Tag Archives: Most

Are SD-WAN security concerns warranted?

Are software-defined WAN security features sufficient to handle the demands of most enterprises? That’s the question addressed by author and engineer Christoph Jaggi, whose SD-WAN security concerns were cited in a recent blog post on IPSpace. The short answer? No — primarily because of the various connections that can take place over an SD-WAN deployment.

“The only common elements between the different SD-WAN offerings on the market are the separation of the data plane and the control plane and the takeover of the control plane by an SD-WAN controller,” Jaggi said. “When looking at an SD-WAN solution, it is part of the due diligence to look at the key management and the security architecture in detail. There are different approaches to implement network security, each having its own benefits and challenges.”

Organizations contemplating SD-WAN rollouts should determine whether prospective products meet important security thresholds. For example, products should support cryptographic protocols and algorithms and meet current key management criteria, Jaggi said.

Read what Jaggi had to say about the justification for SD-WAN security concerns.

Wireless ain’t nothing without the wire

You can have the fanciest access points and the flashiest management software, but without good and reliable wiring underpinning your wireless LAN, you’re not going to get very far. So said network engineer Lee Badman as he recounted a situation where a switch upgrade caused formerly reliable APs to lurch to a halt.

“I’ve long been a proponent of recognizing [unshielded twisted pair] as a vital component in the networking ecosystem,” Badman said. Flaky cable might still be sufficient in a Fast Ethernet world, but with multigig wireless now taking root, old cable can be the source of many problems, he said.

For Badman, the culprit was PoE-related and once the cable was re-terminated and tested anew, the APs again worked like a charm. A good lesson.

See what else Badman had to say about the issues that can plague a WLAN.

The long tail and DDoS attacks

Now there’s something new to worry about with distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attacks. Network engineer Russ White has examined another tactic, dubbed tail attacks, which can just as easily clog networking resources.

Unlike traditional DDoS or DoS attacks that overwhelm bandwidth or TCP sessions, tail attacks concentrate on resource pools, such as storage nodes. In this scenario, a targeted node might be struggling because of full queues, White said, and that can cause dependent nodes to shut down as well. These tail attacks don’t require a lot of traffic and, what’s more, are difficult to detect.

For now, tail attacks aren’t common; they require attackers to know a great deal about a particular network before they can be launched. That said, they are something network managers should be aware of, White added.

Read more about tail attacks.

Blockchain solutions — and disruption — pondered at EmTech 2018

CAMBRIDGE — The World Bank, one of the most powerful financial institutions on the planet, is experimenting with blockchain as a tool to track agricultural goods and raise capital.

Gideon Lichfield, the editor in chief of the MIT Technology Review, found some irony in that.

“This technology that was invented by somebody whose true identity we still don’t know — Satoshi Nakamoto — specifically to take power away from financial institutions and put currency in the hands of the people is now being used by the ultimate, central, financial institution,” Lichfield told an audience at EmTech 2018, a conference focused on big data, artificial intelligence and technology.

The crowd gathered at MIT’s Media Lab had just heard from two thinkers in the increasingly mainstream field of blockchain, a method of distributed ledgers that can dramatically alter how transactions are made and verified.

Ledgers themselves date back to cuneiform records etched into tablets 7,000 years ago at the dawn of civilization, said Michael Casey, an author and senior advisor to the Digital Currency Initiative at Media Lab. If blockchain solutions decentralize financial ledgers in the future, that change could disrupt the flow of money into the world’s financial hubs. Using the 21st century version of the ledger, governments and other institutions could invest the money they save on financing in other causes.

The lack of trust in the record-keeping function has a huge impact on the world.
Michael Caseysenior advisor to the Digital Currency Initiative, MIT Media Lab

“If they could raise money more cheaply, you’d have a lot more funds to put into education, to put into health,” Casey said. “Why should [the cost of financing] go into the hands of a large investment bank when it could be going back to the poor?”

Blockchain solutions could also help the so-called underbanked and unbanked gain access to financial services. Distributed ledgers accrue credibility by replicating transaction records across a network of computers. Casey said that credibility could benefit people in places like Nairobi, Kenya, who have difficulty leveraging value from their real estate because banks distrust their property records.

“The lack of trust in the record-keeping function has a huge impact on the world,” he said.

The World Bank's Prema Shrikrishna and MIT Media Lab's Michael Casey discuss blockchain's potential at EmTech 2018.
The World Bank’s Prema Shrikrishna and MIT Media Lab’s Michael Casey discuss blockchain’s potential to provide a new model of trust at EmTech 2018.

