Enterprises want answers after another AWS issue

Enterprises took an earlier AWS outage this week in stride, but a second glitch in four days has cloud users concerned.

An AWS disruption for the second time in one week has enterprises looking for answers as to the root cause of the recent DynamoDB glitches and what steps will be taken to ensure this doesn’t recur.

The initial AWS outage caused by a problem with DynamoDB’s metadata service Sunday didn’t register much impact on the corporate radar as it occurred outside of business hours. While only a relatively narrow group of users who needed to launch new Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances in the U.S.-East region were affected by the second problem on Wednesday, those affected were ‘dead in the water’ according to one engineer at a stealth startup in the Northeast who requested anonymity.

Even enterprise IT users who weren’t impacted said they find the repeated issues concerning.

“It is a bit worrisome to have two days like this in one week,” said EJ Brennan, a freelance developer in Massachusetts who works with large enterprise clients.

A consultant working with large enterprises in New York also said his clients were as yet unaffected, but wants to know how the problem is being solved.

“This is unusual for them,” said Mark Szynaka, a cloud architect for CloudeBroker. “Since it looks to be related to the same issue … I do want to hear a root cause analysis and what steps were taken to prevent this from happening again.”

Updates on the AWS Service Health Dashboard Wednesday shed some light on the problems, but did not divulge the root cause of ongoing glitches with the DynamoDB metadata service or exactly what mitigations were taking place. Only that Amazon is investigating increased latency and errors for the DynamoDB metadata services and rolling out the remaining mitigations that have been developed to mitigate the errors we encountered earlier this week.

Meanwhile, also in Northern Virginia, there was a note on the Service Health Dashboard at 8:01 a.m. Pacific Time (PDT) that reported increased Elastic Block Store (EBS) API error rates, and increased errors for new instance launches in the U.S.-East-1 Region; a note on the Auto Scaling service in Northern Virginia issued at 8:25 a.m. PDT appeared to tie the problems back to DynamoDB once again.

Amazon did not comment by press time, but did provide some details on the causes of the Sunday morning AWS outage in a summary posted to its website. On Sunday, storage servers attached to the DynamoDB metadata service were impacted by a brief network disruption, but didn’t recover as expected in part due to a new DynamoDB feature called Global Secondary Indexes which add more data to the storage servers, the post said.

“With a larger [data] size, the processing time inside the metadata service for some membership requests began to approach the retrieval time allowance by storage servers,” the post said. “We did not have detailed enough monitoring for this dimension…and didn’t have enough capacity allocated to the metadata service to handle these much heavier requests.”

The heavy load also meant it was impossible to non-disruptively add capacity to the storage server farm for DynamoDB, which led to outages in other services that rely on DynamoDB, such as EC2 AutoScaling.

Amazon said it had taken several steps to keep such errors from happening again, including increasing the capacity of the metadata service.

[UPDATE 2 p.m. ET] – An Amazon Web Services spokesperson pointed to a specific part of the postmortem published this morning as the reason for the ongoing problems. The passage refers to ongoing support cases opened Monday in response to tables being stuck in the updating or deleting stage or higher than normal error rates.

“We did not realize soon enough that…some customers [had] disproportionately high error rates,” the postmortem says. “The issue turned out to be a metadata partition that was still not taking the amount of traffic it should have been taking.”

The postmortem said this issue had been closed out Monday; it now appears these issues have continued.

Source: TechTarget-Enterprises want answers after another AWS issue by Beth Pariseau

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HP cuts jobs in bid to grow strategic services

HP’s Enterprise Services division is set for major cutbacks as the company attempts to reduce operating costs prior to the split in November 2015

HP is set to cut the headcount in its Enterprise Services division by up to 30,000 people in a bid to cut operating costs by $2bn.

The job cuts are key to the business strategy of HP Enterprise, once it splits in November 2015.

“These restructuring activities will enable a more competitive, sustainable cost structure for the new Hewlett Packard Enterprise,” said HP CEO Meg Whitman.
“We’ve done a significant amount of work over the past few years to take costs out and simplify processes, and these final actions will eliminate the need for any future corporate restructuring.”

The cuts come on top of the 55,000 job losses HP previously announced.

The Enterprise Services business has continued to lose money, with a loss of 11% compared to Q3 2014 (or 3% in constant currency), according to HP’s latest financial results.

