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Coronavirus impact: Businesses forced to rely on video conferencing

In January, life sciences technology vendor Veeva held a new year kickoff for its North American employees in Orlando, Fla. A few weeks later, the company held a similar event for its Asia-based employees — except instead of everyone meeting in Tokyo as planned, the coronavirus outbreak forced workers to dial into Zoom.

The differences between the two events were stark.

The would-be Tokyo attendees sat alone on their computers. In Orlando, colleagues shared meals and dance floors. They visited an amusement park one evening. And by gathering more than 1,000 people in the same place, the company generated a palpable enthusiasm for its vision and goals.

“There is a little bit lost, for sure, in a remote meeting compared to a face-to-face meeting,” said Paul Shawah, Veeva’s senior vice president for commercial cloud strategy.

Businesses like Veeva are increasingly turning to video conferencing services like Zoom and Cisco Webex to avoid travel in response to the growing threat of the new coronavirus, COVID-19. The disease had sickened nearly 100,000 people worldwide as of March 5, including more than 200 people in the United States, where 14 have died.

Video conferencing apps are providing a convenient alternative to face-to-face meetings during the outbreak. But companies are also missing chances to connect on a more personal level with customers, partners and employees.

Theory Studios, a boutique entertainment company, generates most of its business by attending conferences. The studio scrambled to schedule Zoom meetings after the last-minute cancellation of Google I/O and the postponement of the Game Developers Conference.

“At the end of the day, nothing beats in-person [meetings],” said David Andrade, co-founder of Theory Studios. “It’s the joy of sharing a meal — or maybe the client wanting to tour you around their office — that turns a regular meeting into a personal, long-lasting connection.” At the same time, Andrade has used Zoom to build meaningful relationships long before meeting in person, he said.

Similarly, salespeople for electronics manufacturer ViewSonic are watching closely as premier sponsors begin to withdraw from Enterprise Connect, a trade show scheduled for late March. Some of ViewSonic’s customers have also temporarily banned salespeople from their campuses.

“As a sales leader … I would always like to think that travel is essential to business,” said Chris Graefe, ViewSonic’s director of enterprise sales. “A face-to-face meeting is preferred, obviously.” Video conferencing, however, will help maintain relationships amid the travel restrictions, he said.

For Veeva, holding its Asia kickoff on Zoom was “the next best thing,” Shawah said. The format even brought some benefits. For example, everything was recorded, allowing those who missed the meeting to catch up. Also, Zoom’s chat feature facilitated a robust Q&A session, Shawah said.


Tech vendors capitalize on coronavirus outbreak

Video conferencing providers have responded to the increased need for their services by extending the capabilities of their free offerings.

Cisco is now allowing meetings of unlimited length for up to 100 participants on the free version of Webex. Microsoft is giving out six-month licenses to Office 365 that provide access to a more robust version of Microsoft Teams than is usually available for free. Zoom has lifted the 40-minute cap on free meetings in China.

The vendors hope the uptick in usage will continue even after fears about the virus subside. Free offerings can be an effective way to generate paying customers.

In a conference call with investors Wednesday, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan predicted the outbreak would demonstrate the benefits of Zoom and lead to higher usage among companies. “This will dramatically change the landscape.”

Zoom’s stock is up more than 50% since late January. Video conferencing vendors, including hardware makers, are expected to rake in $13.8 billion in revenue by 2023, up from $7.8 billion in 2018, according to Frost & Sullivan.

Because so many employees are temporarily working from home, cybersecurity firm Trend Micro has begun hosting company-wide Zoom calls twice a week. Some hope the practice will continue even after people return to the company’s offices around the world.

“With this concern happening, and people increasing their use of collaboration tools, I do think it’s going to have a lasting effect,” said Leah MacMillan, Trend Micro’s chief marketing officer.

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Docker Enterprise spun off to Mirantis, company restructures

In a startling turn of events, Docker as the industry knows it is no more.

Mirantis, a privately held company based in Campbell, Calif., acquired the Docker Enterprise business from Docker Inc., including Docker employees, Docker Enterprise partnerships and some 750 Docker Enterprise customer accounts. The IP acquired in the deal for an undisclosed sum, announced today, includes Docker Engine – Enterprise, Docker Trusted Registry, Docker Universal Control Plane and Docker CLI.

“This is the end of Docker as we knew it, and it’s a stunning end,” said Jay Lyman, an analyst at 451 Research. The industry as a whole had been skeptical of Docker’s business strategy for years, particularly in the last six months as the company went quiet. The company underwent a major restructuring in the wake of the Mirantis deal today, naming longtime COO Scott Johnston as CEO. Johnston replaces Robert Bearden, who served just six months as the company’s chief executive.

