Friday, 31 May 2013

What is the Gartner Hype Cycle? Latest "Hype" forecasts


Gartner is the world's leading IT research and advisory company. They guide thousands of organisations in the right direction with insights into the technological world. One of the famous tools invented by Gartner is the Hype Cycle.

The Hype Cycle was introduced in 1995, and is used to show the interest or "hype" and resulting disappointment which usually happen after the introduction of a new technology. 

The purpose of the Hype cycles is to show how and when technologies move beyond the "hype", which is used by companies to see whether certain technologies are worth investing in and if it’s ready for adoption within the business.

One example of this can be seen with cloud and Big Data. Although many companies have started to embrace the cloud, many companies, particularly small to medium sized business were holding back because of concerns. Security, privacy and legality were the main concerns for organisations moving to cloud (and still is a concern for several businesses). But now that the "Hype" is on the up slope of the Hype Cycle, these concerns are fading away while more and more businesses jump on the cloud bandwagon.

So, what is the Gartner Hype Cycle? To sum up, it is a graphic representation of the maturity, adoption and social application of specific technologies. There are five phases in the cycle represented in this graph:

Gartner Hype Cycle

The Five phases

1.   Technology Trigger: the first phase is the breakthrough or product launch which causes significant press and interest.

2.   Peak of Inflated Expectations: the next phase is the publicity which generates ‘hype’ or further interest.

3.   Trough of Disillusionment: This phase is when the technology fails to meet expectations and can quickly become unfashionable. Because of this, the press would usually abandon the topic.

4.   Slope of Enlightenment: In this section, you start to see that some businesses continue to use the technology and discover further benefits and practical applications.

5.   Plateau of Productivity: Once the technology reaches this final phase, the benefits of it become widely demonstrated and accepted. It becomes more stable and continues to adapt with more generations.

Need more insight into the Hype Cycle? Here's a video created by Gartner:

Latest Gartner Hype Cycle forecasts

The latest forecasts of the Hype Cycle show that there will be a the quick adaptation for SaaS (Software as a Service). Gartner predicts that more than 50% of companies will use SaaS applications by 2015. It is also predicted that cloud email is will be used by 10% of organisations, which was a surprising drop since previous hype cycle forecasts, which were close to 20%.

The factors driving the SaaS adoption is the overcoming of IT and budget limitations and the increase in ‘big data’. Big data will have a strong impact within organisations in 2-5 years.

Markets of cloud management business processes are expected to increase annually by 25%. There has been an increase in the interest of cloud solutions for MDM (Master Data Management). The solutions involve the following leading suppliers: Cognizant, Data Scout, IBM, Informatica, Oracle and Orchestra Network.

One of the most notable forecasts is that by 2014, personal cloud is expected to replace the PC as the main data management for a user’s digital life. And an impressive 75% of enterprises surveyed by Gartner are planning to move to cloud computing by 2014.

When is your company planning to move to the cloud? and does your company use the Hype Cycle to decide whether to incorporate a new technology? And if so, which technology was it? Comment below.

About the Author:
Julian writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Julian is the companies Digital Marketer.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

10 useful tools for admins which are free


There are several pricey tools out there, but why waste money when these free and easy to use tools do the same job?

Here is a list of 10 of the most popular free tools most admins use in their day to day roles.

Winrar is widely for anyone who knows about compressed files. It handles several compressed types and formats. It is one of those programs you know to install as soon as you get your new computer. Winrar states on its web-site that there are "Over 500 million users worldwide make WinRAR the world's most popular compression tool today".

This piece of software will really impress you. It has advanced features that can deal with virtually all image formats available in the market. It is reliable and easily creates virtual drives on your computer, giving you the possibility to have endless virtual CDs and DVDs for instant access. ISO is widely used on the internet now, and although many go for MagicISO, Daemon tools does the job seamlessly without any problems. Just mount your image and you’re done.

With the security issues of today, it is important to keep a long list of different passwords for each of the accounts in order to isolate potential hacking incidents. But with so many accounts, it can be a pain to remember more than five at a time. This is where KeePass comes in. It will securely hold all your passwords in one place, taking that headache away from managing all of them. It has military grade encryption, ensuring they remain safe.