World Bank experiments with blockchain solutions

The altruistic applications of blockchain were a focus of Casey’s EmTech talk with Prema Shrikrishna, who works on blockchain projects at World Bank Group.

Teaming up with the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank is currently designing a blockchain architecture to track oil palm from the farm to mills, where it becomes palm oil — an agricultural staple in everything from chocolate to candles. By tracking the origin of the raw material, most of which is produced in Indonesia, blockchain could reward farmers for sustainable practices, according to Shrikrishna.

Among other World Bank experiments with blockchain: 

Education. The World Bank is developing a system for rewarding students playing an educational game called Evoke, which is designed to teach skills for success in modern society, Shrikrishna said.

Vaccine management. In December, Oleg Kucheryavenko, a public health professional who works with the World Bank, wrote on the institution’s blog that blockchain could provide a “cost-effective solution” for vaccine distribution. Vaccines have a shelf-life, Kucheryavenko wrote, and the supply chain is “too complex to be taken for granted, with vaccines changing ownership from manufacturers to distributors, re-packagers and wholesalers before reaching its destination.”

Financing. In August, the World Bank sold blockchain-enabled bonds through the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which raised about $80.5 million, according to Reuters.

Blockchain’s best use cases

Members of the audience at the talk had varying aspirations for blockchain’s use.

Rahul Panicker, chief innovation officer at Wadhwani Institute for Artificial Intelligence, which focuses on technological solutions to large-scale societal problems, believes blockchain can be harnessed for humanitarian causes.

“It was very encouraging to see an organization like the World Bank being willing to look at these frontier technologies, and especially a technology like blockchain that has the ability to reduce friction in the financial system,” said Panicker, after attending the talk. “The whole purpose of blockchain is actually to minimize the burden of trust. The cost of trust is especially high in the developing world, so the fact that organizations like the World Bank are willing to look at this can mean big things for the disempowered.”

Tom Hennessey, an attendee, posited that financial settlement was the most readily available application.

Tomas Jansen, of Belgium’s Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers, said a lot of refugees arrive in Europe without identification papers because they belong to a marginalized group or lost their documents. Jansen wanted to hear ideas from the blockchain experts on how to address those problems.

Shrikrishna sidestepped the political ramifications, but she noted that World Bank has a program called Identification for Development that is working on integrating ID databases and creating an identity that would be “portable across borders.”

She said the World Bank is “technology agnostic” in seeking to solve problems around the globe, and stressed that the financial institution’s approach with blockchain has been both “very cautious” and “very experimental.”

Blockchain disruption

World Bank is hardly alone in its exploration of blockchain solutions to solve problems and change how business is done. Analysts expect blockchain to have a major impact on businesses, which are eyeing its potential to manage supply chains, verify documents, and trade securities. The firm Gartner estimates blockchain will add $3.1 trillion to the world economy by 2030. Some industry sectors have been quicker than others to start experimenting.

Describing blockchain as at an “inflection point,” a recent report by the consultancy Deloitte found that financial services executives are “leading the way in using blockchain to reexamine processes and functions that have remained static for decades,” and emerging players are using blockchain to challenge traditional business models.

Meanwhile, blockchain’s most developed use case — bitcoin — is driving most of the interest in the technology, while taking those invested in the cryptocurrency on a roller coaster ride.

So far development of a “stable coin” has been a “difficult nut to crack,” according to Casey, who used to cover currencies for The Wall Street Journal.

To stabilize the tender, a coin could be pegged to other metrics, or it could be backed by a reserve of funds to try to create more stability, Casey said. One way or another, he predicted, developers will find success.

“Something’s going to work. Something’s going to break as well,” Casey said.

New tech trends in HR: Josh Bersin predicts employee experience ‘war’

LAS VEGAS — Among fresh tech trends in HR, one that may garner the most interest is a new layer of software — which superstar analyst Josh Bersin called an employee experience platform — that will fit between core HR and talent management tools.

Bersin said he expects employee experience to become the next-generation employee portal — in other words, the go-to application for modern workers who need HR-based information. Vendors are lining up to address the need, he added.

“There is going to be a holy war for [what] system your employees use first,” said Bersin, an independent analyst who founded Bersin by Deloitte. Although his quote served as hyperbole, it nonetheless stuck with attendees here at the 2018 HR Technology Conference & Exposition.

“He hit home,” said Rita Reslow, senior director of global benefits at HR software vendor Kronos, based in Lowell, Mass. “We have all these systems, and we keep buying more.” But she wondered aloud when one product would tie her systems together for employees.

No vendor has achieved a true employee experience platform, Bersin told a room packed with 900 or so attendees at the conference on Tuesday. However, ServiceNow, PeopleDoc — which Ultimate Software acquired in July — and possibly IBM appear to have a head start, he added.

