Friday, April 14, 2017

Digital Transformation Driven by ITaaS

Photo credit: Shutterstock

When executing an effective digital transformation strategy, management is tasked with placing the right workload into the most appropriate IT environment. This represents a shift from buying parts for self-assembly to composing services through self-serve consumption and pay-per-use models.  Quite often this transition also leads to the adoption of software defined environments across the enterprise infrastructure.

Software defined infrastructures do, however, bring with them some very unique challenges. Many of the most prevalent issues are centered around the relatively immature state of the technology itself. The most significant aspect of this challenge is the lack of industry standards for device control. Control software must know the status of all network devices and trunks, no matter what vendor equipment is being used. While OpenFlow stands today as the de facto software defined networking standard, it is a unidirectional forwarding-table update protocol that cannot be used to determine device status. It also doesn’t allow for the programming of port or trunk interfaces. A second critical issue is the lack of business process or enterprise IT policy definition capabilities.  This shortfall often leads to resource over provisioning caused by automation rules that deploy “just in case” instead of “just in time”.

When taken together, the two latter problems heighten the risk of vendor lock-in. This issue was highlighted last year by Major General Sarah Zabel, Vice Director of the Defense Information Systems Agency.  This military organization deals with 2,400 trouble calls, 2,000 tickets, 22,000 changes, and 36 cybersecurity incidents every day. Its global network interfaces with owned and managed networks from other military departments and services providers. When addressing the Open Networking User Group, Major General Zabel stated that the agency suffered from vendor lock-in and too many devices.

“We need an area where vendors accept the fact we need a path away from their solution…We need less dependence on hardware and to be able to work with more software."
Another important but widely ignored challenge is the need to build organizational buy-in, a problem that is often accompanied by business process changes. According to Neal Secher, managing director and head of network architecture at BNY Mellon, "You need to partner with your business and show them the value. There's a snowball [effect] that will add value and allow you to add more automation. You need to prove through evidence that it works and won't hurt the business."

Understanding how to select, configure and operate within this new paradigm requires new technology, new technical skillsets and new management techniques. This trifecta of change cannot be easily assimilated within most large organizations. This is why IBM IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) can often provide critical advice, assistance and technology.

ITaaS is an approach for defining and consuming digital services through a hybrid cloud infrastructure. This approach has often shown itself as the most cost effective path toward workload optimization. When used as part of a holistic strategy, hybrid cloud infrastructures can deliver multiple levels of value by:
  • Delivering programmable, virtualized and application-centric networking capability;
  • Managing the corporate mobile infrastructure and Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) initiatives;
  • Modernizing and optimizing the IT security program for identity, application, data, network, and endpoint security in a way that manages risk and achieves compliance; and
  • Enabling a shift of executive focus from infrastructure maintenance towards the creation of innovative products and services.

Hybrid cloud environment alone, however, aren’t able to maximize the value of digital transformation.  To do that you may also need to consider cloud brokerage capability.  This tool can be used to plan, procure, govern and manage all IT services across all cloud models. To avoid vendor lock-in, this service can also be exercised across multiple IT service providers.


Software defined infrastructures can deliver infrastructure optimization and enhanced IT services at a reduced cost. Organizations that opt to take advantage of this new operational model should, however, seriously consider taking the ITaaS route.



This post was brought to you by IBM Global Technology Services. For more content like this, visit ITBizAdvisor.



Cloud Musings
( Thank you. If you enjoyed this article, get free updates by email or RSS - © Copyright Kevin L. Jackson 2017)



Tuesday, April 4, 2017

IBM Interconnect 2017: Cloud, Cognitive and Data!

A couple of weeks ago while attending IBM Interconnect 2017 I had the awesome opportunity to participate in the IBM Interconnect 2017 Podcast Series with Dez Blanchfield. I not only got to pontificate on all things tech, but also had the honor of collaborating with some of the best minds in the business. The series is provided below in it entirety.

ENJOY!




This content is being syndicated through multiple channels. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of GovCloud Network, GovCloud Network Partners or any other corporation or organization.