In a transcript of HP’s Q3 2015 results, posted on the Seeking Alpha financial blogging site, Whitman stated: “In Enterprise Services, we’re turning the corner in what has been one of the most critical parts of the turnaround. Enterprise Services significantly improved its sequential revenue trajectory and delivered another quarter of sequential and year-over-year profit improvement.”

Strategic enterprise services is key for HP Enterprise business as its customers buy public, hybrid and private cloud-based IT infrastructure. Approximately 37% of HP Enterprise’s revenue will come from Enterprise Services. The company expects cloud revenue in fiscal 2015 to be approximately $3bn, growing over 20% annually for the next several years. This estimate includes revenue from its enterprise group, software and enterprise services segments, HP stated.

HP’s latest results reveal challenges ahead as the company prepares to split.

With the split two months away, HP Enterprise needs to ensure its hardware, software and services groups work and play better together.

The Enterprise Services business came out of HP’s $13.2bn 2008 acquisition of EDS but, by 2012, HP had written off $8bn of its value.

As Computer Weekly previously reported, HP appears to have made a substantial amount of job cuts in its services business. For fiscal 2016, HP said it expected revenue from the Enterprise Services group to be flat to down 2% year-over-year in constant currency, representing just a slight improvement of 1% compared to the losses it announced for Q3 2015.

However, with continued focus on cost management and operational improvements, operating margin is expected to further improve to be in the range of 6-7% for fiscal 2016, HP said.

Source: computerweekly.com- HP cuts jobs in bid to grow strategic services by Cliff Saran

CIOs say SaaS compliance is a two-way street

We’ll ensure we don’t break contract terms, but providers must better meet our needs in terms of simplicity and flexibility, say IT bosses.

For the best part of a decade, the IT industry has been increasingly pushing the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model as a way for organisations to reduce the cost and complexity of traditional software licensing.

CIOs were encouraged to believe SaaS would bring to an end the growing number of compliance audits imposed by suppliers and give them more flexibility to deploy and use applications as and when needed. Plenty were sceptical – with good reason, it seems.
A report last year from the Business Software Alliance (BSA), the software industry’s leading anti-piracy lobby group, warned there are plenty of compliance pitfalls for those using SaaS (see box).

The focus of the report was on the need for firms to deploy effective software asset management measures, an umbrella term for all the processes and tools an organisation needs to have in place to ensure they remain compliant with the licensing and contractual terms imposed by their software (including SaaS) providers.

Ian Cohen, formerly group CIO of financial services firm Jardine Lloyd Thompson, says: “Many think that because a solution is ‘as a service’ or multi-tenant, it is somehow okay to behave poorly. Sharing ID’s has always been an issue and even though there are various access management solutions out there, the bottom line is that there is an obligation on an organisation to promote good behaviour and quickly jump on any inappropriate activities.”

For most experienced CIOs in large organisations, though, ensuring compliance with software licensing terms is simply standard practice, SaaS or otherwise. Myron Hrycyk, until recently group CIO at Severn Trent Water, says: “I’ve always had in place strong internal audit processes and controls to ensure people don’t misuse logins, be that for on-premise software, internal security purposes or logging on to cloud services. There is a responsibility on clients to have the right level of controls.”

And that, Hrycyk points out, isn’t just about deploying appropriate tools. “It has to go beyond a purely technical IT audit. You need training in place for user teams, as well as management checks and processes, because you can’t look over everybody’s shoulder all the time,” he says.

Yet while blue-chip CIOs are in agreement about the need for effective processes and controls to prevent falling foul of SaaS compliance issues, many are also irritated by the software industry’s apparent hectoring of customers, particularly since in many cases the suppliers’ SaaS contracts and licensing agreements don’t offer businesses the kind of flexibility they need, or thought they were going to get.

Key SaaS compliance pitfalls

  • The BSA’s 2014 report Navigating the cloud identified five key compliance worries for organisations using SaaS:
  • Multiple users sharing the same login details to access SaaS applications
  • Ignoring geographical restrictions on use – for example, using US-only licensed SaaS products in the UK.
  • Automated systems (as opposed to individual users)using a person’s account to access SaaS products.
  • Breaking restrictions on giving access to non‑employees or affiliated entities.
  • Ignoring terms that prevent users providing information generated from the SaaS system to others not paying the subscription fee.

