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The Internet of Things Needs the Cloud

Experts are playing the name game.

There’s Cisco’s Internet of Everything, IBM’s Smarter Planet, MIT’s Ubiquitous Computing, and The Economist’s The Thingternet. You may even hear it referred to as  “Machine-to Machine (M2M)” or Device-to-Device (D2D) Communications.”

Call it by any other name, but the Internet of Things (IOT) is simply a massively interconnected network of people, processes, machines, and things made possible through the Cloud. Cisco has created a methodological connections counter to track how the IOT components are being connected each day. Its network engineers calculate the economic value of IOT to be $19 trillion.

International Data Corporation (IDC) likewise forecasts billions of things to be connected and trillions of dollars in economic development in its study on IOT spanning the period 2013-2020. This just goes to show the immensity of IOT and how it will impact the future IT world and people’s lives.

The Internet of Things is all around us

IOT is not limited to computers and mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, and iPads. It includes just about anything that can be installed with a sensor.

IOT can be found at home. There are home thermostats that sense when people are home or not and adjust accordingly for comfort and cost savings. For an example of kitchen-related IOT, Electrolux is in the final stages of developing an intelligent refrigerator that comes complete with a microphone, speakers, and video camera. Its computer can suggest groceries needed and places to buy them, as well as meal recipes based on ingredients available in the refrigerator.

We can also see IOT when we travel, as new cars include  about 50 or more computers. With navigation tools, virtual maps, performance indicators, automated gauges, timely alarms, and more, travelers can be assured of safer trips and smoother traffic flow.

Then there’s Wal-Mart’s famous RFID tag that monitors their global supply chain and ensures products reach their destinations at the right places at the right time. Coca-Cola’s interactive vending machines, which are projected to reach two million in a few years. And UPS connects thousands of delivery trucks to the Internet to make delivery faster.

IT scientists foresee that many more ordinary things will become intelligent as the Internet of Things gains steam. For instance, sensors can be scattered all over rainforests to prevent illegal logging. Sensors can also protect fruits, vegetables, and other produce from spoilage. They can keep farm animals from getting sick, and rivers from being contaminated.

The Internet of Things is limitless.

The Cloud is behind the Internet of Things

What makes the interconnectivity of things possible is a network of Cloud-based systems. Many companies simply don’t have the capability to provide a fail-safe network to support their IOT. The abundance of the Cloud has all it takes to support the high requirements.

IOT is not just about connecting things but looking for a Cloud-based service that can support an immensely interconnected ecosystem capable of enabling all the connected things. SDN, virtual network overlays, network service virtualization, borderless admission control, and security are critical options that need to be considered.

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CISOs: The First Line of Defense in Cyber Security

In the technology landscape, fundamental shifts bring new IT security concerns. Continuing developments open new portals of vulnerability and weakening security threshold levels for businesses – significantly increasing the complexity of the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) role.

CISOs face new challenges in the IT rat race

A recent example of a real and consummated threat is the hacking of Code Spaces, a code-hosting company. As described in initial reports and on their website, a distributed denial-of service (DDoS) attack took place in June within a matter of 12 hours. An unauthorized person succeeded in partially or completely deleting data, machine configurations, and backups. The hack rendered the company unable to continue operating.

Code Spaces asserts that they have been able to overcome many DDoS attempts in the past. This time, the hacker may have worked around the weakest links to achieve such a debilitating goal. It is thus critical that CISOs and IT security officers take a proactive approach with regard to emerging threats, detecting vulnerabilities in systems, and knowing the danger levels and prevalence of such threats, so that they are better prepared for worst-case scenarios.

Essential expertise for the cyber age CISO

With constantly emerging technologies, the old CISO concept has changed. Beyond being tech-savvy, the new role of CISOs requires a transformed level of management competencies and leadership to succeed in a shifting environment.

New CISO skills include:

Business-mindedness with a new mindset – In the past, CISOs were confined to their own silos attending to technical matters, like maintaining machines and devices. Their new role now requires them to be a part of the big picture. They are needed in the boardroom to present a new vision, muster the resources to turn that vision into reality, and engage employees in new practices.

