Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for February 2012

IBM Business Partners Get Social

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It’s snowing in Toronto today.  And I mean, like, really, really snowing.  Like it apparently hasn’t snowed all winter.

Ed Abrams, vice president of IBM's midmarket business, leads a discussion on LinkedIn about the use of social media by small and medium-sized businesses.

I’ve very much enjoyed my two days on the ground here thus far — the team has been most gracious and I’ve learned more than I can process about our live chat operations (no, not THAT kind of chat!).  The kind where we help you buy the stuff you’re looking for!

And on the help front, I wanted to share some news coming out of the IBM PartnerWorld event taking place in New Orleans this week.  Today, IBM announced the expansion of a global skills initiative to educate clients and business partners on social media tools and techniques to showcase expertise and create new business opportunities.

With today’s news, IBM is further investing in its clients and business partners across the world including emerging markets such as China, Australia and Saudi Arabia to develop the skills that will enable them to sharpen their social networking capabilities to build even stronger and more interactive ties with their clients.

The IBM eight week social media boot camp is available to IBM business partners to provide the education and skills necessary to successfully engage in social media and begin driving the conversation around their brand.

This initiative provides IBM business partners and clients access to one-on-one social media coaches who set measurable goals for building and exercising social acumen. The customized curriculum is designed for organizations to become more comfortable and effective in their marketing and sales efforts.  By using social networking tools and techniques participants learn to integrate social media into their daily business activities.

IBM Business Partners Gets Social 

IBM Business Partner Starfire Technologies, Inc. was among the first organizations to enroll in IBM’s Social Media Boot Camp. Prior to the program, Starfire’s use of social media channels was limited. After enrolling in the eight week social skills program, Starfire is now leveraging social channels to re-architect the way it does business.

For example, as a result the tools and techniques offered by the Social Media Boot Camp, Starfire is reconstructing its company website, integrating social media tools and platforms to best interact with customers. The organization has transformed its business strategy by extending its reach through the social networks to create   significant interactions and two-way conversations with its customers.

“IBM’s Social Media Boot Camp was instrumental in our understanding of how to effectively and strategically engage with our customers and business partners over social media platforms,” said Mary Spurlock, Vice President of Marketing, Starfire Technologies, Inc..  “It also taught us enhanced ways to listen to our customers and engage in interactive conversations.  We learned to listen on the channels where our business partners and clients are participating, thus helping to identify and move opportunities faster through the pipeline. It’s also helped us to create a valuable collaborative forum for marketing and client support.”

To join in the conversation around IBM’s Social Media Boot Camps, visit LinkedIn.

Written by turbotodd

February 29, 2012 at 4:03 pm

IBM Research Makes Advances In Quantum Computing

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Scientists at IBM Research have achieved major advances in quantum computing device performance that may accelerate the realization of a practical, full-scale quantum computer.

For specific applications, quantum computing, which exploits the underlying quantum mechanical behavior of matter, has the potential to deliver computational power that is unrivaled by any supercomputer today.

Follow the IBM Research blog for coverage to learn more about breakthroughs from IBM scientists.

Quantum computing has been a Holy Grail for researchers ever since Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, in 1981, challenged the scientific community to build computers based on quantum mechanics. For decades, the pursuit remained firmly in the theoretical realm. But now IBM scientists believe they’re on the cusp of building systems that will take computing to a whole new level.

Using a variety of techniques in the IBM labs, scientists have established three new records for reducing errors in elementary computations and retaining the integrity of quantum mechanical properties in quantum bits (qubits) – the basic units that carry information within quantum computing.

IBM has chosen to employ superconducting qubits, which use established microfabrication techniques developed for silicon technology, providing the potential to one day scale up to and manufacture thousands or millions of qubits.

IBM researchers will be presenting their latest results today at the annual American Physical Society meeting taking place February 27-March 2, 2012 in Boston, Mass.

The Possibilities of Quantum Computing

The special properties of qubits will allow quantum computers to work on millions of computations at once, while desktop PCs can typically handle minimal simultaneous computations.

For example, a single 250-qubit state contains more bits of information than there are atoms in the universe.