“This validates a lot of the questions and uncertainty that have been surrounding Docker,” Lyman said. “We certainly had good reasons for asking the questions that we were.”

While not the end for Docker Enterprise, it appears to be the end for Docker’s Swarm orchestrator, which Mirantis will support for another two years. The primary focus will be on Kubernetes, Mirantis CEO Adrian Ionel wrote in a company blog post.

This is the end of Docker as we knew it, and it’s a stunning end.
Jay LymanAnalyst, 451 Research

Docker Enterprise customers are already being directed to Mirantis for support, though Docker account managers and points of contact remain the same for now, as they transition over to Mirantis. Going forward, Mirantis will incorporate Docker Kubernetes into its Kubernetes as a Service offering, which analysts believe will give it a fresh toehold in public and hybrid cloud container orchestration.

However, it’s a market already crowded with vendors. Competitors include big names such as Google, which offers hybrid Kubernetes services with Anthos, and IBM-Red Hat, which so far has dominated the enterprise market for on-premises and hybrid Kubernetes management with more than 1000 customers.

A surprising exit for Docker Inc.

While the value of the deal remains unknown, it’s unlikely that Mirantis, which numbers 400 employees and is best known for its on-premises OpenStack and Kubernetes-as-a-service business, could afford a blockbuster sum equivalent to the hundreds of millions of dollars in funding Docker Inc. received since it launched Docker Engine 1.0 in 2014.

“I thought Docker would find a bigger buyer — I’m not sure Mirantis has the resources or name to do a very large deal,” said Gary Chen, an analyst at IDC.

Analysts were also surprised that Docker split off Docker Enterprise rather than being acquired as a whole, though it’s possible a second deal for Docker’s remaining Docker Hub and Docker Desktop IP could follow.

“It could be another buyer only wanted that part of the business, but Docker put so much into Docker Enterprise for quite a while — this is a complete turnaround,” Chen said.

Docker Enterprise hit scalability, reliability snags for some

As Docker looked to differentiate its Kubernetes implementation within Docker Enterprise last year, one customer who used the Swarm orchestrator for some workloads hoped that Kubernetes support would alleviate scalability and stability concerns. Mitchell International, an auto insurance software company in San Diego, said it suffered a two-hour internal service outage when a Swarm master failed and a quorum algorithm to elect a new master node also did not work. This outage prompted Mitchell to move Linux containers to Amazon EKS, but members of its IT team hoped Docker Enterprise with Kubernetes support would replace swarm for Windows containers.

However, about a month ago, a senior architect at a large insurance company on the East Coast told SearchITOperations he’d experienced similar issues in his deployment, including the software’s Kubernetes integration.

This company’s environment is comprised of thousands of containers and hundreds of host nodes, and according to the architect, the Docker Enterprise networking implementation can become unstable at that scale. He traced this to its use of the Raft Consensus Algorithm, an open source utility which maintains consistency in distributed systems, and how it stores data in the open source RethinkDB, which can become corrupt when it processes high volumes of data, and out of sync with third-party overlay networks in the environment.

“The Docker implementation gives you the native Kubernetes APIs, but we do have concerns with how some of the core networking with their Universal Control Plane is implemented,” the architect said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not permitted to speak for his company in the press. “This is challenging at scale, and that carries forward into Kubernetes.”

The insurance company has been able to address this by running a greater number of relatively small Docker Enterprise clusters, but wasn’t satisfied with that as a long-term approach, and has begun to evaluate different Kubernetes distros from vendors such as Rancher and VMware to replace Docker Enterprise.

The senior architect was briefed on Mirantis’ managed service plans prior to the acquisition this week, and said his company will still move away from Docker Enterprise next year.

“We talked to Mirantis’ leadership team before [the acquisition] became public, but we don’t see a managed service as a strategic piece for us,” he said in an interview today. “I’m sure some customers will continue to ride out [the transition], but we’re not looking for a vendor to come in and manage our platform.”

Mirantis CEO pledges support, tech stability for customers

Docker reps said last year that it has many customers using Docker Enterprise with Windows and Swarm who had not run into the issue, in response to Mitchell International’s report of a problem. A company spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment about the more recent customer report of issues with Kubernetes last month.

Mirantis CEO Ionel said he hasn’t yet dug into that level of detail on the product, but that his company’s tech team will take the lead on Kubernetes product development going forward.