Cloud Musings
( Thank you. If you enjoyed this article, get free updates by email or RSS - © Copyright Kevin L. Jackson 2016)



Thursday, March 30, 2017

The BYOD Problem


Everyone wants their device of choice right there next to them 24/7.  To an employer, however, that smart device is nothing more than a dagger posed to rip apart every shred of corporate security. This reality of modern business was highlighted by the Information Security Community on LinkedIn through their 2016 Spotlight Report on “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD). The key trends influencing enterprise BYOD and mobile security line up as follows:
  • Increased employee mobility (63%), satisfaction (56%) and productivity (55%) dominate as the top drivers of BYOD. These employee related drivers are considered more important than reduced costs (47%).
  • Security (39%) and employee privacy (12%) are the biggest inhibitors of BYOD adoption.
  • 20% of surveyed organizations have suffered a mobile security breach, primarily driven by malware and malicious WiFi.
  • Security threats to BYOD impose heavy burdens on organizations’ IT resources (35%) and help desk workloads (27%).
  • Despite increasing mobile security threats, data breaches and new regulations, only 30% of organizations are increasing security budgets for BYOD in the next 12 months and 37% have no plans to change their security budgets.

These trends clearly highlight the need for enhanced data and application security in enterprise mobility and cloud computing. They also reinforce the burden of securing data, applications, and devices that is being placed on the employer. Looking solely from the employer’s point of view, the report also summarized the mobility security concerns as follows:
  • 72% – Data leakage/loss
  • 56% – Unauthorized access to company data and systems
  • 54% – Downloading of unsafe apps or content
  • 52% – Malware
  • 50% – Lost or stolen devices
  • 49% – Vulnerability exploitation
  •  48% – Lack of control on endpoint security
  • 39% – Infrequent software updates
  • 38% – Compliance

These findings indicate that enterprise mobility is a very dangerous threat vector that can be ruinous to any business. Unmanaged or ungoverned use of devices can lead to loss of customers, loss of sales, and costly legal and financial fines. This truth led IBM to offer the following Ten Rules for BYOD:


1. Create your policy before procuring technology: To effectively use mobile device management (MDM) technology for employee owned devices Policy must precede technology. Also note that these policies will have broad corporate-wide implications for IT, HR, legal, and security.

2. Find the devices that are accessing corporate resources: Companies must completely understand the current landscape of mobile device usage. Doing this will require using a tool that can communicate continuously with your network environment and detect all connected devices connected.

3. BYOD Enrollment for employees should be simple: Complexity tends to breed non-compliance. To address this issue, the BYOD program should use technology that allows for a simple, low touch way for users to enroll. The process should also concurrently configure the newly enrolled device.

4. Configure your devices over-the-air: To optimize efficiency for both IT and business users, devices should be configured over-the-air. Policies to restrict access to certain applications should also be in-place.
5. Help your users help themselves: A robust self-service platform that lets users perform the following functions should be made available:

·         PIN and password resets
·         Geo-locate a lost device from a web portal
·         Remote wiping of sensitive corporate data
      
      6. Keep personal information private: A well-crafted BYOD program keeps personal employee data away from others. Communicate the privacy policy to employees and make it clear what data cannot collect from their mobile devices

      7. Keep personal information separate from corporate data: Corporate apps, documents, and other materials must be protected if the employee decides to leave the organization. Personal email, apps, and photos, however, should be left untouched.

      8. Manage data usage: The organization should be able to track in network and roaming data usage on devices, generating warnings should a user goes over their data usage or stipend limit.

      9. Continually monitor devices for noncompliance: Devices should be continuously monitored for certain scenarios, and automated policies should be in place. A few common issues are:
·         “Jailbreaking” or “rooting” a phone
·         Use of unapproved applications (like Angry Birds) that don’t rise to the level that requires an automatic wipe of the device
·         Providing a simple way to be alerted when a new OS is ready for installation and making it a self-service function.
      
      10. Enjoy the return on investment (ROI) from BYOD: Although BYOD shifts responsibility for purchasing devices to employees, it’s worth considering the big picture and long-term costs for your organization.

BYOD is now a corporate fact of life. If your environment includes traditional desktops and mobile devices, your organization may also need to consider working with a partner that has the specialized IT skills to migrate, integrate and maintain all types of IT network endpoints. IBM Mobile Virtualization Services should be considered as that partner in order to ease mobile user and application migration issues. Available services include:


This post was brought to you by IBM Global Technology Services. For more content like this, visit ITBizAdvisor.com.



Cloud Musings
( Thank you. If you enjoyed this article, get free updates by email or RSS - © Copyright Kevin L. Jackson 2017)