The report goes on to note that some SaaS providers are introducing analytics systems to monitor usage patterns for signs of unauthorised use to flag up likely offenders for investigation. It cautions that SaaS users must ensure they have appropriate software asset management tools and processes to ensure they remain compliant with the contractual terms of their SaaS providers.

Download the BSA’s report here.

Suppliers need to simplify terms

Former Irish government CIO – and before that UK government deputy CIO – Bill McCluggage has been instrumental in promoting the use of SaaS and cloud services in the public sector. Now running his own CIO advisory service, Laganview Associates, he says: “I know from government’s perspective, they’re increasingly frustrated by vendors trying to squeeze ever more money out of them for services on which they’re already making margins of 80%. A lot of bigger vendors are coming in to audit customers simply because they know they’ll be able to recover additional revenue, and I think that’s unreasonable. When somebody provides you with a rental car, they don’t come in and say, ‘We want to make sure you only have one passenger not three, so we’ll audit you and charge you extra if you carry more people’. They charge you on the basis of hiring that vehicle. Similarly,many SaaS providers need to simplify their contractual terms and give customers the flexibility to use the software how they need, at as low a cost as possible.”

Maturing market

On the positive side, the market is growing and maturing, and not all SaaS providers are so inflexible with their terms. Hrycyk says: “The contractual structures providers are putting together are becoming increasingly mature and flexible, particularly among the smaller suppliers. For example, they’re beginning to set up contracts that align to business metrics, which is very helpful if you’re looking for models that will flex up and down. For instance, aSaaS billing engine I put in place at Severn Trent was structured so that if the number of supply points went up, the pricing went down.

“I’ve seen those models coming through in other sectors I’ve worked in, too – for instance, basing the price on the number of sites you’re running or the volume of product passing through a supply chain. So there are some good opportunities for CIOs to be more imaginative when they’re trying to set these contracts up.”

But he still thinks SaaS suppliers need to do more to more to move to a model of lower-cost subscriptions with greater flexibility: “We’re still coming from a world where you had licence fees and annuity streams. Of course, the suppliers still need a level of commitment from a customer – and there’s no sign of them offering pure ‘pay as you go’ yet – but they certainly need to flex more.”

Ian Cohen agrees. “Too many providers are just re-badging old annual licence models as annual subscriptions and that was never the point of moving to a pay-per-use model – at least not from the buyer’s perspective.”

And, like Hrycyk, Cohen sees that the maturing SaaS market affords CIOs the option to be more choosy about (and demanding of) their suppliers. “It’s becoming easier to find alternatives and negotiate because there are so many options out there, even by going open source. However, many of the bigger SaaS providers still believe their own hype and that can make things difficult – particularly for smaller companies. Unfortunately, the challenge is as much inside the buying organisations, since many procurement functions often still feel more comfortable negotiating big, old-fashioned deals because that’s what they’re used to.

Software vendor beware

Former group CIO of the Highways Agency Ian Campbell, who is currently working for a US bank, finds the online sign-up and monthly billing of the typical SaaS model a far simpler way to consume software than in the past. But he too agrees that CIOs need to negotiate with SaaS suppliers upfront to secure the most mutually beneficial contract. “We all know there’s a list price and what you’re able to negotiate in terms of discounts and flexibility depends on who you are. But no one should just accept the standard terms without question. We’ve never been penalised for breaking SaaS contract terms, but providers can be tricky and people have to watch out,” he says.

Something CIOs should be particularly vigilant over when negotiating SaaS terms, advises Hrycyk, is ensuring contracts can be moved across to another entity without renegotiation in the event of a merger or acquisition. “That’s often overlooked with SaaS, and then the new owner may be contractually obliged to purchase an entirely new subscription,” he warns.

Ultimately, though, the SaaS suppliers that refuse to be flexible may end up the losers, suggests McCluggage. “To me the most interesting perspective in all this is how the market for consumable SaaS – things like the Apple App Store, where you pay a small one-off fee or modest subscription for unlimiteduse of an app – will affect the future of the corporate model. The SaaS market is constantly evolving, and it shouldn’t really be ‘buyer beware’ as much as ‘software vendor beware’,” he says.

Source: computerweekly.com-CIOs say SaaS compliance is a two-way street by Jim Mortleman

Alleged airplane hack creates more questions than answers

As details emerge about a security researcher’s alleged hack — and subsequent denial — of an airplane, more questions are being asked than answers given.

News of a security researcher penetrating an airplane’s network has dominated the news for the past few days, but the reality of the situation is muddled.

An application for a search warrant filed by FBI Special Agent Mark Hurley on April 17, which was obtained and published online last Friday by Canadian news outlet APTN National News, alleges the devices seized from Chris Roberts, a security researcher with One World Labs, contain evidence that he successfully commandeered the network of an in-flight airplane he was riding on. Roberts has not been charged with any crime at this time.

In a previous interview, Roberts told Wired he caused a plane to climb in a virtual environment, but insisted he did not interfere with the operations of a plane in flight. Roberts also told Wired he accessed in-flight networks approximately 15 times during various flights only to “explore” and “observe data traffic crossing them.”

While the FBI affidavit mentions the virtual environment, it also states Roberts admitted to controlling a plane in flight. During conversations with the FBI, the warrant application reads, Roberts said he had “exploited vulnerabilities with [in-flight entertainment, or IFE] systems on an in-flight aircraft” 15 to 20 times from 2011 to 2014.

According to the warrant application, Roberts gained access to the network through the Seat Electronic Box installed under passenger seats on airplanes; he was able to remove the SEB cover by “wiggling and squeezing” the box. He then used an Ethernet cable with a “modified connector” to connect his laptop to the IFE system.

The affidavit states Roberts then connected to other systems and overwrote code on the airplane’s Thrust Management Computer to successfully command the system and issue a “CLB,” or climb command, which “thereby caused one of the airplanes to climb, resulting in a lateral or sideways movement of the plane.”

Many news articles over the past few days, however, may have been a bit too aggressive in their conclusions, especially as what is contained in the warrant has not been proven in a court of law. The FBI believes Roberts hacked a plane, yet Roberts denies it.

Before the weekend was over, many security researchers were questioning what really happened. Expert Graham Cluley argued the very real possibility that nothing at all had happened. He wrote in his blog, “Wired isn’t saying that Chris Roberts claimed to have hijacked and meddled with a plane’s flight, instead, they’re saying that the FBI’s search warrant claims that Roberts told them that he had done that.”

While the affidavit does not state which flight Roberts allegedly controlled, Roberts maintains he did not penetrate the IFE system of the April 15 flight during which he tweeted his now infamous “joke:”
The same day, Roberts was questioned by the FBI and had his computer equipment seized.

Though Roberts denies any wrongdoing on this flight, the FBI search warrant application claims the SEB installed near Roberts “showed signs of tampering” and was “open approximately ½ inch and one of the retaining screws was not seated and was exposed.”

Not only are questions arising about what happened during the supposed airline hack, but also whether it is even possible to connect to mission-critical airplane systems through in-flight entertainment.

Law enforcement sources told ABC News there is no evidence a hacker could gain control of an airline network as Roberts described. Federal sources also told ABC News it is extremely unlikely someone could hack into an in-flight plane’s control system.

“Nobody can take control of the airplane right now,” ABC News aviation consultant and former Marine Corps pilot Steven Ganyard said. “At this point, we don’t have any reason to suggest that somebody can take over the airplane and fly it into a mountainside.”

United Airlines spokesperson Rohsaan Johnson also refuted Roberts’ claims, telling The Associated Press, “We are confident our flight control systems could not be accessed through techniques he described.” (United Airlines has since released details of a bug bounty program to incentivize researchers to disclose vulnerabilities to the company directly.)

The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report last month revealing modern communications make aircraft more vulnerable to attack, but many have also refuted this claim. Dr. Phil Polstra, a qualified pilot and professor of digital forensics at Bloomsbury University, said the report contained “erroneous information” and was “deceptive.”

“It’s certainly possible,” security expert and frequent critic of air travel security Bruce Schneier said, “but in the scheme of internet risks I worry about, it’s not very high.”

While Roberts has not yet denied completing any airplane hacks, he did discuss the inaccuracies of the affidavit with Wired.

“That paragraph that’s in there is one paragraph out of a lot of discussions, so there is context that is obviously missing, which, obviously, I can’t say anything about,” he said. “It would appear from what I’ve seen that the federal guys took one paragraph out of a lot of discussions and a lot of meetings and notes and just chose that one as opposed to plenty of others.”

Roberts also told Forbes today that “typically all maintenance and system software issued [or] procured from manufacturers is for monitoring only, not influencing.” Roberts offered no further details.