Leading and influencing by example – True leaders lead by example. They maintain a high standard of ideas, discipline, and ethics that are consistent with their actions. CISOs must earn the respect and loyalty of their team members, including superiors, to ensure the security of their business in cyber space.

Effective leadership communication skills – Good communicators, as opposed to good talkers, are able to reach their audiences, are active listeners, keep an open mind, and can read between the lines. Cyber security is an organizational priority that must engage all stakeholders in the organization to ensure fail-proof protection.

CISOs await a host of new challenges as IT changes happen, with new threats appearing and existing threats evolving. Enterprises now recognize that the role of CISOs is at a turning point, one that should strengthen their ability to repel and withstand such threats.

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Platform as a Service: The Nucleus of Business Agility

Business growth remains a top priority for CEOs as the world is being consumed by software. CEOs wanting to grow their businesses is not news; what’s news is how they should plan to do it.

According to a new study by Gartner, businesses that leverage new software development are likely to be more profitable than their competitors.

Software development is not just an emerging trend; it is a turning point to jumpstart a new platform – Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). If used effectively, PaaS could be a powerful tool for agility in order to survive, compete, and thrive in today’s high-speed markets.

PaaS as a Turning Point

In a highly networked world with massive data, software is a preferred way for companies to do business and communicate with their customers and peers. Businesses across all industries need to reposition themselves around PaaS as a turning point for survival and growth.

PaaS is a cutting-edge software technology that ensures high-speed application development and deployment. It could lay the foundation of a network of software that can be customized according to the needs of business. Data, applications, speed, business intelligence, and analytics can all be put together in one platform so that businesses can grow dynamically to meet the changing needs of doing business and servicing customers.

PaaS as an Agent for Innovation

PaaS is basically a middle layer platform of tools, software, and middleware used to create applications delivered over the Web on-demand. It is a cost-effective and convenient way of developing, testing, and introducing new and better solutions more quickly than traditional methods.

PaaS engages application developers. Installing infrastructure, operating systems, application servers, adequate storage, and backup systems take time. PaaS substantially shortens the application development cycle because everything is automated. This engages developers to focus on their core responsibility of speedy application delivery.

PaaS saves time and money. Optimizing development time makes organizations more aggressive in introducing new solutions and products. If the cost for application development is reduced, ROI could be more robust. This encourages businesses to take more chances to constantly find more opportunities for growth.

Paas enables the delivery of unique value. Many business applications–including HR, CRM, ERP, and accounting systems–are often commoditized solutions that allow no differentiation from those of other organizations. If a company wants to stand out and deliver unique value, it needs a new kind of platform like PaaS to create custom applications for the company’s unique requirements.

PaaS enhances customer satisfaction. PaaS not only speedily builds and delivers applications; it also monitors and analyzes information on usage and user experience. It thus allows the rollout of fast and new updates to continually enhance customer satisfaction.

Paas allows unlimited cloud service choices. Being portable and flexible, applications managed in a PaaS environment can be moved and scaled across a variety of platforms. The ability to mix and match resources and applications based on unique business requirements gives businesses the freedom of choice for the cloud platforms they need.

Innovation Matters

Businesses that relegate innovation to the backseat are doomed to disappear.

Consumer electronics is one of the most vulnerable categories–as evidenced by old brands dying and new brands coming in. For instance, point-and-shoot cameras are a fading breed because of the entrance of smartphones that have innovative cameras. Print media is also on a slow death due to the legacy costs of printing and distribution compared to its online competitors.

Some brands in retail, manufacturing, hospitality, health, and education that continue to fall behind in innovation face the real threat of extinction. PaaS is your best bet if you don’t want your business to follow suit.

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Risks in the Cloud

The cloud has made possible computing conveniences like scalable storage of data and applications, faster collaboration, unified communications, virtualization, co-location, mobility, and speedy disaster recovery. However, behind the cloud are risks that may impact organizations if these risks are not properly assessed and managed.

