There is Future Growth Opportunities in the Cloud

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In the past half-decade cloud computing, typically defined as a type of computing that relies on sharing computing resources, has progressed from an unfamiliar emerging technology to an important business tool used to manage an organizations growing IT infrastructure. The ability to share expensive infrastructure resources over a common network is leading many organizations to achieve lower costs, greater flexibility and less complex systems while providing increased opportunities to better focus on their core competencies and key business initiatives.

David Cearley, vice president and Gartner Fellow says, “Cloud computing has a significant potential impact on every aspect of IT and how users access applications, information and business services.” The Cloud has been a is a major game changer in the management and utilization of organizations IT infrastructure over the past several years but fears over losing control of proprietary data and security issues have dampened many organizations enthusiasm for adopting the budding technology.

“Most surveys still show that a vast majority of workloads are not running in the cloud yet,” said Richard Seroter, director of product management for CenturyLink Cloud. “There is still room for the cloud to grow in enterprise usage.” As with most new technology discoveries, their future success and impact on a market lies not only with the advent of the technology, but also with emerging enterprises that evolve around its deployment.  In order to facilitate, develop and manage expanding cloud applications the need for Cloud Services Brokerage (CSB) will grow over the next several years as new users contemplate the prospective benefits and seek to navigate the challenges to implementing the technology.

Acting as a third party, a CSB will add value to the cloud consumer by ensuring the service is specific to the company, assist in integration and migration to the cloud and enhance the overall process of managing cloud operations and activities.  For small to mid-sized organizations, who are generally unable to support dedicated in-house IT, bringing in an outside professional IT service consultant is essential in order to identify the proper type of cloud service to gain the full economic benefits from cloud computing.

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IT Professionals in Demand for 2015 and Beyond

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IT jobs continue to make the top of the ‘most in demand’ lists of jobs and careers and is expected to continue to outpace overall job growth in the coming year after U.S. employers added an average of 17,633 IT jobs during September, October, and November of 2014. Foote Partners co-founder David Foote, says “We see that momentum continuing into 2015.” The U.S. Labor Department is also expecting growth to continue, sighting U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that projects growth in the IT workforce of a little less than 4 percent a year through 2020, a rate triple that predicted for the economy as a whole.

With cybersecurity breaches reaching overload status it should be no surprise that security is leading the “in demand” race for IT professionals as companies continue to beef-up their in house security teams. But there are plenty of other tech skills which are expected to be in demand including, Java; enterprise architects; data architects; and software engineers. Five security-related certifications: GIAC Certified Forensics Analyst, CyberSecurity Forensic Analyst, CWNP Certified Wireless Security Professional, EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker, and EC-Council Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator lead the “necessary to have” list for 2015. But for many job seekers, IT jobs like enterprise architecture, Cloudera software, data management, JavaFX, user interface design, and project management do not demand advanced certifications, and are likely to be hot prospects.

As new technologies continue to be introduced into businesses new skills and IT roles will begin to come into vogue. John Reed executive director of Robert Half says, “The computing environment continues to get more and more complex. There’s more technologies, there’s more tools and things that are being introduced into the IT environment for most companies. They need people to not only maximize the efficiency of those tools, but help them actually use it and support them as they’re trying to get comfortable with integrating that technology into their day-to-day work life.”

The IT professional of the future will learn to be more versatile and have a more diverse set of skills in order to achieve “most valuable” status. Being able to understand and competently maneuver effectively across multiple areas of technical expertise will provide the most opportunity for IT professionals to advance their careers this coming year and beyond.

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Weary IT Security Professionals Need to Stay the Course

 

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The year 2014 was the busiest and most challenging year for IT professionals who found themselves inundated with unrelenting attacks from malicious hackers, intent on breaching even the most secure data systems and imposing mayhem on companies large and small. While retailers took the most noted blows, breaches were reported by virtually all sectors of commerce. The healthcare industry realized that they were far from being immune when millions of private personal medical records, health insurance information and personal payment and social security data were stolen from once thought to be impregnable security systems.  Titans of finance and entertainment recorded record infiltrations of proprietary data and while many sectors of the employment market remained stagnate, the need for IT security professionals continued to out-pace the supply.

As the busiest shopping season of the year approached, retailers were warned of the likely hood that malicious attacks on consumer data, through their point of sale (POS) systems, posed an increased risk to both the retailer and their customers. But the holiday season failed to live up to the warnings of a hacking frenzy. Apparently many cyber-criminals chose to take a break from their illegal activities and took the time to shop and celebrate in the festivities of the season.  An IBM review of the time before Black Friday and after Cyber Monday indicated a significant drop in attacks against retailers, but the lower total volume of attacks during this period offers little good news for retailers going into 2015. Considerable effort will need to be directed to better protecting vulnerable POS systems unless the industry wants to continue to be at the top of the most hacked list in the coming year.

The use of a layered security system that has antivirus and antimalware software, filters and firewalls, as well as encryption, is necessary to ward-off a breach. Retailers are being encouraged to identify potential unauthorized infiltration by company insiders and partners who account for an increasing number of system breaches over the last two years. Cyber security specialists are also recommending that retailers double their encryption efforts and intensify the use of SSL certificates. Regularly testing of security measures is needed to become routine in order to guarantee their functionality.