Roberts has also taken to Twitter to defend himself, alluding to conversations that were held “in confidence,” information that “needs to be said and will come out,” and “a lot” of things being taken “out of context.”

Roberts still maintains all his actions have been in the name of aircraft security.

Source: searchsecurity.techtarget.com-Alleged airplane hack creates more questions than answers

The Five Common Mobility Errors

he mobile enterprise is the BYOD enterprise. That may be one reason some organizations have failed to take a comprehensive approach to enabling mobility. A few years ago, when a handful of people started bringing in their smart phones and tablets to work, IT managers responded in an incremental way – perhaps by adding a single MDM (Mobile Device Management) application or tweaking their firewall — as soon as they found out. Many IT pros will tell you that when BYOD began, they did not know for several months that key staff were using their own devices.

That was then. Today, everyone knows people are using their own devices. Even so, at some organizations, mobile management still has not caught up. Here are five mobility mistakes that are made far too often:

1) Focusing too much on the device. Because BYOD begins with the device, there is a tendency to make that device the center of your attention. Sure, you need to know if some of your corporate users have jailbroken their smartphones, and you must be able to remotely wipe the devices. Your MDM software must be able to do those things. But the device is just one piece of the puzzle. There’s much more to the mobile enterprise.

2) Neglecting the end user. It’s not so much the hardware device but the person using it that’s most important. Your MDM and MAM (Mobile Application Management) software must give you the ability to grant each user appropriate permission levels for access to applications and data. And when data is allowed to reside on the device, it must be encrypted – because devices can – and will – fall into the wrong hands.

3) Forgetting about the “legacy” apps. Since your business-critical Windows apps are likely the most prevalent in your enterprise, they cannot be forgotten. Your mobile infrastructure should be integrated with Active Directory, and the Windows applications themselves must perform optimally on your mobile touch-screen clients.

4) Overlooking the network. You’ve provisioned your pipes and put up a firewall. Your end users are using the corporate data plan on their mobile devices. So you’re done, right? Wrong. To get the most out of your network, you need load balancing, caching and compression, single sign-on, acceleration, encryption and micro-app VPN enablement. Otherwise, your network won’t deliver the responsiveness and reliability that your users need to get their work done in a mobile enterprise.

5) Implementing non-comprehensive EMM. If you have added mobile management tools incrementally over time, there’s a good chance you are missing a few pieces of the puzzle. And those missing pieces could be costing you in terms of poor return on investment, faulty security and lackluster user experience. Take a look at your complete mobile management picture. They should give you full management control of 1) apps, including mobile, SaaS, web, 2) data with a seamless experience that includes secure data sync and sharing and 3) devices. It should include a corporate app store so users can select the applications they need with confidence and a secure access gateway so users can access content securely. In short, EMM must be an enterprise-class solution that enables users to access the data they need to do their jobs.

To ensure these mobility errors don’t happen on your watch, look to workspace delivery solutions that integrate all of these capabilities into a single solution for full business mobility.

BYOD may have started small, but today, there are a lot of things to keep track of and you need to pay attention to all of them. See how the Citrix comprehensive approach to delivering mobile workspaces helps you ensure the productivity, satisfaction and security of your mobile workforce.

Source: CIO.com-The Five Common Mobility Errors by Stan Gibson

BlackBerry and Google Announce Partnership for Android Business

Rumors about BlackBerry entering the Android smartphone market continue to pop up, even though the Canadian company was never explicit on the matter.

In the last statement offered by the company’s CEO John Chen, he says that BlackBerry will launch an Android smartphone, but only if it can make it secure.

Well, it looks like BlackBerry might try to make Android secure, or at least is working with Google on that matter.

Today, the Canadian company has announced a new partnership with Google, which focuses on enterprise business. Both companies are now working together to implement some of the most important BES12 features into Android.

Google needs BlackBerry’s expertise in enterprise security, while BlackBerry needs to tap into the huge Android market that could bring the company even more customers.

The partnership focuses on application management

Although BES12 already features Android Lollipop support, BlackBerry’s security solution will now be implemented with Google Play Work, thus focusing on application management.

According to BlackBerry, “new features are now available through Android and BES12 that enable organizations to further secure enterprise and personal data on Android devices, set new levels of hardware based encryption, and ensure tight integration with Google Play for Work, for increased application management, while delivering a consistent end-user and management experience across their Android fleet.”