IT research firm Gartner advises that the inherent attributes of cloud computing require a comprehensive assessment of potential risks. Telecom agents, businesses, and any organization using the cloud should consider these  risks when migrating to the cloud:

Security and data integrity

Security continues to be a major obstacle to embracing the cloud. It is crucial for agents and businesses to make sure that cloud vendors they are dealing with are reliable and can be trusted. Once data is migrated to the cloud, how can the service provider guarantee the security of such data? Are encryption and access control mechanisms in place?

In addition, ask about how many tenants have shared access. What type of authentication and authorization is required for privileged users? All of these questions are important to answer when migrating to the cloud.

Data location

Due to the universal nature of the cloud, cloud service providers can store and process data in any jurisdiction that allows them to do so. Not knowing the virtual or physical location of your data can be an issue. Customers have the right to know where their data is going to be stored so that they may be apprised of any local regulatory compliance requirements in the selected host state or country.

Framework reliability and compatibility

Existing operating framework should not clash with the chosen cloud services. Some changes in the current IT infrastructure may be necessary to make the new framework compatible with the cloud. Inferior framework reliability may lead to issues during peak periods, restricted access to important information, or unworkable administration tools.

Shared access vulnerabilities

Shared access or multitenancy is a common feature of the public cloud. It involves the sharing of the same computing resources, including storage, CPU, memory, and physical infrastructure. The shared setup is open to the leaking of private data to other tenants.

Researchers have started exploring the vulnerabilities of shared access and found that they have been able to peek into other tenants’ IP addresses and memory space. A few have been able to access another tenant’s computing resources. Gartner adds that multitenancy may be a big risk in the future if safeguards are not applied.

Disaster recovery

Gartner asserts that any cloud computing option that does not replicate data and application infrastructure in multiple sites is doomed to fail. Telecom agents and businesses need to make sure that their chosen cloud partners have the capability to perform complete recovery in the fastest time possible after a disaster.

Lack of standardization

A completely standardized cloud environment has yet to be implemented. Differentiating offerings can lead to major infrastructure changes that can be costly, time consuming, and manpower-intensive.

Long-term viability

Customers need to get assurance from their service providers that they will be able to provide additional services for their future growth requirements. More importantly, customers need to get the commitment of their providers that their data will remain available in case the latter goes bankrupt or is acquired by another company.

Computing has never been the same since the cloud began hovering over the technology world. Understanding vendor options and various cloud offerings in relation to a business’s unique needs is a good first step to know what risks to avoid.

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How CIOs Adjust Their Roles to Meet Their Organization’s Needs

Technological revolutions such as the emergence of cloud computing and social media have made CIOs readjust their roles. Here is a look at why their roles changed thanks to these innovations.

Why CIOs roles are changing

With the popularity of cloud computing and big data analytics, CIOs must balance their current responsibilities while also determining which of these current trends their businesses should use. For many CIOs, this may mean changing their responsibilities within their company.

Using the example of cloud computing, here are several ways this new technology forces CIOs to change their responsibilities:

  • Less maintenance: Many CIOs oversee their organization’s servers and networks, but with cloud computing, service providers do this for them. Further, service providers update software as new versions become available so CIOs don’t have to manage this aspect either.
  • Change in expenditures: When companies transition their software and data over to cloud service providers, CIOs must determine how much their companies should pay for these services, while also reducing cost on storage hardware they no longer need.
  • Change in role: With many organizations moving to cloud-based technologies, CIOs discover they play a more strategic role within their organization’s structure since they have the time to focus on strategic planning instead of daily maintenance tasks.

Overall, these changes can sometimes lead to greater leadership opportunities for CIOs. According to IT News Africa, 67% of CIOs have more leadership roles outside of IT. This illustrates just how important CIOs are in transitioning their companies to these new technological trends.

