Technology, Infrastructure and Cloud Focused.

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

IT infrastructure for data protection – post presentation review

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Around 6 weeks ago I had the pleasure of being invited to a Computer Weekly event that CW500 run for exclusive members, the title of this session was “IT Infrastructure for Data Protection” and presented alongside Mark Skilton from Warwick Business School and Mike Cope, IT Director at University College London.  We were hosted by Bryan Glick, Editor-in-Chief of Computer Weekly – many thanks Bryan and the turn out was very good.

My slide deck was focused around an IT transformation programme I am heading up how we are protecting data not just through application or data migrations but what feature sets and technology are we implementing to address  issues like Dropbox, wireless or BYOD devices.

I must admit I was surprised on how this went, excluding the slight issue with my slide deck and automatic transitioning of them!

Anyway here is the article on me –

Here is the video – 


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

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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


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:


So if the desktop is no more what about your data and drives?

Venture Beat is a great source of information and has some great articles focused around Cloud providers and watching the Cloud space to see what is up and coming.  What is fascinating is the fact that I came across an article talking about how the desktop will be the thing of the past soon, in that I mean the desktop computer, which within my 2013 Predications post I had stated and will still stick to this fact – this is of course my opinion and not based on any widely scientific facts expect for the point of what is happening within Enterprises – BYOD, Ultrabooks, Tablets, VDI, Desktop-As-A-Service need I go on..!

Now I have been a great fan of Oxygen Cloud for some time now having (designed and) deployed (a number of times) and used their products, in fact these guys offer something truly unique within the Public / Private Cloud Storage space – they offer a truly secure Enterprise Private Cloud Storage Gateway for Enterprises (and a freeium version for domestic Public Cloud use) – thats right no more worrying about the insecurities that have been in Dropbox in 2012 or  here in 2011.  They offer a number of appliances that are stored within your Enterprise, behind YOUR firewalls (so no more worrying about BYOD or Data Leakage, let alone Sovereignty of data) which can integrate with Active Directory, RSA 2 form factor authentication and auditing appliances.

It is as simple as One-Two-Three and plug in some of your storage into these appliances and within minutes you have built yourself a Private Cloud Drive available on any device, anywhere and any time – I could go on but will write another article on how Oxygen works.

Why not try it for yourself and get 5GB free and compare it to the otherssign up here.

But do ask yourself if the desktop computer is a thing of the past how will your offer your internal users the same access, same data and know it is secured within your enterprise or corporate network….um……..!

So some interesting facts I have pulled from the post (click below for the detailed post) but some I found very interesting – let me know your comments and email me here:

  1. Gartner predicts that 821 million smart devices will be sold worldwide in 2012.
  2. In her latest Internet trends report, Mary Meeker shows how the Wintel empire will only represent 1/3 of personal computing devices by the end of the year.
  3. Forrester Research says that 74% of workers already use at least two computing devices, and they want access to their content across all of them.
  4. Enter the consumer personal cloud. Your desktop takes a back seat to a massive hosted file server called iCloud or SkyDrive or Google Drive that together could store as many as 5 trillion files by 2016.


Post back and information from this post can be found in the Venture Beat Article “The Death of the Desktop Means a Rebirth in IT”.

Will Apple devices move into the enterprise?

I wonder if 2013 will be the year of Apple hitting it big within the enterprise space.  Now when I say this I do not mean the small businesses out there, yes you know the small marketing, designers or development companies or businesses that have an image to build up – I mean the big scale enterprises with 200+ machines to look after, the companies that need to think of the end user, the supportability and operational impact of consumer grade devices (BYOD or IT Consumerisation).

This may sound negative – to the contrary as I am an avid Apple follower, they are sexy, powerful and leaps ahead of their competitors (at premium prices), all my machines at home are Apple Mac’s of some shape or age and I have had an iPhone since the original (now on 4S).  I would love for the companies I work for to say “go spec up your Mac” (wonder what I would go for umm this wont take any time at all – Mac Book Pro 13″ + Retina, 16GB and i7 with 756 SSD) but the issue here is the long term support, warranty and training their IT staff to support it.  Go for it Apple and good luck.

When you look at companies like HP, DEll and Lenovo they all offer 3 year hardware, same or next day and that’s either parts or engineer.  Now compare this to Apple, firstly you need to purchase a CarePlan to extend it and then take it into a Apple Store – sorry what.!!!  Take it into a Store..!  Yes there are resellers and companies that can offer you support but to me that is not the point.

So when I came over this report from Tech Crunch that explains the details of a Forrester Report estimates Apple will sell over $39 billion (yes Billion Dollars) of Macs and iPads to businesses over the next 2 years it got me thinking of the above.

This brings us onto the management of these devices mainly known as Mobile Device Management (MDM), these products allow additional control and management to the enterprise for setting policies like application control, device wiping or encryption.  Having have experience with the top rated MDM providers (Mobile Iron, Zenprise and AirWatch) I can safely say these platforms work and work very well.  Below is a small snippet from the Gartner Magic Quadrant of 2012 that shows the market leaders:


Gartner 2012 MDM Solutions

Gartner 2012 MDM Solutions