Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Poundland chooses Microsoft Office 365 as it overhauls IT infrastructure

December 12th, 2013

Poundland is implementing Microsoft Office 365 to enable staff to collaborate and communicate more efficiently. The retailer, which sells all of its products for £1, has chosen the Microsoft 365 cloud suite to improve its communication methods and scale as it expands its fleet of stores.

Poundland has 490 stores in the UK and Ireland, and has plans to open an additional 1,000 stores as the business grows. It says Office 365 allows the store to improve the productivity of the business as well as communication among colleagues, at a lower total cost of ownership.

The cloud solution also benefits employees who work on the move. Poundland has around 100 employees in the field, including business managers, human resources, business partners and trainers. In the past those people relied on BlackBerry mobile devices and laptops, which they logged into once a day from home, or via VPN when they could.

Microsoft warns of security flaw in key software products

November 26th, 2013

Microsoft has warned that hackers could exploit a zero-day vulnerability in the graphics component of several key products to gain control of users’ computers. The vulnerable component is found in Microsoft Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Microsoft Office 2003-2010 and Microsoft Lync.

The flaw lies in the handling of the Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) image files by the graphics processing component in the affected software. Attackers could exploit the vulnerability by requesting users to preview or open a specially crafted email or web content. An attacker who successfully exploited the vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the current user, but the impact would be lower on users who do not operate with full administrative rights.

Microsoft said it would take appropriate action to address the issue, which “may include providing a security update through our monthly release process or providing an out-of-cycle security update, depending on customer needs”.

Mainframe dead? IT still sees it as robust, long-term solution, shows study

November 12th, 2013

The rise of virtualisation, cloud computing, big data and the Internet of Things within enterprise IT has not really killed the mainframe. 93% of global IT execs cited mainframe as a robust, long-term solution in their enterprise IT strategy.

Mainframes are hardware used for large-scale computing purposes that require greater availability and security. While first generation mainframe occupied 2,000 – 10,000 square feet area within a datacentre, newer mainframes are about as large as a refrigerator. Popular in the 80s, many predicted the death of a mainframe in late 90s and the beginning of the new millennium because of its lack of scalability and the lack of skills in the IT workforce to manage mainframes.

But the 8th annual worldwide survey of mainframe users by BMC Software has found that mainframe platforms continue to play a critical role in delivering computing power at a time when users expect access anytime, anywhere, regardless of the data volume and velocity implications.

IT professionals in Europe, the US and Asia-Pacific said that the mainframe is not only sticking within their IT estate, but that it is evolving to play an increasingly important role in enterprise IT environments.

Almost all respondents (93%) indicated that mainframe is a robust solution and is part of their long-term IT strategy. About half (50%) said that mainframe will grow and continue to attract new IT workloads in their enterprises.

None of the large enterprise respondents said they plan to eliminate mainframes from their IT infrastructure and just 6% of small enterprises indicated plans to eliminate mainframes from their IT.

Two-thirds of respondents also said that mainframe will be incorporated into their big data or cloud strategies.

“Mainframe will continue to play a big role in IT transformation, particularly in these times of unprecedented change,” said Jonathan Adams, general manager of data management at BMC Software that provides low-cost mainframes.

Particularly in finance, banking and insurance environments, long-established IT departments with many years’ experience still have corporate databases running on mainframes. IBM, one of the biggest suppliers of mainframes, continues to invest in developing its mainframe line of products.

In 2012, after a 10% to 20 % dip in revenue in the first three quarters, IBM saw mainframe sales increase 56% in the fourth quarter.

“The unprecedented pace of technology evolution and the consumerisation trend is only solidifying the need for a platforms with superior availability, security and performance capabilities,” Adams said.

Availability advantages (72%) and security benefits (70%) of mainframe technology were cited as the main reasons for continued investment. Its suitability to run legacy applications, lower datacentre costs and centralized IT features were other reasons IT execs cited for using mainframes.

To overcome the current mainframe skills shortages, enterprises are investing in internal training programmes (52%) and hiring experienced candidates (39%). Many are also looking to outsource or automate mainframe management.

Respondents also indicated that nearly half (46%) of their mainframe budgets are spent on software. About 62% of the IT execs surveyed work in enterprises with over $1bn revenue and 45% represented financial and insurance industries while 20% represented government.


Google facing European sanctions over data protection

October 29th, 2013

Google is facing possible European sanctions over its privacy policy after French data protection regulators said the search firm has not complied with its requests. An EU investigation into Google’s data handling has been underway since March 2012, after Google introduced a new privacy policy and started combining data from across its websites to better target advertising, which regulators see as “high-risk” to users’ privacy.

The investigation has been led by French watchdog CNIL, which today said Google had failed to meet a deadline to comply with France’s data protection law. The regulator now intends to proceed with “initiating a formal procedure for imposing sanctions”.

“On 20 June 2013, the CNIL’s chair had ordered Google to comply with the French data protection law within three months. On the last day of this period, Google responded to the CNIL. Google contests the reasoning of the CNIL and has not complied with the requests laid down in the enforcement notice,” said a statement from CNIL.

