The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Will the Internet of Things lead to passive oversharing?

 

security compromize.pngLast week there was a twitterChat by CIO magazine and the Enterprise CIO forum on ‘the Internet of Things and the effect on the CIO’. During this discussion someone asked “Are there security issues (particularly for the consumer)?” Everyone can probably agree that there are significant concerns that everyone needs to be aware as they strap on more and more devices.

 

One of these concerns relates to a story from a few years back. Then, there was quite a bit of discussion about Super Cookies. This techniques uniquely identified computers by their software versions, installed software… the kind of thing that can be gathered via JavaScript. Nothing had to be stored on the computer itself, like a normal cookie.

 

A similar technique can be applied to uniquely identify a consumer. What devices are they carrying…? Essentially, tracking people by what emissions they are emanating or consuming. Like the Super Cookie, this technique can track and record user behavior across multiple sites. Devices like cell phones are always transmitting "here I am" infromation. BlueTooth and WiFi can also be set to respond to external emissions.

 

Once you can track individual’s movement and interests, you can use that to predict future behavior and act upon it – much like what was demonstrated in the site pleaserobme.com. This site used individual’s social site usage to understand when they were away from home -- except in this case it is passive oversharing by our IoT devices that is the concern. Right now people view this as just a retail experience enabler so they are not freaking out.

 

But this passive surveillance is one area that will likely be scrutinized very closely in the coming years. Those who create devices need to be very aware of what is shared and utilize as much of the security capabilities that are available to keep passive sharing to a minimum.

 

It is not just about recognizing people who come into a retail area. For those who own devices, we need to be aware of what they emit, when and what controls are available to limit them. If it is possible to drive down a street and know which houses are occupied and which are not just by their IoT emissions, there are definitely people who will take advantage.

 

Rethinking future services and the application portfolio

applications.pngAreas changing within business and IT include the movement away from dedicated hardware for applications, as well as the concept of dedicated applications themselves. In order for these changes to be truly successful there are a number of factors to be addressed.

 

Today there are a wealth of software providers that supply intellectual property to address business problems (e.g., ERP solutions). Although some support more flexible access methods (e.g., SaaS), they are still rigid in what they make available to the business itself. The problems are viewed as IT and not what the business needs. In order for these service providers to address the specific needs of an organization, greater service integration flexibility is required. This allows for real integration of business processes, meeting the businesses unique needs. IT that supports those business processes may come from many different sources.

 

This flexibility will require greater data transport capabilities and analytics, turning generic processing into business differentiation. This movement of data outside the control of a service provider is the bane of most as-a-service solutions, yet when you think about it – whose data is it??

 

To meet the needs of the system users, greater platform independent support is required. This will allow the integration of generic business processes into a context specific solution that can be used by the various business roles to make better business decisions. Since the mobile interface is the enterprise interface going forward, placing the information in the context of the user is critical, on the device the user is actually using. Or if the response is well understood facilitating the systems of action needed to predict and respond to business events.

 

This also means that custom application configuration capabilities will be critical. Rather than having 3rd generation programmers handcrafting new behaviors into the system, standards and tools for customization will be required. Application configuration capabilities will improve the time to market and reduce the maintenance costs -- relying on business-oriented graphical modeling to aggregate functionality from across the portfolio of capabilities. Social capabilities and gamification support will be built into these customization capabilities. This mass-customized contextual portfolio approach is the antithesis of what leveraged service providers enable today.

 

One of the biggest detriments (at least from my perspective) of the dot com era was the view that everyone can code. These coders can do that in a 3rd generation language like Java (or JavaScript for that matter). And finally, that coders actually understand user interface and business process automation design (and security). I don’t think we can afford to put up with these views any longer. The changes in how computing works and is delivered as well the complex possibilities enabled by the abundance of IT capabilities don’t allow it. There has been work to leverage experts and hide complexity over the years, yet most organizations take advantage of very little of this work. It’s time that we move on.

What’s the difference between SDN and NFV?

networking.jpgI was in a discussion the other day with someone focused on the networking services space and they kept using the acronym NFV, without really defining it. I dug in a bit and this is what I found.

