Posts Tagged ‘Software’

10 Principles Of IT Security Every Small Business Should Know

November 17th, 2014

IT security breaches are a risk to small business.Condoleezza Rice Meets With Alexander Downer

Without a dedicated IT department, managing online security for a small business can be a daunting task.

While big organisations have entire teams working to secure networks and information, small businesses are lucky to have a computer guy.

But there are simple steps you can take to secure your data – and remember, much of this is your customers’ data too, and they expect it will be cared for properly.

So to get up to speed, here are 10 things every small business should know to protect systems from intruders.

1. Invest in and update security software
Even if you’re a small business, security is important because being connected to the internet opens you to the world, Airtasker COO and co-founder Jonathan Lui told Business Insider.

Last year Australians spent $408 million on security software but they spent $770 million on potato chips. The message: invest in reliable and up-to-date security software.

Security software needs to be installed on all your devices. It should include a firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware. One of the mistakes people make is installing the software and never updating it – new threats emerge on the internet every day and your protection software needs to keep up with that.

Also good to know – many of the cloud software offerings on the market already have stringent security solutions built into them. So you may not need to invest over and above the technology that you already have.

2. Back everything up
Gone are the days where backing up your data was a tedious task. Cloud technology means you can set up your devices to back up all the information they hold as often as you like.

A comprehensive solution combines online and offline – so back up to the cloud and to a USB regularly.

3. Build a culture of IT security in the business
Establishing a culture which is aware of security threats is one way to protect your business. This can be as simple as training staff around expectations and technology uses.

“It comes down to a lot of human security principles,” Lui said.

“Generally when a new employee comes in we get them to sign a policy agreement which outlines what we expect in terms of IT security and confidentiality. I generally do an audit once a quarter but try to keep it a bit random.”

Expert360 head of engineering Tom Jowitt said education can be one of the strongest security policies.

“Educate your team on best practices. Small improvements can drastically improve security. People are always the weakest link,” he said.

4. Outsource to an expert global provider
Outsourcing tasks like hosting and servicing IT infrastructure to a global provider is important. It enables small business to take advantage of the big company’s developments and have less chance of data being lost or breached as well as hopefully minimising any downtime.

“Don’t try to bring all the security skills into your business if you don’t have to. You’re not the security guy. If you think it’s a priority pay for those skills,” Lui said.

“You need to delegate the responsibility to someone who is going to care about your IT security.

“You’re trying to minimise the risk of something catastrophic happening down the track.”

Jowitt said outsourcing gets security out of the way of critical business tasks.

“In small businesses, data is one of the most valuable assets yet you often lack the resources that larger companies do. You need to make sure that your security approach is manageable and doesn’t get in the way of the business. Security is always a trade-off between being secure and being usable,” he said.

5. Have different passwords for everything
Setting passwords on all devices and introducing two-factor identification for more sensitive information can protect your business from intruders. It’s especially important with the rise in portable and mobile devices that leave the office. Passwords can stop people from accessing information if a phone or laptop for example is lost or stolen.

Passwords should also be different for each device or platform to stop giving someone access to everything if they figure out one access code.

Think about what would happen if someone could read your email. A sophisticated hacker could trawl your correspondence for all those times you shared passwords around the business, and reverse engineer much of your security.

Lui said setting up a password management plugin is an easy way to manage security when a business has multiple users. It also enables a manager to set different access levels and allocate a master password.

6. Learn to remote wipe
Just like you would want all your data backed up if a device was lost, stolen or infected with malicious software – you also need to have the ability to wipe data remotely.

This means you can log in from another device in the case of an unexpected event and wipe all the data to stop it being accessed by prying eyes.

Lui said setting up the ability to lock down access to emails and files that an employee has access to is also important, especially if they leave the company unexpectedly.

“I always err on the side of being cautious from the start,” he said. “It prevents these types of issues if they happen.”

