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Technology is more than just networking and Juniper experts share their views on all the trends affecting IT
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Cloud Security, Reality or Myth?

by Juniper Employee ‎06-20-2014 02:16 AM - edited ‎06-20-2014 05:02 AM

A recently commissioned Strategic Report by IT Pro in association with Juniper Networks has bought to light some interesting debate about the Cloud.

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Guest post by Adrian Ringrose, Enterprise Account Director, SecureData

 

The business needs access to data in order to do its job, and the challenge that security teams have is how to allow the business access that data, in a secure fashion, in increasingly diverse number of ways, across multiple geographies.

 

In the past, many networks have been hard on the outside and soft on the inside, but the attention paid to perimeter security has been partially successful, but at a cost. Security teams and business have been forced to wise up to the simple fact that, just because something is behind a firewall, it does not mean this is secure. We need to accept that unfortunately today everyone is a target and everyone will suffer a breach of some kind in the future.

 

The increased sophistication of attacks presents us with a "don't panic" moment. On one hand, it is natural to impose tighter security restrictions on the business. On the other, if these attacks are trying to stop the business functioning efficiently, then too many restrictions will do the hackers' job for them, even if the security measures successfully cut down the number of vulnerabilities.

 

When Juniper Networks surveyed business users at the end of 2013 Download the research here the consensus what that tightening internal rules around access to data would be the way for organisations to become more competitive. There was a strong suggestion that many IT managers and CIOs favoured a "lockdown" approach to managing the data centre, at least in the short term, and the imposition of more restrictive rules on devices.

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Guest post by Jon Wrennall, CTO, Fujitsu

 

The consumerisation of IT creates work in the IT department, and it takes work away. There are many devices, many types of devices, and many more locations and times at which those devices need support, configuration and setup. There are also external cloud software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers such as Salesforce.com, Google or Microsoft Office 365 for office applications; also Microsoft Windows Azure or Amazon Web Services for platform-as-a-service (PaaS). So does the IT department in the empowered enterprise become a giant helpdesk, short of its traditional responsibility to build and implement applications?

 

It’s not so simple - as many organisations, especially those who want to grow from a small base, have learned. Today’s start-ups and branch offices use SaaS and PaaS for their flexibility and ability to deliver business processes quickly and reliably.

 

But any successful business will reach the stage where complexity begins to have an impact. Imagine that the sales team has its Salesforce seats, and customer services use a virtual contact centre. The finance team uses the insourced SAP platform, with transaction engines, based on Oracle, at the back end. There’s a bespoke web services layer that makes sense of all this data. This is the sort of application base that powers thousands of organisations.

 

All the applications theoretically interoperate, and that interoperability fires the excitement around the consumerisation of IT. Users can access a range and depth of data on many devices, in every location.

 

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In part one of my Q&A with Dr Chris Boorman of social business platform vendor Huddle, Chris discussed the need for businesses to be more social and the impediments to change. In part two, he discussed practical steps to take to be a social business.

 

Zoe: Do organisations need to change, or do they just let “social” ways of working take off?

 

Chris: I mentioned our report into the state of the information landscape. To compile this report we interviewed 2,000 office workers in the UK and 2,000 office workers in the US – we deliberately interviewed the office workers rather than marketers or the managers, so we got an authentic picture of what was happening. They told us how the consumerisation of IT affected them and how working collaboratively can threaten the security of the working environment if it is not controlled. This is extremely worrying, because your IP is walking out the door and you don’t know where it is going. So organisations need to establish a way to control this environment.

 

Zoe: What are the practical steps?

 

Chris: We identify five “pillars”. For us, pillar one has to be security: our belief is that, unlike something like Dropbox that grew up from a consumer heritage, we have a closed security model that prevents you from sharing things unless you are part of the collaboration environment. This is the consumerisation of IT, but with enterprise security around it.

 

The second is the ability to make effective use of content. Search is passive and time-consuming. Our technology puts the intelligence into the content rather than you having to search for it, so it is delivered to you almost before you know you need it.

