EMC Collaborates with Cloud Service Providers to Target the $1 billion Opportunity in India

At the annual EMC Forum 2014 in New Delhi, EMC Corporation announced that the company is enabling hybrid cloud solutions with key Cloud Service Providers in the India market. Continue reading EMC Collaborates with Cloud Service Providers to Target the $1 billion Opportunity in India

Office 365 Subscriber? Your Terabyte of OneDrive Storage Awaits!

OneDrive 1TB with Office
OneDrive 1TB with Office

On July 16, Microsoft announced via their OneDrive Blog, that the increase in storage that they promised last month are now rolling out.

So, what changed? First of all, if you have OneDrive, your base storage goes up from 7GB to 15GB. You have OneDrive (formerly, SkyDrive) if you have a Microsoft account which you would have if you ever had a hotmail account or an Outlook.com account, a Zune subscription, an Xbox Live account, or if you have a Windows 8 PC and chose to sign in with a Microsoft account. So, Microsoft has effectively more than doubled the free storage that you get with your Microsoft account.

The bigger jump is for Office 365 subscribers. For Office 365 Personal, Home and University subscribers, the alloted storage (in addition to the 7GB free storage) was 20GB. This storage is now bumped up to 1TB. In addition, if you are an Office 365 Home subscriber, each user on the subscription (it could be up to 5 users) will get their storage bumped from 20GB to 1TB. That’s a pretty sweet upgrade.

Finally, if you want to purchase additional storage (regardless of whether you have the free OneDrive account or through Office 365 subscription), the plans are now more inexpensive than earlier. For example, a 100GB plan is now $1.99 per month instead of the earlier $7.49 per month.

So, what do you do with so much inexpensive or free/included storage? How about moving all your music there? I did that, and am pretty happy with it so far. OneDrive has excellent sync clients for Windows 7, Windows 8.x (where it is included in the base installation), Mac OS, iOS, Windows Phone, Android. These apps will allow you to access your files from virtually anywhere, and best of all, keep the dirty work of backing up your critical data out of your plate. Everything is in the cloud and synced to your devices so you don’t have to worry about losing your data. For your digital memories like photos, videos, music and documents, especially if you have Office 365, you won’t have to worry about backup at all. Not only will OneDrive provide you access to your files anywhere and anytime, it will also be a safe offsite copy of your data in case you lose your local disk for whatever reason.

One other note, Office 365’s business and enterprise editions have OneDrive for Business included and those plans’ subscribers also get 1TB storage. Although the two services OneDrive and OneDrive for Business are named similarly, they are not the same on the back end, although Microsoft has made 1TB available to all OneDrive customers, consumer or business. The OneDrive for Business storage upgrade has also started rolling out.

How do you plan to take advantage of the extra storage? My next move, given that I have an Office 365 Home subscription, is to move my photos and videos to OneDrive. It is a much bigger effort so it may take some time for me to plan it out and do it. Plus of course, I have to keep an eye on the bandwidth consumption since my ISP has a cap on how much I use every month. However, with my cloud storage being 1TB, I can now say that I have more storage in the cloud than on any of my PCs!

 

TheRomit tweet OneDrive
TheRomit tweet OneDrive

Put That OneDrive Space To Use: Move Music Collection to the Cloud and Stream It

Do you have a ton of space in your OneDrive account and don’t know what you want to do with it? How about taking the bold step of moving your music collection to OneDrive?

Wait a second, you may say. OneDrive does not “support” music files, you may say. Well, maybe not openly and definitely not as a streaming music service could. However, as I coincidentally found out over the weekend, as long as you have the OneDrive app (I tested on Windows Phone, iPhone and Windows 8), you may at least be able to play your music, one song at a time.

Through a variety of promotions and tie-ins, I have almost 240GB of space on my OneDrive, and very soon, it is going to be 1TB because I have an Office 365 Home subscription.

To The Cloud

First though, moving the collection. If you are like me, and have many ways to listen to your collection, and have multiple forms of backup running, you may be wary of moving things around. I took a deep breath and took the plunge, although I knew what I wanted to achieve: move the music to the cloud but not lose the local files, and still continue to back up to my cloud backup service, Crashplan.