Tech trends in HR point to team successes

There is going to be a holy war for [what] system your employees use first.
Josh Bersinindependent analyst

Bersin, who plans to release an extensive report about 2019 tech trends in HR, said software development within the industry reflects a shift in management that steers away from employee engagement and company culture in favor of increased team performance.

Unless a recession hits, “I think the focus of the tech market for the next couple of years … is on performance, productivity and agility,” he said.

The shift to productivity will require future technology to simplify work life, said Cliff Howe, manager of enterprise applications at Cox Enterprises, a communications and media company in Atlanta. “Our employees are being inundated,” Howe said. “We don’t want to hit our employees with too much [technology].”

Bersin suggested that HR software buyers consider the following tips when evaluating new human capital management products:

  • Shop around for vendors that focus on your company’s particular market. For example, if your organization exhibits a compliance-based culture, find a vendor that mirrors that approach.
  • Evaluate the “personality of the vendor,” he said. As an example, determine if the vendor’s reps listen to your decision-makers and help them. If the answer is no, it may be time to drop that vendor from consideration.

AI auditing, real-time payrolls needed in future

In other upcoming tech trends in HR, Bersin pegged AI as a quickly growing field that smart HR departments will learn how to monitor and audit in the future. That notion was on the minds of many at the HR Technology Conference, for which TechTarget — the publisher of SearchHRSoftware — is a media partner.

AI innovation has increased rapidly in the last two years. Today, even small HR software vendors with three to five engineers can use technology from Google or IBM, combine it with open source options and scale a new product on the cloud quickly, Bersin said. HR professionals will need to adjust their skills in order to better understand why AI software makes its decisions, which is an area not fully grasped yet, he added.

Howe agreed AI has grown beyond wish-list status. “AI will be a requirement, rather than a shiny object,” he said.

Bersin also noted that software will need to reflect a possible switch to a continuous payroll model — perhaps as often as daily. Younger workers, some of whom might not have bank accounts, have increased their demands to be compensated in real time, and this request is not just for the gig economy, he said.

Inside Xbox One X Enhanced: Shadow of the Tomb Raider – Xbox Wire

Many of gaming’s most compelling stories come from those who’ve helped to create our favorite Xbox One games. In our Inside Xbox One X Enhanced series, these creators will share the behind-the-scenes accounts of the work involved in enhancing these epic games for Xbox One X, how they’ve helped chart the course of the world’s most powerful console, and what that means for the future of gaming. Today, we’ll be chatting with Eidos-Montreal Programming Director Frédéric Robichaud on the highly anticipated Shadow of the Tomb Raider which sees Lara Croft’s defining moment as she becomes the Tomb Raider.

What specifically is your development team doing to enhance Shadow of the Tomb Raider for Xbox One X?

To ensure that Shadow of the Tomb Raider looked crisp and amazingly polished on Xbox One X, we have worked incredibly hard to fully support HDR mode. We’ve revamped the entire pipeline to be HDR from the get go: realistic lights intensity calibration, HDR textures and global illumination energy conservation.

In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, we offer two modes for players: High Resolution and High Framerate mode. With the GPU power of the Xbox One X, we were able to get 4K at a constant 30 FPS and with the CPU boost, we are targeting 60 FPS with full HD (1080p) in High Framerate mode.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider Screenshot

We’ve been able to improve the quality of certain algorithms on the Xbox One X like stochastic screen-space reflections and atmospheric effects. With the extra memory, we have increased the shadow maps and texture resolution to enhance the visual quality.

Audio wise, we are fully supporting Dolby Atmos to create real 3D audio immersion.

How do these enhancements impact the gaming experience, and why did your development team choose to focus on these enhancement areas?

The recent Tomb Raider games are known for their high quality graphics and Shadow of the Tomb Raider, as the final entry in the origin trilogy, pushes the visual boundaries more than ever before. Supporting 4K was mandatory for us. Players that do not own a 4K TV will still see the visual improvements, mostly with less aliasing and more details in the image.

If the player chooses the High Framerate mode, they will enjoy the fluidity and reactivity of the controls in a seamless gameplay experience.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider Screenshot

The audio immersion is perfect with Dolby Atmos, especially in the jungle areas which are dense with wildlife like the locusts below and birds above. Spatial audio is best experienced with a home theater system; however, all players will still hear those effects and an overall increase in audio fidelity.

How do you expect fans of Shadow of the Tomb Raider will respond to playing it on Xbox One X with these enhancements?

