Oct 07 2011

Cloud is the New Model T – BizTech Quick Take

BizTech Quick Take is our weekly digital tour of the web, serving up news and notes on IT and business that you need to know — and some things you’ll simply be glad to know.

How Ford’s Model T Set the Blueprint for Service-based Architecture

The more things change, the more they stay the same. That’s why it’s always helpful to study history and learn from those who’ve succeeded in the past.

Bob Deutsche, a principal architect at Intel, is fascinated by the parallels of history and technology. In a column for Data Center Knowledge, he explores the foundation that the Ford Model T set for a service-oriented architecture (SOA):

Ford’s Model T became available in 1908. Due to its low initial price (USD $950), demand was brisk. When Ford’s auto first went into the marketplace, it was assembled by a team of two or three workers who would collect the parts they needed and start the assembly process. If a part didn’t fit, they used hammers, crowbars, files, and plain old brute strength to coerce it into place until they had formed the end product (Think of it as a service).

There were two fundamental problems with this approach. The first was that the time and labor it took to complete each Model T varied. The second issue involved service life cycle considerations. If something breaks, and if every part is unique, how do I fix it? And what will it cost to repair?

Henry Ford’s response to these problems boiled down to standardization and interchangeable parts. Every piece became exactly the same as its successor and predecessor, and fit with all the others into sub-assemblies (i.e., building blocks). In a sense, the manufacturing methods Ford used for the Model T were the great grandfathers of a concept that we refer to as a services-based architecture framework.

Deutsche’s comparison suggests a few key steps to building a successful SOA: Define the process, standardize and scale up.

Read Deutsche’s full post on the cloud and Model T on Data Center Knowledge.

The Nitty and Gritty Specs of the iPhone 4S

Whoops. Looks like the iPhone 5 still needs a little more time after all.

After speculation that Apple would unveil the iPhone 5 at its Oct. 4 press event, the company surprised pundits and analysts by unveiling only the iPhone 4S. The 4S is an updated version of Apple’s wildly popular iPhone 4, but the improvements are only on the inside; the external design and form factor of the phone remain the same.

The technical upgrades that Apple has built into the iPhone 4S are nothing to sneeze at, though. OS X Daily compiled the list of tech specs for the new smartphone:

  • Dual Core A5 CPU with 2x faster processor
  • Dual Core GPU with 7x faster graphics
  • Battery improved: 8 Hour talk time, 14 hours of 2G talk time, 6 hours of 3G browsing, 9 hours of Wi-Fi browsing
  • Redesigned antenna that automatically switches for the best reception
  • Faster data speeds, up to 14.4mbps download
  • World phone – CDMA & GSM in a single device
  • 8 megapixel camera sensor takes 3264×2448 resolution images, f 2.4 aperture, takes in more light and shoots faster pictures, hybrid IR filter
  • 1080P HD video recording with real-time image stabilization
  • Siri intelligent assistant and voice navigation
  • iOS 5 (general release is October 12)

Read more about the specs of the iPhone 4S on OS X Daily.

These Typos Are More Malicious Than Most

Beware of typosquatters. Similar to domain squatters, these people make it a point to squat on domains that are similar to well-known domains. Then, when a user unwittingly misspells the domain they intend to go to, he or she winds up at the typosquatter’s site.

The problem? These sites often contain spyware and malware and can be used to intercept sensitive company information that has unintentionally been misdirected because of a typo in the address.

Absolute Software has a helpful post explaining the dangers of typosquatters. It offers some valuable advice to businesses:

To mitigate the risks, companies should buy up any free doppelganger names available for their company, looking for common misspellings and dropped punctuation in subdomains. Companies can also configure their networks to block DNS and internal e-mails sent by employees that might get incorrectly addressed to the doppelganger domains.

Read more about typosquatters in this post on the Absolute Software blog.

It’s Time to Re-imagine IT as an Experience

Technology-minded people sometimes have a tendency to get carried away with technical specs and features. Faster processing speeds, petabytes of storage and 10 Gig Ethernet instantly send some IT folks to a happy place.

But the real way for companies and technologies to separate themselves from the competition and provide true innovation is by making IT an experience, writes Mark P. McDonald, a Gartner analyst:

In a world of global supply, information flows and rapid competition, competition based on features and functions is no longer sufficient. Many organizations in the public and commercial sector have sought to create experience in their offerings, it’s about time IT used the principles of experience as well.

Just about every successful company centers around an experience, either directly in the case of Apple its the hardware to apps to media experience or indirectly in terms of the values buyers experience using eco friendly products or associating themselves with a powerful brand.

Experience-based offerings concentrate on delivering value across as many dimensions as possible. There are four dimensions of value. I learned them in the form of the KANO model. These sources of value are:

  • Solving a problem
  • Enabling an opportunity
  • Making someone feel good about themselves
  • Making someone look good to themselves or in eyes of others

Read more about the power of experience in McDonald’s post on the Gartner blog.

Facebook Browsing at Work Just Got a Little Safer

IT workers, it just got a little safer to let users in your organization spend a little time on Facebook. As the popularity of the social network founded by Mark Zuckerberg has grown, the spam and malicious links on the site seem to multiply.

But worry a little less, because Websense is on the job. The company announced a partnership with Facebook to protect users from becoming victims of malware that finds its way onto the social network:

Soon, when a user clicks on a URL that has been posted within Facebook, that link will be sent to Websense for security classification. The Websense® ThreatSeeker® Cloud, an advanced classification and malware identification platform, will then analyze the link in real time. If the destination site is considered unsafe, the user is presented with a warning page that offers the choice to continue at their own risk, return to the previous screen, or get more information on why it was flagged as suspicious.

In this way, we are helping Facebook continue their proactive fight to keep malicious links off of their platform and allow safe use for all of its members.

For more on Websense’s partnership with Facebook, read the full post on the Websense blog.

IT Security Works Better When Everyone Agrees It’s Important

The battle over information security within a company can sink or swim based on whether the company’s workers believe in its importance.

Write all the security policies and rules that you want, but if users decide that the policies are unimportant, overly burdensome or unfair, they might be inclined to sidestep them. This completely sabotages the efforts at securing information within the company.

The keywords for a harmonious information security strategy are collaboration and communication, writes Matthew Rosenquist, an information security strategist at Intel:

In the past, some organizations applied iron-fisted security programs and policies which were just as impactful as the problems they were designed to protect against. These organizations have largely matured in how they present risks, design controls, and respond to problems.

They have strived to understand the business and how employees work in order to reduce the overall impact of security. They find a healthy balance between risk and controls and do so in a manner which purposefully minimizes impacts to employees.

The survey found sixty-one percent of employees reported that their employer's security policies never or rarely made it more difficult for them to do their jobs. This kind of partnership fosters teamwork instead of contempt.

Read more about information security policies in Rosenquist’s post on Intel’s Open Port IT Community.

A Guide to Office 365

Microsoft recently rolled out its cloud-based productivity suite. Office 365 is packed with new features, enhanced workflows and other bonuses to make collaborative work easier. The cloud-based suite replaces the company’s Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS).

For businesses that have already upgraded to Office 365, BizTech writer Mitch Tulloch has put together a useful two-part guide on getting started.

Part 1 focuses on the basic administrative features in Office 365, and Part 2 explores the online services of the productivity suite.

To learn more about great must-read business IT content, check out our list of 50 Must-Read IT Blogs.

Harry Shipler [Public domain], via <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1910Ford-T.jpg">Wikimedia Commons</a>