7. Brush up on the Australian Privacy Act
Knowing the rules and regulations around obtaining and storing data – especially customer data – is important to ensure you’re not breaking any laws.

Lui said there is also business incentive for ensuring personal data is properly protected.

“Customer data is quite sensitive,” he said.

“It’s very important to hold as much data as possible but that it’s secure.

“You don’t want to get famous for the wrong reasons, if the story leaks out that you let out the details of your customers that’s not good.”

Importantly, the major providers have local data centres that operate under Australian jurisdiction which remove the legal uncertainties.

8. Lock up your gadgets
It may sound rudimentary but having a device stolen can be a headache for business.

Locking up laptops and gadgets and keeping them out of sight when people aren’t around can go a long way ensuring hardware isn’t taken.

“No computers lying around the desk when people aren’t there, it has to be locked up. Don’t just leave things lying around that might have data on it,” Lui said. “Do a general check on locks after hours.”

9. Think about how you’re sending data around
Emails can be forwarded all over the place without the sender ever knowing.

“If someone asks for some data that they need I make sure I pass it to them securely,” Lui said.

“These days with more data going online for everyone there’s a lot of ways people can get their hands on that data.

“We try and do almost everything in the cloud and try not to store anything on our computers.”

10. Have a disaster plan
If something can go wrong, chances are it probably will, Jowitt said small businesses need to think about how they might deal with worst-case scenarios. Larger businesses have incredibly detailed plans for how they will respond in case of things like fire, mass power outages, or other unforeseen disasters. For small business, it needn’t be complicated, but some basic planning will help.

“Make sure you have contingency and disaster recovery plans for when things go wrong,” he said.

“If you can’t afford a full-time sysadmin or security team make sure you at least bring in an external auditor to review your IT infrastructure.”


IT buyers calling it quits with Silicon Valley

November 13th, 2014

As enterprises discover the need to build their own software, they’re ending the romance with Silicon Valley vendors. Outsourcing32

Once upon a time, vendors developed and sold software and enterprises bought it. Companies like Oracle and Microsoft grew up in such halcyon days and minted billions of dollars in profits for their troubles.

That was then, this is now.

Today’s enterprise is increasingly assertive, building their own software and, in a small but growing trend, releasing it as open source and inviting others to contribute. Just ask the CEO of Under Armour.

“We are a software company”
Entrepreneur and investor Marc Andreessen was right to declare that “software is eating the world.” In a nutshell, Andreessen argued that technology was no longer something external to a business; it was core, not complement. As such, every company had to be in the business of developing innovative technology.

Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank got the memo.

In an interview with Businessweek, Plank insists that he has no plans to outsource technological innovation to Silicon Valley:

“I’ll be damned if I’m going to cede anything to Silicon Valley or any other technology company, because I believe we are a technology company. And if the phone is going to get integrated into the shirt, should that be a technology company making apparel or the apparel company starting to make technology? I choose the latter, and that’s exactly where I’m pushing my company.”
He’s not alone.

For example, while we like to talk about Hortonworks filing its S-1 to go public on the back of market adoption for Hadoop and other big data technologies, the more interesting news is “Barclays Bank…work[ing] with Commonwealth Bank of Australia on the development of open-source tools for analysing large data sets.” When banks or other IT buyers stop buying and start sharing between themselves, cutting out the vendor middleman, that’s a big market shift.

So big, in fact, that the impact of open source and other trends like cloud are dramatically changing how “software vendors” define their businesses.

As Redmonk analyst Stephen O’Grady notes:

“Vendors… will continue to point to ‘software’ as their primary revenue source. But the reality is that when successful companies say ‘software,’ they will actually mean software plus some combination of public cloud infrastructure, hardware/appliance, automated management/monitoring capabilities, hosted micro-services, and data enabled analytics. The majority of which is software, of course. Just not strictly software as we have been conditioned to think of it.”
Yes, there will always be a need for software vendors, because it simply won’t make sense for enterprises to build some software themselves. While it will differ from company to company, there will always be functionality that doesn’t generate competitive advantage for a company, making it ripe for outsourcing to a vendor.