Xirrus saves time and work by checksing your WiFi network and by checking for rogue devices. It also troubleshoots connections, identifies calming connections and spots rogue networks or hotspots

Notepad++ is a handy source code editor which supports several languages. You can use it to create your html emails, scripts, compare files, etc... It’s a simple tool that does exactly what you need.

This helpful program tells you what is taking up the space on your hard drive. When your C drive is beginning to get too full and its performance starts to fall, this is the program you need. It quickly shows you what areas are taking up the most space making it easy to clean and remove unnecessarily bulky files on your computer.

This is tool you use when all else fails. Those moments where the standard antivirus/malware software can’t help or fix the problem, ComboFix is there to help. It finds and removes almost all rootkits and Trojans. Note that just like with all anti-viruses, before using it, you must make sure the others are completely disabled.

This tool allows you to quickly and easily create virtual hard disks. It also works with Hyper-V and Virtual PC. The difference between Disk2vhd and other physical-to-virtual tools is that you can run Disk2vhd on a system that’s online.

FileZilla is an FTP client, and is one of the best ones out there. It can easily move files to the network and is also cross platform. It Manages FTPS and FSTP protocols.

10. CCleaner

Most of us know CCleaner very well; it does the important task of getting rid of temporary files and Windows Registry problems. It does it much faster than most other tools, which if you have used any before, you would know the headache it causes watching that slow process bar move to the right. This is the tool to use when you feel your computer is not performing like it should and you know it’s not because of a virus. So get rid of your cookies and trackers and keep your computer smooth and secure.

Which free tool do you use the most?

Comment if you think we missed one, we would love to know more…

About the Author:
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.

AC Firebrand – early days of the roaring Lions


Yesterday evening saw the first pre-season training session of the newly formed AC Firebrand Team, based out of Regent Street, London, coached by company co-founder, Stefano Capaldo, ably assisted by the ever young Jason Crane, alias Nutmeg-King. 

The session got underway after everyone had unpacked their brand new, exquisitely designed team kit and got dressed, ready for action. Prior to the action getting fully underway, the team’s official photographer, Julian aka Mr Canon, took a few snaps for posterity. Certainly the last couple of photos will be enough to put the fear of dread into any team about to face AC Firebrand, affectionately known as the Firebrand LIONS! Much like walking out at the fabled Anfield, many teams will be beaten before walking onto the pitch; such is the sight of these gallant men at arms. 

After a precisely directed photo-shoot, action finally got underway.  As there were 10 players initially, the lads decided to split up into two teams of 5. 

The Lions

The contest was firm but fair. The whole team had plenty of running to do in the early stages, having to chase the ball around a lot and this took plenty of energy away, but like true Firebrands of war, they carried on and sweated blood for the cause. 

All in all, we could witness a very fine first training session and the squad is looking fit and sharp for the coming weeks, with the first league game coming next week, at the same venue.  A large crowd is expected, and anyone working in London next Wednesday should come down and cheer on these Giants of the modern game, watch them snarl, watch the opposition fade, as they power their way to victory. 

About the Author:       
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry. 

Teenage hackers attack 300 PCs in Alaska


A group of 12-13 year-olds have hacked a computer system at a middle school in Alaska.

Source: Filmzrus Blog - Hackers just got younger...

The 18 kids phished the systems’ administrator privileges by tricking their teacher into entering his admin name and passwords, to accept a fake software update. They used the details to take control of their 300 classmates’ PCs within moments.  

The principal of the school Mr Casey Robinson, said control of the computers has been regained. But:  "How we do business is definitely going to have to change when it comes to updating programs and resources that we have on the machines," said Robinson. He added there would be a security review at the school.

If eighteen, 12-13 year-old children can take control of 300 computers; imagine what a more experienced hacker can do. But it’s not too late for these kids. They can use their interest in IT for good – maybe the school’s found the next Mark Zuckerberg?

