinds of information and more kinds of people, at a velocity that was once unimaginable," said Elisa Steele, chief executive officer at Jive.

"More than ever, success demands a collaborative work environment. It comes from tapping the workstyles, brainpower and experience of every employee, regardless of role or location. It comes from taking an outside-in view - closely engaging with partners and channeling the voice of customers to align company actions to customer needs. Jive is the only provider that truly breaks down boundaries to achieve the optimal business value for employees, customers and partners."

Medical implementation

"It's critical for us to have a single, secure place where members of the MD Anderson Cancer Network can communicate and collaborate on both complex and routine patient care activities, in an environment that is rich with resources, mobility and functionality," said Melanie Wong, vice president of business development and chief strategy officer at MD Anderson Physicians Network.

"Jive for Healthcare Collaboration gives us a secure, robust platform that's perfect for sharing best practices around service lines and specialty areas--helping our team improve the overall patient experience."

In addition to this initial release of tailored solutions for departments and industry verticals, Jive also announced new enhancements to its internal and external community solutions.

What to expect from the Samsung Developer Conference 2016

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Software runs the world, of course... so much so that smartphone manufacturers now host software development conferences.

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The Samsung Developer Conference 2016 (SDC 2016) will be held from April 27 to April 28 at San Francisco's Moscone West Center

The firm is going to host its event centered around the theme of "Connecting the Future Everywhere You Look".

The event hosts more than 60 technical sessions, interactive workshops, keynotes and hands-on device experiences across 10 different topics.

The hands on sessions include: The Internet of Things (IoT), Virtual Reality (VR), Mobile, Wearables, Business Opportunities, Enterprise, Smart TV, Games & Entertainment, Tizen and Health & Medical.

"We have been working to share our vision for technology, connection and collaboration with the global development community, by hosting the Samsung Developer Conference, since 2013." said Seung-hwan Cho, executive VP deputy head of software R&D center at Samsung Electronics.

"SDC 2016 will offer the perfect chance for attendees to connect with Samsung in person, sharpen their skills, and meet other developers and partners from the Samsung ecosystem. There will also be new, unique technologies and demos that are simply not available anywhere else."

SDC 2016 will also showcase the latest IoT technologies including Samsung's 'ARTIK' and the open source software framework 'IoTivity' of OIC*, along with the company's 'Tizen' platform for Smart TVs, wearables such as the Gear S2, and more.

Samsung will also unveil the latest plans and technology for its service ecosystem, and key partnership strategies for the likes of 'Samsung Pay', 'S-Health', gaming, and the enterprise security solution, 'KNOX'.

One louder: the DevOps toolchain stack

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Poor old DevOps, the 'Dev plus Ops' portmanteau has been subject to more hype than most burgeoning technologies.

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Just when you had gotten used to the notion of software application development and IT operations coming together... the industry starts to spin the nomenclature and naming conventions in this space one louder.

One louder

It's a completely justifiable way of referring to DevOps -- so we're now increasingly talking about the DevOps toolchain and/or the DevOps stack.

All we really mean is... the collection of tools that go together to comprise the total DevOps proposition.

This could of course include include quantifiable tasks metrics, call stack analysis technologies, runtime configuration controls, log entries, team collaboration controls and so much more.

In terms of layers that make up the DevOps stack there is the infrastructure layer, the tooling layer and the management layer... and although we should (arguably) keep our definitions of the DevOps toolchain to nothing more than the tooling layer, it seems likely that we will also refer to elements from infrastructure and management as 'tools' when we do talk about the toolchain.

The toolchain is the DevOps, get used to the expression and say it now.

Did Fortinet leave the firewall backdoor open to hackers?

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Malicious software developers love a good hacking opportunity, this much is already known -- they are even happier when they find a "coder's backdoor" left open for what would usually be two reasons.

Reasons for a backdoor experience

Reason #1 -- Access for 'management control' issues by the vendor who produces the firewall technology in the first place.

Reason #2 -- It is alleged by some sources that certain security authorities may (from time to time) look to gain access through firewall layers and so build backdoors into the original code base makes sense.

An example being played out

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Recent reports have detailed news of cyber-security solutions firm Fortinet and its confirmed vulnerabilities that have surfaced across its product line.

The firewall and network security company has been open about the technical details of recent events -- but Fortinet has refuted claims that an interactive login vulnerability affecting older versions of FortiOS could have been a backdoor for hackers to gain remote console access to vulnerable devices.

The access in question would enable remote console access to vulnerable devices with "Administrative Access" enabled for secure shell (SSH).

What the industry thinks

Steve Ward is senior partner at isight Partners, a vendor-neutral threat intel consultancy.