Those playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider on the Xbox One X will be blown away by the visual quality in High Resolution mode or the fluidity if they choose the High Framerate mode. Players will not want to go back to the previous generation of consoles!

What enhancement were you most excited about to explore leveraging for Shadow of the Tomb Raider on Xbox One X?

Without a doubt, High Framerate mode. Maximizing the CPU power to target 60 FPS with a huge, living crowd like in the Cozumel café or Paititi was an interesting challenge. A lot of optimization to our engine was done to achieve these stunning results.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider Screenshot

What does 4K and HDR mean for your game, games in the future and development at your studio?

We completely revamped our pipeline to integrate HDR from the beginning of production. Shadow of the Tomb Raider looks more real and better than ever before because of 4K and HDR. Better resolution, less aliasing, more intensity and more nuance.  We hope that players are blown away by the visual fidelity of the most recent edition to the Tomb Raider franchise.

It is only the beginning; 4k and HDR will become standard to all the games, especially when all developers begin to follow a common HDR standard.

Thanks to Frédéric for taking the time to chat with us about Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which releases on September 14. We’ll bring you more interviews with more developers in the future, as well as more on Shadow of the Tomb Raider, so stay tuned to Xbox Wire!

Improving CISO-board communication: Partnership, metrics essential

“Are we secure?”

That’s the most common — and challenging — question that CISOs get asked by their board members, according to a recent report published by Kudelski Security. While there is no clear yes or no answer, the key is to first understand exactly what and why the board is asking, said John Hellickson, managing director of global strategy and governance at Kudelski Security.

“It is important to make it clear to the board that there is no such thing as perfect security,” Hellickson said.

The report, titled “Cyber Board Communications & Metrics — Challenging Questions from the Boardroom,” highlights top questions CISOs are asked by their board members and offers strategies to address them. For example, one idea to help facilitate an effective CISO-board communication is to bolster board presentations with metrics and visuals.

The biggest takeaway for CISOs is that boards of directors are taking more interest in the security posture of their organizations, Kudelski Security CEO Rich Fennessy said. This provides both a challenge and an opportunity for CISOs, Fennessy added.

“The challenge is that a majority of CISOs, even seasoned ones, have difficulty understanding what boards are looking for and then providing this in a way that resonates,” Fennessy said. “We feel that a new approach to communicating cyber risk is needed and this represents the opportunity.”

A new approach to CISO-board communication

One of the most important findings from the report is the need for a new approach to communication between the CISOs and their organization’s board members.

In today’s volatile security landscape, it is vital that CISOs present the need to invest in a robust and mature cybersecurity program, Fennessy stressed. A partnership between CISOs and their board of directors is crucial to this end, he added, and the effectiveness of any company’s security program depends on it.

Bryce Austin, CEO, TCE StrategyBryce Austin

To improve CISO-board communication, CISOs need to explain cybersecurity issues to the board in layman’s terms, according to Bryce Austin, CEO at TCE Strategy and author of Secure Enough? 20 Questions on Cybersecurity for Business Owners and Executives.

“Explain the concepts of multifactor authentication, encryption in motion and at rest, zero-day vulnerabilities and GDPR,” Austin said. “The board needs to understand what these concepts and regulations are and how they impact their company.”

But because CISOs are given limited time to interact with the board, they have to learn how to engage quickly and partner for the common cause, Hellickson said. This means getting to know their organization, its vision and mission. CISO-board communication should become easier as CISOs learn more about the board’s goals for the organization, share relevant security information and consider business needs in their presentations, he added.

John Hellickson, managing director, global strategy and governance, Kudelski SecurityJohn Hellickson

“CISOs will start to create a bridge between the technology and the organizations’ broader issues and challenges; linking security with the ability of the organization to go to market, operate efficiently, minimize downtime, reduce costs and finally become a key partner to the board,” Hellickson said.

Metrics matter

Metrics are an important tool for CISOs because they help answer key questions the board is likely to ask and help CISOs make their case, Hellickson said. Boards prefer objective, quantitative evidence, but both quantitative and qualitative metrics can be effective, he added.

Even the most seasoned CISOs find it challenging to translate security and risk information into business language that provides meaningful insight to boards and business leaders, he said.

“Traditionally, CISOs have presented boards with metrics related to technical and security operations, which are hard to understand,” he added. “Presenting them can even reduce trust in their ability as security leaders.”

The challenge is that a majority of CISOs, even seasoned ones, have difficulty understanding what boards are looking for and then providing this in a way that resonates.
Rich FennessyCEO, Kudelski Security

Boards are fact and financially driven, Austin reinforced. They want relevant data presented to them so that they can make the best decisions for their organization.