The regulator stipulated a number of areas where it required Google to demonstrate compliance with data protection laws:

  • Define specified and explicit purposes for its policy
  • Inform users about the purposes of the processing implemented
  • Define retention periods for personal data processed
  • Not proceed, without legal basis, with the potentially unlimited combination of users’ data
  • Fairly collect and process passive users’ data
  • Inform users and then obtain their consent before dropping cookies

Google has maintained all along that its privacy practices respect European laws.

Microsoft pays out $128K to security bug hunters

October 19th, 2013

Microsoft has paid out more than $128,000 to security researchers since first offering bug bounties just over three months ago. In June, Microsoft announced three security bounty programmes to help improve the resilience of its products through responsible disclosure of flaws that hackers could exploit. Several big software companies, including Google, Paypal and Facebook, have established bug bounty programmes, but Microsoft had stopped short of offering similar cash rewards before.

The bulk of the rewards paid so far are for a mitigation bypass technique and 15 exploitable vulnerabilities reported in the preview version of its latest version of Microsoft’s web browser, Internet Explorer (IE11), which is scheduled to ship with Windows 8.1 on 18 October 2013.

Under the Mitigation Bypass Bounty programme, Microsoft will pay up to $100,000 for “truly novel” exploitation techniques against protections built into Windows 8.

And the BlueHat Bonus for Defense programme offers up to $50,000 for defensive ideas that block a mitigation bypass technique.

Announcing the bug bounty programmes, Microsoft said they would provide another way for the company to harness the collective intelligence and capabilities of security researchers.

Microsoft to build $250m data centre in Finland for European customers

October 7th, 2013

Microsoft is to design and build its next data centre in Finland. The new facility, costing over $250m (£161m), will be used to serve Microsoft customers in Europe. The company revealed it had chosen Finland as the home for its next data centre on the same day as it announced plans to acquire ailing Finnish telecommunications company Nokia in a $7.2bn deal.

Microsoft announced that it plans to invest more than a quarter of a billion dollars in capital and operation of the Finland data centre over the next few years, with the potential for further expansion over time.

Helsinki is a growing data centre hub and offers easy access to Russia and the Baltic countries. However, it is not yet clear if Microsoft will use the Finnish data centre to provide its Windows Azure cloud services to enterprise customers in Europe.

Microsoft already has other European data centre facilities – in Ireland and The Netherlands.

770,000 IT jobs lost in Europe in 15 years

September 30th, 2013

Offshoring, technology advancements and low growth have contributed to a massive reduction in IT jobs in Europe, with almost half the number of IT roles in the largest companies expected to exist in 2017 compared to 2002. According to research from The Hackett Group, in 2002 there were 1.6 million corporate IT jobs in the 3,000 listed European companies with over $1bn revenue, but this is expected to fall by 770,000 in the 15-year period.

The rate of decline could actually be a modest estimate as further economic stagnation will make the figure higher, according to the Hackett report.

This year alone Hackett predicts 83,000 IT jobs to go in the largest corporates.

Amazon data centre glitch hits top web services

September 21st, 2013

A hardware failure at an Amazon data centre has downed several top web services, raising renewed concerns about the reliability of cloud-based infrastructure. Instagram, Netflix, Twitter’s Vine video-sharing application and holiday site Airbnb were among the services that were slow or inaccessible at the weekend because they all rely on Amazon Web Services.

The fault was traced to a datacentre in northern Virginia that was struggling to keep up with demand, according to the BBC. After the problems were resolved, Amazon said the interruptions to service was caused by the “partial failure of a networking device” but gave no further details.

The weekend interruptions came less than a week after Amazon’s North American web stores went offline for about 30 minutes, also due to problems in the company’s northern Virginia data centre.

It followed a similar disruption on Google that lasted four minutes and reportedly caused a 40% drop in global internet traffic.

The service interruptions have highlighted the vulnerability of cloud-based services, showing that glitches at a single data centre can cause widespread disruptions.



Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to retire

September 8th, 2013

Microsoft has announced that CEO Steve Ballmer is to retire within 12 months and its board has begun looking for a successor. The board’s director John Thompson is to lead a committee to find a new CEO. The committee includes founder and board chairman Bill Gates and will consider internal and external candidates.

The news comes six weeks after Microsoft announced a major executive re-organisation as part of plans to re-invent Microsoft with a big push to develop hardware from phones to set-top boxes, as it attempts to remain relevant in the era of IT consumerisation.

Ballmer said that, with the company’s transformation to a devices and services company, it needs a CEO who will be around in the longer term for this new direction.

European outsourcing plummets

August 31st, 2013

The total amount spent on outsourcing by businesses in the EMEA region in the second quarter of 2013 was 23% lower than in the same period the year before, according to the Information Services Group (ISG). The total €1.6bn spent was also 16% lower than the previous quarter.

ISG monitors all IT and business process outsourcing contracts worth over €4m.

In the first six months of 2013, UK organisations spent 25% less on outsourcing compared to the first six months of last year at €1.3bn. Meanwhile, Germany saw a 58% fall in the same timeframe with €500m in contract value.