However, far more software will need to be written in-house.

Increasing competition for developers
All of this means that the competition for developers is about to get even worse. Silicon Valley has been on a hiring binge for engineers for years, and that same trend is about to hit the rest of the world.

Asked about recruiting, Plank was candid about his quest to assemble a developer army:

“I’ll say this, sporting goods has not always had very intelligent people. We have not attracted the best and the brightest. They’ve gone to Silicon Valley. They’ve gone to Wall Street. Now, we’ve got a pretty powerful ecosystem that we can tap into, especially with the acquisition of MapMyFitness. I have 100 engineers, and a year ago, I had zero. I have nine Ph.D.s, and a year ago, I had zero.

“I hear people say, ‘I want to go work at Google,’ and I think ‘What are you going to do at Google? It’s a search engine.’ The ability to touch people and literally change lives is incredibly relevant in a consumer-products company.”

The good news implicit in Plank’s statement is that developers won’t need to leave the Midwest or Far East or wherever they happen to live. Increasingly, they’ll be able to build interesting software right where they are, without the headache commutes up 101 or the crushing mortgages of Los Altos.

In fact, as I’ve previously written, “The older the industry, the more profound the change big data [and a great developer] can make.”

Breaking down barriers
There has never been a better time to work in technology and, let’s face it, who isn’t in the technology business these days? Or rather, who shouldn’t be? Forward-looking companies like Netflix are already chest-deep in technology, laying waste to more laggardly competitors like Blockbuster. Going forward, companies that embrace technology as central to who they are will win, and everyone else will evaporate into Chapter 11 obsolescence.

That’s the good and bad news. It won’t be pleasant for companies ill-prepared to embrace technology. But for developers, this news is only positive. With companies as diverse as Google, Under Armour, and John Deere competing for their services, developers can write their own ticket while taking home a fat paycheck.


Minister lays base for digital boost – Software incubation centre on track, Delhi urges govt to establish BPOs for jobs

November 10th, 2014

Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today laid the foundation stone of the state’s first software incubation centre and proposed similar facilities in other districts.Outsourcing24

The facility is part of the Centre’s initiative to make Bihar an integral part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India project. The maiden incubation centre will come up at the Software Technology Park of India within 18 months, officials said.

Prasad, the communication and information technology minister, proposed similar centres in Darbhanga and Bhagalpur at the ceremony held around 11.30am. Chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi welcomed the idea and offered the engineering college premises at the two locations.

The incubation centre in Patna, being set up on an area of 8,000sqft at an estimated cost of Rs 10 crore, would function as a resource centre for IT exporting units.

Omkar Rai, the director-general of Software Technology Park of India, said: “National Buildings Construction Corporation has been selected to execute the construction of the incubation centre. It would be functional in 18 months and create direct and indirect employment opportunities.”

Such incubation centres are becoming popular in India as they help start-ups avoid initial costs and provide the necessary technical and financial support.

Apart from the IT project, Prasad urged Manjhi to set up an electronics manufacturing cluster in Bihar over an area of 50 acres that would help attract investment.

He said the Centre would provide assistance of Rs 50 crore under its initiative to manufacture electronic goods within the country to reduce dependence on imports. Similar clusters are being set up at Jabalpur and Badwai near Bhopal. He advocated the establishment of eight to 10 business process outsourcing (BPO) units in Bihar for generating employment and sought land for setting up regional centres of National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology at Muzaffarpur and Buxar.

He added that the BPOs would be provided tax exemptions and the process to open them would be liberalised.

While the Union minister sought land for the Centre-funded projects, state technology minister Shahid Ali Khan demanded assistance of around Rs 25 crore from Prasad for the long-pending innovation centre at IIT-Patna. He spoke of establishing a free public Wi-Fi network – on the lines of that in Patna between NIT at Ashok Rajpath and Saguna Mor – at Bodhgaya, Rajgir and Sitamarhi as well as plans for an IT park in Patna’s Dakbungalow area.