"We believe exploitation of this flaw in FortiAnalyzer, FortiSwitch and FortiCache poses a low to moderate threat, though exploit code is publicly available and current versions of these products are vulnerable, which was not the case with FortiOS," said Ward.

"Fortinet's most recent disclosure appears to be the result of the company's due diligence in identifying all products impacted by the security flaw, whereas the original disclosure was focused only on the known vulnerability in FortiOS," he added.

Kevin Bocek, vice president security strategy & threat intelligence at Venafi comments that the problem we have is that SSH just isn't figuring on enterprises agenda - CIOs and CISOs just aren't thinking about it, and they certainly aren't protecting it.

"This is a problem, and issues such as this Fortinet admission really highlight that gap. According to Ponemon Institute, more than 50% of organizations do not have centralized Secure Shell (SSH) key security. 74% do not enforce SSH security policies at all, or rely on a documented manual process. Moreover, 51% of organisations surveyed have been compromised in the last 2 years as a result of SSH key misuse. This means that most customers will have no way of assessing their level of risk or changing out SSH keys," he said.

Bocek concludes, "Anytime you get admin access is a big issue, particularly with SSH as it allows systems administrators to have elevated privileges, bypassing authentication mechanisms on the host. By using a stolen SSH private key, an adversary can gain rogue root access to an enterprise network, bypassing all the security controls put in place. Because organisations have no SSH security policies, SSH oversight, or ability to respond to an SSH-based attack, cyber-criminals are using SSH as an attack vector at an ever-increasing rate. This is why the Fortinet issue is such a problem - essentially, hackers could gain access to all the vulnerable Fortinet systems with the same password. This vulnerability shows it's just not a patching issue - SSH is a huge vulnerability with no visibility and protection: who has access, when, to where, and how? Organizations can't accept this hole in their cybersecurity foundation. They need to first get visibility in to SSH use and access, and then enforce their policies. "

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Lookin' Out My Back Door

Plumbing goes digital -- smart cities need BIM

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Progman is a provider of Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) design software used in Building Information Modeling (BIM) from Turku in Finland.

(Ed -- MEP & BIM software, who knew?)

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The firm has now launched a free browsing library available at magicloud.com

MEP designers and software application developers serving the construction business that need a selection of BIM products including those designers utilising AutoDesk Revit or AutoCAD, can now access more than one million products.

NOTE: Revit is/are 4D BIM tools to plan and track various stages in the building's lifecycle, from concept to construction and later demolition.

In addition to browsing the full catalogue of intelligent products and accessing their technical data, many of the objects are also available for download enabling designers to use them directly in their projects.

MEP designers do not have to be current MagiCAD customers to make use of MagiCloud.

The MagiCloud library is easy-to-browse so users can find detailed, accurate dimensions and comprehensive technical data for products by nearly 200 manufacturers. 3D views are included for each product, which can be spun and viewed from any angle.

By bringing the whole database online, MagiCloud is hoped to enable designers to collaborate with teams from across the entire build - key to achieving the benefits of Building Information Modelling for any large-scale building project.

Collaboration can happen both online and offline.

"The new MagiCloud library makes our accurate BIM products accessible to all MEP designers around the world," said Jukka Nyman, operations director at Progman. "Furthermore it opens the door for designers to use BIM. It's critical that designers can adopt a BIM approach where all the key stakeholders in a build can collaborate efficiently and effectively during the design phase."

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DevOps specialist firms start to 'fuse'

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The CWDN blog is really not interested in funding, corporate ventures, mergers, buy-outs or even corporate parties (unless we are invited, obviously)... this much should be said.

Due to this proviso, it is from a purely technical viewpoint that we make mention of the formation of Sendachi.

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Not a Japanese courier service, Sendachi was formed through the merger of Clutch (based in Seattle) and Contino (based in London).

Ed -- I prefer Clutchtino, or Contuchi, clearly.

A mission statement of sorts

The new firm insists that it exists to accelerate deployment of new services and service enhancements to gain the agility and velocity that lets entrepreneurial and customer-centric approaches flourish.

"Our biggest differentiator," says new CEO Steven Anderson. "Is that we don't train internal teams in an abstracted way, we participate with them, showing them how by executing their real-world work."

Sendachi staff have extensive experience in DevOps and continuous integration/continuous delivery.

Contino cofounders Benjamin Wootton and Matt Farmer remain with the new company.

Wootton's 'canned' on-the-record 'this is what they made me say for the press release' statement mentions wholesome goodness and favourite expressions including: software-based disruption, insourcing and re-platforming -- the whole nine yards, basically.

Sendachi's parting "this is what we do" statement speaks of a company that specialising in DevOps, continuous integration/continuous delivery and transformational programmes.