So, on my Windows 8 “home server”, I took the music off the data drive and moved it to my OneDrive’s sync location under a convenient location like OneDrive\Music. It took a while to move my 120GB to the cloud, but once I copied it to the location, I let it do its thing uploading the music to OneDrive. This step should be identical if you have Windows 7 (or even a Mac) with the OneDrive sync client installed.

The advantage with this approach as opposed to leaving the music on the home server is that I now have the ability to access my music from virtually any device connected to the internet. At the same time, since the music is still on my home server, I did not lose the ability to play the music from devices on the home network like my Apple TV.

Backup vs Sync

One common confusion is mistaking backup for sync, or vice versa. I think of it this way: I want my important data to be backed up without any manual effort, and I want some of the digital memories synced so that I can access them from anywhere, at anytime. The nuance here being, the backup is a one-way data transfer from my home server to the cloud whereas syncing enables me to add to my music collection from anywhere. So the next time I see a great deal on Amazon Music for a $5 album, I can not only purchase it but also download it and make it available to my other devices.

OneDrive Website Album Listing
OneDrive Website Album Listing
OneDrive Website Download Prompt
OneDrive Website Download Prompt

 

Use the OneDrive apps

Speaking of being able to access from anywhere, what happens when you try to open one of your (DRM-free, of course) audio files? Well, it depends. If you open from a browser, it simply opens the dialog to download the file. This is because the OneDrive web app is not set up for streaming music. It is only meant to interpret documents (Office formats, text and PDF), pictures and video. In the mobile OneDrive apps on the other hand, you can navigate to the folder with the songs, and tap on the actual song and it will start playing the song.

OneDrive iOS App Artists
OneDrive iOS App Artists
OneDrive iOS App Albums
OneDrive iOS App Albums
OneDrive iOS App Songs In Album
OneDrive iOS App Songs In Album
OneDrive iOS App Song Display
OneDrive iOS App Song Display
OneDrive iOS App Streaming Song
OneDrive iOS App Streaming Song
OneDrive iOS App AirPlay Option
OneDrive iOS App AirPlay Option

I hadn’t noticed this earlier, and while this is good, it by no means makes the OneDrive app a music player like Amazon Music app or Google Play Music app. For example, the app does not play an entire folder. It does not understand playlists. When you skip a song, it simply returns you to the folder instead of playing the next song.

OneDrive Windows Phone App Albums
OneDrive Windows Phone App Albums
OneDrive Windows Phone App Album Listing
OneDrive Windows Phone App Album Listing
OneDrive Windows Phone App Streaming Audio
OneDrive Windows Phone App Streaming Audio

 

But the fact that it can now stream (not download and then play) is a good sign that perhaps the OneDrive app may unbundle the photos/videos, documents and music features into their own apps just like Google and Amazon have done. I can see a OneDrive app like it is today, for general storage features, an Office app to only surface the files that Office mobile can open, OneDrive Photo app for pictures and videos, and OneDrive Music or Xbox Music app to surface audio files.

OneDrive Windows 8 App Album Listing
OneDrive Windows 8 App Album Listing
OneDrive Windows 8 App Streaming Music
OneDrive Windows 8 App Streaming Music

 

Owning music vs renting

I say all of the above but I am one of those who has slowly learned to give up trying to deeply control the music collection. I mostly rent music via one or more of the streaming services like Spotify, Rdio, iHeart, etc. I am also a paying subscriber for Xbox Music Pass which lets me play any song from their catalog on-demand. As a result, the real need to listen to music I “own” (because you know, this collection goes way back to the Napster and Kazaa days), has gone down tremendously. There are still some comedians whose performances I have in my collection which are not available on iTunes or Xbox Music catalog. There are also some Bollywood songs which did not match when I tried iTunes Match and also Xbox Music matching, but those are general the exception rather than the rule.