Core quantitative metrics like dwell time, details of new vulnerabilities discovered versus remediated, patch management data, number of incidents and vulnerabilities, and number of non-remediated risks should be part of the presentation, Hellickson said.

Other metrics to include are outcomes of initiatives that aimed to reduce risk; how security has integrated with application development; actions taken to improve the company’s security risk posture; risks the organization has accepted and how it aligns to company’s agreed-upon risk tolerance, he added.

“We also think it is helpful to talk about security as a journey, showing where you’re at today, where you want to get to and where you’ve made noteworthy progress,” Hellickson said.

6 enterprise AR use cases

While augmented reality in the consumer space gets the most attention, it’s the enterprise that is going to figure out the “killer AR application,” according to John Werner.

Werner, vice president of strategic partnerships at Meta, a Silicon Valley startup focused on AR products, might be right, judging by the enterprise AR use cases shared at the recent LiveWorx event in Boston. Though it’s still early days for enterprise AR, the superimposition of digital information on real world environments is staking a claim in the workplace.

The four enterprise areas where AR is gaining a foothold are logistics, manufacturing, HR and productivity, but AR’s potential in the enterprise stretches beyond that, according to Shel Israel, author and CEO at Transformation Group LLC.

At the LiveWorx event Werner, Israel and other AR experts detailed some of the top enterprise AR use cases. Here are six of them.

1. Training millennials

Multinational conglomerate Honeywell is using Microsoft’s HoloLens technology to train millennials in maintenance. HoloLens is one of the most well-known AR headsets, with applications ranging from the game room to the meeting room.

Neena Kamath, program manager of the AR/VR team at Microsoft, explained how, at Honeywell, employees with years of knowledge about equipment and maintenance are starting to age-out of the industry, potentially leaving the company without imparting that knowledge to younger workers.

Instead of having these experts sit down and write out training documents — which takes a long time and often doesn’t capture all of the necessary information — Honeywell is having them wear the AR headsets and record and narrate everything that they do.

Don’t give them a book to read to learn about this; let them go out there in the field and do this and learn from it.
Neena Kamathprogram manager of the AR/VR team, Microsoft

“With folks coming in from the millennial generation, there is this expectation that things are out there contextually in the world around you,” Kamath said. “Don’t give them a book to read to learn about this; let them go out there in the field and do this and learn from it.”

The results have already been promising, with a noticeable reduction in training time and an increase in employee’s knowledge retention.

“If you learn something by reading a textbook or a manual, you retain about 20% to 30% of it after about three months because you’re not using all of [that knowledge] every day,” Kamath said. “When you learn it digitally, in your world, trying to do the maintenance on the actual equipment, you retain about 80% of it three months later. It’s a pretty significant difference.”

2. Storm damage assessment

The Electric Power Research Institute Inc., or EPRI, and Duke Energy are partnering on an enterprise AR use case involving storm damage assessment.

When a hurricane, tornado, earthquake or other natural disaster strikes, surveyors are sent out to assess the damage and note how much and which type of equipment is needed for repairs. With paper and pencil in hand, these surveyors are generally 50% accurate on their first pass, said Andy Lowery, co-founder and CEO at RealWear. A second pass is then required and that additional assessment cycle takes about two days. That redundancy is costly. With an average outage affecting approximately 250,000 people, every day that power is out represents a loss of around $8 million in revenue, Lowery said.

The energy partnership’s solution was to create an AR application in which surveyors, wearing a headset in situ, would access a back-end system that had “before” pictures of every single piece of the distribution system that Duke Energy maintains. Using Bluetooth beacons and triangulation, the AR device would then use AR arrows to direct a person to take an “after” picture of the damage that was perfectly aligned with the “before” picture. After the technician walks through the entire space, the device automatically generates a report with all the pictures, details what equipment need to be ordered and beams it up to the cloud.

With the AR application, Duke Energy has reduced errors to zero, making for an instantaneous one- to two-day savings of $8 to $16 million per potential outage.

3. Rendering 3D objects

Meta is using AR to experiment with a “print preview” function for 3D printing that would render soon-to-be-printed objects in a 1:1 ratio, allowing designers to walk around and interact with the objects they’re building. This might be able to help companies move faster, save money and get things right before production.

“Often when you create these 1:1 ratios and walk around it, you’re like ‘wait a second, this is off,'” Werner said. “We’ve almost been seduced by two-dimensional objects — whether it’s through television or movies, we’re always seeing things in 2D. I think what all of us are doing is bringing 3D objects that you can interact with,” he said, referring to the other AR companies that are also testing out this new process.

