Tag : integrated

VMware vSphere 5 is Really Impressive Technically

BVA really likes vShere and have a lot of confidence in the product and offering.  On July 12 VMware launched vSphere 5, a cloud computing infrastructure suite that essentially is a one-stop virtualization shop. An all in one really, which is very impressive.  vSphere 5, whose predecessor vSphere 4 came out about a year ago, is the largest integrated software product ever launched by VMware, adding four completely new modules—(vCloud Director, vShield 5.0, vCenter SRM 5.0 and vSphere Storage Appliance (optional).  VMware also announced that it has made available an iPad version of the management interface in the Apple App Store. Here are 10 of the most important points made at the July 12 VMware announcement event in San Francisco.

  • Cloud Infrastructure Suite
  • Virtualize Critical Business Applications
  • Path to 100% Virtualization
  • Simple Self Service
  • Major Upgrade for the Infrastructure Suite
  • Simplifying Adoption to vSphere
  • IT Transformation Journey
  • Hybrid Cloud Models
  • vCloud Director
  • vShere 5

Establish Standards for Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is the latest hot trend in the IT world and among technology consulting companies.  To a point where almost every meeting I go on talks about this subject matter and does so in a very misinformed way.  The perception out in the marketplace is that the cloud is cheaper, more reliable, and secure.  That is simply just not the case unless the proper steps and procedures are followed.  When will we see cloud standards?  That is a really great question because the security questions of encryption and penetration capability still have not been addressed.  How reliable is the data in the cloud?

The protocol, data format and program-interface standards for using cloud services are mostly in place, which is why the market has been able to grow so fast. But standards for configuration and management of cloud services are not here yet. The crucial  standards for practices, methods and conceptual architecture are still evolving and we are nowhere close.  Cloud computing will not reach its full potential until the management and architectural standards are fully developed and stable. Until these standards are formalized and agreed upon there will be pitfalls and mishaps, which cannot take place.

The main premise of Cloud protocol is  TCP/IP.  The cloud usually uses established standard Web and Web Service data formats and protocols. When it comes to configuration and management, the lack of effective, widely accepted standards is beginning to be felt and I have seen the negative results.  There are several agencies and organizations working on cloud configuration and management standards, including the Distributed Management Task Force (www.dmtf.org), the Open Grid Forum (www.ogf.org), and the Storage Networking Industry Association (www.snia.org).

Currently there are, as of yet, no widely accepted frameworks to assist the integration of cloud services into enterprise architectures.   An area of concern is the possibility of changing cloud suppliers. You should have an exit strategy before finding a provider and signing a cloud contract. There’s no point in insisting that you own the data and can remove it from the provider’s systems at any time if you have nowhere else to store the data, and no other systems to support your business.

When selecting an enterprise cloud computing provider, its architecture should have the following:

• the cloud services form a stable, reliable component of the architecture for the long term;
• they are integrated with each other and with the IT systems operated by the enterprise; and
• they support the business operations effectively and efficiently.

Other groups that are looking to establish industry standards include the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (http://csrc.nist.gov), the Object Management Group (www.omg.org) and the Organization for Advancement of Structured Information Systems (www.oasis-open.org).

iPad and iPhone Can Be a Security Risk

BVA has found that these types of mobile devises if not provisioned correctly can seriously be a security risk to your network environment.  Security policies need to be set forth to ensure security at all levels of access.  Apple iPad tablet device as well as the iPhone is slowly becoming a legitimate business tool, your employees will soon have them in hand and invade your business. The reality is that the iPhone changes the playing field for security and really surprised IT consulting companies and their administrators when it got released.   The users needs versus wants changed completely where being able to have a Smartphone that just sync’s calendars, contacts, and emails changes drastically. The iPhone hit the scene and next thing we were getting requests for it to be integrated into a businesses mail environment immediately. These requests were coming from owners and directors, decision makers were being demanding about making it work, totally side-stepping the security protocols set forth by years of experience and best practice.  The bottom line is that the line between corporate tool and consumer gadget has not just been blurred; it has been completely erased.  There have been several studies that have shown that when asked, the iPad and iPhones present the greatest smartphone security risk for IT.  It’s a scary thought that you have locked down your environment but since a new gadget gets releases to the market and owners want it, it diminishes the integrity of the system.