The company's Rapid Prototyping and DevOps Acceleration services help organisations speed time-to-market for high quality new and re-tooled applications.

Why are smart devices still so stupid?

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Software application developers working with the kinds of embedded computing devices that we now class as citizens within the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) can be forgiven for getting somewhat confused.

The Internet of Things a.k.a

The trouble is, the Internet of Things is also known as:

• the Internet of Things That Matter (IoTTM)
• the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
• the Internet of Business (IoB)

The CWDN newsdesk has even seen a Revolutionize the IoT (RIoT) programme... and yes, we left the Z in deliberately.

Recent research from James Brehm & Associates has suggested that while 73 percent of enterprises are either experimenting with or implementing IoT solutions; connectivity, security and interoperability are making global scalability a challenge.

Stupidity factor

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It almost begs the question: why are smart devices so stupid and failing to interconnect as they really should be by now given the degree to which we discuss the IoT.

To try to get some deeper insight, CWDN spoke to Rob Miller, head of energy at MWR InfoSecurity -- a firm known for its penetration testing, web application testing, vulnerability assessments, continuous security verifications, wireless security testing, firewall testing and so on.

"There are two races happening at the moment that are leading to security failures in IoT. The first is over which wireless protocol will become the de-facto standard in IoT. Developers and manufacturers of wireless protocols and hardware need to be clear not only what security features their solutions have, but also how to use them safely and where their limits are," said Miller.

He continues, "Any standards released for IoT will have to walk a tight line of staying broad enough so that they can be included by all IoT vendors, but strict enough that they still offer a level of effective measurements. Standards that try to cover all IoT from home automation alarms through to mass smart city monitoring solutions run the risk of producing rules so abstract that a developer could misinterpret them, or worse produce devices that tick every box without ever adding real security."

A call to action

How do we get out of this IoT mess (so that we don't end up building the Internet of Mess) then?

The smart money is on CATEGORISING EVERY ELEMENT of the IoT and understanding the component parts within it, for developers, architects, sysadmins and non-technical planners alike... it's almost like we need to break the IoT down into a list.

We will get there, but this discussion -- now -- is necessary.

Validating 'unproven assumptions' F5 on the state of application delivery

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F5 Networks is a firm aiming to stake a claim for itself.

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The Application Delivery Controller (ADC) and network technology firm is now on its second annual State of Application Delivery survey.

This survey promises to provide insight into the current state of application delivery -- as well as confirming some unproven assumptions about how IT approaches application availability, security, programmability and software defined networking (SDN) for 2016 and beyond.

Key takeaways include:

Application services are essential and pervasive: Ten or more application services are used by well over half of respondents, who recognise that slow, unresponsive, and unsecured applications can have a substantial negative impact on revenue and operations.

Hybrid cloud is the new normal: Well, we did say some of this was higher-level!

The vast majority of respondents (81 percent) are moving toward a hybrid cloud environment to get the flexibility and potential cost savings it offers, especially for small and mid-sized organisations.

The security focus is on protecting users, data, and applications: Security professionals who have the highest level of confidence in their ability to ward off attacks are protecting clients, requests, and responses -- the critical points at which data can be easily compromised.

DevOps and SDN are key to improving operational efficiency: Because DevOps and SDN enable automation and orchestration, they are both seen as key factors for reducing operating costs and improving time to market.

Evolution in progress

"Applications are vital to business success. Used by every employee, applications contribute to greater efficiency, lower costs, and increased margins," said Karl Triebes, CTO and EVP of product development at F5.

"Without the correct services to support applications, they won't be available, secure, or fast enough to meet companies' needs. The results of this year's State of Application Delivery survey offer valuable insights into how customers are managing and implementing their application services within dynamic and complex IT environments."

IBM: how to buy a hybrid cloud

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How do you end up being a 'significant software provider' in the still-shifting world of hybrid cloud?

IBM thinks it knows how -- the firm has just been ritualistically anointed by Forrester Research in its latest Wave report on hybrid cloud management.

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Is this just puff and fluff as a result of IBM being Forrester customer?

That's always a tough one, yes Forrester analysts are paid to 'study' IBM and write things about what the firm is doing -- but, equally, Forrester analysed 32-evaluation criteria in its report.

The idea here is to try and help cloud developers and their infrastructure and operations cousins (Ed - you missed a chance to say DevOps, dummy!) select the right hybrid cloud management technologies.

How to buy a hybrid cloud

What does selecting a hybrid cloud ACTUALLY involve for a developer?

We're glad you asked... IBM explains that it includes offering developers a rich library of app and infrastructure templates, APIs and a choice of multiple public and private clouds.

IBM will also offer what Forrester called 'deep and broad' support for prebuilt application and infrastructure templates, provisioning and configuration management and role-based controls.