“Mirantis will contribute our Kubernetes expertise, including around scalability, robustness, ease of management and operation to the platform,” he said in an interview with SearchITOperations today. “That’s part of the unique value that we bring — the [Docker] brand will remain [Universal Control Plane], since that’s what customers are used to, but the technology underneath the hood is going to get an upgrade.”

At least for the foreseeable future, most Docker Enterprise customers will probably wait and see how the platform changes under Mirantis before they make a decision, consultants said.

“I know of only one Docker Enterprise customer, and I am sure they will stay on the platform, as it supports their production environment, until they see what Mirantis provides going forward,” said Chris Riley, DevOps delivery director at Cprime Inc., an Agile software development consulting firm in San Mateo, Calif.

Most enterprises have yet to deploy full container platforms in production, but most of his enterprise clients are either focused on OpenShift for its hybrid cloud support or using a managed Kubernetes service from a public cloud provider, Riley said.

Docker intends to refocus its efforts around Docker Desktop, but that product won’t be of interest to the insurance company’s senior architect and his team, who have developed their own process for moving apps from the developer desktop into the CI/CD pipeline.

In fact, the senior architect said he’d become frustrated by the company’s apparent focus on Docker Desktop over the last 18 months, while some Docker Enterprise customers waited for features such as blue-green container cluster upgrades, which Docker shipped in Docker Enterprise 3.0 in July.

“We’d been asking for ease of upgrade features for two years — it’s been a big pain point for us, to the point where we developed our own [software] to address it,” he said. “They finally started to get there [with version 3.0], but it’s a little too late for us.”

Mirantis’ Ionel said the company plans to include seamless upgrades as a major feature of its managed service offering. Other areas of focus will be centralized management of a fleet of Kubernetes clusters rather than just one, and self-service features for development teams.

Mirantis will acquire all of Docker’s customer support and customer success team employees, as well as the systems they use to support Docker Enterprise shops and all historical customer support data, Ionel said.

“Nothing there has changed,” he said. “They are still doing today what they were doing yesterday.”

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DerbyCon attendees and co-founder reflect on the end

After nine years running, DerbyCon held its ninth and final show, and attendees and a co-founder looked back on the conference and discussed plans to continue the community with smaller groups around the world.

DerbyCon was one of the more popular small-scale hacker conferences held in the U.S., but organizers surprised the infosec community in January by announcing DerbyCon 9 would be the last one. The news came after multiple attendee allegations of mistreatment by the volunteer security staff and inaction regarding the safety of attendees.

Dave Kennedy, co-founder of DerbyCon, founder of TrustedSec LLC and co-founder of Binary Defense Systems, did not comment on specific allegations at the time and said the reason for the conference coming to an end was that the conference had gotten too big and there was a growing “toxic environment” created by a small group of people “creating negativity, polarization and disruption.”

Kennedy claimed in a recent interview that DerbyCon “never really had any major security incidents where we weren’t able to handle the situation quickly and de-escalate at the conference with our security staff.”

Roxy Dee, a vulnerability management specialist, who has been outspoken about the safety for women at DerbyCon, told SearchSecurity that “it’s highly irresponsible to paint it as a great conference” given the past allegations and what she described as a lack of response from conference organizers.  

Despite these past controversies, attendees praised DerbyCon 9, held in Louisville, Ky from Sept. 6 to 8 this year, there have been no major complaints, and Kennedy told SearchSecurity it was everything the team wanted for the last year and “went better than any other year I can remember.”

“When we started this conference we had no idea what we were doing or how to run a conference. We went from that to one of the most impactful family conferences in the world,” Kennedy said. “It’s been a lot of work, a lot of time and effort, but at the end of the day we accomplished everything we wanted to get out of the conference and then some. Family, community and friendship. It was an incredible experience and one that I’ll miss for sure.”

As a joke, someone handed Kennedy a paper during the conference reading “DerbyCon 10” and the image quickly circled the conference via Twitter. Kennedy admitted he and all of the organizers “struggled with ending DerbyCon this year or not, but we were all really burned out.”

“When we decided, it was from all of us that it was the right direction and the right time to go on a high note. We didn’t have any doubts at all this year that there would ever be another DerbyCon. This is it for us and we ended on a high note that was both memorable and magical to us,” Kennedy said. “The attendees, staff, speakers and everyone were just absolutely incredible. Thank you all to who made DerbyCon possibly and for growing an amazing community.”

The legacy of DerbyCon

Kennedy told SearchSecurity that his inspiration for fostering the DerbyCon community initially was David Logan’s Tribal Leadership, “which talks about growing a tribe based on a specific culture.