How CIOs can Adapt

Simply, when companies decide to transition to new technologies, the CIOs can display their value in multiple ways. Here is a look at some of the roles they can fill:

  • Chief Digital Officer: According to Gartner, one in five CIOs already fill the role of the CDO. The CDO is responsible for helping their companies in digital commerce while also identifying new technologies that can benefit their businesses.
  • Chief Outsourcing Officer: When organizations decide to try cloud computing, the COO’s job is to determine which programs, software and data the company decides to outsource and which ones they should keep within their company.
  • Chief Cloud Broker: One of the biggest adjustments for CIOs is when they take on this role. By finding a reputable service provider that offers secure cloud-based platforms, the CCB’s primary role is to build a relationship with that service provider to ensure the provider is able to meet the organization’s needs. This role is more relationship-based than the traditional CIO’s role of problem solver.
  • Chief Insight Officer: One of the best ways CIOs can show their value is by providing their companies with well-analyzed data so the executive board can make sound business decisions.
  • Chief Innovation Officer: The CIO explores new ways to conduct business by researching technological trends and determining which trends are right to employ for their businesses. In this case, the CIOs becomes more like business engineers, as they research and develop innovative ways to keep their company up to date on the latest technological offerings.

Ultimately, CIOs have shown a remarkable ability to adapt to emerging technologies. As technologies such as cloud-based platforms continue to rise in popularity,  the role of the CIO will continue to evolve.

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Cloud Computing: Multiple Benefits for IT Administrators

IT administrators have a difficult job.

According to a survey conducted by GFI, 77% of the IT admins surveyed said their job was stressful. There are many reasons for this: they must maintain systems regularly, troubleshoot problems with applications, and make sure security tools are updated and running efficiently.

Combined, these tasks take up much time and can often lead to stress and longer work hours. One solution for IT admins to consider is cloud computing.

Assistance in the Cloud

Cloud computing can take some of these daily burdens away and give IT leaders more time to focus on strategic development instead of daily maintenance tasks.

Here are just some of the many benefits cloud computing offers IT admins:

  • Automatic updating: Since the service provider for the cloud updates software, it means that is one less thing IT admins have to worry about.
  • Easier storage options: Similarly, cloud platforms give organizations a way to securely store their data, which means that IT doesn’t have to spend time maintaining storage hardware.
  • Versatility: Accessing programs through cloud-based platforms is much easier: all the employee needs is a reliable internet connection. This means that employees can access their data from the office, home, or even a coffee shop.
  • Uniformity: Since everything is internet based, IT professionals can access this information from remote machines. This means that they don’t have to spend time installing programs on every company computer.
  • Reduced workload: In the same survey by GFI, sixty percent of IT admins say they work at least six hours of overtime a week now. However, with all the benefits that cloud computing offers, it may reduce their work weeks or at least give them the opportunity to do some of this work from home.

Unexpected Value of the Cloud

When companies switch to cloud computing, it changes the role of IT professionals. Instead of spending their days maintaining software, they can become more hands-on in developing new strategies to help their businesses grow to meet their customers’ needs.

A great example of this is Electronic Arts. When the company moved some of its programs to a cloud-based platform, there was concern that the IT department may have to cut jobs or that the department would lose money.

Instead, what they discovered was that the company’s IT department didn’t have to spend time on maintenance. Instead, IT was able to spend more of their days strategically planning developments that would help drive revenue. In short, IT aligned its vision with the larger company’s vision, creating a win-win situation for all.

Overall Alignment

Companies need IT professionals more than ever when transitioning to cloud platforms. Therefore, IT admins who can adapt quickly to change become even more valuable to their company; in some instances, they can develop a strategic role in helping their company plan for the future.

Ultimately, cloud computing offers a versatile array of benefits that can make the jobs of IT admins easier. Considering the daily stress already put on them, cloud computing represents an opportunity for them to lessen their workload. Meanwhile, it frees up time for IT leaders, allowing them to pursue collaborative opportunities with other company decision-makers.

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IBM Study Highlights the Importance of Customer Engagement

Business is about people. It is about the people you hire, and the people you serve. Without people, your business ceases functioning. If you nurture the people element of your business, your business will grow and lead the way into the future.

Of course, our technologically driven modern world often neglects people in the equation. For that reason, the team at IBM decided to study just how important people were in the growth and success of modern businesses. What they discovered is causing those in the C-suite to change the way they do business and approach clients.