 

Network Functions Virtualization aims to address the issue of having a large and increasing variety of proprietary hardware appliances. Its approach is to leverage standard IT virtualization technology to consolidate many types of network equipment onto industry standard high volume servers, switches and storage. These more standard device can be located in datacenters, network nodes or at end user premises. NFS is applicable to any data planepacket processing and control plane function in fixed and mobile network infrastructures. 

 

 

I’ve mentioned Software Defined Networking (SDN) in this blog before.  NFV and SDN are mutually beneficial but are not dependent on each other. That was one of the confusions I had during the initial conversation. NFV is focused on consolidating and reducing hardware costs. Although these devices could be virtualized and managed using techniques like SDN they don’t have to be.

 

The concepts of NFV are not really new. Even so, a more formalized approach with PoCs … will hopefully contribute to accelerating changes taking place in the communications industry allowing for reduced operational complexity, greater automation and self-provisioning – much like is happening in the cloud space (either through public or private techniques) for the rest of IT.

 

I just saw that Dave Larsen (of HP) put out a post about what HP is doing in both SDN and NFV, just as I was finishing up this post. Expect to see more about this when HP releases an HP Industry Edge e-zine devoted entirely to NFV, in the near future.  

Spoke at the HP World Tour in Mexico City

This week I had the chance to present at the HP World Tour 2014 on the topic of Defining your journey into the future. Essentially talking about many the topics I post about on this blog -- the fact that there is a great deal of change going on and for much of it you can actually predict what could happen and ideas on how to start to take control for your business.

 

There are a number of YouTube videos (from various speakers) out there from this event with interviews like this one on Software Defined Networks – a topic I have a great deal of interest in applying. By the way, 'no' that isn't me.

 

 

 

One of the best things about an event like this is there are a number of parts of HP represented and so if you have a question, there should be someone there who will have an answer.

 

I know I got into a fairly deep discussion about the implications of security assessments and what can and can’t be done today with the software and techniques available to protect data and prevent intrusions.

 

I also had a chance to talk to a leader in the 3D printing space where we discussed where things are headed and the implications on various markets and industries. As well as who from HP may provide some useful perpsective on the topic.

 

The event is very much like a mini HP Discover except hopefully a bit closer and more intimate. The tour site shows other upcoming session in the Americas in Toronto and San Paulo Brazil. There are other events across the globe listed as well.

Technology education – drivers now and in the future

 

education.pngThe education of future technologists has some interesting conflicts to resolve. The constraints of past success and the opportunities for whole new solutions.

 

Software development is comprised of a tower of Babel consisting of thousands of development languages whose diversity continues to grow every year. Many of these languages are relatively dead (as far as current development), even though they are at the core of many of the systems that facilitate our lives – examples: COBOL and Fortran.

 

COBOL is at the core of many of the systems of record within the financial industry. Few (if any) top tier university programs exist around COBOL (but many community colleges still teach COBOL). Most of the COBOL practitioners are nearing retirement age, and have been for a decade. Planning for this skills gap is something organizations need to do today. If replacement (probably with something more cloud capable) of the programs are part of an application portfolio assessment, it will still require skills in the older environments to flesh out the codified requirements.

 

Software development skills can be standardized and structured, but software development still has an element of creativity. In the talk I gave at the MPICT conference earlier this week, this creative issue was one of the concern areas of ICT educators. The soft skills are critical for developers, since these abilities will be needed to tease out requirements. Developers then need to problem solve and exercise creativity (skills that are also on the soft side). The educators were anxious about the significant pressures to emphasize standard testing and ‘one right answer’ as part of the technical curriculum. This approach may pave over the creative solution that is actually required once the students enter the workforce.

 

I think that most technologists in the field know that our ability to interact with each other and reach consensus on a solution is a critical component of being valuable to an organization. Just being the most creative (or the most right) is not always enough.

 

One of the areas the International Society of Service Innovation Professionals is trying to help organizations and education with is mentoring and coaching on these soft skills to supplement the standard education curriculum. HP is making efforts to expand real work experience as well – I try to sponsor a senior project at UTD every semester (for example). These efforts let students experience the vagaries of real world problems and make mistakes in a safe environment.

 

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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