About the Author:
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The Global Impact Awards by Google - Cast your vote now

The Global Impact Challenge by Google

The Global Impact Challenge supports British non-profits using tech to tackle the world's toughest problems. There are currently 10 finalists which you can vote for.

Cast your vote by May 31 for the £500,000 fan favourite Global Impact Award. On June 3, a panel of judges will unveil the public vote, and select three additional non-profits as winners of the Global Impact Challenge.

It was found that although there were over 80,000 new tech job openings in the past two years in London alone, last year, only 3,420 students took Computing A-level in the whole of England. Out of those, 255 were girls. 

One of the finalists in the The Global Impact Awards aims to tackle this enormous skills gap by focusing on the roots of the problem. 

The CDI Apps for Good project

The CDI Apps for Good project is helping kids engage in the hands-on creation of apps. This in-school learning is supported by an online platform where students interact directly with designers, developers and entrepreneurs who volunteer their time and expertise.

The project focuses on low income and underrepresented communities. Over three years, Apps for Good will reach more than 175,000 students. Their main goal is to change the future of tech education and develop a new generation of tech entrepreneurs in the UK and around the world.

Watch there video below and help support the project by voting for them in The Global Impact Challenge by Google.

Age UK

Another interesting finalist for The Global Impact Challenge is Age UK.  Their project is to inspire older people to reminisce using technology, and in doing so; deliver digital training which will help them enjoy a happier and healthier later life. 

Their video below states that 1 million older people in the UK have not seen friends or family in over a month. And that technology can help reduce loneliness by providing access to invaluable online resources, as well as the ability to keep in touch with family and friends.

If you want to help with this project and help millions of older people connect then vote for them here:

About the Author:
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Data Management in the virtual World


The popularity of public cloud offerings have blossomed, and with Microsoft expanding Windows Azure globally it looks as though cloud computing is here to stay. However, there are certain drawbacks and obstacles to overcome if corporate users wish to implement cloud-based file sharing for good. A public cloud offering is great for the masses but is still not secure enough to convince CTOs at large corporations to make the switch. Data management in the Virtual world therefore becomes, a heated debate.

Cloud Management 

From chain retail locations to multinational corporations, the very mention of the word cloud challenges tradition. This is because the cloud pools multiple machines together to share resources and space on a network. But wherever there's shared space, there's a risk of security breach. Speed and reliability are also a concern for larger organizations. In the cloud, users create their own virtual server from a pooled resource; a cluster of servers strung together and partitioned off accordingly. Cloud management is potentially problematic because its reliance is dependent on a robust physical environment. 

The more data users push through the shared network, the higher the risk of network latency. Furthermore, the corporate cloud must be resilient enough to prevent network latencies from bogging down the switchgear and routers. Of course, all this info is passed through the virtual environment to servers located inside a data center facility. Even cloud providers need such a facility to house, manage and maintain this cluster of cloud servers in an effort to prevent downtime and boost security on all levels; the physical and the virtual level. So the issue of security and performance in the cloud, be it a public or private offering, is still omnipresent. So where does this leave us?

The Cloud Vs. Tradition 

Think of it this way; every online transaction eventually makes its way to a physical server. The question is, do you really want your money or precious data handled through a massive public cloud offering, without any robust level of security? Experts argue that the risk isn't much more than what we're used when we log into our Gmail accounts. So we don't care about the risk. Ultimately, the benefits of things like Windows Azure (or Gmail for that matter) far outweigh the risk of any data breach. However, CTOs at large corporations still see the cloud as an imminent threat to daily operations because of these risks. Until this fine technology comes around to improving switchgear, firewalls and virtual security, it's best to stick to tradition. 

About the author: James Mulvey, a content writer and blog director at Colocation America, wrote this post.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Why we have to take cyber-attacks more seriously


The US defence secretary has said that cyber-terrorist attacks can be as devastating as a physical attack.

Leon Panetta said US intelligence showed "foreign actors" were targeting control systems for utilities, industry and transport to subvert computer control systems and wreak havoc. So the country is preparing to take pre-emptive action if a serious cyber-attack becomes imminent.  