These properties will have wide-spread implications foremost for the field of data encryption where quantum computers could factor very large numbers like those used to decode and encode sensitive information.

Other potential applications for quantum computing may include searching databases of unstructured information, performing a range of optimization tasks and solving previously unsolvable mathematical problems.

Written by turbotodd

February 28, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Uggie And Hunter

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Well, I didn’t have the opportunity to see the entire Oscars telecast last evening, but I wasn’t surprised to waken here in Toronto to discover “The Artist” had walked away with five statuettes.

I was also pleased to hear of some of the other evenings’ winners: Woody Allen for his screenplay of “Midnight in Paris” and Meryl Streep once again for her performance in “The Iron Lady.”

I do take exception to all the negativity towards Uggie, the canine co-star of “The Artist.”  Hey, man, it’s not easy being a Jack Russell terrier in Hollywood.  If you want a friend, get a human.

But this weekend’s best performance probably should have gone to golfer Hunter Mahan, who took out Ireland’s Rory McIlroy in the last match of the Accenture World Golf Championships in Arizona 2-1.  I’ve got the match sitting on my DVR back in Austin, and can’t wait to watch the replay.

This was Mahan’s second victory in the World Golf Championship series, and the fourth of his career.  He never trailed in the championship match with McIlroy, and in fact, went his last 74 holes without falling behind in a match.

Nice to see the Accenture have an American win the trophy once in a while.

Written by turbotodd

February 27, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Match Play

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Things just haven’t been looking up for Tiger Woods. I watched Phil Mickelson pound him last Sunday in the last round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and then Thursday, he loses to Nick Watney in the second round of the Accenture Match Play tournament, 1 down on the 18th where his putter failed him once again with a 5 1/2 foot birdie putt.

I’m still excited about catching more of the Accenture this weekend before I head off on a two-week travel swing (First stop, Toronto, in the Great White North…although I hear it’s not going to be so white!)

In the middle of this trip, you’ll find me in Viva Las Vegas for the IBM Pulse2012 event, being held at the MGM Grand March 4-7.

Let me just say, if you’ve followed the systems management space for any length of time, this is most definitely not your father’s Tivoli. Through acquisitions of the likes of Tririga and Maximo, the IBM Tivoli line has become an instrumental component in the IBM Smarter Planet initiative, with technology that now manages not only your computer systems, but also everything from physical assets to building space.

This year, Pulse will focus on several key areas, including cloud, mobility, smarter physical infrastructure, and security. We’re expecting some 8,000+ atttendees, including your peers focused on fundamentally and cost-effectively changing the economics of IT and speeding the delivery of innovative products and services.

We’ll also have some very special guests in attendance, including Maroon5 to entertain our tired and weary service management masses, along with Steve “Woz” Wozniak, co-founder of Apple.

Yours truly, along with my partner-in-crime, Scott Laningham, are going to be in attendance, blogging and broadcasting live (and on demand) from the Pulse showcase floor.

More details as they emerge…which they surely will.

In the meantime, enjoy your Sunday and the Academy Awards broadcast, and don’t forget to follow the Twitter sentiment being tracked by IBM and the Annenberg School via the “Senti-meter.”

Written by turbotodd

February 26, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Advancing Security Intelligence to Help Organizations Combat Increasing Threats

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If you’ve been curious as to what IBM has been up to on the security front, today’s a good day to check in.

The top global cyber security threats in 2011, according to a recent IBM analysis.

Earlier today, the Dow Jones AllThingsD blog had this post about some new capabilities IBM is announcing on the security front.

Today, IBM unveiled several new services planned for its security intelligence platform designed to combine deep analytics with real-time data feeds from hundreds of different sources to give organizations, for the first time, the ability to help proactively protect themselves from increasingly sophisticated and complex security threats and attacks using a single platform.

The Backdrop

Organizations today are struggling to defend themselves against an onslaught of ever-evolving data breaches, such as theft of customer and employee information, credit card data and corporate intellectual property.

To date, many corporations have been unable to create a security defense system because they have cobbled together technologies that don’t integrate in an intelligent and automated fashion.  This patchwork approach has created loopholes that hackers can exploit.