Infosys to hire 2,100 in US to spur growth

November 7th, 2014

Global software major Infosys Ltd. will hire 2,100 people, including 600 graduate engineers, in the US over the next 12 months to support its business growth and enhance its capabilities.Outsourcing20

“We are hiring this fiscal (2014-15) 1,500 professionals for consulting, sales and delivery and 600 graduates with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from US universities over the next 12 months,” the company said in a statement on Thursday.

The fresh hiring will enable the outsourcing firm to ramp up its expertise in client relationship management, consulting and technical delivery.

“The recruitment drive will enable us provide clients local market insights, industry-leading expertise and timely responsiveness to critical issues,” company’s human resources head in Americas Peggy Tayloe said in the statement.


IBM takes on enterprise cloud security

November 6th, 2014

As organizations increasingly move their operations to the cloud, they need to remain vigilant against security breaches. IBM had this in mind as it prepared a new portfolio of services designed to help secure an enterprise’s cloud operations with the same rigor that has come to be expected with in-house operations.Outsourcing6

“The move to the cloud is nothing new, but what we’re seeing now is that people are now considering moving critical workloads to the cloud,” said Marc van Zadelhoff, IBM vice president of strategy for security systems.

The Dynamic Cloud Security portfolio, available now, “allows customers to take security to the cloud with them,” Zadelhoff said.

IBM gets fast file transfers with Aspera acquisition IBM adds OpenStack to its cloud marketplace IBM sends Cognos, SPSS to the cloud
The portfolio concentrates on aiding enterprises in three of areas of security: authenticating access in the cloud, protecting applications and data in the cloud, and improving visibility into the effectiveness of security controls watching over cloud resources.

Over 200 engineers helped build the portfolio over the past year. The services extend IBM’s collection of security software programs, such as QRadar security event management software and the Guardian data protection software, so they can be used to guard cloud resources as well.

Initially, the services will focus on securing resources on Amazon Web Services and IBM’s own SoftLayer cloud, though they can also be used with other cloud services as well, Zadelhoff said.

The portfolio includes a central portal that offers a summary of the state of security across all of an organization’s assets. Most security breaches can take weeks or even months to discover, IBM has estimated. The longer a breach goes undiscovered, the more damage an attacker can do. So a security portal can help identify problems as soon as they arise.

The IBM services can scan the applications being used in the cloud for potential vulnerabilities, and can alert developers or system administrators of any potential security weaknesses. They can identify sensitive data in the cloud, and then monitor that data for any unauthorized usage. Pricing is based on different services used, overall usage and other factors.

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IBM itself already collects more than 20 billion daily security events in the course of its duties managing security for clients. This intelligence allows IBM to identify threats early on.

IBM has identified security as a growth market for the company. It has acquired 12 security companies in the past decade, and has invested over $2 billion into security research, securing over 3,000 patents in this area.

In the field of cloud security, IBM will be competing against a wide variety of companies such as Symantec, Barracuda, Qualys, SafeNet, TrendMicro and WatchGuard — many of which have built up expertise in on-premise security products and services.


Cygnet Infotech: Breaking IT cost barriers with global software delivery

November 5th, 2014

African enterprises and businesses are poised for growth with increasing demand for both technology and expertise, and IT is the fuel propelling them to the next level. The rising demand for software services, solutions and products in businesses today, in conjunction with lack of skilled IT talent, compels businesses to look for consultants and resources elsewhere.Outsourcing14

A majority of organisations continue to stick to an old, tried-and-tested, but intensive, formula to fulfil their technology needs.

In absence of home-grown IT talent, businesses rely on contracting entire teams from an outsourcing provider, or start hiring in-house. On one side, this enables businesses to get the work done internally and exercise greater control over the projects. But, on the flip side, it drives up the cost of development considerably high – because all costs for the project, both direct and indirect, are factored in the final results.