Features !! 'rich' ones, obviously

There are also cost, performance and capacity management features... 'rich' ones, obviously.

According to IBM, "Hybrid clouds are gaining widespread market adoption because they leverage existing IT resources while integrating into public and private cloud environments. This gives organisations greater control of their data, improved application performance and efficiencies, enhanced collaboration all while helping to centralise IT management. As a result, businesses not only reduce costs but achieve greater efficiencies."

Big Blue insists that it has been aiding clients in their migration to hybrid cloud solutions for years.

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Below are some recent IBM hybrid successes

Giant Eagle, one of the US's largest privately held multi-format food, fuel and pharmacy retailers is overhauling its IT infrastructure with a hybrid cloud solution from IBM Cloud. The solution is designed to provide an integrated system management for greater visibility into data from everything from the supply chain to the check-out line.

Marriott Hotels is adopting a hybrid cloud environment to offer faster digital services to web-savvy guests and uncover insights about traveler preferences for its more than 4,000 properties across the globe.

Tractor Supply Company, the largest rural lifestyle retail store chain in the United States, is working to revamp and migrate the company's online retail operation to a hybrid cloud solution from IBM. The solution will give customers an easier way to connect, browse and shop for goods and services online.

Automotive evolution: paper-based manuals out, APIs are in

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Automotive 'aftermarket' technical information company Autodata has released a new batch of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).

Working with TIBCO Mashery, the Autodata Developer Portal allows access to more than 70 APIs covering Autodata's diagnostic, repair and servicing information across 80 vehicle manufacturers.

Data is at the core of the car

Chris Lippi, VP and CTO of cloud at TIBCO reminds us that data is at the core of the majority of products and applications within the automotive aftermarket industry sector.

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"As the world has become more connected, we continue to see increasing demand for content in the auto industry; and with its comprehensive range of data on over 29,000 models, we are excited to partner with Autodata as it works to power new applications and products in the future."

Nice modules mate

Autodata Chief Technology Officer Neil Brooks says that the feedback from developers is that our portal is intuitive and packaged in logical and well-structured modules.

"In growth terms, we are now receiving around 11 million API data calls on a weekly basis and we expect this figure to rise significantly over the next 12 months," said Brooks.

Established in 1975, Autodata has evolved from a publisher of paper-based technical manuals to the creator of a new web application for professional workshops around the world.







Polycom: visual collaboration tools should be part of every application workflow, well... almost

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Polycom has just announced a new developer zone called Sandbox.

Who was that?

Oh you know, Polycom... the HD video conferencing, voice conferencing & telepresence company that likes open standards-based video collaboration and massive screens...

... and it also makes those fancy triangular 'voice-box' phone things that sit on the table.

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The firm is announcing the expanded support for developers to extend capabilities with the new Polycom Sandbox.

Visual collaboration tools should be part of every application workflow

This virtual lab will (promises the company) provide access to Polycom's APIs and SDKs so that developers can build applications and integrate visual collaboration directly into their workflows.

Polycom will offer a full set of support tools, including a community-based resource designed to facilitate the open exchange of information in the pursuit of innovative application development and workflow integration.

"As visual collaboration enters the hyper connected phase," said Ashan Willy, senior veep of product management & worldwide systems engineering at Polycom,

"Employees, have high expectations of being able to connect from anywhere, and from any device at any time. The RealPresence Clariti solution offers simple, easy-to-use, collaboration software that provides cloud economics, cloud deployment options, and cloud hybrid capabilities to Polycom's powerful infrastructure suite," he added.

Clariti, without the Y (d'ya see what they did there?)

The firm has also released news of Polycom RealPresence Clariti -- a cloud-ready collaboration infrastructure software with support for other collaboration ecosystems and a streamlined licensing model that now includes subscription, as well as perpetual, models.

Customers will have multiple options for deploying the RealPresence Clariti solution, including on-premises, through hybrid or hosted IaaS offerings from partners, or directly in their own cloud networks.

What is a cloud computing storm?

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What is a cloud computing 'storm' -- if such a term exists... and what are its implications for software application developers working in newly virtualised platform environments?

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Also sometimes known as 'boot storms' or VDI boot storms, a storm is a degradation of service experienced when a large number of users boot up a cloud service inside a narrow time frame.

The effect of the storm is that the network becomes overwhelmed with data requests -- and so, logically, performance naturally suffers.

According to TechTarget, storms are a problem because slow, unresponsive virtual desktops can make a VDI project unpopular with end users even though desktop performance is good the rest of the time.

"To prevent VDI boot storms, experts recommend starting virtual machines (VMs) in waves, implementing caching or adding solid-state storage to handle the concentrated number of storage input/output (I/O) requests," reads the official definition.