"An aggressor nation or extremist group could gain control of critical switches and derail passenger trains, or trains loaded with lethal chemicals. They could contaminate the water supply in major cities, or shut down the power grid across large parts of the country" stated Mr Panetta in a speech to business leaders on the Aircraft USS intrepid. “Such a destructive cyber-terrorist attack could paralyse the nation and create a profound new sense of vulnerability," he continued.

Mr Panetta explained that smaller scale cyber-attacks are now common. In the last few weeks, many firms have suffered such attacks. He also discussed Shamoon attacks - where oil companies in Qatar and Saudi Arabia have had their computer data replaced with random code.

To know more about such attacks and to trace them, the US defence department developed tools, and a cyber-strike force to attack the source.

"Potential aggressors should be aware that the United States has the capacity to locate them and hold them accountable for actions that harm America or its interests, if we detect an imminent threat of attack that will cause significant physical destruction or kill American citizens, we need to have the option to take action to defend the nation, when directed by the president." Panetta concluded.

We all must be prepared for a cyber-attack, and to understand how much damage it can do. Companies are spending more money every day, to develop protection and to secure their database.

Cyber-attacks are the weapons of tomorrow.

Want to learn more about IT security?

Opportunities in IT security are appearing everywhere so why not take it? You could earn on average £50,000 according to with the fasting growing sector in the IT industry. Find out more on our top four IT Security certs blog post.

About the Author:
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Government launching new cyber security squad


The Coalition has announced plans to create two new cyber security teams, which will look to strengthen the nation’s virtual defences.

Two new teams will be created to bolster the nation’s virtual defence, said the Coalition.

In a statement written recently to Parliament, the new squad will be created for the ministry of Defence (MoD). The minister for the cabinet office, Francis Maude stated that "attacks on government departments continue to increase”.  The UK’s Cyber Security Strategy got a powerful boost thanks to the £650 million investment in the nation’s digital infrastructure last year.

By DGH source: Technology Moral Dilemma blog
July 1, 211

A cyber security squad

Maude, promises to “Improve national co-ordination of cyber incidents and act as a focus point for international sharing of technical information on cyber security” . In addition to this, a Cyber incident Response scheme was launched by GCHQ’s information assurance arm CESG and Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) earlier this year, which will be equipped to help the new force.

Maude stated that the cyber reserve will “draw on the wider talent and skills of the nation in the cyber field”, and will not use the armed forces unless needed. “The exact composition is currently in development and a detailed announcement will follow in 2013”.

In a document from the Cabinet Office, it states that “The Services will engage additional experts to support their work in defending against the growth in cyber threats. These will be supporting roles to the Joint Cyber Units across the full spectrum of cyber and information assurance capability.  A series of events are being held with industry on how the scheme will work”.

Industry watchers have welcomed the two initiatives. Raj Samani, UK CTO for security firm McAfee, said the squad would help fill the public sector skills gap when it came to cyber issues. “From the cyber perspective, of course ideally we would all want a full time ready and able cyber team capable of addressing the issues facing the UK,” Samani told TechWeekEurope.

He added, “However with the cyber security skills shortage facing all sectors, such an approach is absolutely necessary until we are able to have this full time capability.  This of course places greater dependency on the need for cyber security training and getting the skills of reservists at the right consistent level. What this, and the new national CERT really emphasizes, however, is the need for a strong public-private partnership.  Not only in terms of providing resources, but also the intelligence in terms of a real-time and global perspective necessary in understanding the threats facing the UK.”

A permanent information sharing environment is going to be set up called CISP (no not CISSP for you security professionals out there). CISP stands for the Cyber-security Information Sharing Partnership . Maude said that his one is now in place since January. He stated that “attacks on government departments continue to increase”, so the

Industry experts and the government worked together on CISP, which will be open to critical national infrastructure sectors. Others will be able to have it later on in the year. Furthermore, the joint ‘Cyber Growth Partnership’, a representative body for the UK technology industry, was announced. This will consist of a “high level group which will identify how to support the growth of the UK cyber security industry, with an emphasis on increasing exports. In line with Government targets, at least 25% of GCHQ’s procurement budget is to be spent through SMEs to gain access to the vibrant innovation of these firms.” Said the government to confirm they will be increasing the proportion of cyber security contracts going to SMEs. 

