Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Military Tips On Business Resiliency

Photo credit: Shutterstock

A steel bar is resistant to stress and is capable of maintaining its form while bearing large loads. While steel is also known as one of the world’s strongest metal’s (Titanium, Tungsten and Iconel round out the top four) , it is also susceptible to shearing and completely breaking. A rubber brick, on the other hand, will bend easily under even small loads, but it's extremely difficult to snap or break. Moreover, once the load is removed from the rubber, its flexibility returns it to its original form. This is how the rubber brick displays resiliency.

Business resiliency enables organizations that have suffered a damaging incident to bounce back to their former form. This is especially important for small and medium sized businesses because according to Tim Francis, enterprise leader for cyber insurance for Travelers, 60% of all cyberattacks in 2014 struck small to medium-sized businesses.  If you think company strength will protect you from this type of adverse incident, you are mistaken. Since salary and benefits for the workforce represents one of the largest expenses for a company, the “Revenue per employee” ratio is often used by investor as a measure of company strength. This ratio is most useful when comparing companies within the same industry. Using this ratio, the following companies were fairly strong before they were attacked but they didn’t have the resiliency to bounce back afterwards:

  • Code Spaces (Annual Revenue $2.4M, Employees: 12, Revenue/Employees: $200,000)  was cited by SC Magazine as one of nearly 60% of small businesses that fail within six months of being hacked. The company was accessed through via its Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud control panel. The attackers attempted to extort the business by claiming a “large fee” would resolve data loss issues. Code Spaces was unable to continue operations as it acknowledged that the company had suffered debilitating damages to both its finances and reputation.
  • In 2011 (Annual Revenue: $691,092, Employees: 2, Revenue/Employees $230,364)  had secured 10% of the market for Australian domain names, held multiple international domain accreditations and had 30,000 hosting clients through 3,000 active resellers. Later that year the business suffered a severe cyberattack when attackers targeted and destroyed servers inside Distribute.IT’s network, including back-ups, then locked the IT team out, meaning the only way to get control was to ‘pull the plug’ at the datacenter

By way of comparison, in 2015 the revenue per employee ratios for IBM and Panasonic were $244,447 and $275,839 respectively.  So how should a company build up resilience against a cyberattack?

Years of conflict have taught the military how to build resiliency and researchers with the National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have actually developed a scale to rate psychological traits that promote resilience.   Called the Response to Stressful Experiences Scale (RSES), the measurement has been tested in more than 1,000 active-duty military personnel and identifies six factors that are key to psychological resilience:

  • Positive outlook
  • Active coping
  • Self-confidence
  • Learning and making meaning
  • Acceptance of limits
  • Spirituality

With this as guidance, business leaders can take the following steps towards building cyber resiliency within your organization:

  • Build a positive outlook by educating senior management on the cyber threat and the practical steps that can be taken to prevent economic and reputational losses;
  • Actively cope with the threat through an active cybersecurity defense team with the responsibility to protect corporate assets;
  • Build self-confidence by periodically testing your cyber defense and business continuity processes;
  • Establish a continuous learning environment through regular and relevant training events for the entire staff;
  • Understand your limits and manage cyber risks that can't be eliminated; and
  • Believe in your team

In addition to these worthwhile leadership activities, more pragmatic steps should include:

With any luck, these steps will not only make your company more resilient, but it may also help you prevent the debilitating effect of a cyberattack.

This post was brought to you by IBM Global Technology Services. For more content like this, visit Point B and Beyond.

Cloud Musings
( Thank you. If you enjoyed this article, get free updates by email or RSS - © Copyright Kevin L. Jackson 2016)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Meet Ameet Bakshi: The Insurance CloudMASTER®

Powered by Singapore-based Big Data start-up Crayon Data, tapped the insurance industry as being at the forefront of integrating cloud technology into their digital eco system. As stated in one of their recent articles

"Cloud based platforms, storage and applications change the way of creating and delivering their products and services, managing risks and claims, collaborating with channel members and partners, and communicating with customers, agents and brokers."

After serving as a successful IT Architect and Project Manager for over five years, Ameet Baksi took a stab at what was then the new cloud computing trend,   He completed his CloudMASTER® certification and quickly landed a position with Crum & Forster, a leading national property & casualty insurance company with a large, diversified specialty platform. After completing over four successful years with the firm, Ameet could now be referred to as "The Insurance CloudMASTER®"!

According to Crayon Data, cloud computing enables insurers to reuse their IT resources more efficiently by reducing the cost of acquiring and maintaining infrastructure. If this is true, Mr. Bakshi surely landed in a good position. The CloudMASTER® courses not only provided an understanding of cloud operations and security, but it also gave him the perspective he needed to be valuable to this subsidiary of Fairfax Financial Holdings, a $42 billion global firm engaged in property and casualty insurance.

“The skills you gained from completing the CloudMASTER® certification, are skills for life. They give you the self- confidence and knowledge needed to improve your income and to widen your employment opportunities. My overall experience during the course was excellent. The instructors were very knowledgeable and patient when teaching the material. My classmates were a very diverse group of professionals whom came from various occupations and backgrounds. The CloudMaster® course curriculum is well designed and the labs allow you the ability to get a hands on experience."

Key to his success was the willingness of the NCTA instructors to remain after class to help him better understand the material. That willingness also gave him the opportunity to gain more insight into cloud architecture and to improve his cloud assessment skills.

As more companies take advantage of cloud service benefits, the need for IT professionals to be skillful in the use and implementation of a wide range of cloud services becomes even more acute. This form of training also serves as a layer of protection against well-known cloud transition missteps like cloud service vendor lock-in and inadequate cloud service provider due diligence. If this type of training is for you, please check out the National Cloud Technologist Association (NCTA) and Logical Operations NCTA CloudMASTER® Certification Training Program.