Combatting storms

Naturally then, the IT industry has been busy developing layers to help combat the effects of cloud computing storms.

Hybrid-cloud performance management company Xangati's own Xangati Virtual Appliance (XVA) architecture features automated storm remediation for virtualised and VDI infrastructures.

According to the firm, even the best run cloud environments are hit by storms of all kinds such as storage, CPU, memory and boot storms, which cause contentions that cripple applications and disrupt end-user experiences.

Virtualisation System Administrators (V-SysAdmins)

With this latest Xangati release, virtualisation system administrators are able to remediate CPU and memory performance issues by automatically balancing workloads across vCenter hosts.

"Xangati is moving closer to its long-term vision of an autonomic infrastructure management that delivers an automated way to stave off complex degrading conditions and v-storm contentions, in addition to end-to-end, closed-loop orchestrated visibility to real-time performance indicators," said Atchison Frazer, VP of marketing at Xangati.

What to expect from NDC London 2016

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It almost feels ungodly to say it, but conference season has already started for 2016.

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Well... it will do on Jan 11 when NDC kicks off.

NDC?

Yes, NDC stands for New Developer's Conference... although it started off as Norwegian Developers Conference.

This is Europe`s largest conference for .NET & Agile open space development.

"NDC has been inspiring software developers since 2008 -- this conference is currently being held in Oslo, London and Down Under in 2016," they say.

Filter by technology

Technologies due to be covered at this event include: .NET, Agile, Architecture, Big Data, C++, Cloud, Craftsmanship, Culture, Database, Design, DevOps, Embedded, Experience, Fun, Functional Programming, IoT, JavaScript, Languages, Machine Learning, Microsoft, Mobile, People, Search, Security, Soft Skills, Testing, UI, UX, Web, Work and Skills.

... and yes, Microsoft was the only firm called out directly there, this is a not overtly labelled Microsoft-centric event, but the content appears to spread far and wide into many other technologies.

In fact, even though the majority of NDC's delegates have a .NET background, NDC are no longer solely focusing on .NET and Agile, but all technologies that are interesting for developers.

Azure for Developers, it's now a real 'thing'

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Liam Kelly is general manager for Developer Experience at Microsoft UK. Kelly insists that NDC provides a 'great opportunity' for the developer community to meet up and share ideas.

"It offers a learning experience for developers, technology providers and technology enthusiasts alike," he said.

Kelly clarifies, "At the conference, we will be sharing updates on 'Azure for Developers' and discussing how its cloud offering benefits the developer community."

"Microsoft is committed to enabling developers to build apps and technologies for the cloud, web and IoT, across all platforms utilising the development platform of their choice," he added.

NOTE: The NDC party is known to be lively -- acts include: Have I Got NDC For You, Shawhawk Duo and The Tide.


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Bish, bash, BOSH: Pivotal says 'I believe' in CloudCredo

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The problem with the pre-Christmas to New Year bounce in the information technology industry is that a lot of good news gets buried right around the time that everything closes up shop --

-- then, in January, lots of people say things about the Internet of Things and smart home technologies at the Vegas CES show during the first week of the year.

Go fluffy

The result of this 'squeeze it all in in late December and then go slightly fluffy' in January programme is that some serious morsels of news gets missed.

Among the 'oh, really, I missed that, it must have been Christmas' pile was news of Pivotal bolstering its cloud native platform cadre with the acquisition of CloudCredo.

As you may know, CloudCredo is a privately-held Cloud Foundry development and services provider based in London, UK.

NOTE: As part of the deal, Pivotal has also acquired CloudCredo subsidiary stayUp that specialises in the Cloud Foundry log analysis space.

The firms remind us that CloudCredo has been working with Cloud Foundry and Pivotal since 2012 and so has good experience delivering SLA-driven production services using Cloud Foundry.

"The pool of truly elite Cloud Foundry systems talent, in other words BOSH, in Europe is limited. So is the pool of services companies with a proven track record of moving the dial on training and management in cloud native development," said James Governor, analyst and founder of RedMonk. "Pivotal gets both by acquiring CloudCredo."

Bish, bash, BOSH

BOSH is an open source tool for release engineering, deployment, lifecycle management, and monitoring of distributed systems.

"CloudCredo enhances Pivotal's powerful next-generation portfolio of products and services by bringing extensive knowledge of deploying, running and customising Cloud Foundry for some of the world's largest and most admired brands," said Rob Mee, CEO of Pivotal.

With CloudCredo's expertise, Pivotal says it will continue to better help its enterprise customers embrace and leverage the Pivotal Cloud Foundry Cloud Native platform more quickly and transform the way they build software.



Is there a future for software application development?