He said the same process can be applied to construction and real estate, with every step from design to construction to selling rendered in 3D using AR devices.

4. Recruitment

Jaguar Land Rover and the British band Gorillaz have partnered on a recruitment initiative that uses AR and VR to attract young technical talent.

“We’re going through this massive change over the next decade where software is going to become so much more prevalent in vehicles,” said Alex Heslop, head of electrical engineering at Jaguar Land Rover. “We have to find a new way of recruiting talent that perhaps wouldn’t traditionally look at the automotive industry.”

Dubbed “Crack the Code,” the result is an AR app challenge that mixes AR, VR and the real world. Gorillaz’s virtual garage is brought to life in front of potential candidates, creating challenges to tease out peoples’ capabilities in software architecture, app development, graphics performance capability and more. Applicants who crack the code get a shot at a full-time position at Jaguar.

5. Maintenance and repair

Toms River Municipal Utilities Authority in New Jersey is using AR headsets to visualize the underground infrastructure of utility lines — in real time — before workers start digging. This helps workers with planning and maintenance efforts, and helps them avoid embarrassing mistakes and unwanted blackouts, Israel said. The system uses a geocalibration process to align the rendered visuals to the physical world, anchoring to visible geographic information system features such as sewer manholes. The interface supports hand gestures and voice commands, allowing workers to operate hands-free as they gather other on-site information.

6. Logistics

DHL, the logistics giant, is using AR headsets in warehouses to help with order picking — something the company has deemed “vision picking.” The display on the AR glasses identifies location numbers, scans product bar codes, identifies the number of items that need to be picked and shows workers where each item should be placed in the trolley. The technology increased productivity by 15% and dramatically reduced error rates. With the AR glasses, training and onboarding required 50% less time — results which have prompted rollouts in DHL warehouses worldwide.

For Sale – Acer 31.5″ WQHD (2560 x 1440) monitor (EB321HQU)

Ha, I know what you mean – I don’t “need” my kit either (it’s 100% essential though)!

The white edging isn’t a distraction at all. I actually like it. It’s especially nice if backing on to a light coloured wall. The picture’s nice and bright so you don’t notice the bezel while in use. Besides, given it’s a 32″ screen, it takes up most of my field of view when I’m at my desk. I play FPS games, so I bought it partly for that. It was awesome for gaming (although not quite as good as my 65″ OLED, hence the lack of use). The design also looks great in my office – I’m almost tempted to keep it as an ornament even if I rarely use it!

Tbh, I priced it at £200 to give me room to drop the price, but I’d never intended on going that low. £170 + delivery (or including uninsured delivery) is as far as I can bend. It’s a hell of a lot if monitor for that money.

Notre Dame uses N2WS Cloud Protection Manager for backup

Coinciding with its decision to eventually close its data center and migrate most of its workloads to the public cloud, the University of Notre Dame’s IT team switched to cloud-native data protection.

Notre Dame, based in Indiana, began its push to move its business-critical applications and workloads to Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2014. Soon after, the university chose N2WS Cloud Protection Manager to handle backup and recovery.

Now, 80% of the applications used daily by faculty members and students, as well as the data associated with those services, lives on the cloud. The university protects more than 600 AWS instances, and that number is growing fast.

In a recent webinar, Notre Dame systems engineer Aaron Wright talked about the journey of moving a whopping 828 applications to the cloud, and protecting those apps and their data.  

N2WS, which was acquired by Veeam earlier this year, is a provider of cloud-native, enterprise backup and disaster recovery for AWS. The backup tool is available through the AWS Marketplace.

Wright said Notre Dame’s main impetus for migrating to the cloud was to lower costs. Moving services to the cloud would reduce the need for hardware. Wright said the goal is to eventually close the university’s on-premises primary data center.

“We basically put our website from on premises to the AWS account and transferred the data, saw how it worked, what we could do. … As we started to see the capabilities and cost savings [of the cloud], we were wondering what we could do to put not just our ‘www’ services on the cloud,” he said.

Wright said Notre Dame plans to move 90% of its applications to the cloud by the end of 2018. “The data center is going down as we speak,” he said.

We looked at what it would cost us to build our own backup software and estimated it would cost 4,000 hours between two engineers.
Aaron Wrightsystems engineer, Notre Dame

As a research organization that works on projects with U.S. government agencies, Notre Dame owns sensitive data. Wright saw the need for a centralized backup software to protect that data, and found N2WS Cloud Protection Manager through AWS Marketplace. Wright could not find many good commercial options for protecting that cloud data.

“We looked at what it would cost us to build our own backup software and estimated it would cost 4,000 hours between two engineers,” he said. By comparison, Wright said his team deployed Cloud Protection Manger in less than an hour.