The QRadar Security Intelligence Platform, designed by Q1 Labs and acquired by IBM last fall, tackles this problem head-on by serving as a control center that integrates real-time security intelligence data to include more than 400 different sources.

Major breakthroughs planned in the security platform include:

  • Threat Intelligence – Intelligence from one of the world’s largest repository of threat and vulnerability insights is planned to be available based on the real-time monitoring of 13 billion security events per day from the IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Feed. This insight can flag behavior that may be associated with Advanced Persistent Threats, which may emanate from teams of attackers accessing networks through stealth means.
  • Visibility into Enterprise Activity – The platform will unite events from IBM and non-IBM products that span four areas of organizational risk – infrastructure, people, applications and data.
  • Pinpoint Analysis in an Age of Big Data – The platform can drill down to basic data elements to help analyze issues emanating from network access information at the periphery to database activity at the core of a business.
Jack Danahy, Director of Advanced Security at IBM talks about security intelligence. For more information, please visit ibm.com/security.

New Integrations Bring Real-Time Security Analytics

With new integrations to be made available, the analytics platform can quickly identify abnormal activity by combining the contextual awareness of the latest threats and methods being used by hackers with real-time analysis of the traffic on the corporate IT infrastructure.

For example, the future integrations permit the platform to detect when multiple failed logins to a database server are followed by a successful login and access to credit card tables, followed by an upload to an unknown site.

“We chose the QRadar platform to build on and deliver our vision of a streamlined, highly intelligent platform to serve as our central nervous system for enterprise-wide monitoring,” said Ken Major, Information Security Officer at AmeriCU Credit Union. “It enables us to achieve our goals, industry best practices and regulatory compliance.”

Threat Intelligence

One of the significant planned integrations for the QRadar platform is IBM’s X-Force Intelligence Threat Feed based on the real-time monitoring of 13 billion security events per day, on average, for nearly 4,000 clients in more than 130 countries.

The QRadar platform will have visibility into the latest security trends worldwide to help protect enterprises against emerging risks. QRadar will present current IBM X-Force threat feeds in dashboard views for users, and correlate an organization’s security and network events with these threats and vulnerabilities in real-time using automated rules.

Broad Coverage

Other planned integrations to allow the QRadar Security Intelligence Platform to help clients more rapidly identify threats by connecting events from the following categories:

  • People: Organizations should control access to key systems and information. An employee’s unauthorized access to key databases and client information can leave a firm vulnerable to security breaches. With security intelligence, security teams can quickly determine whether access patterns exhibited by a given user are consistent with the user’s role and permissions within the organization. IBM Security Identity Manager and IBM Security Access Manager will integrate with the QRadar platform, complementing QRadar’s existing support for enterprise directories such as Microsoft Active Directory.
  • Data: Data is at the core of security; it is what’s behind every security measure in place, and is the primary target of cyber-criminals. With IBM Guardium Database Security integrated with the security intelligence platform, users will be able to better correlate unauthorized or suspicious activity at the database layer – such as a database administrator accessing credit card tables during off-hours – with anomalous activity detected at the network layer, such as credit card records being sent to unfamiliar servers on the Internet.
  • Applications: Applications are vital to day-to-day function but can also introduce new and serious vulnerabilities into company networks. Applications, because of their sensitivity, should be updated frequently. Organizations however are often unable to patch immediately due to corporate testing requirements and change control cycles. With security intelligence, companies will be able to automatically alert security teams to unpatched Web applications that risk being attacked by known application-layer exploits  that have previously been identified by IBM Security AppScan. This planned integration complements existing QRadar support for monitoring enterprise applications such as IBM WebSphere and SAP ERP.
  • Infrastructure: Today, organizations struggle to secure thousands of physical devices, such as PCs and mobile phones, especially as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) continues to grow in popularity. For this reason, companies should take extra precautions to help employees to follow secure practices in using these devices. With IBM Endpoint Manager integration, the security platform can provide organizations with enhanced protection of physical and virtual endpoints: servers, desktops, roaming laptops, smartphones and tablets, plus specialized equipment such as point-of-sale devices, ATMs and self-service kiosks.