“A culture for a conference can be developed if we try hard enough and I think our success was we really focused on that family and community culture with DerbyCon,” Kennedy said. “A conference is a direct representation of the people that put it on, and we luckily were able to establish a culture early on that was sorely needed in the INFOSEC space.”

April C. Wright, security consultant at ArchitectSecurity.org, said in her years attending, DerbyCon provided a “wonderful environment with tons of positivity and personality.”

“I met my best friend there. I can’t describe how much good there was going on, from raising money for charity to knowledge sharing to welcoming first-time attendees,” Wright said. “The quality of content and villages were world class. The volunteers and staff have always been friendly and kind. It was in my top list of cons worldwide.”

Eric Beck, a pen-tester and web app security specialist, said the special part about DerbyCon was a genuine effort to run contrary to the traditional infosec community view that “you can pwn or you can’t.”

“We all start somewhere, we all have different strengths and weaknesses and everyone has a seat at the table. Dave [Kennedy], set a welcoming tone and it meant that people that might otherwise hesitate took that first step. And that first step is always the hardest,” Beck said. “DerbCon was my infosec home base and where I recharged my batteries and I don’t know who or what can fill its shoes. I have a kiddo I thought I’d share this conference with and met people I assumed I’d see annually. I’m personally determined to contribute more in infosec and make the effort to reach out, but I have a difficult time imaging being part of something that brought in the caliber of talent and the sense of welcoming that this conference did.”

Danny Akacki, senior technical account manager with Gigamon Insight, said his first time attending was DerbyCon 6 and the moment he walked in to the venue he “fell in love with the vibe of that place and those people.”

“I still didn’t know too many people but I swear to god it didn’t matter. I made so many friends that weekend and I had the hardest bout of post-con blues I’ve ever experienced, which is a testament to just how profound an effect that year had on me,” Akacki said. “I had to skip 7, but made it to 8 and 9. Every year I went back, it felt like only a day had passed since the last visit because that experience and those people stay with you every day.” 

For Alethe Denis, founder of Dragonfly Security, DerbyCon 9 was her first time attending and she said the experience was everything she expected and more.

“The atmosphere was like a sleepover, compared to the giant summer camp that is DEF CON, and I really enjoyed that aspect of it. It felt like it was a weekend getaway with friends and the lack of casinos was appreciated. But I don’t feel that the quality of the talks and availability of villages was sacrificed in the least,” Denis said. “Even as small as Derby is, it was really tough to do everything I wanted to do because there were so many interesting options available. I feel like it brought only the best elements of the DEF CON type community and DEF CON conference to the Midwest.”

Micah Brown, security engineer at American Modern Insurance Group and vice president of the Greater Cincinnati ISSA chapter, echoed the sentiments of brother/sisterhood at DerbyCon and the cheerfulness of the conference and added another key tenet: Charity.

“One of the key tenets of DerbyCon has always been giving back. During the closing ceremonies, it was revealed that over the past 9 years, DerbyCon and the attendees have given over $700,000 to charity. That does not count the hours of people’s lives that go into making the presentations, the tools, the training that are freely distributed each year. Nor does it factor in the personal relationships and mentorships that are established and progress our community,” Brown said. “It was after my first DerbyCon I volunteered to be the Director of Education for the Greater Cincinnati ISSA Chapter and after my second DerbyCon I volunteered to be the Vice President of the Chapter. DerbyCon has also inspired me to give back by sharing my knowledge through giving my own presentations, including the honor to give back to the DerbyCon community with my own talk this year.”

Beyond DerbyCon

Xena Olsen, cyberthreat intelligence analyst in the financial services industry, attended the last two years of DerbyCon and credited the “community and sense of belonging” there with encouraging her to continue learning and leading her to now being a cybersecurity PhD student at Marymount University.

“The DerbyCon Communities initiative will hopefully serve as a means for people to experience the DerbyCon culture around the world,” Olsen said. “As far as a conference taking the place of DerbyCon, I’m not sure that’s possible. But other conferences can adopt similar values of community and inclusiveness, knowledge sharing and charity.” 

Wright said she has seen other conferences with similar personality and passion, “but none have really captured the heart of DerbyCon.”

“There are a lot of great regional cons in the U.S. that I think more people will start going to. They are affordable and easily accessed, with the small-con feel — as opposed to the mega-con vibe of ‘Hacker Summer camp’,” Wright said, referencing the week in Las Vegas that includes Black Hat, DEF CON, BSides Las Vegas, Diana Con and QueerCon plus other events, meetups and parties. “I don’t think anyone can fill the space left by DerbyCon, but I do think each will continue with its own set of ways and personality.”