Taking the opportunity

As the number of IT security threats continue to grow, the demand for the those to defend against it has become ever more important. IT security has become the fastest growing sector in the IT industry.

Opportunities in IT security are popping up everywhere so why not take it? Get the right security certification and earn on average £50,000. You can view our top four IT Security certs here.

Get your CISSP

CISSP is offered by the highly respected (ISC)2 vendor. CISSP professionals are always in demand and many businesses now require it. It’s one of the key certs employers and the government looks for to fill management-level information security positions. Having a CISSP demonstrates that you have a strong understanding of security concepts as well as the specific methodologies involved. It is very well known in the IT security community and has also become a requirement in many companies in order to join their IT security team. According to, the average salary for a CISSP professional is £50,000.

About the Author:
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.

Monday, 20 May 2013

How to defend yourself and your company from a DDoS attack


DDoS mitigation

DDoS stands for Distributed Denial-of-Service attacks. They have become increasingly popular and have gone up in scale, intensity and frequency.

DDoS Map
Image Courtesy of
There are a wide range of reasons for DDoS attacks, including political (hacktivism), criminal, or just simply for their own amusement; which makes anyone with an online presence a potential target.

If you find that your site or organization is under attack, it’s important that you report such attacks quickly to parties that are best positioned to help you mitigate, weather, and restore normal service.

Here are some steps you can take to take out the sting

Simulate your own DDoS attacks

Create a simulated DDoS attack on your network. This will help you or your management see the best options to mitigate when under a real attack. Here’s a simple video of how to perform your own DDoS attack.

Manage communications

If you do get a DDoS attack, make sure you are prepared to have a single point of contact streamless information sharing. This contact can keep more of the organisation up to date with short updates so everyone understands the situation. By already completing the simulation process mentioned above, everyone in the team will know their specific roles in the mitigation process and how they can continue ‘business as usual’.

Make a plan, and keep planning again

Make a call tree, keep it updated and in the same place so it is easily referenced. Call trees are an important part of every disaster recovery plan. They are a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an event. It is very helpful if you need to reach certain employees after hours to notify them of a situation. This is in order to make sure the mitigation process is contained and in order. It helps turn an attack into an incident as everyone will know their role after the simulation and the plan created from it. You should also have teleconference bridges (where engineers can coordinate response efforts), a troubleshoot bridge for application owners to report issues, and a security and forensics bridge. This will help with the confusion and add speed again.

In April 2013, Prolexic (a DDoS mitigation service provider) mitigated a sustained DDoS attack peaking at 160 GBPS and 120 million packets per second - which is a very heavy attack. In the video below they explain and show you how they did it.

Source: Prolexic

Defend your business with a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) professional

EC-Council CEH logo

You too can learn how to perform DDoS attacks and help companies like PayPal defend themselves against it. Become a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) and earn on average £42,750 in the UK ( The CEH certification from the EC-Council is widely recognised as the entry into the hacking world. As an ethical hacker, you’d attempt to penetrate the networks or computers of your organisation or any organisation that hires you. "White hat" ethical hackers are widely sought after to help find and fix the vulnerabilities that would otherwise be exploited by "black hat" criminal hackers.

About the Author:
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

What to do when your projects keep failing


Failing, over-running and budget-crashing projects are causing businesses billions in lost revenue.

Businesses up and down the land are wasting tens of billions of hard-earned resources in projects that run late, cost more than they should or fail altogether. 

A British Computer Society study in to project failure by Dr John McManus and Dr Trevor Wood-Harper looked in detail at 214 big IT projects over a period of seven years and found  nearly a quarter of all projects  (23.8 per cent) were cancelled  before they even got off the ground.

