Archive for the ‘cloud computing’ Category
IBM announced a couple of nice wins these past few days.
One, a partnership agreement between IBM and Itella, a leading provider of business services in Europe and Russia.
It’s a seven-year cloud computing agreement to help Itella streamline its business operations and improve its flexibility and time-to-market, and allowing them to focus on their core business and develop new services for their clients.
Itella provides postal, logistics and financial transaction process services in Northern and Central Europe, as well as Russia.
Specifically, IBM will build a private cloud to provide hosting as well as application management and development services to Itella. With the cloud, IBM will automate basic production of technology services as well as improve the quality and management of those services.
“Through this operating model renewal, we can adopt a flexible service delivery to increase automation and introduce best practices, utilizing IBM’s world-class competence,” said Jukka Rosenberg, Senior Vice President, Itella Mail Communications. “Through the partnership, we can make our operations more efficient and cut costs, without compromising our high-quality service.”
And nearly halfway around the globe and just north of here, the great state of Oklahoma is partnering with IBM to save $15 million over the next five years and to help improve services to state residents there.
As governments institute structural changes in the way agencies measure performance and deliver services, data analytics and new delivery models can help lead the way for transformations that realize a measurable return on investment and improved quality of life.
By analyzing business processes and consolidating IT projects, IBM will help the state gain significant savings in software licensing and technology maintenance costs— resulting in an expected IT budget recovery of 30 percent.
“At a time when we all have to learn to do more with less money, IBM has been instrumental in identifying and prioritizing IT consolidation projects for the state of Oklahoma, at the same time allowing us to invest in new services for our residents,” said Alex Pettit, chief information officer, state of Oklahoma.
“IBM brought not only its extensive public sector services experience to help create the initial business case for this project, but also worked with participating agencies to verify that the new technology environment would improve mainframe service and reduce costs.”
IBM helped the state to understand the challenges of providing IT services to various agencies with diverse requirements for data management and federal reporting.
The new IT infrastructure established a model for IT compliance with federal guidelines on program data and processes, using an IBM System z mainframe. IBM also helped the state meet project funding requirements—bridging the financial gap between the initiation of the project and the cost savings.
The agreement helps ensure that the delivery of technology services is more effective and more consistent. In addition, the new infrastructure gives each agency more control over the quality, performance, and support of their technology environment.
Ultimately, the consolidation of five mainframe platforms also yielded significant savings in costs and lower lease costs. The recommended options projected an 18-30 month payback period that would save 25–30 percent of the state’s combined annual IT budget.
IBM worked with the state on a detailed analysis of the IT infrastructure and opportunities to consolidate computing capacity, storage, network, backup and disaster recovery capabilities.
The plan included development of a target architecture, establishment of a high-level roadmap, and development of a services delivery schedule between the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES), responsible for operating the consolidated environments, and each state agency.
The cloud, she is getting bigger, particularly in the great State of Ohio.
For Ohio has selected IBM for a $267-million 10 year modernization of the State of Ohio Computing Center (SOCC) through the development of a private cloud computing environment and the use of other hardware, software and services from IBM.
The SOCC includes four floors and more than 350,000 square feet of space, and houses infrastructure for several state agencies that support more than 1,400 applications executing on over 2,700 servers.
By working with IBM, the State will be able to focus on meeting application demands that underpin the services it provides to the citizens of Ohio.
The program will also lay the groundwork for future opportunities including the State’s drive toward private, secure cloud computing.
Highlights of the work with IBM include:
- Remediating power and cooling capabilities in the State’s facility in Columbus
- Migrating agency related infrastructure and application workloads within the facility
- Implementing operating model improvements to deploy ITIL-based service management
- Ongoing services in a co-managed arrangement with State staff
“We are working with IBM to significantly reduce the complexity of our infrastructure, improve data center operations and increase service delivery for state agencies and the constituents they serve,” Stu Davis, State of Ohio’s Chief Information Officer said. “This is a foundational component of Ohio’s IT Optimization efforts that will result in savings and culminate in the consolidation of the state’s IT assets into a primary state data center. This provides agencies with services they require and ensures we are spending taxpayers’ dollars once.”
The State’s cloud computing environment will be designed to provide a secure, high-performance and dependable foundation for computing, while costing the State less than its current infrastructure.
The goal of the State’s IT consolidation is to substantially reduce IT infrastructure services spend, and reallocate those funds to applications and services that support the citizens and businesses of Ohio.
You can learn more about IBM Smarter Government solutions here.
If you’ve followed the headlines recently, you can’t help but notice the constant barrage of news concerning security break-ins at some of the most public cloud sites on the planet: Facebook, Google, Evernote…the list goes on and on.
Yet in spite of the looming cloud security concerns, enterprises and organizations continue to ramp up their investments in both public and private cloud infrastructure as a cost-effective, dynamic way to scale up their IT capacity.
