Tag Archives: IBM

Big Data: Big Decisions

Over recent years the digital world has exploded and the use of IT in day-to-day life has increased exponentially. According to a study carried out by IBM, we produce 2.5 quintillion (2,500,000,000,000,000,000) bytes of data everyday, leading to volumes of data that we have never experienced before. This comes as a result of information being constantly monitored and measured, which then creates a surge of more unstructured data. According to the IDC, the amount of information created, captured or replicated in 2007 exceeded the available storage for the first time.

In relation to enterprises, overseeing the expansion of storage space and ensuring that data is adequately backed up and securely protected has become a huge task. Some environments now consist of hundreds or even billions of small files.  How can we overcome this problem? Is it possible to create an IT infrastructure that is able to support and protect these big data realities?

Unfortunately, the traditional approach of buying more storage, i.e. tapes or disk, simply does not work. This method of data management results in exorbitant costs and increased manual intervention by IT teams. This not only causes various inefficiencies across the entire enterprise but also limits the potential of controlling large amounts of data.

Meanwhile, the data growth explosion is not slowing down. Researchers say that the volume of digital data is growing at a rate of 40-60% per year. Moreover, a survey carried out by Gartner in November 2010, found that almost half of the respondents ranked growth as one of their three biggest daily challenges. Subsequently, the drive for backup needs is increasing, exerting a greater need for a next generation IT infrastructure. In order to do this, enterprises need to pick a vendor that knows big data and a backup solution based on big data needs.

A longstanding option for organisations that is now becoming more common is to virtualise their assets in order to protect them by migrating them to a virtual environment. In doing so, organisations can take advantage of the benefits of centralised data management such as centralised backup and replication. Users, and partners, can access the same data set from different locations. Smart data management gives enterprises many additional benefits when it comes to big data. Even though access to the data is distributed, the data is better protected since its management is centralised. Furthermore, it is easily recoverable and all accessible locally to data analysis tools, which allows IT teams to enjoy more flexibility and frees up time for them to focus on other initiatives. This method also has enormous cost savings.

In the face of the data growth explosion, is your business struggling to protect its data?

Web Privacy Tool to Limit the Amount of Information Given Away

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is currently designing a web privacy tool that will help users control how their personal data is managed and reveal websites which do not honour privacy requests.

The W3C have now reached the stage where they want users, businesses and browser makers to contribute towards the completion of the tool and to implement the specifications, increasing the likelihood of the tool being deemed as success.

Dr Matthias Schunter from IBM who chairs the W3C group drawing up the Do Not Track technologies stated “Users have the feeling they are being tracked and some users have privacy concerns and would like to solve them.”

The group is defining software specifications that will:

  • Let browser settings tell websites to do less tracking
  • Let websites acknowledge privacy requests
  • Define best practices for sites so they can comply with different privacy needs

Dr Schunter stated that their aim in creating this web privacy tool is to end the practice of different browser makers using incompatible Do Not Track Systems and to standardise all of the protocols.

Dr Schunter claimed “Currently websites need to implement all these different protocols, there’s no standard way to respect privacy preferences. We want to standardise all these protocols so they talk the same language and then tell websites what to do with them.”

He later added that the web privacy tools that will be created aim to be “privacy friendly” and limit the amount of data that is given away.

The example that was given was that a site could log a user’s language preference by noting their name and native tongue and store that in a cookie whilst information belonging to regular visitors is stored thorough the use of little text files sites.

Dr Schunter stated that a more secure method would to have browser software which notes the owner’s preferred language which is used and exposes no personal information such as their name.

Another feature of the web privacy tool is that users can be warned about sites that do not respect requests to keep information private and therefore make them re-evaluate the practices.

It is expected that the web privacy tool will be implanted by mid-2012 by browser makers and then adopted by websites soon after.

Beware when choosing a Cloud provider


Cloud providers often don’t specify where jurisdiction lies with regards to the contract being signed.