Wright said N2WS Cloud Protection Manager rescued Notre Dame’s data at least twice since the installation. One came after Linux machines failed to boot after application of a patch, and engineers restored data from snapshots within five minutes. Wright said his team used the snapshots to find and detach a corrupted Amazon Elastic Block Store volume, and then manually created and attached a new volume.

In another incident, Wright said the granularity of the N2WS Cloud Protection Manager backup capabilities proved valuable.

“Back in April-May 2018, we had to do a single-file restore through Cloud Protection Manager. Normally, we would have to have taken the volume and recreated a 300-gig volume,” he said. Locating and restoring that single file so quickly allowed him to resolve the incident within five minutes.

Vendors vie for a piece of the SD-WAN market share pie

Most industry watchers still consider the software-defined WAN market an emerging one. This makes sense, given SD-WANs currently account for only a small percentage of enterprise networks. There are signs SD-WAN market share is increasing and maturing, however. The first is the recent merger-and-acquisition activity: Cisco acquired Viptela, and VMware scooped up VeloCloud. The other sign is the vendor landscape has started to settle down, with a few clear leaders in the pack.

Recently, Cliff Grossner, senior research director of cloud, data center and SDN at London-based IHS Markit, released his data center networking equipment quarterly market tracker for the first quarter of 2018. This report covers a wide variety of technology, including SD-WAN.

Editor’s note: The IHS report referenced in this article focused on the SD-WAN vendors that sell SD-WAN appliances and accompanying control and management software to gain revenue, excluding those that offer subscription licensing or software-only approaches. The total SD-WAN market share for the first quarter of 2018 reached $162.1 million.

VMware-VeloCloud and Aryaka battle for the top

The most notable point in the IHS report is a two-horse race is emerging. This quarter showed VMware-VeloCloud with 19% of SD-WAN market share — the same it had in the fourth quarter of 2017. In the meantime, Aryaka — an SD-WAN provider with its global private network — moved to 18%, up 1% from last quarter.

With only 1% separating the two, VMware and Aryaka are now neck and neck for market leadership. It would be easy to assume VMware’s size and channel would allow it to break away from the competition, but VMware has stumbled in networking since it acquired SDN vendor Nicira. The company wisely left the VeloCloud brand in place, as it was one of the premier names in the SD-WAN space.

Aryaka has a solid grip on the No. 2 spot in the SD-WAN market and has a chance to jump into the top spot if VMware-VeloCloud stumbles with any integration challenges. Aryaka has a unique offering that uses its global private network instead of the public internet, making it the product of choice for global companies.

One of the perceived advantages of SD-WAN is its use of internet connectivity for transport. This might work when connecting from New Jersey to Chicago, but a global company that needs to make a Dubai-to-Seattle video call will experience much better quality riding Aryaka’s private network, compared with making a bunch of internet jumps. In his report, Grossner pointed out that Aryaka customers have seen a significant performance boost for cloud-based applications, like Office 365.

Silver Peak and Cisco-Viptela vie for position

Expect to see this as a highly contested market over the next few years.

Silver Peak edged Cisco-Viptela out of the No. 3 spot in the SD-WAN market, with just under $1 million more than Cisco in first-quarter 2018 revenue. There’s no question Silver Peak has done a great job of making the pivot to SD-WAN from WAN optimization and is all-in on SD-WAN. Its EdgeConnect product lets customers move to a hybrid network, then quickly migrate to an all-broadband WAN. Most of Silver Peak’s revenue comes from enterprises, but it has been building a stronger book of business with service providers.

Cisco’s position in SD-WAN is curious, as its success with Viptela is bad for its Integrated Services Router (ISR) business unit — one of the largest revenue sources for the company. In the past, Cisco would have done everything in its power to fight the SD-WAN tide, but CEO Chuck Robbins is directing Cisco to be much more in tune with what customers want versus what Cisco wants customers to want. I believe Cisco will be willing to cannibalize its ISR base to win SD-WAN business. Currently, Cisco has only 12% of SD-WAN market share, but I expect it to be a major player over time.

These four vendors are the only ones with at least 10% of the SD-WAN market share, according to IHS. Outside of these four, the largest amount of revenue in Grossner’s numbers comes from the “other” category. I expect to see more consolidation in that area, with one of the current leading vendors — or perhaps another following behind — rolling up several smaller vendors to gain share.

For now, VMware remains in the top spot, with Aryaka nipping at its heels. Expect to see this as a highly contested market over the next few years. This should benefit customers, as the vendors will push each other on innovation and bring more features to market faster. The SD-WAN market is real, and it is showing signs of maturity, but don’t expect it to slow down.