 

The third pillar is to do away with the problem of legacy technology. It’s about saying I don’t need to put up with this old stuff. For example, hosting traditional business tools in the cloud is just re-engineering legacy tools with new technology to make it easier to work together. We need more than that.

 

Fourth, recognise that it’s just as hard to work together today because there are too many obstacles in the way. It’s hard to use a VPN, it’s hard to work with people beyond the firewall, and it’s hard to use mobile devices to get your job done.  You need to do something about that.

 

The final pillar is to consult users to validate the success of projects. Remember the old world of big, large application deployments in which IT led the way? The IT department worked out what business users wanted, and deployed it – and users would look at it and said ”What’s this?” You can’t change behaviour in that way.

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This is a guest blog post. Views expressed in this post are original thoughts posted by Michael Taylor, IT/IS Director, Lotus F1® Team. These views are his own and in no way do they represent the views of the company he works for.

 

Here I am at 30000 feet frantically tapping away at my Surface making the most of the FAA and British Airways’ more relaxed approach to device usage. There is one thing missing though, wireless access. Whilst I enjoy the relative peace and calm of flying without being 'connected' there are occasions where connectivity would be useful ‐ today being one of them as I'm keen to keep up to date with the progress of the 2014 F1 cars currently testing in Bahrain.

 

We are already three races into the season, but the opportunity for us and the other teams to spend two days ‘testing’ new components and performance options, whilst refining our development programmes is too good to turn down. This is where the real progress on the new breed of cars will be made. Naturally, I’m keen to not only follow our team’s progress but that of all of our competitors too. The hyper connected world we now live in provides the perfect platform for us to do just that. With significant amounts of information, analyses and detail available to capture and consume, we may not be there, but we know exactly what is going on. Essential when you're fighting in the ultra competitive world of F1 where we measure performance in less than a tenth of a second.

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What is “social” business? An Empowered Enterprise

by Trusted Contributor ‎04-09-2014 04:33 AM - edited ‎04-11-2014 09:26 AM

Some enterprises claim to be "social" businesses, but not all are Empowered Enterprises. They may use different and innovative types of software and collaboration techniques to create innovation and success, but not all are truly social enterprises. To find out more about how social businesses work and why they succeed, I interviewed Dr. Chris Boorman, Chief Marketing & Customer Success Officer at social business start up Huddle.

 

In the first of two Q&As with Huddle, I asked what distinguishes a “social” business, and what are the strategic drivers? In the second Q&A, I ask Boorman how can companies collaborate better? And what steps do they need to take in order to be more of a social business?

 

Zoe: What does a “social” business do, that others don’t do?

 

Chris: It is a confusing term, many organisations say they need to be social, but don’t know what it means. For me the collaborative nature of a truly social organisation means that these companies have pulled down the silos and barriers that have traditionally impeded efficient collaboration – both internally and externally. Thanks in part to the consumerisation of IT (CoIT), mobile technology and the cloud, they can now work together in a much cleaner collaborative way. They think about solving problems more openly and this means they will work more collaboratively with their customers as well, wherever they are.

 

For example, one of our favourite customers: Richard Williams, who is the CIO of Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, uses Huddle because his staff are always travelling, but need secure access to their documents. Now staff can work wherever they are and access content on all types of devices. Documents are managed and shared in the cloud. The end result for is that staff avoid printing papers for board meetings and sending them by courier countrywide.

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Make love, not war: don’t fight your users

by Jon Wrennall (jon.wrennall@uk.fujitsu.com) ‎04-07-2014 03:39 AM - edited ‎04-07-2014 03:42 AM

Guest post by Jon Wrennall, CTO, Fujitsu

 

There can’t be an IT department on the planet that hasn’t discovered “shadow IT” at some point. Any business with creative, problem-solving users will naturally form small teams to deal with bottlenecks and holdups. When those users are technically savvy, it doesn’t take long before those teams are installing unauthorised apps, buying web services and even programming their own solutions to business problems.