The lull in the number of attacks during the holidays should not be reason to become complacent. Nothing suggests that the number or significance of cyber-attacks will subside anytime soon. As the New Year gets underway IT security professionals, and those who employ their talents, need to resolve to be more proactive in prevention and response to what promises to be another year of malicious attacks from hackers intent on causing havoc.

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Sony Breach; Changing the Dynamics of Cybersecurity

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Prior to the cyberattack on Sony the focus of data breaches centered on protecting consumers personal information that was entrusted to retailers, banks and healthcare providers. And while the attack on Sony impacted 47,000 records, previous assaults this year garnered villains many multiple levels of bounty.  J.P. Morgan lost more than 83 million records, Home Depot managed to lose control over 109 million customer records and an intrusion at eBay affected more than 145 million users.   So why is the attack on Sony being touted as “unprecedented?”

It could be that this breach absconded with far more valuable takings than just internally embarrassing emails and impacted the corporate boardroom in ways far more devastating than just increasing the company’s cybersecurity expense column. In addition to the intruders making-off with the juicy gossip they also managed to capture the script of a forthcoming James Bond film along with internal Sony P&Ls, and actual expense compilations, for movie productions.  Such intellectual property (IP) is far more valuable than routine customer social security or credit card information. And the fact that the breach lead Sony to withdraw a scheduled holiday movie release indicates a new level of threat has emerged; one that not only makes commercial activities more expensive but one that threatens the very free practice of commerce. This time a movie release, next time a classified weapon design or a bottler’s secret formula?

There has been, for some time, ample warning to industry and government that the increased capabilities and frequency of attacks by state sponsored hackers from opposing nation states was most likely a precursor to more damaging efforts to come. While the intensity of efforts to tighten the reigns of security around company data systems has increased recently, the Sony breach is hard evidence that not only does more need to be done more quickly, but perhaps the opposition to merging corporate security efforts with government cybersecurity strategies and tactics should be revisited.

The major cybersecurity public policy issue in 2014 was whether threat information should be shared between the private sector and government. The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA”), a proposed threat sharing, by creating public records release and antitrust exemptions, failed in the U.S. Senate.

Companies must always be held responsible for enacting effective security measures to protect their consumers personal data from those who seek to steal it for personal gain, but when the attack originates from a nation state, bent on inflicting political change on another nation state, the effort becomes a shared responsibility between the company and those entrusted with protecting a nation in time of war, cyber or other-wise. Even the most robust capabilities available in private sector data protection are likely insufficient to guard a company’s data systems in a cyberwar.

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The Most Sought-After Human Resource Skill in the Digital Age

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In this highly disrupted labor environment there are few certainties and nearly no true absolutes.  Ask any displaced veteran of the “knowledge is job security philosophy” and they will tell you that all those predictions that computers would never replace the demand for their unique and valuable skills and they will lament just how misguided the predictions were. With the accelerated introduction of new technologies and the increased intensity of their impact on a once stable and predictable workforce, many former, current and future workers are looking to develop some credible insights into what personal skills-set will be best suited to survive the continued onset of technologies that could someday threaten to displace them in a future career path. The once reliable truism that job security is wholly dependent on our own ability to perform is raising the question; perform what?

Many thinkers and policymakers are struggling to identify even a single qualification that will open up a pathway for current and future workers to maintain or achieve the middle-class lifestyle and standard of living they aspire to achieve. The digital revolution is evolving the job market into one that requires fewer workers even in career fields that where once thought to be naturally resistant to the danger of obsolescence. So what skill is most likely to lead to job security in a high-tech environment?

Economist Martin Baily of the Brookings Institution recently identified conceptualizers as “the people who can take advantage of technology” and are the ones most likely to get ahead in the digital economy. Conceptualizers is defined as those who have the ability to see how the elements of an abstract whole fit together and to identify problems that need to be addressed before others do. In short, they are those individuals who have a seemingly innate capability to recognize potentially unforeseen problems and develop creative solutions to them.  Baily says, “You have to be able to express yourself and explain, what‘s the problem we’re trying to deal with here? It’s a scarce skill that is highly valued in our society.”

It is not as simple as being able to see the forest for the trees, but rather the ability to see the forest and the trees and envision how many challenges and opportunities their existence can affect the environment and the societies around them.  Conceptualizers are able to recognize technology as a tool to be more productive and competitive rather than a threat to their job and it is not necessarily a skill restricted to upper level careers. The ability to adapt, anticipate and work-around unpredictable barriers is as beneficial to the construction trades, marketers and healthcare workers as it is to IT, engineers or financial analysts.

Virtually every employer is actively seeking employees who have the skill but very few know how to identify those who have it. It is not taught as a major of study in college or university, unless it is the University of Hard Knocks and Experience, and rarely is it a requirement found in the myriad of job descriptions; nor is it a major career title. Perhaps it is most interesting that in a highly automated and technical world where every question seems to have a digital machine solution, employers seeking a human with conceptual skills will only know it when they experience it and be very happy to employ those with it. Now, if only all of us who want and desperately need it just knew how to get it.

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