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This is a guest post for the Computer Weekly Developer Network written by Mark Warren of Perforce Software.

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Warren is Perforce's EMEA marketing director by name, but is true coding man of means with over 25 years experience in software development tools and configuration management.

Perforce is a commercial, proprietary revision control system.

When did all this 'computing' start anyway?

If we accept that the modern age of computers started somewhere around the time of the mid-1940s, then IT is now well into its late-middle-age (60 being the new 40 and all that). Today's school pupils and students are at least the great-grandchildren of those early pioneers.

Continuing the social demographic theme, computing has had its 'baby boom'. The 90's and 2000's saw the massive rise of the coding population that led to the creation of services that are now part of the fabric of our lives, such as Google, Facebook, Skype etc.

... a rising sense of unease

But since that boom, there's been a rising sense of unease around where the next big step forward in the industry is going to come from. Students have been avoiding computer science courses and getting into the 'fun stuff': games developer courses are proliferating as an example.

Even those students are in for a surprise when they enter games production studios, where they are suddenly exposed the effort and pain that every game development team goes through as they work through a crunch to hit a release milestone. I'm not suggesting these games developers aren't doing good work - some of the most creative coding has gone into generating ever more realistic physics, video effects and squeezing every last ounce of power out of the hardware.

The (next) big coding questions are...

However, back to core computing skills: regardless of how they are being used, they haven't really been getting the attention they deserve. Who is excited about building the next great compiler (and who cares about compilers any more when they think they can run the world with a scripting languages)?

I mean let's really ask -- who's going to build the next fast, secure network protocol? Who's going to design the next low-power, high-performance chip?

There have been a number of projects around the world to try to get people coding and to get them interested early. The last decade in the UK has seen the dreaded "ICT" courses in secondary education that did little other than teach how to create a Word document. Thankfully, that is now transitioning to a "real" ICT course that will teach coding even for under-7s.

There are other signs of hope. There have been multiple projects like the "Hour of Code" (https://code.org/learn) initiatives in the US, UK and increasingly across the world.

New "coding clubs" are springing up often based around social groups like the Scouts. The recent launch of the new Raspberry Pi Zero is an amazing tool for these new coders. A whole computer for 5 USD or less than "a fiver" (as we say in England). It was even given away on the cover of a magazine! Computing resources and tools are more accessible than ever.

Skills (really) matter

That's great news, and I don't want to underplay the importance of getting kids excited about the subject as early as possible. But it's important to also consider what happens once they are ready to move on from that introductory level. If they want to move into an IT job or start their own software companies, they're going to need a new set of skills.

Will they understand the increasing need for security and privacy? Will they be able to design and code for scale and accessibility? Will they learn the important skills of planning their work and protecting it using version management? Even more fundamentally, will they be able to work collaboratively with other people either in person or remotely if they've spent their formative years concentrating on building single-person games on their Pi or tablet?

I've just been listening to a recent Perforce DevTalk about how they're using Pair Programming in their development teams. It's a fascinating presentation and it's interesting to consider all the subtle aspects this approach involves in terms of being open to feedback, proactively asking for help, being flexible and much more. It really needs a mature and open attitude.

Interestingly, perhaps sport could be a part of the answer: getting individuals to work as a team, understand how to communicate and realise they've got to step away from the keyboard occasionally (though getting kids interested in sport in school and keeping that enthusiasm is as much a challenge as getting them interested in computer sciences).

Another tactic might encourage more corporations to reach out to schools, further education and small startups to offer mentoring and internships, to help prepare students for the real world.

Dreaming of the next golden age

The future for the next generation of IT isn't perhaps as bleak as it first appears but there's certainly a risk that if there isn't a clear pathway from the early years of the 'fun stuff' to being ready for the workplace, then we won't be seeing the next golden age for computing very soon.

Mark Warren tweets at @mark_warren and writes on the Perforce blog here.







Tableau's three lessons for data visualistion tools

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It's been a busy year for Tableau Software -- the data visualisation firm has pushed out what amounts to more product updates than at any time in its past.

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It's almost as though big data analytics and visualisation technologies have become more widespread than ever, or something.

The firm has this month made available Tableau 9.2 with new data preparation improvements, customisation for maps, enhanced security and a new iPhone app.

Users could always use their iPhones with their Tableau dashboards and visualisations, but the Tableau Mobile app now makes it easier to interact with and access data on the go.

The heads-up pointer for software application developers here is:

1) data visualistion tools are becoming increasingly widespread.
1) data visualistion tooling needs to be presented in modern applications.
3) data visualistion from Tableau can be implemented 'inside' other new modern apps

"Tableau 9.2 advances our mission to help people see and understand data, making it easier to prep data, tell stories with maps and stay on top of your data, right from the iPhone," said Chris Stolte, chief development officer and co-founder of Tableau Software.