While this approach does help in the short term, companies are hitting a cost optimisation wall by not tapping into the potential of fast-moving enablers in the market. As finding and retaining skilled resources becomes increasingly difficult, this old IT delivery model is getting less and less sustainable: it is only good as a stopgap, short-term solution.

Outsourcing appears to be the next logical step, but most businesses are not keen to invest in time-consuming processes and documentation. Without a well-defined and mature software development process, it is simply not on the menu. So, even if an enterprise wants to explore cost-cutting, there are limited options on the cards.
This has created a catch-22 situation: The dependence on available resources precludes the need to invest in process understanding and governance, while the lack of well-defined and mature processes inhibits the exploitation of lower-cost IT delivery models.

We, at Cygnet Infotech, an application development services and enterprise software solutions provider, have recognised this gap and have started offering businesses a global delivery model. With over 14 years of experience in successfully delivering solutions to businesses spread across the globe, we offer a way to end the conundrum.

The need of the hour is an IT delivery model that enables businesses to keep it local and still reduce the costs. Obviously, the traditional IT delivery models don’t work. To get around this problem, we have evolved this Global Delivery Model.

The Global Delivery Model is a direct response to the unique technology landscape in growing markets. Niraj Hutheesing, Managing Director at Cygnet Infotech, quotes: “As a part of this model, Cygnet builds a strong team at its customer’s location with tech leads, project leads, assistant project managers, business analysts, architects, or senior consultants to work hand-in-hand with the client. These staff members possess a keen understanding of the local tech landscape and the specific needs of local businesses. Well-acquainted with the ground conditions and well-versed in development methodologies and processes, they function as a bridge between the client and the teams working offshore.”

Implementing such a delivery model is challenging, but Cygnet brings the right ingredients to the table with process certainty, excellence, best practices, and measurable indices with CMMI Level 3 and ISO 27001 & ISO 9001 certified practices. Over the decade, more than 70% of the firm’s projects have been in servicing with progressive customers located in USA, UK, Europe and Australia. This has helped Cygnet bring high levels of expertise and experience in combining cross-border delivery with optimum quality and cost balance.

“Our Global Delivery Model works equally well for application development, product development and software delivery. Be it cloud, mobile, BI or software testing services that a customer needs. By taking the pressure from development, we help organisations get a breathing space and innovate in core areas. IT managers can invest the IT saving in process improvements, innovations, and R&D. All staff can graduate from being executors to managers and strategists, and sharpen the focus on customer, quality and future development,” Hutheesing explains.


IBM India staff reductions are sign of shift in outsourcing sector

November 3rd, 2014

Talk of IBM reducing its India-based workforce by 50,000 over the past three years, with more to come, is a reflection of the diminishing importance of low-cost operatives.IBM, cloudcomputing

The reported reduction in staff in India, although unconfirmed, is in line with changing IT-outsourcing demand and delivery models. One source claimed India’s Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is now IBM Global Service’s biggest competition.

According to a report from India, the IT giant has reduced its India-based workforce from about 165,000 in 2011 to 113,000 in 2014. The report quoted sources close to IBM’s plans who said this number will be down to 100,000 in 2015. The firm’s global workforce is made up of 431,212 employees.

In IBM Global Services, the company boasts the world’s biggest IT services firm. It is often referred to as an IT bellwether and its every move is scrutinised by IT executives at enterprise users and at its competitors. When the offshore-IT services delivery model was at its peak, the firm was the biggest IT employer in India.

But new technologies, such as automation software – including IBM’s very own Watson – and cloud computing, are reducing the need for high numbers of offshore staff to carry out business processes and software development.

Telecommunications firm O2, for example, uses automation software from Blue Prism to cut its reliance on offshore recruitment to cope with spikes in workload.

