Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Cognitive Business: When Cloud and Cognitive Computing Merge

Cloud computing has taken over the business world! With almost maniacal focus, single proprietors and Board Directors of the world’s largest conglomerates see this new model as a “must do”. This rapid shift is, in fact, accelerating. As Jeff Bertolucci observes in “The Shift to Cloud Services Is Happening Faster Than Expected”:

“According to the sixth annual Uptime Institute Data Center Industry Survey, which examines the big-picture trends shaping IT infrastructure delivery and strategy, the move to cloud services is accelerating. The Uptime Institute’s February 2016 poll of more than 1,000 data center and IT professionals predicts that an even faster shift to the cloud will occur over the next four years, reports ZDNet.” 

Another maybe even more important trend, that is actually being driven by cloud computing, is the rapid expansion of cognitive computing. In this arena, IBM’s Watson, famously known for defeating Jeopardy gameshow champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, has quickly established itself as a commercial cognitive computing powerhouse. Contemporary reports of the Jeopardy contest from the New York Times cited this victory as IBM’s “…proof that the company has taken a big step toward a world in which intelligent machines will understand and respond to humans, and perhaps inevitably, replace some of them”. Although we are not yet at the human replacement stage, the merger of cloud and cognitive computing is rocking the business status quo.

Coined as “Cognitive Business” this trend can deliver quantum level improvement to just about any industry vertical. Examples include:
  • Using highly automated and economic cloud infrastructure to deliver proactive and predictive monitoring and threat interception in cybersecurity;
  • Leveraging cloud computing device independence to enable real-time social media analytics that coordinate delivery of context driven information and commercial offers across multiple marketing channels;

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Government Cloud Achilles Heel: The Network

Cloud computing is rewriting the books on information technology (IT) but inter-cloud networking remains a key operational issue. Layering inherently global cloud services on top of a globally fractured networking infrastructure just doesn’t work. Incompatibilities abound and enterprise users are forced to use “duct-tape and baling wire” to keep their global operations limping along. The continuing gulf between IT professionals and business managers only exacerbates this sad state of affairs. IT professionals, however, bear a more significant amount of blame for the current state because we are the ones responsible for providing the operational platform and enabling the new information delivery models that drive modern constituent services and commerce.

The use of cloud has also driven changes in how governments and commercial enterprises approach data security. In the cloud era, organizations can no longer get away with treating all data at some arbitrarily high level of protection.  More than ever, they need to address data protection requirements and controls based on the lifecycle stage of the data. They also need to evaluate the numerous permutations of business function, data user role, location of access, legal or regulatory guidelines and user devices. This is especially important in the public sector where organizations use public funding and operate within a framework of public trust. While this type of analysis could have arguably been seen as overkill when organizations had direct control over the networks they used, taking that view today is tantamount to declaring open season on data for any hacker, identity thief or