"Expanding our mobile app to the iPhone was one of our most requested improvements. We've also made it easier and quicker to interact with data and continue to provide more ways to keep data fresh and secure," he added.

Tableau also introduced geolocation, which makes it possible orient a map around your current location with a tap on a Tableau map in a mobile browser or on the Tableau iPad and iPhone app.

Also in this release... improvements to the REST APIs let administrators set, view and remove default permissions for a project and easily control default project permissions programmatically through custom applications and scripts.

Data preparation enhancements

New data preparation features in 9.2 are intended to cost users less time preparing and searching for data and more time analysing it. The data interpreter now cleans Excel spreadsheets and automatically detects sub-tables and converts them to tables that can be analysed in Tableau.

Data grid improvements make it easier to craft the ideal data source and quickly move on to analysis and the enhancements to the Data pane help people take fewer steps to find and update metadata.

The geek's gift guide 2016: nerdy must-haves

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The CWDN blog picks just a handful of technologies as favourite nerd-must-haves for the forthcoming 'holiday' season.

Sandberg Bluetooth Headphones

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Remember when Virtual Reality headsets gave you headaches and nausea?

That's when they weren't very good -- but of course today things have changed and the Oculus Rift. Microsoft HoloLens etc. are all about to blow the market apart.

The same used to be true of wireless headphones, they just weren't very good.

While perhaps not 'quite' as perfect as a wired headset, the Sandberg Bluetooth Stereo Headset is just about the next best thing.

The unit is very good paired with an iPad and if you happen to watch a lot of iPad TV in bed, this unit is perfect... it is just so much easier than trailing a wire somewhere under a pillow and then flopping your arm down onto it.

Battery life is good -- around 8 hours playback from a 4-hour charge and there's a microphone built in too. The unit supports Bluetooth 3.0 + EDR.

There are remote control track and volume controls on the headset itself and the unit is nice and robust.

The best thing about using wireless headphones is that you can connect up... then leave your phone or tablet in a bad and love around without being disconnected.

Of all the Bluetooth headsets, in-ear earpieces and other wireless audio units around, the Sandberg one is the unit used to listen to the radio while writing this story -- so there's your testimony to quality.

Optoma HDCast Pro

As already mentioned here on CWDN, Optoma has just launched a new 1080p multimedia streaming dongle, the HDCast Pro.

This device plugs into a projector or a TV's HDMI port to enable wireless streaming of movies, videos, photos, music, documents or websites straight from a smartphone, tablet or laptop.

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It will also stream digital content stored on a home network.

The best thing about this unit is the unique use-case that each individual will find for it -- in our case, we can log into US rock music websites that don't feature on UK Freeview and play whatever music we want through the television. It's one of those "how did we live without this" little pieces of technology.

Ring Video Doorbell

Finally for now, it has to be the Ring Video Doorbell.

The device streams live audio and video of a home's front doorstep directly to a smartphone or tablet, allowing homeowners to stay connected to their homes whether in the kitchen or across town.

Built-in motion sensors detect activity on your property and trigger instant mobile alerts, giving you the ability to know what's computer at anytime thanks to a cloud-based recording.

According to the firm's press materials, "Ring provides a new level of security, by notifying you when someone is on your property and letting you see and speak with anyone at your front door. Imagine being home alone at night, and answering the door in complete safety and comfort."

The best thing about this unit is the sheer power it gives you and the ability to really start expanding your entry into the Internet of Things -- with a British Gas Hive home heating system and a Piper camera alert system for other parts of your property, this kind of tech is tangible, affordable and well built. We like it - ping!

Mendix: 'analysability', it's now a thing

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Application Platform-as-a-Service (aPaaS) company Mendix has launched its own-brand Mendix Application Quality Monitor.

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This, essentially, is a cloud-based service designed to help software application development professional to proactively monitor the maintainability and analysability of Mendix applications.

(Ed - you say analyzability, I say analysability)

Okay sorry, well at least the firm didn't say maintainable-ness -- it's not so hard to clarify what is going on here.

Gartner analysts when not too distracted making magical boxes do (obviously) come up with a lot of good insights...

... the firm nicely stated in a recent report that, "Anyone can go faster; the challenge is doing so sustainably."

The comments here relate to a point highlighting technical debt as the loose ends that need resolving (and the refactoring that is required) as a result of the development process.

"The debt may take many forms, from design debt, to documentation debt, to unused and duplicated code. Addressing technical debt ensures that the software is well-architected, well-written and maintainable," says Gartner.

... and the point is, too much messy technical debt and you get an application with poor maintainability.