A more recent IDC report shows that things aren’t getting any better “Improving IT Project Outcomes by Systematically Managing and Hedging Risk,” by Dana Wiklund and Joseph C. Pucciarelli, revealed that 25 per cent of IT projects fail outright. Meanwhile, 20 to 25 per cent don’t provide ROI and up to 50 per cent require material rework.

The knee jerk reaction is to blame the problem on the programmers and the coders. However when you dig down into the figures however you find that it’s not the IT that’s at fault or the people creating and testing the code, it’s actually project management where the problem lies. The statistics show that 54 per cent of IT project failures can be attributed to project management, whereas only 3 per cent are attributed to technical challenges.

The obvious solution therefore is to do something about the project management, but what?  The answer according to an in-depth study “The Benefits of Training and Certification” by analysts IDC is to invest in training.

The IDC research shows (see graph above) an undeniably tight correlation between training, team skill, and project success and the research found that the three most important variables for predicting project success were;

  • The overall skill level of project teams
  • The percentage of project budget spent on training
  • The number of hours of training per team member

Increasing or reducing any of the three variables would directly have an impact on the project success. Projects allocating 7% of the budget to training were significantly more successful than projects where only 4% of the budget went to training In fact, managers of IT project teams that meet most or all of their objectives provided each team member with 40% more training than managers of teams that achieve little or only some success.

The numbers required don’t need to be that significant; when preparing for a project, teams receiving 40 hours of training per member met their significant project objectives three times as often as teams that received 30 hours of training or less.

Finally the report also looked at the type of training that the teams received and found that there was also a close correlation between project success and certification.  

The research found that every relevant certification increases a teams performance with an "average" team performance achieved only when more than 40% of the team (see graph above) is certified, with 100% success rates achieved when over 60% of the team achieved certification.

The report should be a wakeup call to anyone embarking on a large IT project – or for that matter any large project.  If you want success then get your staff trained to expert level and make sure they have the certificates to prove it, if you don’t then be prepared for the same old failures, over runs and costs spiralling through the roof. 

About the Author:
Stefano is the co-founder and head of strategy education at Firebrand Training. He has 20 years experience in IT operations and services support, and worked in financial markets supporting IT infrastructures.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

IT Security – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly


The Good – Wages increase for professionals in-demand

There has been an increase in the demand for skills related to security architecture and web application security according to Acumin’s latest salary index. The IT security recruitment consultancy reported that the average salary increase for similar roles in the past six months from £78,000 to £90,000 per annum, which is up from £75,000 to £90,000 in 2012. From the report, Acumin say that the reason for the salary rise is the increase in corporate web apps and a better understanding of the security risks involved.

The Bad – North Korea blames web outage on US

North Korea has stated that the US was performing cyber attacks on their servers which was preventing access to certain sites, according to reports. Some of the sites affected included the Korean Central news agency and the official Sinmun newspaper which are state-run media organisations. Foreigners and tourists in the capital Pyongyang reported that they had no internet access for several days.  South Korea denied involvement and the US has no comments. Others are suggesting hacker groups around the world are responsible, but no evidence has been found as to if it was an attack or if anyone was involved at all.

And the Ugly: Organisations strengthen their cyber insurance

Cyber insurance prices have increased dramatically. According to insurance broker Marsh, there was a 33% rise in 2012 from the year before. They found that the sectors most keen to insure themselves against the financial consequences of a data breach or cyber attack are the service and education sectors. The demand went up by 76% for the service sector and 72% for the educational sectors. 

About the Author:
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Business as usual is an opportunity - eating monster


If you had to make the choice between innovation and business as usual, I’m willing to bet that 99.99% of you would plump for innovation. So why is it that businesses spend so much time fire-fighting and so little time being innovative?  For most businesses the answer is ‘because we have to.’ Systems will always need updating and fixing and things will always go wrong and you need to fix them, servers fall over, disks crash and users – bless them – get a little confused and accidentally delete things they shouldn’t or forget their password.

Unfortunately most businesses can’t afford the luxury of having dedicated people on standby should a server fall over or an application crash or a price needs changing on the website. The consequence of this is your IT department and the development teams get called off the new revenue generating projects to deal with the crashes and the problems.  In a nutshell, business as usual is a great big opportunity-eating monster.