These are all the details provided by BlackBerry and Google for the moment, but we expect the Canadian company to issue an official statement in the next couple of days.

Until then, BlackBerry has announced the launch of BES12 version 12.2, which features enhanced multi-OS support. This is just another first step for implementing BlackBerry’s security solution into major operating systems other then BlackBerry.

It’s unclear what will happen with BlackBerry 10 or the company’s devices division, but for the time being, the Canadian company has no reason to abandon any of them.

Source: news.softpedia.com-BlackBerry and Google Announce Partnership for Android Business 

BlackBerry buys Good Technology to boost mobile security

BlackBerry will give BES a big boost with Good Technology’s cross-platform capabilities as the EMM market consolidation continues

BlackBerry is giving its EMM platform a major boost by acquiring one of its biggest competitors, creating a formidable alliance in mobile security.

BlackBerry will acquire Good Technology Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., one of the largest remaining vendors of enterprise mobility management (EMM) technology with around 6,200 worldwide customers, for $425 million in cash. BlackBerry hopes to close the deal by the end of its fiscal third quarter in November.

Good is best known for its mobile email container technology and security capabilities, and often battled against BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) for some of the same EMM turf in highly-regulated industries.

BlackBerry sees itself providing “one unified platform” for EMM once the acquisition closes, said BlackBerry CEO John Chen on an investor call regarding the deal. Good Technology customers should expect no changes in their products and support as a result of the acquisition news and the company plans to provide more information to customers as the deal gets closer to being finalized, said Good CEO Christy Wyatt in a statement.

The acquisition is a sign that BlackBerry is progressing in the EMM space, said Denny Bono, IT manager for American Crane & Equipment Corp. in Douglassville, Penn.

“Good was a very large competitor for BES, so I think it’s a big win for both companies in the long run,” said Bono, who uses BES 12.

[BlackBerry] hit their low, but strategically they are headed in the right direction.
Patrick Moorhead
President and principal Analyst of Moor Insights & Strategy
BlackBerry needed to reinvigorate its EMM offerings and with its customer bases very much in line, the combined company can “really own the federal market,” said Eric Klein, senior mobility analyst with VDC Research Group in Natick, Mass.

“This deal creates a de-facto standard for regulated industries and government,” said Bob Egan, CEO and chief analyst of the Sepharim Group in Falmouth, Mass. “There are also some product features in the [Good] mobile enterprise app store that will fill a pretty big gap in BlackBerry’s portfolio.”

The sale price of $425 million is far lower than the $1.54 billion VMware paid for then-independent EMM vendor AirWatch in early 2014. The BlackBerry move leaves MobileIron Inc., which went public last year, as the largest remaining independent EMM vendor.

The current state of the EMM market could be to blame for the lower sale price, Klein said. MobileIron, for example, missed its revenue estimates earlier this year, a potential measuring stick for this deal, he added.

Why BlackBerry acquired Good Technology

BlackBerry finds BES and Good to be “extremely complimentary” platforms and was attracted to Good’s mobile application management and app wrapping capabilities, its native Apple iOS container and its Good Dynamics platform mobile analytics features, Chen said. He added that 64% of Good’s activations are on iOS devices.

“Good has one of the most comprehensive patent portfolios in the space as they’ve acquired a lot of companies along the way,” Klein said. One of those acquisitions included BoxTone in 2014, where Good shored up its mobile service management offerings.

BlackBerry continues to fill gaps in BES through acquisitions. It bought WatchDox, an enterprise file sync-and-share vendor, in April to add mobile content management features it lacked.

The acquisition is further evidence of BlackBerry’s attempts to transform from a hardware manufacturer to a software and services company, and possibly that the company’s finances are turning around after several years of losses.

When Chen took over as CEO in 2013, he had a lot of work to do to reverse the company’s fortunes and that included “trimming the fat” to pare down expenses, said Rick Jordan, director of strategic alliances at Tenet Computer Group Inc. in Toronto, a BlackBerry Platinum level partner for over 15 years.

“Chen has taken the approach of, ‘It’s a big ship, and it will take a while to make the turn,'” Jordan said. “They really solidified themselves, especially in government, from what we’re seeing.”

BlackBerry is not out of the woods yet and there’s a difference between how great a product is and how well the business performs financially, said Patrick Moorhead, president and principal Analyst of Moor Insights & Strategy, a tech analyst firm based in Austin, Texas.