And then there’s services like Apple’s iTunes Match. It allows one to “match” their local collection with iTunes’ catalog and whenever there is a match, iTunes allows you to listen to the songs from any authorized device. The service is not free, but at $25/year it is a small price to pay for hassle-free management of your music collection. It also allows customers to upload the songs which do not match, although the uploaded songs would count against the iCloud storage quota. Once Apple’s newly announced storage plans go in effect, it would be a good idea to let iTunes completely manage the collection, which is taking one more step towards freeing up your collection. Xbox Music advertised long ago that this feature was coming to the service but so far it only does matching but does not allow you to upload unmatched music to the cloud.

Use the cloud, any cloud

To conclude, I recommend that you start thinking about simplifying your data management. Why leave stuff on your hard drive when you can use the cloud? For digital stuff like music and photos, it is better to make the cloud your primary “drive” and sync it to the devices you use. I used OneDrive as an example in this article but feel free to explore the cloud of your choice. It won’t harm going instead with Google, Amazon, or coming soon, Apple because all of the big ecosystem providers understand that providing a reliable storage solution is key to keeping customers “sticky”. Start planning the move to the cloud, as long as your bandwidth permits.

What’s your personal cloud situation? What about owning vs renting music, do you use any of the streaming services? Which ones? Why? Let us know!

OneDrive Increases Free Storage and Office 365 Gets 1TB Free

On June 23, Microsoft announced several updates related to its OneDrive consumer-oriented online storage service including bumping up the free storage tier, reducing costs for purchasing storage dramatically, and adding 1TB to Office 365’s non-business plans.

OneDrive 1TB with Office
OneDrive 1TB with Office

Free Storage

While OneDrive (then called SkyDrive) offered 25GB free long time ago, Microsoft changed the free tierto be a then reasonable 7GB around the time of Windows 8 launch. The reasoning then was 7GB was higher than the competition at the time. Of course, as cost of storage has gone down, and as cloud services become more essential for ecosystems, Google and even Apple, have announced very inexpensive plans for their respective online storage services. Now, Microsoft matches some of the recent competitive updates by making the free tier to be 15GB.

Office 365 Personal, Home and University plans join the 1TB party

Microsoft had already announced that Office 365’s business editions would be getting 1TB of included storage (although that would be under OneDrive for Business, which is not the same product as OneDrive). With this announcement, Office 365’s non-business editions, which is Personal, Home and University, also get 1TB of included storage.

This makes Office 365 a pretty fantastic deal if you have the need for desktop Office, or if you want to be able to edit Office documents on the iPad. Not only does Office 365 now come with 1TB of storage, it always included 60 minutes of free Skype worldwide calling and of course desktop version of the Office suite, as well as edit rights for iPad version of the Office apps. If you have more than one person who needs Office, then Office 365 Home is a killer deal @ $99 per year for 5 users.

Office 365 Consumer Plans
Office 365 Consumer Plans

Reduced prices for additional storage options

Of course, as storage costs have gone down, each of the online storage providers have kept cutting their prices. OneDrive will no longer have the 50GB option since the $100GB option is now at $1.99 per month, down from $7.49 per month. An additional 200GB will be $3.99 per month, down from $11.49 per month.

These are great updates to an already useful storage service. As a reminder, OneDrive has a presence on all platforms, making it a truly universal online storage service: Windows 7, Windows 8.x, Windows Phone, iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac OS. The price changes were not completely unexpected because it is much easier for a larger company with scale, to keep lowering costs to meet the competition’s prices. I wonder what this means to the likes of Dropbox and Box, especially the former, since it has long been the darling of consumers for being so easy to use, sync and share. With OneDrive (and Google Drive and soon, iCloud) being so front-and-center in those various ecosystems, it will be interesting to see how many consumers will decide to switch away from the smaller companies. We shall see.

Edit: An earlier version of this article stated that OneDrive is perhaps the only service with apps across all platforms. Dropbox and Box also have apps across all platforms. Author meant to say, only one among the big ecosystem providers, but the sentence has been modified to refer to OneDrive by itself.

