Technology, Infrastructure and Cloud Focused.

Father of 3 lovely children, geek, infrastructure expert, technical architect and all round technologist.

Archives for May 2014

Data protection, privacy and the IT department – how to manage the proliferation of data in your organisation

Computer Weekly Logo

I have been luckily invited to attend one of the Computer Weekly CW500 clubs tonight to speak on data protection, privacy of that data and how it can impact the IT department.  We are all aware of where data is within our companies and organisations but unless you are privileged to have a dedicated information security team do you really know where this data is and more importantly how it flow’s through your internal or external systems?

I am not a dedicated information security expert or data security controller but I do have a passion for security, hacking and thinking outside of the traditional model.  Currently for those who know me I am working on a large transformation programme (the biggest in the history of the company) we are changing every aspect of application, infrastructure and business process – along with this comes detailed understanding of how data moves through systems just think about the following:

  1. Do you know every interface of your critical systems?
  2. Are these documented?  Where are the human touch points or data manipulation / transformation?
  3. Do you have audit or reconciliation checks on these interfaces.
  4. If they go external how secure are these?

I am sure some of these, or even most of these are point interfaces going from Application A to Application B and if you needed to extend or move this interface you would need change both ends of the interface.

This is where the Service Orientated Architecture comes in and the concept of building reusable services, think of this a intergeneration layer or gateway in which all interfaces and data flows through, some of the benefits of this approach:

  1. You only need to amend a single payload or side of the interface if this needs re-pointing (for example changing a line of business application).
  2. You have a central point in which you can audit and secure the data flowing through.
  3. You can reuse or re-purpose that data to feed into another system.

And many more benefits….

As and when you migrate data from system to system you need to think about a) how sensitive that data is and b) how will you reconcile that data (if  the source system sent 10,000 data sets with a hash of 123, has the target system received the same values).  Then thinking about strict dress rehearsal loads, a dedicated testing team with detailed scripting and expected outputs.

A may do a more detailed post on a standard migration approach and how you need to work heavily with the business to ensure they understand they own the data, IT administer the systems and access to the systems but they do not own the data – in some businesses if you ask these questions who may be surprised at what the business turn round and say!

So this is a brief summary of the theme of my presentation, 15mins max so this will have to be a whistle stop tour and I have not even talked about IT Consumerisation, Cloud, Big Data, how the generation X,Y and Z will impact us – meshing their private data (which to be honest do you know where it is all stored!!  Facebook, Linkedin etc) with the corporate data plus the proliferation of  Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD).

Stay tuned


New Microsoft Cloud Trust Center for Office 365

Microsoft’s TecEd conference in North America today released a number of new features for the Office 365 platform including a revamp of their Trust Center site.  For those who do not know about the Trust Center this is a complete site that details the security, efforts and certifications Microsoft have achieved in order to make Office 365 secure and compliant.

The new Office 365 Trust Center –

 Details of their blog post can be found here but below is a small summary of the key points:

  1. Encrypted Storage – Starting from July an upgrade from single encryption keys per disk to a unique encryption key per file.  This means for SharePoint online or OneDrive for business users each file has a separate encryption key, increasing the encryption.
  2. MDM for Office Apps on mobiles – this would appear to allow IT departments to give the ability of creating, viewing and sharing policies between managed applications.  I think this is in conjunction with Windows Intune and the Enterprise Mobility suite – further details can be found here.
  3. Extending DLP – bringing similar technology from the DLP (Data Loss / Leak Prevention) in email scanning into SharePoint and OneDrive for business documentation.  This will be rolled out in June to Office 365 E3 customers allowing them to prevent sharing based on document classifications and queried through the E-Discovery Suite.


Highlights of the Office365 Trust Center:

An interesting stat I have found which shows the current global uptime of Office365 is Quarterly worldwide uptime: 99.96%  and the last 4 quarters have been 99.98%, 99.97%, 99.94% and 99.97% – can you as an IT function offer this?? Check the availability here.

  • Privacy – Consumer and Business infrastructure is separate, it is your data,
  • Encryption – Data is encrypted at rest and in transit over the network.
  • Microsoft is a data process of your data.
  • Who in Microsoft has access to your data see here.
  • Regionalised data centres keeps data with the region but they can move this to a different region so beware.
  • Law enforcement requests – see here for details.  See below for the UK:


Additional resources:


Microsoft Surface Pro VS Microsoft Surface Pro 2

Surface 1 VS 2 ProOk, so over the last 4 months or so I have had the pleasure of comparing my original Microsoft Surface Pro (128GB edition) to the Surface Pro 2 (256GB edition) and wanted to share my thoughts on vision on these hybrids.

Firstly I have always said that the desktop era is going, laptops being replaced with ultrabooks last year and this year their will be replaced with transformers, hybrids and the concept of tablet / laptop combined.  With the release of Windows 8 and now 8.1 (soon 8.2 hopefully with the start menu screen!!!) this is set to turn the true desktop experience into a different level.

docking-station-frontIn my opinion Microsoft missed a trick when they released the Surface 2 in the UK – the lack of the docking station, to truly hit the business and enterprise community they should have geared up to release this at the same time – the main function business laptop users need is connectivity and external monitors.  Of course most people now will look towards the rather sophisticated USB docking stations, similar to these.dockingstation-2

Generally speaking both versions are very good and can be used as a replace for any desktop or laptop, for long periods of time the screens will become a strain so the recommendation of an external monitor is a must.  I prefer the type keyboards on both and have no time for the touch as I feel these are unresponive and being old school prefer keys that you can depress.  However the mouse on the type keyboard for the Surface 1 is a lot more usable than the type keyboard for the Surface 2 – so a word to Microsoft keyboard on type 2 with the mouse on the type 1 please (although both are compatible with each other).

I have had a few issues where I have to undock and dock the keyboard a couple of times but generally very good, battery life is good although the option for an extended battery would be good.  The Wacom pen is good and responsive in both versions and is a lot better than using an iPad and pen due to the fact you can rest your hand on the screen without causing any issues – my only concern is waiting for Evernote to bring out a direct hand written app.

From a storage point of view this will depend on the amount of free capacity Windows takes up about 50GB and with the Pro version you get 200GB of OneDrive (formally SkyDrive) to give additional capacity – just bear in mind that this does impact on the local storage as a copy of the data is saved (or cached) locally.surface_2

In summary if you are looking for a highly portable solution, feed up of carrying a laptop and tablet around then these devices are very good, the specification I would go for is detailed below my only negative point is the lack of the official docking station (but use a USB model) and the cost as these are slightly over priced in my opinion.  If you are worried about the lack off application support within the Microsoft Store then I would not worry at a conference some time ago Microsoft mentioned thousands of applications being submitted and approved monthly so I expect this space to grow and may even look at a recommended list of apps soon.

Recommendation list: