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What Cloud Computing Means for Industrial Infrastructure

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 by

Just as cloud computing has revolutionized how corporate IT departments interact with their networks, the way in which business is conducted across all markets has also changed significantly. Because the technology provides employees with a different way of performing tasks, the manner in which managers and executives make decisions has been radically influenced by an influx of data points.

A construction grew surveys an ongoing project.

A construction crew surveys an ongoing project.

When it comes to traditional business practices, everything has become a lot easier thanks to cloud computing. For most large enterprises, it’s not an arduous chore for employees to access a Word document from a tablet, edit the file, and share it with coworkers. As far as the industrial sector is concerned, reporting mechanical deficiencies or malfunctions can happen in near real time because many workers are now equipped with smartphones, some of them supplied by their employers.

Digital information changes everything 
In an interview with InformationWeek, former Chief Cloud Architect for Netflix Adrian Cockcroft noted that a strong integration of all teams and departments is imperative for a company to ensure its survival. Cockcroft spent 7 years with the company developing the necessary architecture to launch new ways of finding and showcasing films. In 2008, Netflix ceased operating through on-premise databases and moved to cloud servers. Afterward, the former CCA began noticing some fundamental changes throughout the organization.

Cockcroft told the news source that the increased speed and flexibility offered by the off-premise solution gave Netflix its competitive edge. During its fledgling years, the company’s size couldn’t compare to that of its competitors, requiring it to develop and act on particular incentives quicker than others film distributors. Basically, the company had to make a consorted effort to eliminate inefficient communication between software designers and engineers.

“We put a high-trust, low-process environment in place with few hand-offs between teams,” said Cockcroft.

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Be Prepared with a Solid Cloud Infrastructure

Thursday, April 10th, 2014 by

The more Big Data enterprises continue to amass, the more potential risk is involved. It would be one matter if it was simply raw material without any clearly defined meaning; however data analytics tools—combined with the professionalism of tech-savvy employees—allow businesses to harvest profit-driving, actionable digital information.

Recovery disks shattering

Compared to on-premise data centers, cloud computing offers multiple disaster recovery models.

Whether the risk is from a a cyber-criminal who gains access to a database or a storm that cuts power, it’s essential for enterprises to have a solid disaster recovery plan in place. Because on-premise data centers are prone to outages in the event of a catastrophic natural event, cloud servers provide a more stable option for companies requiring constant access to their data. Numerous deployment models exist for these systems, and most of them are constructed based on how users interact with them.

How the cloud can promote disaster recovery 
According to a report conducted by InformationWeek, only 41 percent of respondents to the magazine’s 2014 State of Enterprise Storage Survey stated they have a disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity protocol and regularly test it. Although this finding expresses a lack of preparedness by the remaining 59 percent, the study showed that business leaders were beginning to see the big picture and placing their confidence in cloud applications.

The source noted that cloud infrastructure and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) automation software let organizations  deploy optimal DR without the hassle associated with a conventional plan. Traditionally, companies backed up their data on physical disks and shipped them to storage facilities. This method is no longer workable because many enterprises are constantly amassing and refining new data points. For example, Netflix collects an incredible amount of specific digital information on its subscribers through its rating system and then uses it to recommend new viewing options.

The news source also acknowledged that the issue isn’t just about recovering data lost during the outage, but about being able to run the programs that process and interact with that information. In fact, due to the complexity of these infrastructures, many cloud hosts offer DR-as-a-Service.

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Healthcare Industry Balances Big Data Insights and Patient Care

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 by

The United States health care industry is undergoing a revolutionary change. Between the Affordable Care Act’s influence over the insurance landscape and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS’s) push for electronic health record (EHR) adoption, medical organizations are under an enormous amount of pressure. Amid the chaos, cloud computing and associated technologies have offered these professionals a measure of solace as they transition into a more digital environment.

A doctor uses her tablet to obtain patient information.

A doctor uses her tablet to obtain patient information.

The patient comes first 
In today’s fast-changing marketplace, it’s easy for those using Big Data to lose sight of what matters to individual care receivers. Analytics programs have given companies outside the industry, such as Netflix, accurate, near real-time insight into subscriber entertainment preferences. For healthcare, using Big Data to assemble actionable information about widespread diseases is critical, but it’s also important to use the same predicative tools to assist individual patients.