At the IBM Cloud Security roundtable here at IBM Pulse 2013 yesterday in Las Vegas, several IBM security experts came together to discuss some of the challenges, best practices, and solutions to protect against threats and provide security-rich cloud computing environments.
Jack Danahy, director of security for IBM North America, hosted the panel before the gathered industry press, and offered up some prefacing comments to set the stage for the security discussion.
Jack began by stating that 9 out of 10 global CEOs say that cloud computing is critical to their business plans and “a way to increase their organizational productivity, but all also admit security is a lingering concern.”
Brendan Hannigan, the general manager for the IBM Security Division, explained that there are some key basic security concerns around cloud, including the safety of enterprise data, and whether or not it can be compromised or lost.
Hannigan explained: “Cloud is simply another computer upon which we can deploy capabilities for our customers, and we should be able to look at cloud security the same way we do across other domains.” That includes giving organizations a single view of identity across their cloud environments.
Kris Lovejoy, general manager for IBM Security Systems, discussed some of the key inhibitors to organizations providing more effective cloud security measures, and explained that the cloud is actually inherently more securable than traditional IT infrastructure because of they way it’s designed and the manner by which you can replicate security controls.
So if the cloud is inherently more securable, why the seeming contradiction that nobody seems to be able to effectively secure it?
Because, Lovejoy explained, when you buy public cloud capability you typically have to buy the security features as an added extra, and may customers don’t do so.
“Think about the provider as being a hotel,” Lovejoy explained, “and in each hotel room they have a series of diseases. The provider must provide you good housekeeping to protect you from diseases in the other rooms, and yet so many cloud computing tenants don’t make that obvious investment to protect their cloud applications and data.”
When Danahy asked the panel about what can be done to make executives more comfortable with the idea of security investments in the cloud space, Hannigan chimed in, and explained the rationale comes down to a distinction in the type of data you’re working with, and delineating between the information that is critical and that which is less sensitive.
“When you have a specific application or data set,” Hannigan explained, “there are wonderful opportunities afforded by the cloud because in security, one of the biggest challenges is striking a balance between locking the infrastructure down and providing free and unfettered access to the that information customers and employees need.”
Lovejoy explained it was not dissimilar from the crazy notion of automakers selling cars without seatbelts or brakes. “You don’t want to suddenly discover you don’t have these features going 60 miles per hour down the interstate.”
Kevin Skapintez, program director of product strategy for IBM Security, said that the need for more cloud security standards reminded him of the late 1800s, when fire hydrants had different nozel sizes that required varying widths of connectors for the hoses.
“You have to have standards related to identity,” Kevin explained, “so you don’t have to build different registries per cloud!”
“More organizations needed to also heighten their log management regimes,” he explained, “so that they have improved visibility to see if they have the right controls in place and where incidents are occuring.”
Lovejoy explained that “most organizations have a pretty defined pathway to cloud success.” Many are using develop and test environments and are moving to non-core workloads, allowing a lot of applications to emerge and consolidate on the cloud.
At the same time, she explained, most companies are planning a security operations optimization and that the cloud is a remarkable opportunity. “As we consolidate,” she explained, “things get simpler. Companies need to think about this in the context of business transformation. You need to adopt the cloud in a safe and reliable manner while managing the risk.”
During the Q&A, I asked the panel whether or not all these very public public cloud security incidences we’ve seen in the headlines were driving any real productive conversation in terms of making cloud security more of a priority.
Lovejoy explained the scenario typically went something like this: A CEO would call up their provider, ask for an assessment, give them a threat briefing, then go to a third party standard to see if they matched the security checklist.
But that not enough of them were what she termed “security aware.”
Hannigan concluded, “It’s a classic dilemma with security spending. Security concerns are not specific just to the cloud, and clients are working about losing data, period. The question is, can they invest all the money necessary to adequately secure those environments?”
To date, the answer seems to largely be “no.”
If you missed Carrie Underwood last evening in the MGM Grand Arena, well…I’m sorry.
Actually, I’d find it difficult to believe anyone from IBM Pulse missed Carrie Underwood, as the place was packed to the rafters, and Carrie did not disappoint.
In fact, quite the opposite…and judging from the line waiting to get in that stretched all the way back to the MGM hotel elevators, well, let’s just say expectations were high.
And as we move into Pulse 2013 Day Two, we should maintain those high expectations, because it was clear from this morning’s keynote customer interview led by IBM senior vice president Robert Leblanc that today’s focus would be on highlighting best practices in building and maintaining smart infrastructures.
IBM vice president Scott Hebner first kicked the session off, explaining IBM’s continued commitment to open standards (see yesterday’s announcement about IBM’s commitment to using OpenStack), explaining that “Just as standards helped us realize the promise of e-business over the last decade, I think the same is going to occur with respect to cloud computing.”
Scott also encountered an amusing “blue screen of cloud death” moment, where all systems failed, spinning umbrellas appeared on screen (and in the audience), and colorful chaos people appeared from offstage.
An amusing moment, but one with an underlined headline of warning: Thou who doth go too far forward building on proprietary platforms may findeth one’s business in cloud computing chaos!