(Images courtesy OneDrive blog and Office Blogs)

OneDrive for Business Now Offers 1TB per User

OneDrive For Business
OneDrive For Business

On April 28, Microsoft announced some updates to OneDrive for Business, the service formerly known as SkyDrive Pro. According to the blog post on Office Blogs:

 

First, we will be increasing OneDrive for Business storage from 25GB to 1TB per user.

Second, all Office 365 ProPlus customers will get 1TB of OneDrive for Business storage per user as part of their Office 365 ProPlus subscription.

Third, we’ll help organizations migrate data from their existing solutions to OneDrive for Business

The first update is huge. Not too long ago, SkyDrive Pro was providing only 7GB per user. When Microsoft announced the standalone OneDrive for Business offering, they also bumped up the default storage to 25GB per user. Now perhaps based on pressure from competitors like Google, they have made the default to 1TB. As always when there is competition, we as customers ultimately win.

Office 365 ProPlus is a service that provides always-up-to-date Office software to customers on a subscription basis. Until today’s announcement, it was purely an Office subscription. Now, it also comes with a truckload of storage space and more importantly, a sync solution that ensures that files are always in sync across devices.

The third item was not detailed but I suspect Microsoft will have some utilities to help migrate data from Google Drive, Dropbox, Box and others to OneDrive for Business. We shall see.

The blog post goes on to describe the benefits OneDrive for Business offers in addition to pure storage amount and sync:

Native integration with Office documents: Enables people to discover content and collaborate with others in real time with efficient synchronization of changes and real-time co-authoring using Office Online.

Connected to what you need, when you need it: As cloud services like Office 365 get smarter and more personalized with Office Graph, OneDrive for Business becomes part of a connected productivity solution where content is discoverable, sharable and personalized for individual users, helping to increase personal and organizational responsiveness.

A trusted service: OneDrive for Business provides enterprise content management, compliance and admin controls, financially backed by the industry-leading Office 365 Service Level Agreement. We’ve made investments in manageability, security, auditing and information protection including rights management, data loss prevention, auditing, eDiscovery, legal holds, etc. and more that can work for OneDrive for business but also across SharePoint and Exchange.

Deep investment in certifications and infrastructure: We’ve invested heavily already in areas that are important for doing business in major vertical industries and geographies, such as FISMA, the EU Model Clauses, CJIS and more, many of which are detailed on our Trust Center.  Microsoft has industry-leading, cloud reliability and security and has made a massive investment in physical datacenters around the world, enabling us to deliver high availability and robust disaster recovery capabilities.

Scale through partners: Our 400,000 partners around the world can help customers get up and running quickly with OneDrive for Business as a standalone solution or with Office 365.

As you can see, OneDrive for Business is not a “dumb storage” service but it is in fact the center of a collaborative solution that is protected by certifications and service level agreements. Along with the huge partner network, which enables building innovative solutions on top of the storage layer, OneDrive for Business is now a serious contender for businesses of any size to move their data into the cloud.

Skydrive App Update on iOS Finally Live

On April 3, Mike Torres announced on Windows Blogs that the SkyDrive app for iOS was updated to v3.0 and was available in the iTunes store.

Some of the changes and additions in this update are:

  • Support for iPhone 5 and iPad Mini
  • Updated app icons and user experience
  • Works better with your photos:
    • Download full resolution photos to your iPhone or iPad
    • Control the size of photos you upload and download
    • Photo metadata is retained when you upload to SkyDrive
  • Opening and saving files to SkyDrive works better with other apps on your iOS devices
  • Many other small changes, bug fixes and performance improvements
SkyDrive on iPhone 5
SkyDrive on iPhone 5

Given that the last update to the app was about a year ago, this news is very welcome for those who use SkyDrive.

What was not mentioned in the change log was that the option to buy additional storage on SkyDrive has been removed. This is because as per Apple’s App Store policies, if any app provides such functionality or even a link to their own site, the company has to pay 30% fee to Apple.

In fact, it is widely believed that the app was held back from being released because the negotiations between Microsoft and Apple were not going anywhere. Microsoft was trying to convince Apple that this is a special case and they should not be charged the 30% fee for the functionality. Clearly, Apple did not budge and Microsoft had to remove the link.