QRadar integration modules are also planned for Symantec DLP, Websense Triton, Stonesoft Stonegate and other third-party products, increasing QRadar’s ecosystem and continuing Q1 Labs’ long-standing approach to multi-vendor heterogeneous environments.

Solutions to Analyze Big Data

In addition, the QRadar platform has been expanded with Big Data capabilities for storing and querying massive amounts of security information, and functionality for helping to secure virtualized infrastructures and providing a new level of visibility that helps clients reduce security risk and automate their compliance processes.

The expansion of security and network data sources is complemented by advanced functionality to help organizations keep pace with their exponential data growth. The new deliverables include:

  • Instant Search to provide high-speed, free-text querying of both log and flow data, designed to bring the simplicity and speed of Internet search engines to the security intelligence solution.
  • The XX24 appliance series to extend the scalability and performance advantages for which QRadar solutions are well known. With the release of the QRadar 3124 SIEM appliances, QRadar 1624 Event Processor and QRadar 1724 Flow Processor – which all include 16TB of usable storage and 64GB of RAM – organizations can support more users, achieve higher performance and store data longer.
  • Intelligent data policy management to enable users to designate which information they want to store and for how long. Less important data can be removed sooner to achieve longer retention for more important data.
  • Virtual appliances to allow end customers and service providers to capitalize on the virtual infrastructures they have built, while benefiting from lower-priced yet fully capable security intelligence solutions.

The planned integration modules (device support modules) are expected to be included with QRadar SIEM and QRadar Log Manager at no additional cost, via automatic updates.

Availability

The Big Data and virtual infrastructure enhancements are available now.  QRadar integration modules for IBM Guardium Database Security are planned to be available in 1Q2012.

Integration modules for IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence, IBM Security Identity Manager, IBM Security Access Manager, IBM Security AppScan and IBM Endpoint Manager are planned to be available in 2Q2012.

Visit Q1Labs’ site for more information.

IBM: Helping To Shape The Future Of Medicine

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So I’m curious, anybody out there been to see a doctor recently?

Do you sometimes wonder if you stepped back in time? Filling out the same paperwork over and over and over…and over again?

My own general practitioner just basically kicked me out of his practice — he’s asking for an upfront fee once a year for a special service he’s offering to try and offer “better service” to his clients.

And come to think, all I wanted was a check up once in a while and somewhere to go when the nasty flu hits.

Well, fifty years after IBM and Akron Children’s Hospital launched an ambitious project to build the first computer-based patient records system, why am I not surprised to find that only one percent of hospitals are using electronic records to their full potential — this according to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.

Sure, there are a host of issues to address in dealing with such records, not the least of which are security, privacy, and access. But while we’re debating these pros and cons, an increase of chronic diseases and aging populations around the globe has increased the pressure on healthcare providers to operate more efficiently while providing better care.

Hence, my GP kicking me out of his office unless I’m prepared to pay a $1,600/year membership for his practice (a fee NOT covered by any insurance).

Check out this blog post to read how the CIO of Akron Children’s Hospital explains how overcoming the challenges that confronted healthcare providers a half-century ago remains an elusive goal even today.

How IBM Is Helping

IBM is helping hospitals, insurance companies and healthcare providers use digital information and electronic records to improve patient care through a variety of means. While transforming healthcare is a complex challenge, the hard work of creating a more effective, sustainable system that delivers better service and value to patients has begun.

As mentioned already, and per Tom Ogg’s blog post, global healthcare transformation depends on universal adoption of electronic health records, which are the basic building blocks of healthcare efficiency. IBM has a long history of creating and connecting systems to share patient information.

Health analytics are also going to play a central role in driving real change in the healthcare system by ushering in a new age of smarter decision-making. Healthcare organizations can use analytics to publish metrics on how hospitals are performing; create scorecards for enabling doctors to help chronic patients get better; and change behavior to help doctors and nurses make more intelligent and informed decisions.

IBM also brings deep expertise in applying, integrating and maintaining complex systems. That is coupled with our broad expertise in life sciences, bioinformatics and the full spectrum of healthcare disciplines. Emerging technologies like Watson could further IBM’s ability to help physicians and nurses identify the most effective treatment options for patients and enable new healthcare innovations.