Akacki was adamant that “no other con will ever take Derby’s place.”

“It burned fast and it burned bright. It was lighting in a bottle, never to be seen again. However, I’m not sad,” Akacki said. “I can’t even say that its vibe is rising from the ashes, because it would have to have burned down for that to happen. The fire that is the spirit of DerbyCon still burns and, I’d argue, it burns brighter than ever.”

I’m not sure any other con will be able to truly capture that magic and fill the space left by Derby.
Alethe DenisFounder, Dragonfly Security

Denis said it will be difficult for any conference to truly replace DerbyCon.

“I feel like the people who organized and were passionate about DerbyCon are what made Derby unique. I’m not sure any other con will be able to truly capture that magic and fill the space left by Derby,” Denis said. “But I guess that remains to be seen and hope that more cons, such as Blue Team Con in June 2020 in Chicago bring high quality content and engaging talks to the Midwest in the future.”

Wright noted that some of her favorite smaller security conferences included GRRcon, NOLAcon, CircleCityCon, CypherCon, Showmecon, Toorcon and [Wild West Hackin’ Fest], and she expressed hope that the proposed “DerbyCon Communities” project “will help with the void left by the end of the era of the original DerbyCon.”

The DerbyCon Communities initiative

The organizers saw DerbyCon growing fast, but “didn’t want to turn the conference into such a large production like DEF CON,” Kennedy told SearchSecurity.

“We wanted to go back to why DerbyCon was so successful and that was due to three core principles: Posivitiy and Inclusiveness, Knowledge Sharing and Charity. There is a direct need for a community to help new people in the industry and help charity at the same time,” Kennedy said. “The goal for the Communities initiative is to bring people together the same way DerbyCon did for one common goal.”

Kennedy also confirmed that there will be some involvement with the Communities initiative from the “core group” of organizers, including his wife Erin, Martin Bos and others.

Akacki said that with the local Derby Communities initiative, “the spirit of Derby has exploded into stardust, covering our universe.”

“You can’t kill what we’ve built, you can’t contain it and you can’t stop it,” Akacki said. “I’m not crying because it ended, I’m smiling and laughing … because it just became bigger than ever.”

On Sept. 11, Kennedy pitched the full idea of DerbyCon Communities to the team and said there should be four main areas of focus:

  • Chapter Groups
    • Independently run with chapter heads
    • Geographically placed
    • Volunteer network
  • Established Groups
    • Partner with similar groups that meet criteria and approval process to join DerbyCon network.
  • Conferences
    • Established or new. Allow for new conferences to be created.
  • Kids
    • Programs geared towards teaching next-gen children.

Ultimately, Kennedy told SearchSecurity he wants new groups to “be welcoming and accepting of new people and making a difference and impact in their local communities or worldwide.”

“Our hope is that not only do DerbyCon Chapters spawn up, but other conferences and chapter groups will join forces to create a DerbyCon network of sorts to grow this community in a positive way.”

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For Sale – Samsung Q1 hand-held Widows mini-computer

Clearing out my loft…

Samsung Q1 hand held Windows mini computer.

Curious little thing, don’t even remember buying it, but it’s hardly been used and still in its original box.

I’m in the Reading area.

Price and currency: £10
Delivery: Goods must be exchanged in person
Payment method: cash
Location: Reading
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I prefer the goods to be collected

______________________________________________________
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  • Name and address including postcode
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DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

For Sale – Samsung Q1 hand-held Widows mini-computer

Clearing out my loft…

Samsung Q1 hand held Windows mini computer.

Curious little thing, don’t even remember buying it, but it’s hardly been used and still in its original box.

I’m in the Reading area.

Price and currency: £10
Delivery: Goods must be exchanged in person
Payment method: cash
Location: Reading
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I prefer the goods to be collected

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

For Sale – Samsung Q1 hand-held Widows mini-computer

Clearing out my loft…

Samsung Q1 hand held Windows mini computer.

Curious little thing, don’t even remember buying it, but it’s hardly been used and still in its original box.

I’m in the Reading area.

Price and currency: £50
Delivery: Goods must be exchanged in person
Payment method: cash
Location: Reading
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I prefer the goods to be collected

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

For Sale – Samsung Q1 hand-held Widows mini-computer

Clearing out my loft…

Samsung Q1 hand held Windows mini computer.

Curious little thing, don’t even remember buying it, but it’s hardly been used and still in its original box.

I’m in the Reading area.

Price and currency: £50
Delivery: Goods must be exchanged in person
Payment method: cash
Location: Reading
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I prefer the goods to be collected

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.