“[BlackBerry] hit their low, but strategically they are headed in the right direction,” he said. “Duking it out with the likes of Apple and Samsung is a losing proposition that hopefully they accepted. I think based on their position in the data center and Good’s position with mobile devices; they have a shot at making this thing work.”

Source: searchmobilecomputing-BlackBerry buys Good Technology to boost mobile security by Ramin Edmond and Jake O’Donnell

The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Public Cloud Platforms, Q4 2014

Enterprise public cloud platform vendor evaluation
Public cloud application platforms unlock the flexibility, developer-productivity, and economic advantages of cloud computing. Business technology and technology management professionals use a wide variety of public cloud platforms.

This Forrester report evaluates the leading providers of enterprise public cloud platforms. Read now for assistance in selecting one that delivers the best balance of agility and enterprise fit.

Download at: The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Public Cloud Platforms, Q4 2014

How to find the next generation of IT leaders

If you know where to look and you take a strategic approach to creating a pipeline of IT talent, you will have many options for filling your management bench.

The next generation of IT leadership is hiding right in front of you. Do you know how to tap into it?

An often-debated but never-resolved question in the world of IT outsourcing is “where will our next generation of leaders come from?” Strangely enough, it’s usually the very executives who are now outsourcing in record numbers who ask the question. And they have a point. It’s difficult to see how enterprises are building management bench strength to lead the corporate IT departments of the future.

The issue, in my view, is framed the wrong way. While outsourcing is part of the talent problem for corporations, it is also part of the solution. And, yet, the talent problem is very real; there isn’t a single CIO in my network of clients who doesn’t wish for greater access to talent.

Why is this happening? Three reasons:

  1. Corporate IT is not sexy. In my generation, IT was an attractive career. We knew the Internet would shake things up, and corporations had big appetites—and big dollars—for people who could implement and manage corporate systems. Today, few young people get excited about a career in corporate IT. For one thing, they know it is a job they could lose to outsourcing—they might as well work for the service provider and have more job security. The truth is most won’t even do that. Young people with technology skills want to be with Google, Uber, Amazon or the next Facebook. Not only do these employers offer fun, millennial-friendly work environments, they also offer jobs that are quite lucrative, and their employees can enjoy knowing they really are changing the world.
  2. Experienced people are expensive, often unwilling to change and about to retire. Most enterprises today are facing a serious brain drain due to the retirement of so many baby boomers. The average age of IT employees in many large industries is in the 50s. Many companies, therefore, are looking to outsourcing as a business continuity strategy. The odds are small that someone who is close to retirement and who has not yet been in management will suddenly become a great manager. And the odds are smaller still that someone close to retirement will invest in learning emerging technologies. Add exceptionally high salary and benefits costs for these experts, and it is not hard to understand why industries such as utilities, oil and gas, automotive and many others have leveraged outsourcing just to make sure they can keep the lights on.
  3. IT changes too often. It doesn’t make sense anymore for corporations to invest in developing an employee’s career as they might have in the past. To prepare someone to be a deep specialist in mainframe or client server, for example, is to equip that person with obsolete information. While an IT career yesterday might have undergone one generational technology shift, today’s workforce undergoes a major technological change about every five years. To keep up, an enterprise needs scale. And even the largest corporate IT department can’t match the scale of service providers that, in many cases, have more than 200,000 employees specializing in IT services. With this kind of scale, outsourcers are much better prepared to absorb generational technology changes while they mitigate risk for their clients. And even at their gargantuan size, service providers still receive complaints from their customers about a lack of access to top talent.

So we know some of the reasons why the talent is scarce. But we still haven’t answered the question “where will the next generation of IT leaders come from?” I believe we are asking the wrong question. Will we even need a CIO 20 years from now? Or will we need someone who manages a portfolio of relationships in order to deliver business services? And if so, where will this person be trained?

Assuming IT remains a separate function within the corporate structure, the IT leaders of tomorrow are likely to come from the service providers themselves. Perhaps outsourcing buyers should consider their outsourcing contract as a chance to audition thousands of skilled people for future leadership roles. If they choose to see it this way, they will need to change how they treat those employees, how they engage with them, how they develop them, and how they contract with their current employer. The bench is there, and it’s stronger than ever. It is up to corporations to learn how to take advantage of it.

Source: CIO.com-How to find the next generation of IT leaders by Esteban Herrera