IT services firms traditionally grew in a linear way – typically, they win more business, then add more staff to support it. In many cases this has involved building large offshore workforces. But service providers are now trying to reach the holy grail of non-linear growth. This means adding business without needing to add to the workforce to support it – reducing the proportional increase in the cost of providing an additional service.

At the same time, increased use of cloud-based IT is forcing IT services firms to add more higher-level support services, while the move to platform-based services in the cloud means there is less need for businesses to develop their own software.

IBM not moving away from offshore delivery

In a recent presentation to equity analysts IBM said it is not moving away from offshore delivery and, in fact, will be harnessing global delivery centres to make it more competitive.

“In parts of our portfolio that aren’t as well differentiated, we’re continuing to see price and profit pressure,” said an IBM statement. “These are the areas where we’ll be more aggressive on the use of global delivery centres and applying intellectual property for faster time to value for our clients and improved business results for us.”

In its recent results for the third quarter of 2014, IBM said Global Services sales decreased by 3% to $13.7bn, compared with the same period of 2013. Pre-tax profit from Global Technology Services reduced by 11%.

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said in areas of focus – which did not include IT services – the company did well.

“While we did not produce the results we expected to achieve, we again performed well in our strategic growth areas – including cloud, data and analytics, security, social and mobile – where we continue to shift our business. We will accelerate this transformation,” she said.

“We are executing on a clear strategy that is moving IBM to higher value, and we’ve taken significant actions to exit non-strategic elements of the business,” she added.

Reflecting its shift in focus, IBM has reportedly reached an agreement with Globalfoundries to take over its semiconductor operations. IBM will pay the manufacturer $1.5bn to take the chip operations off its hands.

Competition from Tata Consultancy Services
Berwin Leighton Paisner outsourcing lawyer Mark Lewis said it is not yet clear what IBM’s strategy is, and compared the company with India’s biggest IT services firm Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

TCS has 276,195 global staff, with 92.3% being Indian. Just over 21,000 of the company’s staff are not Indian, while it has an increasing UK workforce, with more than 10,000 UK-based staff.

“TCS is achieving both linear and non-linear growth. It is still recruiting heavily in India and is building its global workforce at the same time,” said Lewis.

While IBM is the biggest IT company in the world, Lewis said he is unsure if it is leading the way in terms of strategy in IT services.

“Until its strategy is clearer, it is difficult to say what it is a bellwether for,” he said.

According to CEO at management consultancy Value Leadership Group Peter Schumacher, based on meetings with about 200 outsourcing customers around the world, IBM is losing ground to offshore-based firms.

“Pricing is one reason but, perhaps more importantly, top customers also cite IBM’s arrogance and weaker partnership capabilities as key reasons. In other words, IBM is seen as lacking price competitiveness, operating flexibility and customer intimacy. These are a complex mix of interrelated challenges and overcoming these can take years to resolve,” he said.

The stronger presence of the offshore-based firms has given clients enormous bargaining power over IBM, added Schumacher, and they are using this to extract pricing concessions and renegotiate contracts. He said TCS is the main challenger to IBM Global Services.

“In Europe, TCS will add almost $1bn in new business in 2014, which underlines the enormous market momentum and customer confidence they now enjoy,” he said.

IBM still an IT services bellwether
IBM is always in the mix when it comes to global outsourcing deals, according to KPMG management consulting partner Lee Ayling. “I don’t think IBM has taken its eye off the ball in services – it quietly gets on with its work,” he said.

IBM could still be considered a bellwether for global IT services, Ayling added. In four recent large global IT-outsourcing deals he has been involved in, the firm has been in the running. “IBM is more often than not in the bidding for large global enterprise deals,” he said.

He suggested the reduction of staff at IBM in India could be linked to the companies scaling back on business process outsourcing (BPO) services, with more focus on IT services.

One former senior IBM executive says IBM was focused on growth markets, which could mean building staff numbers in countries like China and those in South America.


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