As is often the case, however, implementation may be easier said than done. According to CMO magazine, many companies lack the IT architecture necessary for an analytics program to operate to its full potential. Similarly, a large number of hospitals still use on-premise data centers as opposed to cloud infrastructure. And although CMS has instigated use of EHR, many hospitals have forced those programs to work on systems that don’t offer the same flexibility as cloud computing.

The whole premise of the EHR initiative was to create an environment that allowed doctors, nurses, and hospital administrators to easily access patient information. To date, facilities that have adopted the technology have been able to do so, but at a much slower pace than anticipated. Plus, the data within the individual records can’t be dissected by algorithms to figure out which treatment methods would best suit particular care receivers.

The Big Data advantage
Yet, professionals can’t deny the fact that Big Data has a place in the healthcare industry. Elena Malykhina, a contributor to InformationWeek, said that a report conducted by EMC, funded by the federal government, revealed 63 percent of public IT professionals believe that analytics tools will help monitor and manage population health more efficiently. An additional 60 percent reported that the technology will improve how preventive care is delivered.

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Using Big Data to Identify and Prevent Crimes

Thursday, March 27th, 2014 by

Predictive analytics tools have helped major corporations gain consumer insights, using them to drive profit growth and marketing campaigns. On the other end of the spectrum, law enforcement agencies on the national and municipal levels are using Big Data to identify and predict criminal behavior. Surveillance capabilities aside, the new techniques may discourage so-called “bad behavior” throughout the United States.

A Neighborhood Watch sign in a community.

A Neighborhood Watch sign in a community.

An example of success 
The Wisconsin State Journal reported that Madison, Wisc., police authorities consulted with analysts in the surrounding areas in anticipating a December crime wave that would sweep the University of Wisconsin’s College Court area. Apparently, once students leave for winter break in December, law enforcement officials receive numerous burglary reports.

The news source noted that three crime analysts are employed by the Madison Police Department. Operating through a cloud server, the professionals are able to help officers prioritize their efforts. The unit has been with the organization for nearly 10 years, garnering headline-worthy attention when one analyst helped a detective identify patterns in a string of bank robberies that occurred earlier this year.

Caleb Kelbig, one of the data experts working with the authorities, told police in Madison and surrounding cities that the perpetrator could hit 1 of 11 possible targets on the afternoon of March 5 or 6. Amazingly, the robber appeared at one of the locations in Middleton, Wisc., at about 2:30 pm on March 5.

Prioritizing intentions, citing appropriate uses
Jignesh Patel, an expert in Big Data use and a professor at UW-Madison, noted that cloud computing has made predictive analytics tools easier to use. Developments in IT have also opened up new avenues through which digital information can be collected. For example, smartphone software has contributed significantly to the data-gathering trend.

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Cloud Computing Relieves Stress for IT Professionals

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014 by

The growing requirement for superior network performance has significantly increased demand for IT professionals. Every successful business, regardless of the industry in which it competes, needs a team of knowledgeable personnel capable of assisting the rest of the company with maintaining customer satisfaction. Many industry watchers agree that if an IT team doesn’t possess the appropriate tools, a company won’t be able to keep pace with its competitors. With new technology being implemented on a regular basis, businesses are looking toward cloud computing to assist in-house experts with day-to-day operations.

A technician diagnoses a data center issue.

A technician diagnoses a data center issue.

“Implement a structure that gives shared visibility and metrics to development and IT teams, so the health of an application is easily viewed by both,” said Jennifer Schiff, a writer for PC Advisor.

The report stated that IT managers would be able to easily access project status reports and information updates via a cloud management system.

Resolving the issues
Let’s say an issue arises with the company’s email, for example, and a member of the IT team is assigned to solve it. The problem is that his computer lacks the applications necessary to do so, forcing him to travel to a separate location. According to Cloud Tweaks, a cloud server possesses the capability required to resolve a problem from a remote location. All the employee needs to do is communicate with another machine connected to the hosting cloud that can perform the required task. After the problem is solved, the remote machine delivers the data back to the employee.

With Big Data collection expected to rise significantly in the near future, a business must be able to use a platform capable of handling the information. If an on-site data center is overwhelmed by an influx of information, it’s likely that a member of the IT team will be required to physically upgrade the hardware.

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