Security has been a concern for IT from the beginning, but with the increasing prevalence of mobile and the cloud — along with several high-profile data breaches, many of which have occurred in the past year at large organizations — keeping digital data secure is taking top priority for many. Recent research has found that security and data loss, the mobile workforce, and cloud technologies are the most important concerns for IT professionals in the coming year, as well as long-term over the next three-to-five years.
IT concerns by the numbers
The most recent annual Digital Leaders survey from BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, found that the top three concerns for senior IT in the next 12 months are:
- Information security (60 percent)
- Cloud computing (55 percent)
- Mobile computing, including BYOD (53 percent)
For the next three-to-five years, the survey found that information security and cloud computing will remain priorities at 54 and 40 percent, respectively. Another long-term top concern is big data, which 42 percent of IT leaders said their companies would focus on during this time frame.
Another new study from IBM looked at IT security leaders specifically, and found the same chief concerns among them. This study found that:
- Almost 90 percent of IT security leaders are planning cloud initiatives or have already adopted the cloud
- 75 percent expect cloud security budgets to either increase or increase dramatically in the next three-to-five years
- Nearly 80 percent believe that potential security risks due to standards and regulations have increased in the past three years
- More than 70 percent stated real-time security intelligence is increasingly important for their companies
- Almost half said new security technologies are the top focus for their organizations
Challenges facing IT security
While more organizations have realized that developments in security, cloud, and mobile technology offer advantages in productivity, business continuity, and more, many IT leaders feel their companies are unable to meet the right goals. In the BCS survey, 92 percent of respondents felt their organizations lacked the resources to address the issues they’ve prioritized — with 53 percent stating a lack of enhanced IT skills among their existing workforce, and an equal number citing a shortage of additional IT staff.
Challenges discussed by the IBM survey primarily addressed mobile technology. In the study, less than half (45 percent) of IT security leaders believed they had an effective mobile device management (MDM) strategy in place. And while the majority of respondents said their companies were concerned about digital security going forward, most did not prioritize security for mobile devices.
As the movement toward mobile, the cloud, and the Internet of Things gains momentum, the IT of the future will have to prioritize security, and find new ways to work within diversified infrastructures to keep data safe.
With the rapid evolution of the Cloud, today’s companies no longer wonder whether they should climb aboard the Cloud bandwagon, because the answer is yes. The only question is how much of your infrastructure should move to the Cloud, and when.
Hybrid cloud environments—infrastructures that mix cloud services with on-premise solutions—are here to stay. But many organizations still aren’t leveraging the cloud in the most effective ways. The primary reason for this is a focus on costs, as companies try to replace on-premise solutions with the cheapest cloud services possible.
However, there’s far more value in choosing cloud components on the basis of innovation, and aligning your hybrid model with the primary functions of your business.
Identifying candidates for the cloud
When planning a hybrid cloud environment, CIOs need to separate their workloads by business function, and decide which functions would be best served by migrating to a cloud-based service. For most businesses, these functions will be the core enterprise workloads.
Infrastructure components like messaging, supply chain, HR, service management, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) are typically ideal cloud candidates. These functions can be expensive to maintain through on-premise solutions, and difficult to integrate with a network. The cheaper, faster cloud alternatives for core enterprise workloads help organizations improve automation and cross-departmental functionality, delivering a more streamlined and cost-effective environment.
In these spaces, migrating to the cloud can be equated with buying innovation. Advances in software-as-a-service (SaaS), infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) enable more features, better scalability, and decreased downtime for universal cloud-based services that are common to most businesses.
Choosing on-premise solutions
Where most companies err in developing hybrid solutions is choosing the cloud to save time and money for workloads that feed into core business functions. On-premise solutions allow for more robust and innovative platforms, which further key differentiators and help organizations remain competitive in their primary fields.
For functions that serve as your company’s main profit centers, on-premise solutions are the right choice. Your infrastructure investments should be directed toward these on-premise models—including all that money you’re saving by migrating core enterprise workloads to the cloud. On-premise solutions allow you to retain control of every aspect, which permits greater innovation and competitive advantage.
Blurring the line: Tips for maintaining hybrid environments
In most cases, dividing workloads into enterprise and core won’t always be a clean or simple process. The flow of information between departments must be taken into account, and full integration can be challenging with a hybrid model.