By and large IT departments were not created to fix old applications, mend failing hardware or to answer the dumb-ass support questions of the rest of the business. They’re there to serve the business, creating IT solutions, making the business more efficient and to bring in new revenue. Alas over the years this role has been forgotten and instead the IT departments now spend their time waiting on business as usual and attending to her every need, and she’s a demanding customer.

So what can a business do to improve the situation? The answer is to give the business as usual problem to someone else better suited to deal with it and to make sure that when you build the applications they’re built and managed properly, and that the people fixing the problems are capable of fixing the problems.

A report by analysts IDC showed that experts ie trained IT professionals with certification spent far less time on business as usual, and were able to spend more time on being innovative. According to the survey, experts in archiving and retrieval teams spent 28% less time fixing problems, data backup and recovery experts spent 21% less time fixing problems and security experts had 20% more time to spend helping end users.

It’s a no-brainer.  If you are being swamped by business as usual then get an expert to handle the jobs, either in-house or in the cloud, or send your IT and business teams on some training courses and set your IT team free to become revenue generators and not a business overhead.

About the Author:
Stefano is the co-founder and head of strategy education at Firebrand Training. He has 20 years experience in IT operations and services support, and worked in financial markets supporting IT infrastructures.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Thank Firebrand it's Friday - Fifth Edition


Welcome to the fifth edition of TFiF (Thank Firebrand it's Friday). This week we look at cyber-warfare, the death of an internet giant and App creation for the web coding challenged. Let's get to it.

The death of an internet giant

Last week saw the quiet passing of an internet legend. After 16 years of dedicated service, Hotmail was finally put out to pasture by Microsoft to be replaced by the metro styled Outlook.

Source: Ryan Majeau
Final transition from Hotmail to Outlook saw the migration of more than 300 million live Email accounts, which equates to more than 150 petabytes of data (1 petabyte = 1000 terabytes). No doubt a majority of that data fell into 2 categories, social media notifications or Spam.

"Sir I have won lottery, need bank account to transfer my many millions, will give you 5%".....seems legit, here's my bank details and 4 digit pin code.

The real risk of cyber attacks

In recent years we have seen the rise of cyber crime and the increasing insurmountable danger in a world seemingly dominated by computers. Only last week Hackers compromised Twitter accounts from the Associated Press, causing Stock Markets to tank for following a false tweet claiming an attack on the White House.

Former Department of Homeland Security, Paul Rosenweig warns us that future attacks could result in far more severe consequences. Below are a few disturbing scenarios from his recent publication:

  • Industrial Control Systems could be hacked disrupting dams, oil refineries and the national grid. Think of the riots following the New York blackout, or when that dam collapsed and Superman had to race to save the town from the onrushing flood (ok the second happened in a movie, but you see my point).
  • Satellite based navigation systems could be manipulated affecting GPS data, planes provided with incorrect locational data, or you end up in a field instead of Tesco car park!
  • For those that have seen Fight Club a similar scenario could play out where London, Tokyo and New York Stock exchange data could be wiped out. Did anyone say sextuple dip recession?

A free Windows 8 App creator...

Enough of the doom and gloom, ever wanted to tap into the App market but lack the programming skills?

In steps the Zipapp web site, this free resource allows you to create your own app without ever having to write or learn a single line of code. The web based platform allows you to create a variety of static pages within the application, using feeds from Twitter/YouTube/Facebook and any compatible RSS feed.

So if you want to create a Windows 8 version of your Wordpress / Google blog and have an active Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels, in quick time, Zippapp can help you achieve this.

Check out this 8 minute video, it really is simple.

So there we have it, another week of Thank Firebrand it's Friday in the bag. Join us next week for more news, reviews and hopefully whacky goings on.

About the Author:
Edward is a member of the Marketing team overseeing the Content Strategy for Firebrand. Working in the Industry for 2 years, Edward has experience with Microsoft Technologies including SharePoint 2007 and Windows Server 2008 R2. Edward writes for a variety of Blogs and Publications on all things Technology.