However, the silver lining here is now that Microsoft has published the SkyDrive app, we may not be too far away from Office on iOS making its appearance. The generally believed theory among those who watch Microsoft is that Office on iOS (specifically, iPad) is going to be free apps with read-only functionality unless a user has a Office 365 subscription. If they sign in with their Microsoft account tied to the subscription, they will be able to edit the Office files on iPhone and iPad. Given how important the “real” Office is for consumers and enterprises alike, it is natural that Microsoft would not want to pay 30% of the entire Office 365 subscription fee to Apple. Here’s hoping there was a good deal worked out between Cupertino and Redmond so end users like us can finally see Word, Excel, PowerPoint (and wishfully thinking, Outlook) on the iPad.

Do you use SkyDrive? Do you use it on iPhone/iPad? What do you think of the latest update? Let me know!

 

Image courtesy Microsoft from the Windows Blogs

The Pirate Bay Looks to the Cloud to Stay Ahead of Law Enforcement Agencies

The Pirate Bay is known to have a penchant for theatrics. Staying true to their form, they have announced that they are getting rid of their “earthly form and ascending into the next stage”. In ordinary speak, what the infamous Swedish torrent website is trying to convey is that they are ditching the traditional web hosting model in favor of cloud hosting.

The-Pirate-Bay

TorrentFreak explains that The Pirate Bay is currently hosted at cloud hosting companies in two countries where they run several Virtual Machine (VM) instances. Running on virtual machines reduces both cost and complexity, since no physical maintenance is required. The added benefit of this arrangement is that it makes bringing down The Pirate Bay even more difficult. If they are kicked off by a cloud hosting service, they can just hop onto the next cloud host and deploy their virtual machines over there in matter of hours if not minutes. Thus, the threat of a server seizure bringing down TPB is reduced drastically.

However, The Pirate Bay isn’t ditching all its servers. There are still two components it’s not placing in the cloud. The load balancer and transit-routers are still owned and operated by The Pirate Bay. This apparently helps in hiding the location of the cloud provider and protects the privacy of users.

“All communication with users goes through TPB’s load balancer, which is a disk-less server with all the configuration in RAM. The load balancer is not in the same country as the transit-router or the cloud servers,” The Pirate Bay informed TorrentFreak. “The communication between the load balancer and the virtual servers is encrypted. So even if a cloud provider found out they’re running TPB, they can’t look at the content of user traffic or user’s IP-addresses.”

The pirates seem to have put a quite a bit of effort into making it tough for the law enforcement agencies. “If the police decide to raid us again there are no servers to take, just a transit router. If they follow the trail to the next country and find the load balancer, there is just a disk-less server there. In case they find out where the cloud provider is, all they can get are encrypted disk-images,” The Pirate Bay explained. “They have to be quick about it too, if the servers have been out of communication with the load balancer for 8 hours they automatically shut down. When the servers are booted up, access is only granted to those who have the encryption password,” they add.

Editorial: The Sky is Falling! Where Will You Be When the Cloud Goes Down?

I don’t know about you, but the whole “cloud” thing is starting to get a little old. I feel like we’re in the 1980s again, when all you had to do was slap “2000” on anything and it was instantly cool. Don’t believe me? Would you rather have Windows or Windows “2000”. The next fad came with the lowercase “i” on everything. iPods needed iSpeakers and iTunes etc… Now, we have “cloud”. If you want to instantly make your business sound legitimate, just add some kind of “cloud” service to the title and you’ll garner instant fame, at least that’s what some seem to think it will do. Don’t get me wrong, cloud computing is serious business, but as cool as it sounds to have your business “in the cloud”, where are you going to be when it all comes crashing down?