You can learn more about some of these new capabilities in this short video in which IBM healthcare experts Bill Rollow and Lorraine Fernandez explain both the economic and patient benefits of creating a more “horizontal” electronic health information system.

The Artist

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I’ve not had time to see all the films nominated for “Best Picture” for this year’s Academy Awards, and will, in fact, be flying up to Toronto next Sunday as this year’s Oscars are set to be awarded.

Will "The Artist" win this year's Oscar for "Best Picture?" Perhaps a more important question, what will companies around the globe do to avoid becoming victims of their own industries' transitional equivalent from silent to talking motion pictures?

Why is it that I’m always on a plane during these big events?  Three weeks ago it was the Super Bowl.  Reminds me of the time that Spain was playing Germany in the UEFA Euro soccer finals in 2008. I was flying back from Madrid to the States, and there were all these poor Spaniards stuck on the plane as Germany played Spain for that once every-four-year title.

The good news was, Spain won (for them…I don’t want to start any internecine football blogging wars here).

I did get out to see one of the nominated films this weekend, Michael Hazanaviciu’s “The Artist,” a mostly silent film focused on the late 1920s and early 1930s which explores the transition from silent to “talky” pictures.

Spoiler alert: If you haven’t seen the movie and plan on doing so, stop reading now!

I mean it…I’m about to spill the beans!

Actually, there aren’t a lot of beans to spill.  The movie plot could just as easily haven been taken out of the radio-to-TV transition, or the broadcast-to-cable transition, or even the search-to-social network transition.

Meaning, that change is universal and inevitable. And those who choose to protect the business models of the past and to ignore the potential of those of the future are doomed to history’s sidelines.

In “The Artist,” George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is the silent movie star of his time, but as he meets up-and-coming but still fledgling actress Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) his movie studio, Kinograph Studios, led by Al Zimmer (John Goodman), Valentin fights the rising tide of “talkies,” and soon finds himself going bankrupt during the Great Depression as silent films go the way of the dinosaur and his own last-ditch attempt at self-financing one last talkie is a failure.

It’s not without some irony that this film is, largely, silent. Yet in its own unique way, it demonstrates the power of visual storytelling, seeming to explain why silent films had their day — that a good story is, in fact, universal, no matter the manner in which is related.

As its viewers experience, it’s not until the very last scene of the film that we finally hear George Valentin speak at all, as he explains with a heavy French accent that he will do yet another take of a scene with his new co-star, Ms. Miller, “with pleasure.”

He’s had his epiphany, his denouement is complete, and Valentin seems set to become a part of the future he once denied, only this time more as dancer than actor.

He has, in short, evolved.

The object lesson in all this?

In some ways, it’s akin to Clayton Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma, in which the author outlined the opportunity and challenges of disruptive technologies and innovations.

Clayton’s basic thesis suggests that a disruptive technology is “an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market and value network.”

If the introduction of “talking” motion pictures’ and subsequent disruption of the silent film market doesn’t fit this definition, I’m not sure what does.

This transition, of course, didn’t come without some pain, experienced both by the motion picture industry at large, and a variety of its “players.” Actors such as the fictional George Valentin (but also scores of silent motion picture actors ranging from Theda Bara to Mary Pickford to Charlie Chaplin) were impacted by the transition, often when their voices didn’t match their silent film image.

But technical challenges also abounded: New mikes and cameras had to be developed to prevent pick-up of the grinding noise that silent film cameras made as the film moved through the sprockets, and the industry had to find a way to synchronize voices properly, considering the sound head on a projector is about 10 frames away from the projected image.  Even new sound-proof sound stages had to be built, as did squeak-proof dollies.

But, ultimately, the industry and many of its players did adapt, and in the process generated a variety of  new opportunities for newly required vocations (sound editors, boom operators, voice actors, and on and on).  But, many also fell by the wayside.

As for “The Artist” and whether or not a silent movie in the year 2012 can win an Oscar for “Best Picture,” keep an eye out on the evolving social sentiment leading up to Sunday’s awards ceremony, for which IBM has partnered with the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab to bring you the Oscar Senti-Meter where we follow the Twittersphere action day-by-day.

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