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Cloud Technology Optimizing Supply Chain Practices

Friday, May 16th, 2014 by

As cloud computing continues to penetrate business practices on a global scale, it’s no surprise that third-party logistics providers and other supply chain participants are now making use of the technology. With the goals of improving product oversight, providing greater insight into distribution practices, and creating a new method of securing corporate and consumer data, professionals are beginning to look to cloud platforms for the answer.

A supply chain management organizational chart.

A supply chain management organizational chart.

The protection of assets
Consumers consider their personal finances to be information every bit as critical as corporate intelligence. Therefore, it’s imperative that businesses recognize that customer data is equally important. How does distribution factor into this equation? A number of merchandisers have improved inventory fulfillment by supplying their logistics providers with order information. This practice lets warehouse management understand how to adjust the housing of small shipments to expedite delivery.

However, this procedure necessitates stringent data protection. According to The Guardian, Information Systems Audit and Control Association International Vice President Ramses Galego noted that a single fault in an e-commerce partner’s security protocol can potentially compromise an entire distribution operation. The danger is that access to thousands of company and customer records could be accidentally divulged to cybercriminals if security best practices aren’t followed.

“That’s one of the reasons why BMW and Mercedes are said to be taking on more IT engineers than automotive engineers,” said Galego, as quoted by the news source. “They’re building huge data centers, but they then have to ensure the way data is collected and stored is well governed throughout the whole supply chain.”

Galego claimed that adequate access management can help protect data held in cloud servers. For example, authorized personnel wishing to gain access to customer order information will log into the system. When their cell phone number is registered in the platform as legitimate, a one-time-use approval code will be sent to them via text message, granting them entry into the environment.

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Farmers Use Big Data to Improve Crop Yields

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 by

For the past few years, scientists throughout the world have referenced an impending food shortage of global proportions. The prospect of feeding 9 billion people in the year 2050 is intimidating, motivating organizations to turn to advanced technology. If harnessed properly, Big Data could help agriculturalists and food companies find ways to supply a world population that’s increasing dramatically.

A farmer reaps his wheat crop.

A farmer reaps his wheat crop.

Moving into the 21st century 
When the farming industry comes to mind, people often think of an archaic, anachronistic practice that lags behind when it comes to technological progression. Although every other sector seems to be adopting cloud computing, advanced software solutions, and analytics programs, agriculture appears to have been left in the dust.

Even though such a perception may be widespread, there’s no denying the sector’s importance: “No farms, no food” is the way numerous bumper stickers read. Yet, it’s important to remember that big agriculture corporations like Monsanto consistently fund and launch highly sophisticated research and development projects aimed toward improving production rates and promoting sustainability.

TechRepublic reported that Monsanto uses data analytics tools to help farmers achieve greater crop yields, employ fewer chemicals, and reduce water usage, leading to wider profit margins and more sustainable farming practices. The news source noted that the company estimated increased use of algorithmic information scrutiny could potentially lead to a $20 billion per year increase in worldwide crop production.

Starting at the ground level 
According to a study conducted in 2012 by PrecisionAg Institute, soybean growers that used data analysis applications reported average savings of 15 percent on expenses such as seed, fertilizer, fungicide, herbicide, and other chemicals. These deductions result in more affordable food products, enabling consumers of limited means to buy more.

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Public Cloud Appealing to Those Needing Disaster Recovery

Friday, May 9th, 2014 by

These days, businesses are aggregating an incredible amount of data from a lot of different silos. Whether they’re using the information to create enhanced marketing campaigns, conduct research for product development, or look for a competitive edge in the market, these companies are taking whatever steps are necessary to protect that data. Between data breaches and natural occurrences like severe weather that can cause companies to lose their data, many are moving their disaster recovery initiatives to cloud servers.

A broken disk.

A broken disk.

A practical solution
One of the most popular deployment options, public cloud models offer companies the opportunity to back up their data in encrypted, secure environments that can be accessed whenever it’s convenient. However, businesses are looking to take this capability to the next level. Redmond Channel Partner referenced a study sponsored by Microsoft titled “Cloud Backup and Disaster Recovery Meets Next-Generation Database Demands,” which was conducted between December 2013 and February 2014 by Forrester Consulting.

The research firm polled 209 organizations based in Asia, Europe, and North America, with 62 percent of survey participants consisting of large-scale enterprise IT managers. Many of the businesses reported having mission-critical databases larger than 10 terabytes. Respondents claimed that some of the top reasons for using public cloud computing models for backups included saving money on storage (61 percent) and reducing administration expenses (50 percent).

Forrester noted that a fair number of enterprises often omit encrypting their database backups due to the complexity involved and the possibility of data corruption. A number of participants also acknowledged they neglect to conduct tests regarding their disaster recovery capabilities.

The available opportunities
Despite these drawbacks, Forrester’s study showed that cloud-based backup and disaster recovery (DR) models have matured over the past 4 years. In addition, there’s the option of using a hybrid approach that involves combining on-premise DR solutions with public cloud storage. For example, an enterprise could keep all its data in in-house databases and orchestrate a system that would either duplicate or transfer all data into a cloud storage environment in the event of a problem.

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An “Expert Interview” with Kole Hicks, Sr. Director of Products at GoGrid

Thursday, May 8th, 2014 by

If you’re interested in learning the answers to many common Big Data implementation questions  Syncsort, a leading provider of Big Data integration solutions, recently posted an interesting blog with our very own Kole Hicks, Sr. Director of Products. In this interview, blogger Mark Underwood proposes several key questions to consider when beginning a Big Data project, starting with “What are the biggest obstacles?” and going all the way to “What are the in-house requirements for Big Data?”

Syncsort-blog

Check out the complete interview by clicking here.

And of course if you’re interested in a Big Data solutions integrator, the combination of Syncsort and GoGrid infrastructure might just be an ideal way to get you up and running with the push of a button!

You can learn more about Syncsort on its website.

FBI: Health Care Providers Need to Improve Security

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014 by

There’s no disputing that upon implementing cloud servers, physicians, nurses, and hospital administrators will be able to store and access patient information more easily than before. Although such an approach enables them to develop treatments for specific customers, IT professionals and government officials believe care facilities need to improve their security before progressing to the cloud.

Nurses and doctors accessing information.

Nurses and doctors accessing patient information.

A number of cloud solutions offer expanded data protection; however, the current state of many electronic health records systems is lackluster, at best. Data flowing between hospital PCs and mobile devices opens new avenues — creating an environment hackers could potentially exploit to steal sensitive personal health information.

An official security warning 
According to Reuters, the Federal Bureau of Investigation recently informed health care providers their cyber-security infrastructures were unsatisfactory compared to other industries. Although cyber criminals have been known to attack the retail and financial sectors, they could also use electronic records containing insurance and payment information to gain access to bank accounts, personal addresses, phone numbers, and other data.

Reuters obtained a private notice sent to hospital administrators criticizing their lax network defense programs. Issued earlier this month, the memo did not mention the Healthcare.gov breach, which has been criticized by professionals for numerous security flaws. It further implored recipients to contact the FBI in the event any breaches occurred.

The source stated that criminals typically favor health care information because it takes longer for victims to realize that any intelligence has been stolen. Although they often don’t leverage the information itself, hackers often sell such data on the black market. To deter infiltration attempts, some hospitals have invested in cloud infrastructure featuring applications that encrypt data as it flows through the networks.

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