Cloud Computing’s Appeal

Some of you may be wondering what the “cloud” actually is. Isn’t a cloud a white puffy thing that floats in the earth’s atmosphere? Believe it or not, that’s the second result you’ll get if you search for “cloud” on Google. In very simple terms, the cloud is a service that is delivered to you via the internet. If you look below, you will see a representation of a laptop at the bottom of the picture. The laptop connects to the internet via it’s Internet Service Provider, which could be DSL, 4G, cable etc… The internet is represented with a cloud. The reason for this is because once you get past the physical boundaries of your home or work-space, the route that your computer’s data takes is very complex. You have probably been using cloud services for years and didn’t even realize that’s what it was called. For instance, if you use Hotmail or Gmail for your email service, then you are using software as a service. It is provided to you via the internet, rather than something being stored on your computer.

cloud

There are many things to like about cloud computing. Probably its greatest appeal is how easy it is to access your information. For instance, one of my favorite applications is Dropbox. I can create a grocery list on my laptop at home and save it to my Dropbox folder. When I go to the grocery, I use the Dropbox app to open the grocery list and do my shopping right from my phone. From a business standpoint, there are a lot of great advantages to using cloud services too. For instance, I work in the construction industry and we deal with blueprint designs all of the time. Most blueprints are designed using a program called AutoCAD and the files it creates are usually enormous in size. Even if you convert them to PDF format, the drawings are usually still to large to transfer via email. Using a service like Dropbox allows our project managers to share these files with field personnel, which saves the cost of printing the files and putting them in a truck and driving them to a job site.

Information Security: Are we Evolving Fast Enough?

In the last two decades, we have seen a lot of changes around us. We have moved from standard definition to high definition content, dial-up internet to high speed broadband communication and our mode of interaction with devices are also changing with touch and voice input becoming more common. We have also changed our way of communicating and storing data. A lot of our data is stored online in the cloud and most of the communication is online through Twitter, Facebook etc.

Along with the aforementioned changes, our security policies are also changing. With us trusting more and more of our data with technology companies, it is vital for us to ruminate about their security procedures. In the early nineties, the security policies were framed based on the core principles known as CIA – confidentiality, integrity and availability. But times have changed and so have the bad guys. We can no longer rely on the old principles alone. Our security policies have to evolve and that too fast. But are we moving fast enough? Let’s take a look.

Just a few weeks ago, WIRED editor, Mat Honan’s iCloud account was compromised along with his Amazon account. Using the hacked iCloud account, the hacker remotely wiped data from his iPhone, iPad and MacBook. How was the hacker able to do it? Shockingly, just by calling Apple customer support! The hacker was able to get all of the information required to take control of an account from the internet and Amazon using social engineering. You can read the entire story here.

This is just one example. You can find a number of incidents like this. Interestingly, most of today’s attacks use social engineering as the preferred method. But have the technology sectorw evolved enough to protect themselves and customers from these type of attacks? The truth is, while certain companies are trying their best, most or a lot of companies do not think outside the box. In a SANS white paper titled “A Multi-Level Defense Against Social Engineering”, David Gragg quotes Keith A. Rhodes, chief technologist at the U.S. General Accounting Office as follows.

He notes, “Very few companies are worried about this. Every one of them should be.”

Considering that a large number of attacks in 2011 were using social engineering, we can easily conclude that his words are very much true. Still, the unfortunate truth is that companies are not training its staff on detecting social engineering tactics. For example, a large number of tech companies rely on personal information to reset password. At the current age of social network, that information is fairly easy to obtain as shown by the Mat Honan incident. By not taking our current technological ecosystem into consideration, these companies are effectively creating a loophole that the hackers can make use of.

But every time a data breach occurs, can we blame the company or the client? Ted Claypoole, author of ‘Protecting Your Internet Identity: Are You Naked Online?’ says that at certain levels, preventing hacking is just impossible.

“Everyone is hacked.  Sometimes a company has a big loss, and other times smaller losses. But professional criminals are testing weaknesses all the time, technology changes constantly, and all businesses have been a victim, or will be a victim. Some never know it.

There is no such thing as impenetrable security.  For a thing to have value, you must be able to use it.  And if you can reach it to use it, then so can a bad guy.  Sometimes they impersonate the account holder.  Sometimes they take jobs inside the company and become the security flaw.  Sometimes they exploit the technology.  But every company has “insufficient security policies” by your measure, because every company is vulnerable. Anyone who tells you that their major company has never been breached is either lying, naïve or both.