 

To the dismay of the IT department, it sometimes seems as if everybody is having a go, with varying degrees of success.

 

It’s sometimes not even clear when user self-reliance and creativity (good) becomes shadow IT (bad). For example, imagine that many years ago a user with IT skills created a Microsoft Access application to simplify her department’s customer service processes, which her colleagues have now discovered they can share with other offices using the cloud. It has been around for so long that everyone in the department long ago learned to put up with its limitations. For example, they often need to rekey customer data that “belongs” to another department. When they requested access to that department’s customer records, the IT department refused, because their application wasn’t secure. An official customer service application is a development project for the future - a future that everyone knows will never arrive.

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Guest blog post by Dale Vile, Research Director, Freeform Dynamics Ltd

 

The latest catchy but dubious term to emanate from the vendor and pundit community in an attempt to get our attention is "The Rogue Cloud" (http://www.forbes.com/sites/joemckendrick/2013/05/07/corporate-crackdown-on-rogue-clouds-has-begun-survey-suggests/). The word rogue has undoubtedly been chosen because it immediately makes us think of something unpredictable and risky, which is great to stimulate an emotional response.

 

When you consider that the term relates to the unilateral adoption of hosted services by users and business groups independently of the IT department and established policy, a negative reception is understandable in some IT professional circles. Practitioners on the front line are particularly sensitive, as these are the folks who often have to deal with the fallout from DIY activity when users who don’t know what they don’t know get themselves (or the business) into trouble through their technology-related adventures. Whether it’s data security or integrity problems, or simply something not working and the user not knowing how to fix things, the end result is so often a distress call to IT support.

 

With this in mind, it’s a shame that "freedom advocates" seem to delight so much in talking about IT people being out of touch and losing a grip on the way technology is used within the business, despite a distinct lack of any convincing evidence to back up such claims.

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Guest Blog Post by Matt Bushnell, Support Manager, KashFlow

 

In December 2010, immovable force – snow – came face to face with irresistible object - in this case the support needs of all the people who use our product and work with us. KashFlow is a fast-growing company, and when our support staff couldn't make it into the office, we risked our service level dropping.

 

This forced us to make some big decisions about how we manage support. The way we solved the problem reflects the ways in which we work today, both in the power we give to customer service agents to work flexibly, and the types of support we provide.

 

Since it was founded in 2005, KashFlow has grown to be the market leading web-based accounting software in the UK. Tens of thousands of small businesses use the software on a computer, a tablet or a smartphone every day, and many accountancy firms use Orbit (http://www.kashflow.com/orbit/), KashFlow’s client management product, to handle their client accounts. The business depends on customer support, which has two levels. The first, like traditional IT support, is about how to use the product. The second is about all the ways you run a business using the product: for example, every new customer has an "onboarding" session, where an agent talks them through setting up the software to match the sorts of things they do in their business. It's the two-dimensional problem faced by any technical support team: a more fragmented and complex set of technical problems, as well as a need to give good advice on how to work more efficiently.

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A decade ago, when McKinsey & Company analysed the effect of IT investment, it found that companies only became more productive when investments in technology were matched with new ways to work. It seems odd now, but at the time, academics were questioning whether computers had made us more productive at all: we had found some ways to make individual jobs more efficient, but we were not working less, or creating more as a group.

 

Collaborative working based on internet communications helped to solve that problem. But it showed us that, often, we know the answer – we just have to be given the freedom to express it. During the internet revolution we suddenly found that our computers at home were easier to use than the ones at work. While organisations struggled to communicate and share information, the world wide web created a global community for whom it was natural.

 

Now we have a new opportunity. Millions of us are showing the way from the bottom up, using the devices and applications we like best. In many cases, our employers treat this as a problem or a risk that needs to be stopped. But if we can absorb the positive parts of that change into work culture, the reward is that we can be more creative, produce higher quality work, and improve the working experience of employees.

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