Bi-modal IT

Mendix says it is the platform of choice for top brands implementing bimodal IT -- an approach combines the solid capabilities of conventional IT with so-called Mode 2 capabilities that enable the speed and agility required for digital innovation.

One of the most common mistakes CIOs make when implementing Mode 2, however, is failing to maintain a disciplined focus on refactoring, resulting in ballooning technical debt.

According to a press statement, "Mendix Application Quality Monitor enables customers to monitor software quality proactively and on a daily basis, improving maintainability and reducing lifecycle costs. The cloud service is powered by SIG, which performs a static analysis of Mendix application models according the ISO 25010 standard for maintainability."

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Analysability, modifiability & modularity

The analysis here covers key aspects of the application such as analysability, modifiability and modularity.

It rates the application for parameters like volume, duplication, unit complexity and dependencies. A dashboard offers the quality rating on a scale from 1 to 5, and highlights potential areas for further investigation. The ratings are based on benchmarks of thousands of projects.

"The Mendix Model API offers an open, metadata-based approach allowing specialist tools to analyse the software quality of Mendix models in real time. Rather than performing quality analysis retrospectively, the Mendix Application Quality Monitoring service offers immediate visibility into the maintainability of applications as they are developed, helping to eliminate and prevent technical debt. We know of no other development approach that offers this level of integrated quality assurance," said Roald Kruit, Mendix co-founder and leader of the Mendix Digital Transformation Practice.

Forget apps -- mobile software development is doomed without 'full stack' backend data love

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Will we ever get tired of technology market surveys?

This blog's news desk has seen 'findings' tabled as insightful as: mobility likely to be key driver in enterprise applications in 2016.

I mean, come on, honestly.

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Should we think any less of Appcelerator's 2015 Mobile Trends Report in partnership with IDC?

Get to the guts

The enterprise 'mobile engagement platform' company has at least used this investigation to point towards the guts of the matter i.e. the 'finding' here suggest that developers agree:

...accessing data is the most significant challenge developers face when building mobile apps.

Nearly three-quarters of the 5,778 respondents note that getting mobile-optimised access to backend data is the single greatest challenge to building mobile apps, with almost half of developers identifying the work of building and deploying mobile APIs as the primary bottleneck.

Release cadence matters

The survey also throws up a growing divide between self-identified mobile 'leaders' and 'laggards' -- 42.6% of leaders report a weekly or bi-weekly app release cycle, among the laggards, that number drops to just 9.5%.

"From smartwatches to smart appliances, new device types have shifted the centre of mobile development from frontend to backend. While that shift opens up opportunities for smarter, more contextual and connected mobile experiences, it also creates new hurdles to development," said Brad Hipps, vice president of marketing, Appcelerator.

"Great apps need great data. But as this survey shows, getting at that data is no easy feat. In fact, respondents say it's the number-one challenge. The standards for middleware and backend data access that defined the web era don't work for mobile," added Hipps.

IDC: a rationale for the full stack

IDC analyst John Jackson suggests that the upshot here is that developers must now be jacks of all trades.

What he eludes to is the fact that programmers will now need to think about the tasks involved creating an appealing front-end experience... but creating one that is:

a) also tied to a rich back-end.
b) and one that works with the right tools to support such an experience.

"Taking on a full stack development mentality has become imperative to success," concludes IDC's Jackson.


Crayon cracks software asset management (SAM) brainteaser with Puzzlepart

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Software Asset Management (SAM) is interesting -- there, we said it, do we all feel better?

Actually, although SAM might to some people represent the combined geek/nerd hell of technology meets accountancy, the need to track software 'assets' in the spiraling world of cloud service-based componentised disparate computing resources has, in fact, never been a sexier thing.

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So what of the news in this space?

SAM specialist Crayon has announced a strategic investment in Puzzlepart, a company that offers Office 365 and SharePoint technology solutions and subscriptions for medium and large companies.

Puzzlepart will continue to operate under its existing brand.

Mads Nissen, chairman of Puzzlepart Group is on the record saying, "We are delighted to be bringing Puzzlepart's disruptive approach and innovative business apps for Microsoft Office 365 to Crayon's customers across the world."

Hey, we're super-excited!

"The talent and energy within the Puzzlepart team perfectly complements Crayon's commitment to cloud services and Software Asset Management. We are very excited about both the opportunities and value that this deal will provide for our customers, teammates and partners," added Nissen.

According to the lovingly prepared press statement accompanying this news, Crayon Group CEO Torgrim Takle has reiterated Crayon's commitment to Puzzlepart and its team.

"Puzzlepart has created a world-class team driving innovation and agility in customised enterprise software applications and we are pleased to be a part of that success and excited for the future development and growth of the Puzzlepart business," said Takle.

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