Last year a hacker, probably foreign government sponsored, broke into RSA, one of our very top security companies, and took information that could allow the hackers to hack defense contractors (like Lockheed Martin).

Our financial protection from harm lies not in company security policies, but in the system itself.  This is why we have a $50 fraud limit on our credit cards, and why, when someone breaks in to steal up to $100,0000 of your money from the bank, they did not just steal your money – they either stole the bank’s money or the government’s money, and yours will be returned.  The system eats billions in fraud each year and we all pay a little bit for it, so that the losses are not as unevenly distributed if it happens to you. So I question your assumption that companies who are hacked have insufficient security policies.  Resources are limited. We can all spend only so much time and money on security.  Sometimes you can have the top security in the world, and the bad guys are simply better.”

And that is certainly true. At times, the bad guys are just too good for us to prevent an incident. But that shouldn’t deter us from creating strong security policies and training our staff to prevent incidents such as the one that happened to Mat. The truth is that most of the time, the data breach would have been completely avoidable (96% of breaches in 2011 were avoidable according to Verizon Business Data Breach Investigations Report, 2011). For example, Microsoft India’s online store was hacked last year and password and credit card data was stolen. Apparently, the company that managed the store on behalf of Microsoft didn’t even bother to encrypt the passwords making the hacker’s job a walk in the park.

So what can we do to improve our current security infrastructure? What we need is a holistic approach in dealing with creation of new security policies considering the latest trends and method of attacks.  The policies should evolve fast enough as the attack vectors evolve. Now this is not an easy thing to do but it has to be done in order to safeguard our data. We could have an internationally valid security certification process similar to the ISO  270001 certification which analyses the security policies and practices of a company and rates the company on behalf of their policies. This will help customers in selecting the best in terms of security and will give the companies a necessary ‘push’ in framing the right policies.

Furthermore, the government can pass laws that prioritize the safeguard of consumer data. Unfortunately, there is no solid law in the US that focuses on protection of consumer data, says Ted. “Lawmakers in the United States are doing very little to force protection of user’s data. Other industrialized nations believe that data privacy and data security is a human right that their citizen’s hold.  This country does not yet acknowledge any such right.  We have laws protecting certain specific classes of information in certain circumstances – some health care data, financial data, and children’s information – but our data protection laws are confused and disjointed.”

While Senators are trying to pass laws such as SOPA for the benefit of the entertainment industry, it would be nice if they could spend a little bit of their valuable time in making solid laws to protect our data and as well as our identity online. Only effective security policies along with strong laws can bring about durable changes in the security infrastructure so that we can sleep tight without worrying about our data.

Netflix Open Sources One of its Simians for Cloud-Testing

Netflix is known for its Simian Army, which it lets loose to test its service every once in a while. The cloud calls for strict availability and reliability, and the only way to ensure this is through stringent testing. Netflix has an amusing nomenclature for its testing strategy. It likes to group its cloud testing tools into a simian army. As amusing as that may be, when it comes to implementation, the simian army is a piece of commendable technical wizardry. The Latency monkey, Doctor Monkey, Janitor Monkey, Security Monkey, all are part of the simian army at Netflix.

Netflix-Logo

Recently, Netflix has decided to share one of its earliest cloud-testing tools with the world, and what better way is there to share a piece of technology than open sourcing it? Netflix describes Chaos Monkey:

A tool that randomly disables our production instances to make sure we can survive this common type of failure without any customer impact. The name comes from the idea of unleashing a wild monkey with a weapon in your data center (or cloud region) to randomly shoot down instances and chew through cables — all the while we continue serving our customers without interruption.

Chaos Monkey runs in the Amazon Web Services (AWS). The service has a configurable schedule that defaults to run from 9 AM to 3 PM. The schedule can be configured and it can be used as a great tool to perform system downtime drills.

The world of steaming media is expanding and high availability and is key to this entire industry. Netflix has done a good job by giving back something to its own ecosystem. This is just the beginning, and Netflix has plans to release its other simian tools as well.