Meet Surface Go, starting at $399 MSRP, it’s the smallest and most affordable Surface yet – Microsoft Devices Blog

Today, Microsoft announces Surface Go: the most portable and affordable Surface product yet.

Many of us play different roles throughout the day, moving from work or school to home and everywhere in between. Our team designs every Surface to adapt to that dynamic lifestyle, to strike a balance between performance and versatility, form and function. Our products don’t do just one thing because people don’t do just one thing.

We pioneered categories like the 2:1 to provide the mobility of a tablet with the performance of a laptop, inspiring new ways of creating. As you pursue your passions, connect with friends and family, and work with your team, the products you’re able to take on the go with you are the ones that can keep up with the huge range of things you want to accomplish. This is true whether you’re a parent and a product-maker like me or a student and amateur photographer like my daughter.

That’s the idea behind the design of Surface Go – our smallest, lightest, and most affordable Surface yet. When we designed this device, we had to ask ourselves what people want and need from a 10” Surface. The answers seem obvious – lightweight, productive, and accessible to more people. I’m pumped to introduce you to Surface Go, because it’s all those things, and so much more.

The power and connectivity in a device this small gives you the style and productivity Surface is known for in a more convenient package. At just 1.15 pounds and 8.3 mm thin, Surface Go packs portable performance into a 10” device. Starting at $399 MSRP, it represents a new entry point for the Surface family, while keeping the premium qualities that have come to define it.

Surface Go offers a stunning, custom-built high-resolution PixelSense Display that supports Surface Pen with 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity, low pen parallax, low latency, and precision for accurate note taking, drawing and computer-aided design. The custom calibrated 3:2 display is soft on your eyes while you’re working and vibrantly high-contrast when you want to watch videos, create art, or edit photos.

In portrait mode, the screen was designed to render the page to the scale of most school textbooks, and in landscape mode, it can render pages side by side as if you were holding a paperback book in hand. At the approximate size of a composition notebook, writing on the screen feels natural and intuitive.

Since my two youngest daughters have started using Surface Go, I see them watching movies, reading, and drawing on it every day. It’s the perfect device for them. And for me, whether I’m at home, in the office, or on a plane, putting my Surface Pen on the screen and letting my thoughts flow is a necessary step in my creative process. It’s how I work. It’s so easy to carry Surface Go with me so I can capture those moments, instantly.

Surface Go is small and mighty, giving you the performance you need to be productive. A device powered by the 7th Generation Intel Pentium Gold Processor 4415Y, in a fanless design, offering up to nine hours of battery. Our team worked closely with Intel to optimize power, performance, and battery for the most critical tasks people perform every day.

Being able to run Office apps on this device with its portability is one of the things that was critical to the experience we had in mind when we designed Surface Go – the productivity of having the apps you use for work and school with the flexibility to relax and read or watch a show on Netflix or Hulu.

Our new Surface Go Signature Type Cover is custom-made for Surface Go integrating design features that give the user the best typing experience possible, with ergonomic key pitch and exceptional key travel. It also has high precision tuning and Windows Precision Trackpad that supports five-point multi-finger gestures, and you can connect the new Surface Mobile Mouse to work the way that you want.

A built-in kickstand with full friction hinge that extends to 165 degrees helps you stay in your flow from tablet to studio mode, and a Windows Hello camera allows for familiar, quick, and secure sign-in using face recognition.

Surface Go also has the ports you need, including Surface Connect for charging and docking; USB-C 3.1 for data, video, and charging; a headphone jack; and a MicroSD card reader for storage expansion. All designed to help you be more productive whether you’re studying in a library, working on a plane, or sharing your content in a boardroom on a 4K monitor.

Surface Go with Wi-Fi will be available for pre-order tomorrow, July 10 in select countries*, with products beginning to hit shelves on August 2. We’re also happy to share that an LTE model will be arriving later this year.

For a family at home or on the move, an expert on the front line of a business interacting with customers, or a school that wants to provide its students with the most versatile tools for learning, this device offers a premium experience with incredible value.

Wherever the day takes you, and whatever unique tasks await you along the way, Surface Go moves with you.

Meet Surface Go, starting at $399 MSRP, it’s the smallest and most affordable Surface yet

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Surface Go will be available for pre-order beginning on July 10 in the following markets, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Poland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain.

In the coming weeks, Surface Go will be available for pre-order in Japan, Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, and in China with more markets to follow.

** To learn more join us on our Facebook page at 6AM PT on July 10. 

Updated July 10, 2018 7:37 am