Scott next handed the baton to Robert Leblanc, and it was time now for Robert to introduce a range of IBM Tivoli clients operating in a garden variety of industries: Steve Caniano, Vice President, Hosting, Applications, and Cloud Computing with AT&T; Robert Pierce, Assistant Vice President, Information Services, Carolina Healthcare; Eduardo Bustamante, Director of Systems and Telecommunications, Port of Cartagena; and Tony Spinelli, Chief Security Officer, Equifax.
First, he cleared the decks and set up the big picture: Technology is now the number one issue for CEOs, as they recognize it could make or break their success. Big data, mobile, and cloud loom over the horizon as competitive differentiating technologies, and, increasingly, are table stakes.
Security is more of a risk, but going on the offensive beats succumbing to the nastiness of the defensive (read the cyber security headlines lately?).
And yet…and here was the key point of the best practices session…only one in five CEOs feel they have a highly efficient IT infrastructure, one that’s versatile and dynamic and can adapt to the ever-changing whims of an admittedly volatile marketplace.
And Robert delivered more bad news (admittedly, he did so with a smile): 70 percent of CIOs lack proper visibility into their cloud systems, 78 percent are NOT using mobile device management, and 53 percent lack the proper automation of securing their assets.
Oh, and only one in ten feel they have the skills and capabilities they require.
Robert asked each of the IT executives about their respective environments and challenges.
Steve from AT&T observed that “cloud computing is a team game” but that “hybrid types of solutions needed to be deployed,” and he explained AT&T’s partnership with IBM had been key in this regard.
Robert with Carolina Healthcare explained in the field of medicine that “mobility has become a key differentiator” and that the new doctors coming up “expect robust information technology services” or else they’ll find someone else’s hospital to work at.
He went on to explain that Carolina had begun to use IBM’s Endpoint Manager to manage some 38,000 desktops, laptops, iPads and iPhones.
Eduardo had a different set of challenges, operating in a much more “physical” realm in using IT services to better orchestrate the cacophony of trains, cranes, and other moveable assets. He indicated the Port of Cartagena is implementing RFID in concert with IBM Maximo technologies to better manage and move those assets efficiently around the port, and in the process, adding a layer of analytics to allow for continuous improvement of that physical instrumentation.
And Tony with Equifax got a laugh from the audience when he started by stating that “Everyone in this audience wants me to do a great job,” acknowledging the company has and must protect the information of individuals and businesses around the globe.
He suggested companies need to move beyond simply “naming the bad actors” in the security intrusion front, and instead move to “better understand those bad actor’s strategies and tactics” so they can better prioritize, respond to, and yes, even prevent those incidences from occurring in the first place, something Equifax is doing through the implementation of improved security intelligence using IBM QRadar technology.
“By having better security intelligence on the battlefield,” Tony explained, “you’re better prepared.”
“Not all assets are created equally,” he explained, speaking, of course, for Equifax, but acknowledging a much broader theme and challenge to the gathered IBM Pulse crowd.
Houston, we have a problem.
And I want to hear from anyone else out there who has had this problem. Because I fear it may be an increasingly prominent one in our always-connected, increasingly cloud-based cyber existence.
I was in meetings last week in NYC…you know, with actual people…and I was trying to look someone up on Twitter.
You know, on the actual Twitter web site, not a Twitter application.
Only to discover I apparently no longer knew my password.
So I set about trying to recover my password from Twitter.
But my account had been blocked, because apparently I tried to get
into it too many times.
Shame on me. Trying to get into my own Twitter account! What kind of psychopath, am I?
So then I tried to have Twitter send some info to my email and/or phone number.
Nothing ever showed on my cell phone, a number I’ve had for years.
And I assumed the account was set up so long ago, that I probably included my Hotmail email address.
So now I went to Hotmail to login.
And guess what happened?
Of course. I know no longer knew the password.
So I tried to recover the password.
And that’s when the Captchas stormed the castle.
You know, those cute little boxes where you enter characters that no mere mortal can read, much less interpret, so you can try and access what you assumed to be your account?
The person who invented those? They’re now officially on my most wanted list. Right up there near number one and closing fast.
So then I thought, perhaps my Hotmail address became a Live.com address.
So I tried that.
More captchas. No success.
I refused to throw down my sword, I was going down fighting.
Especially considering this was Microsoft!
So I tried to sign up for a new Outlook cloud account. I would simply start over, begin anew, smell the spring roses of the azure fields.
It wouldn’t likely help me in the pursuit of reclaiming my Twitter ID, which I’m pretty much has been hacked and is now manned by some pimply-faced 14 year-old Twerp somewhere in Eastern Europe.
Now I’m starting to get paranoid, thinking perhaps Microsoft has me on their hit list.
Because when I tried to submit the new Outlook account request, it was kind of like the Internet equivalent of the Windows hourglass.
And people laugh wondering why in the world I said earlier in the year I was going to break out my Underwood manual typewriter!