Methodology

The study was a comprehensive global survey involving more than 1,600 CIOs, 880 CEOs, and 1,600 corporate officers who were asked to define the changing relationships between their businesses and their clients around the world. The insights and experiences they shared provide a reliable overview of the way they are rearranging their priorities.

Results

The survey revealed that leaders are shifting their priorities from intra-enterprise efficiency and productivity towards more transparency, collaboration, and communication with their clients. What the survey also revealed is that this shift is being driven by the clients themselves. As technology advances, the collaborative technologies being utilized within our modern, 24/7 mobile workforce have empowered clients as never before.

Key findings:

  • Approximately 80% of CIOs are planning to digitize their front offices over the coming years so that they are in sync with their customers. This will lead to even more collaboration and greater efficiency.
  • The majority of CIOs say they are focusing on two key initiatives: Gaining deep insights from both structured and unstructured data via analytics and implementing cutting-edge technologies, tools, and processes within the front office. They hope to better understand their clients’ needs and remain in sync with their requirements.
  • CIOs acknowledge that obtaining meaningful actionable insights from the information they collect requires vastly improved information architecture so they an leverage the data they are gathering.
  • 84% of CIOs plan to or are currently investing in mobility solutions, business analytics, and optimization.
  • 64% of CIOs are investing in cloud computing, internal collaboration, and/or social networking.
  • Of participants, 70% of CIOs are planning to incorporate cloud technologies in an effort to improve collaborative processes with their clients.
  • CIOs want more collaboration with CMOs. This is because many are beginning to see that customer experience, sales, new business development, marketing, communications, supplier/vendor management, and IT operations are impacting the CIOs responsibilities.
  • CIOs are planning to implement more technologies designed to encourage and improve collaboration with clients, which will improve the overall customer experience. Chief among these plans is the incorporation of mobile technologies, which will be coupled with improved analytics models, to drive success.

The crucial role of technology

In the end, it has become clear to modern CIOs that these customer-related initiatives are critical to the success of their businesses. Leveraging technology is the best way to manage this and help businesses develop stronger bonds and relationships with the people they serve.

This is a trend that will continue as the technology that clients depend on continues to improve, and clients demand even greater access from mobile platforms, cloud technologies, and advanced business management software solutions.

The CEO might be the head of the company, but it is the modern, mobile customer that is the savvy new boss that companies need to pay attention to.

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Creating Strong Partnerships Between CIOs & CSOs

The complexity of technology means that organizations need their technology and security teams to work together to develop and implement solutions. In particular, companies need their CIO and their CSO to work in collaboration to achieve the company’s objectives. Here are some ways they can achieve this.

Have both parties share their similarities in roles.

One of more common issues between the CIO and the CSO is their approach to the job. While CIOs enjoy taking risks with new platforms, CSOs have to look at the security risks involved with new programming, which can lead to miscommunication between the two departments. Instead of butting heads on differences in job responsibilities, Jo Stewart-Rattray, who is the director of information security and IT assurance at BRM Holdich, recommends that both parties discuss the similarities in their jobs. By doing this they can accomplish two things:

• Both parties will notice many similarities in what each position entails and the differences they discover won’t be as far as first perceived.
• It sets a healthy framework for collaboration by both parties. When each examines the other’s position with an open-mind, it develops the foundation for collaboration.

Open communication throughout the organization.

In a security survey conducted by the Global State of Information, respondents noted that their biggest obstacles to security are a lack of strategy from a security standpoint and a lack leadership that understands how innovations of future business needs impact the company’s security. Simply, this means there’s a lack of communication between the executive, information, and security departments. This represents a significant concern because without open communication from all parts, it can make it difficult to achieve future business objectives. This is why it is imperative that there is open communication between the CIO and the CSO.

By doing so, they can open a healthy flow of information and collaboration between the security and information technology departments that way during new implementations IT isn’t vulnerable after they consider all security risks.

Both parties need to report to each other.

Another area of disconnect in organizations is when the CIOs or CSOs report directly to the CEOs instead of to each other. The problem with this is it can create rift between both positions because it inhibits the flow of information to each department. This is why it is vital in an organizational structure that the CIO and CSO work in collaboration with the CEO or executive board.