There was recently a few contents by security outfits where they had people hack the iPhone in less than 2 minutes and won a cash price.  This is a scary thought and quite frankly shows how easy it can be for the non-hacker.  Obviously it might take a little longer from a less talented hacker but it can clearly be done.  Apple has little intention to make their OS more secure because it’s not the market that they are targeting.  Again they are targeting the consumer, not the business enterprise.  I am sure there will be a point in time when that day comes but it is not in the near future.  If Apple at the very minimum addressed just the enterprise security, supportability requirements, and new hardware level encryption.  I want to be very clear that the OS on the iPhone is the same as the iPad as well as its security. Apple targeted the iPad primarily as a media consumption gadget for the residential consumer, not the business community but again we have seen this shift.  I am not saying that you should ban the iPhone or iPad but develop policies and procedures that address the rules of engagement for integrating the iPad with your network environment.

As you develop the policies, keep in mind that the iPad is unique and could fall into a few different areas for policies.  Here are some key points to keep in mind:

•    delivers notebook-like functionality
•    smartphone OS platform
•    normally placed in the policy bucket for computer usage and security policies, not recommended
•    a good policy bucket to consider – smartphone usage and security policies (recommended)
•    same smartphone OS was hacked in less than 2 minutes

Make sure that whatever policy selected addresses the most important factor here which is allowing or denying the storage of confidential or sensitive information on the iPad, or how e-mail, instant messaging and other communications conducted through the iPad fit within archiving and compliance requirements.

MAC Microsoft Office 2011- Finally Got it Right

It feels like I have been waiting forever for the new release of Office for the Mac.  With Microsoft Office for the Mac 2011 (Home and Student version, $119; Home and Business version, $149), Microsoft has finally gotten it right. After a string of disappointing releases, the new Mac version of the world’s most widely-used office suite is a spectacular success, and an unexpected triumph for Microsoft’s Macintosh group. Compared with Office for the Mac 2008 and its predecessors, Office 2011 is innovative, better-designed, startlingly faster, vastly more powerful, and far more compatible with Office for Windows. It even includes a few features that outclass anything in its Windows-based counterpart, Microsoft Office 2010 ($499, 4 stars). If you’re a casual, light-duty office-suite user or a student, iWork ’09 ($79, 4 stars) is still a great option, but if you’ve got heavy-duty work to perform on the Mac, you’ll want Office for the Mac 2011.  The cost for the suite is pretty reasonable for the applications you get.

Office for the Mac still has some minor weaknesses, and at least one feature that’s less powerful than in the previous version—Office no longer syncs calendars with iCal. Overall, it’s the best office suite ever for using the Mac as a serious platform for getting work done.  Office for the Mac comes in two versions, a Home and Student Version (single user package, $119; three-user family package $149) and a Home and Business Version (single user package, $199; licensed for two machines, $279). The Home and Student version includes Word 2011, Excel 2011, PowerPoint 2011. The Home and Business version matches the Home and Student version plus Outlook 2011, which replaces the Entourage mail, calendar, and contact manager app in recent versions.

Pros: Fast, flexible office application suite. Most powerful Mac office software. Highly compatible with Office for Windows. Well-integrated with OS X. Visual Basic for Applications recorded and programmed macros fully supported. Newly-designed Outlook replaces Entourage as mail/calendar/contact app.
Cons: No calendar synching with iCal. Outlook won’t synch with or retrieve mail from Exchange Server 2003 or earlier.
Bottom Line: Office for the Mac roars back with fast, powerful application suite the best of its kind for the OS X platform.