( This content is being syndicated through multiple channels. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of GovCloud Network, GovCloud Network Partners or any other corporation or organization.)

Cloud Musings
( Thank you. If you enjoyed this article, get free updates by email or RSS - © Copyright Kevin L. Jackson 2016)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Understand The Language Of Data: Strata+Hadoop World and TAP

Our world is driven by data.  It may speak in whispers, but it can also scream insight and information to those that understand it’s language. This is why I’ll be attending Strata+Hadoop World, Sept 26th to 29th, in New York City.

Even though data can also speak many different languages, data scientist act as our interpreters and guides.  They help us survive and thrive in this data-driven world by addressing and taming the many business challenges it presents, including:
  • An appropriate interpretive language, be it The language itself algebraic notation, an adapted programming language or both;
  • Separating the data signal from the data noise;
  • The enablement of data access and data connectivity within the enterprise;
  • Handling the complexity and variety of complex data which can include images, videos and abstract representations of both the physical and living world;
  • Integration of the time variable into the data interpretation process;
  • Security and protection of the data; and
  • Collaboration with a strong and innovative technology partner.[1]
That last challenge is actually why I’m anxious to learn more about the Trusted Analytics Platform (TAP), open source software optimized to create cloud-native data analytics applications. This multi-tenant platform contains connectors for data ingestion, multiple distributed data stores, advanced processing engines and collaborative analytics capabilities.  It even includes machine learning, model building and visualization within a multi-language application runtime environment. This last feature enables developers and data scientists to use the languages with which they are most familiar. At every layer of the platform, performance optimizations maximize analytic operation speed.  Data security enhancements are also embedded, from the silicon up, to ensure protection of both the data and processing.

Instead of starting from scratch and deploying a host of different tools, packages and services, TAP provides an extensible environment that combines many open-source components into a single, integrated platform.  This integrated architecture provides the APIs, services and extensibility to support the needs of data scientists and application developers for varied analytics on virtually any data, of any size, located anywhere. It also provides management tools and services to control and monitor operations from top to bottom.

TAP also includes a rich marketplace where tools and services can be easily integrated and provisioned on demand. This marketplace is accessible through a simple, browser-based interface to a purpose-built service catalog. Application developers, data scientists and system operators all have the flexibility to choose the tools and services that they need for ingestion, storage or manipulation of data. In addition, system operators can add services to the TAP Marketplace in their instance of TAP, which saves time by eliminating the need to identify and curate key tools and libraries. All of this is done in a secure and collaborative high performance environment. A growing number of organizations support, use and contribute to TAP in order to address many use cases like:
  • Customer behavior analysis using wearable IT systems;
  • Tracking disease progression and treatment;
  • Asset management using RFID data;
  • Equipment failure prediction and optimization using sensor data; and
  • Privacy-preserving genomic analysis using diverse distributed data sets.
Join me in New York next week at Strata+Hadoop World to learn more. To prepare, you can read TAP documentation and code at , visit their public Jira at or contact them directly at


( This content is being syndicated through multiple channels. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of GovCloud Network, GovCloud Network Partners or any other corporation or organization.)

Cloud Musings
( Thank you. If you enjoyed this article, get free updates by email or RSS - © Copyright Kevin L. Jackson 2015)

Monday, September 12, 2016

Transformative Training for Hybrid Cloud

Figure 1- Shawn Bolan, Technical Training Manager,
New Horizons of Nebraska,
In a recent CloudTech article multi-cloud, or hybrid cloud, strategy was heralded as “…
transformative for businesses, allowing them flexibility to scale offerings, save on hosting solutions, and ultimately offer better solutions to their customers. The article goes on to cite:
  • A 2016 Dimensional Research survey of more than 650 IT decision-makers that indicated that 77 percent of businesses are planning to implement multi-cloud architectures in the near future; and
  • A 2015 IDC study that found that 86% of enterprises predicted they will need a multi-cloud approach to support their solutions within the next two years.  

The actual benefits of hybrid cloud include:

  • Improve disaster recovery and geo-presence
  • Ability to use unique cloud-specific services from different providers as they are needed
  • Ability to leverage the public cloud benefits of low-cost and unlimited scalability in order to move agile applications to the cloud
  • Use of a private cloud for red-tape bound applications or more traditional infrastructure

This may be why Shawn Bolan, Training Manager for the world’s largest independent training vendor New Horizons , decided to prepare for the new hybrid cloud world by becoming a NCTA CloudMASTERS® instructor. With over 300 locations across 70+ countries, New Horizons always wants to help keep their clients ahead of the curve and the NCTA CloudMASTER Certification is certainly posed to do just that.

Although Shawn already possesses numerous vendor certifications from companies like VMware, Cisco and CompTIA, this “non-vendor specific” preparation, will enable him and his team to deliver the high-level training needed to implement quick hybrid cloud adoption at the demanding pace of IT. According to Shawn, “Training doesn’t stop once you’ve entered the cloud. It actually enhances your

Monday, September 5, 2016

Surviving the coming "Hackerpocalypse"

Photo credit: Shutterstock
With all the excellent training available on television today, we are all now well prepared to deal with the coming Zombie Apocalypse.  Our failure as a society lies, however, in our misunderstanding of the nature of the cybersecurity challenge. This failure threatens us all and our survival will depend on society’s ability to deal with the evolution and maturation of the changing enterprise cybersecurity challenge.

If you’re completely oblivious to the living dead threat, a zombie apocalypse refers to a widespread (usually global) rise of zombies hostile to human life.  The zombies will engage in a general assault on civilization where victims may become zombies themselves. This causes the outbreak to become an exponentially growing crisis. The spreading phenomenon swamps normal military and law