This could prove to be a major issue should there be a disagreement between two parties. Amazon for instance state that any dispute which is over $7500 should be settled in the Federal Court in Kings Country Washington.

IBM being slightly more reasonable in this area settle any dispute in the region where the contract was agreed.

Term Variation:

Many service providers out there have the ability to adjust contracts at their own discretion. Sometimes this is through simply uploading an updated version on their website.

IBM for instance tell their customers to periodically review their contract terms online!

Trans border data flows:

Companies such as Telstra state that data may be transmitted overseas to other countries where differing privacy laws are in place. This means they are basically outsourcing their storage to external suppliers.

Telstra states that they: “cannot control how suppliers or their suppliers will use, store or disclose your personal data.” Outstanding.


The majority of Cloud providers take no responsibility for the security of data, even when the security of that data is out of the customer’s control.

IBM state that customers are “solely responsible for procedures and controls regarding encryption and backup.”

“We have no liability to you for any unauthorised access or use, corruption, deletion, destruction or loss of any of your content and applications.”

Potential customers must be wary of misleading marketing statements such as that made by Google which claims “when you trust your company’s information to us, you can be confident that your critical information is safe and secure.”

Huge disparity in contracts:

It is extremely important to do your due diligence before signing up to a Cloud provider. Even when contracts are supposedly comparable, SLAs can vary hugely.


Services which supposedly guarantee 100% uptime are often slightly misleading.

As such one provider, Softlayer only gives its customers credits when downtime has been over 30 minutes. Even with multiple instances of 25 minute downtime, the client is not entitled to any compensation.

Transition Out:

Finally the situation may be complex if the customer wishes to change cloud providers or wishes to delete their data from a provider’s systems.

Generally there is no set format for data deletion and many contracts do not provide details as to what happens at the end of an agreement.

CEOs reveal data security worries

A survey of 115 UK business leaders has found that the majority are concerned about the continued threat posed to their businesses by data loss and inadequate security measures.

The Ponemon Institute conducted the report on behalf of IBM in order to examine the prevailing attitude of CEOs towards data protection and it found that 77 per cent have actually seen their businesses suffer from a data breach in the past.

The most worrying revelation was that every single one of those questioned had seen an attempted attack against their systems in the last year.

76 per cent of the CEOs said that it was imperative for them to reduce the number of weaknesses in systems which were necessary for the continued operation of their businesses.

Confidence amongst the CEOs in current security measures was minimal, with less than a fifth saying that they were certain a data breach would be avoided in the next 12 months. Conversely, 81 per cent said that they felt the proper formulation of a strategy to deal with data loss would be an effective investment.

The Ponemon Institute’s founder said that CEOs across the country were beginning to come to terms with the fact that proper planning for prevention of data loss and the recovery after a breach, are necessary in the modern world.

Most CEOs are said to be willing to spend money on data security in order to save money in the long run by avoiding the costs that would be incurred in the aftermath of a serious breach, not to mention the damage to the reputation of the firm.

The respondents whose firms had invested in better data management and protection had seen a total of over £11 million in savings between them.

IBM’s Daniel Sabbah said that CEOs understood the need to address issues before they arise in order to prevent data loss and regulatory ramifications in the future.

It is estimated in the report that each piece of data that is lost during a breach costs the affected firm an average of £112, although the CEOs noted a higher rate of £143 based on personal experience.

Congestion charging online payments fail during hand-over

IBM suffered major setbacks in the nation’s capital last week after it botched a systems switchover and was taken to court by a local council over a data management matter. On Monday 2nd November IBM was set to take control of the Congestion Charging system from previous operators Capita. However, whilst the transfer of the payment system was in process, a catastrophic crash occurred. This prevented customers from making payments via the online system for 9 hours, causing considerable frustration for those affected.

IBM has called the lengthy breakdown an ‘interruption’ which it says was caused by a major upgrade to the payment system which occurred in unison with the switch-over. Customers who could not make the Congestion Charge payments online were forced to use either the mobile payment service or to make their payments at one of the many retail outlets in and around London. Continue reading

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