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Archive for 2013

One of the most daunting and off-putting challenges for any enterprise IT department is how to efficiently plan and effectively manage cloud deployments or upgrades while still maintaining the reliability and availability of the existing infrastructure during the rollout.

IBM solves this issue with its newly released Platform Resource Scheduler which is part of the company’s Platform Computing portfolio and an offering within the IBM Software Defined Environment (SDE) vision for next generation cloud automation. The Platform Resource Scheduler is a prescriptive set of services designed to ensure that enterprise IT departments get a trouble-free transition to a private, public or private cloud environment by automating the most common placement and policy procedures of their virtual machines (VMs). It also helps guarantee quality of service while greatly reducing the most typical human errors that occur when IT administrators manually perform tasks like load balancing and memory balancing. The Platform Resource Scheduler is sold with IBM’s SmartCloud Orchestrator and PowerVC and is available as an add-on with IBM SmartCloud Open Stack Entry products. It also features full compatibility with Nova APIs and fits into all IBM OpenStack environments. It is built on open APIs, tools and technologies to maximize client value, skills availability and easy reuse across hybrid cloud environments. It supports heterogeneous (both IBM and non-IBM) infrastructures and runs on Linux, UNIX and Windows as well as IBM’s zOS operating systems.

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The 2013 five-day cyber holiday shopping sale from Black Friday through Cyber Monday drove the highest sales totals in U.S. history. This year’s sales surged over 20% and mobile traffic increased by 45% compared with 2012 revenues, according to data from IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark Hub, which tracked data from over 800 U.S retailers in real-time.

Apple, Amazon, Best Buy and Wal-Mart were the big winners. Apple especially has reason to be pleased: IBM’s Digital Analytics statistics indicated that Apple iOS devices rang up 450% more online commerce than rival Android devices and Apple customers outspent their Android counterparts by over $13 on individual sales as well.

Additionally, IBM’s cloud-based analytics findings indicated that U.S. shoppers made Cyber Monday the biggest single online shopping day in history with a nearly 21% increase in online sales. Mobile sales exceeded 17% of all online sales, representing an increase of 55% year-over-year, according to IBM Digital Analytics statistics. And the average online order was $128.77.

Retail analysts got a bit of a shock when this year’s Cyber Monday online sales outpaced Black Friday sales by a solid 31.5 %. However, the consumers who shopped on Black Friday spent an average five percent more on each order — $135.27 versus those who spent $128.77 on Cyber Monday purchases.

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IBM and Business Partner Bechtle AG just won a $150 million contract to supply the European Commission with 6,100 System x and Flex Systems for office and application servers and supporting services.
This is the largest contract ever awarded by the EC, which is the executive body of the European Union institutions and agencies in the EC’s 27 member states.

The contract is significant for both the size of the award and the fact that IBM and Bechtle AG beat out tough competitors including rivals Bull, Dell, Fujitsu and Hewlett-Packard for the multi-tier/year contract. That they did so is a testament to the EC’s confidence in the performance, reliability and scalability of IBM System x and Flex Systems server line and IBM and Bechtle AG’s ability to deliver top notch technical service and support.

The $150 million contract also underscores IBM’s continued commitment to and investment in the Intel Corp. based x86 platform. Rumors have been swirling for some time that IBM might sell off the System x server line. Given the EC contract win, coupled with several other recent big System x wins and potential System x server deals in the offing, a sale seems unlikely.

In addition, IBM is readying a new line of System x servers for release in early 2014 based on Intel’s forthcoming “Ivy Bridge” EX processor. Sources within IBM said that Big Blue will bolster the considerable performance and reliability features of the upcoming Intel EX processor with significant add-on capabilities that go beyond Intel’s own server specifications.

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An overwhelming 80% of companies say that “end user carelessness” constitutes the biggest security threat to their organizations, surpassing the ever-present peril posed by malware or organized hacker attacks .

Additionally, 65% of businesses do not calculate the cost or business impact of security-related downtime and over 30% of firms are unable to detect or defend against a security breach in a timely manner when one does occur.

Those are among the top findings of the ITIC/KnowBe4 “2013 – 2014 Security Deployment Trends Survey.” The joint independent Web-based survey polled 500 organizations during October/November 2013 on the leading security threats and challenges facing their firms and their top priorities over the next 12 to 18 months. In order to maintain objectivity, ITIC and KnowBe4 accepted NO vendor sponsorship and none of the respondents received any remuneration for participating.

The data indicates that IT departments are hard pressed to stay abreast of myriad security issues which represent just one portion of their overall job responsibilities. Some 44% of survey respondents said their IT departments and security professionals spend less than 20% of their time on daily operational security. Another 32% said they devote 20% to 40% of their time on security. Only 20% of participants dedicate a significant portion of their daily and weekly administrative activities to securing their systems and networks.

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Yes, infrastructure absolutely does matter and has a profound and immediate impact on enterprise security.

Server hardware (and the server operating systems and applications that run on them) form the bedrock upon which the performance, reliability and functionality of the entire infrastructure rests. Just as you wouldn’t want to build a house on quicksand, you don’t want your infrastructure to be shaky or suspect: it will undermine security, network operations, negatively impact revenue, raise the risk of litigation and potentially cause your firm to lose business.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. These days, many if not most corporate enterprises have extranets to facilitate commerce and communications amongst their customers, business partners and suppliers. Any weak link in infrastructure security has the potential to become a gaping hole, allowing a security breach to extend beyond the confines of the corporate network and extranet. Security breaches can infect and invade other networks with astounding rapidity.

Increasingly, aging and inadequate infrastructure adversely impacts enterprise security.

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