In an environment with cloud components, control is always decentralized to some degree. There will be parts of the IT process outside of your control, particularly when you’re feeding multiple cloud services into an on-premises environment. Within a hybrid system:
- The IT environment is chaotic (but it can be controlled)
- Operational performance will rely on external systems to some degree
- The user experience is highly distributed, with some aspects reliant on a third party
- Visibility is the key to optimized performance
Successful hybrid solutions will extend visibility to every component of the network layer. With orchestrated visibility, you can control the flow of information even when some elements are outside your control.
Choosing the right components to migrate to the cloud, and ensuring a seamless information flow with high visibility, will help you develop and maintain an effective hybrid environment that delivers optimal ROI for your organization.
Makerspaces are a new phenomenon that’s currently exploding in popularity. The term “makerspace” refers to a shared community space that provides access to cutting-edge tools for techies, students, inventors, and anyone interested in making.
There is no set definition for what makerspaces offer. They might contain anything from classes on using the latest Firefox browser, to industrial sewing machines and metalworking tools, to 3D printers and laser cutters. And these communal facilities are popping up everywhere.
Here are five makerspaces in various U.S. locations that any techie would love:
Location: Somerville, MA
Fees: $85 for a 5-pack of day passes, $60 to $150 per month memberships, various fees for work space, storage space, and classes
Website: Artisan’s Asylum
At Artisan’s Asylum, diverse users share a space that offers a wide range of classes, and a comprehensive selection of tools and equipment. The space is divided into shops that include a computer lab, a rapid prototyping lab with 3D printers and laser cutters, welding shop, wood shop, machine shop, jewelry and lampworking shop, electronics lab, and many more.
ChiPubLib Maker Lab
Location: Chicago, IL
Fees: Free classes and associated materials, materials fee for open shop time
Website: ChiPubLib Maker Lab
This makerspace is part of the Chicago public library system. Launched in 2013, the ChiPubLib Maker Lab holds regular events, lab classes, and workshops, with use of tools and equipment that include 3D software and 3D printers, laser cutters, vinyl cutters, and a milling machine.
Location: Austin, TX
Fees: Memberships starting at $60 per month, varying fees for workspace and storage space
Website: ATX Hackerspace
With classes from auto repair and bartending to web development and replication, and sponsored events that include chiptune concerts and a Global Game Jam, ATX Hackerspace provides a community for creators. Frequent meetings and events provide motivation and encouragement, and memberships include personal storage space and unlimited classes. Available equipment includes a 3D printer / replicator, laser cutter, a Virtual Instrumentation Suite, and more.
Open Hardware Makerspace (OHM)
Location: Raleigh, NC
Fees: Material costs only
Website: Open Hardware Makerspace
This makerspace affiliated with North Carolina State University maintains a free-to-use open lab space on the university campus. OHM offers skills training, collaboration opportunities, and a wide range of tools and equipment — from hand tools and power tools to 3D printers, vinyl cutters, oscilloscopes, a Geiger counter, Eggbots, and an Arduino-based Polargrapher bot.
Location: Honolulu, HI
Fees: $60 to $75 per month for memberships
Currently in the process of moving to a new and expanded space, HICapacity offers a wide range of classes with an emphasis on programming, frequent themed community nights, and tools and equipment that enable 3D printing, 3D modeling design, working with Oculus Rift, and more. Members pursue everything from silkscreening and conductive painting to virtual reality and brain-computer interfaces.
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Thought Leader Series with Treb Ryan, CEO of OpSource
Treb’s perspective on the Cloud hype was fascinating. He had a simple no nonsense approach to explaining it last month when we sat down to discuss current industry trends and how Cloud is affecting businesses.
“First of all not many people even know why it’s called Cloud. When you look at the structure and architecture of the system you realize that it’s because of the way people drew the diagram and the internet was on the top “in the Cloud.”’Simply put . . . it’s just a term for the internet. He notes that there are a few major key elements to helping deliver the Cloud: Availability, immediacy and expandability.
The crux of the discussion was around the statement “cloud is an applications centric operations model”. The discussion focused on two different issues;
It has become increasingly obvious that the marketing has turned on the cloud, supported by articles and interestingly the apparent abandonment of the clouderati. I wrote a post a couple of weeks back titled “Its getting a little less cloudy” discussing the passing of the marketing hype and a new awareness of the real benefits of Cloud based architecture. The conclusion it reaches, is cloud has abstracted a lot of detail that might be labeled support and/or operations at a infrastructure or physical data center level. It has not however reduced the importance of IT Service Management (ITSM) or proper architecture design.
At the peak of the hype curve, the statements were;
- Don’t have to worry about (monitoring, operations, power, cooling, servers, infrastructure etc.. etc..)
- Infinite scalability and high availability
- Infrastructure is a commodity