By doing so, it opens a dialogue between all parties involved. Benefits are these:

• The executive committee knows security risks for new technology.
• The IT department understands the vulnerabilities associated with new platforms.
• The security department is able to evaluate risk on new platforms.

The result is open communication whereby each part works together to achieve the company’s objectives in a safe manner.
Overall, CIOs and CSOs must work together. When they do this, they create a partnership where both departments collaborate during the designing and implementation process to make new transitions smooth and safe.

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3 Broadband Speed Tips For Business-Friendy Internet Provider Services

With recent increases in access locations and speed tiers, selecting a business-friendly Internet provider may be more difficult than ever. According to the 2013 “Measuring Broadband Across America” report, the FCC cites a current average U.S. broadband speed tier that tops 15 Mbps (1). In the last six months of 2013, more than half of the U.S. consumers still running at less than 1 Mbps upgraded to a quicker speed tier.

The following three points focus on the critical areas of business-friendly broadband Internet services.

1) Speed — How Much Is Sufficient?

Every new generation of devices increase the demand on broadband speed. But without predictability and dependability, your Internet services quickly become worthless. According to Measuring Broadband Across America, speeds above 10 Mbps do not greatly affect page downloads. However, HD streaming video as well as multiple resource sharing can force quick reductions in delivery speeds.

2) Data Limitations

Uploading may be even more critical than downloading. Modern business management has turned to “cloud services.” From video conferencing to interactive learning and from file sharing to email, the software, the data and all the associated files flow in both directions. To further hinder the process, some business broadband business Internet service providers limit your single-instance data transfer options. Make certain your services do not dead-end due to file size restrictions.

3) Latency

Latency defines the time lag between real-time data transmission and data packet delivery. When uploading a file into “cloud” storage, latency may not present any major complications. However, latency can greatly affect the efficiency of real-time video conferencing and online phone calls. For efficient real-time communications, make certain that your Internet provider and cloud management services use equipment designed to eliminate data latency.

Conclusion

Although not the only criteria for business Internet service, speed plays the major role in home and business connectivity. Before choosing any Internet provider resources, consider the importance of:

  • Reliability
  • Flexibility
  • Portability
  • Plan Restrictions
  • Contract Requirements
  • Managed Services
  • AND Speed.
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Tips for Better Business Communications

Not long ago, the business world embraced simple, concise written communications as a powerful tool. Whether in business plans, white papers or daily correspondence, clarity was key. In recent times, communication seems to have been diluted by an onslaught of email, website content, text messages and now Facebook and Twitter posts. Many struggle to keep up with business correspondence in harried exchanges on the go.

However, email, blog posts, comments to blog posts, social media updates, plans, memos, reports, texts/SMS messages and more would be well-served by a more conscious awareness of some of the business communications principles of not-so-distant times. Yes, it’s more efficient to type “IDK” instead of “I don’t know” in a text message, but today’s acronyms can be balanced out with a measure of old-school business communication conscientiousness.

Whether you’re following up with clients on social media or crafting your latest business proposal, these tips can serve you well in today’s fast-based business communications climate:

Make an impression. Use a strong opener, title or headline, then supplement as needed. People tend to skim written communications these days.

Get to the point — efficiently. Use short, concise sentences and simple, to-the-point, no-nonsense words. Avoid jargon, buzz-words and obtuse “ten-dollar words” that your readers will have to “Google” to define.

Use those English skills. Take the time to use basic, proper capitalization and punctuation, even in text messages.

Simplify. Avoid lengthy emails or proposals with multiple points and topics; people just don’t have the attention spans they once did. Create a separate document for each topic with a new, fresh, engaging subject line. Recipients are far more likely to receive and integrate your message if you stick to one topic each.

Of course, business communications have ventured far beyond just the written word. Integrated Communications offers comprehensive telecom communications services for businesses, including:

• Business Telephone Systems

• Business Internet

• Business VOIP

• SIP Trunking

• Hosted PBX

• Conference Communications

• Telecom Consulting

Solid written business communication aligned with the latest cutting-edge technology creates an unbeatable partnership. Contact Integrated Communications for business solutions you can trust.

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