Monthly Archives: July 2015

CAMSS: Cloud from the Apprentices’ view – Oliver Pope-Mostowicz

IBM, and IBMers, are well known for our TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms)! Occasionally however, we break the mould and for acronyms with more (or less) letters. Case in point: CAMSS – Cloud, Analytics, Mobile, Social and Security.

But what are those five, seemingly only indirectly related, words actually addressing, and why are they important enough to IBM, and to the IBM Apprentice community, that they warrant their own blog series? Well, I’m very glad you asked.

CAMSS are the five key strategy paths IBM will be pursuing in our continued effort to become essential to the world (another key strategy for IBM and IBMers). They are the five key areas of technological development (at various stages of maturity) that IBM has identified as being the most important to the progression of the IT industry (the significant growth areas) and thereby, and without exaggerating too much, the advancement of the backbone of our entire world.

In this series already, other authors have explained some of the areas of CAMSS in their own words and outlined the importance of these concepts to IBM and to those authors specifically. Now it is my turn, and I’m going to take on the Cloud – the dreaded buzz word that is ephemeral by name, nature and application!

Dilbert has pretty accurately summed up the attitude towards the Cloud:

dilbert2

And:

dilbert1

It’s a little depressing, but extremely accurate.

Now there are people who will argue until the cows come home about what the Cloud actually is, but for the sake of simplicity and understanding (something we can often lose hold of in the technical world – much to our own detriment), here is the Cloud, explained in MY own words.

Cloud is about the combination of 4 simpler concepts:

  • Virtualisation – the abstraction of hardware to allow multiple ‘virtual’ servers to run on a single physical machine
  • Elastic provisioning – allows users to quickly deploy more machines to cope with higher demand and to quickly remove (and crucially stop paying for) machines when that demand lessens
  • Usage based cost models – pay for what you need, when you need it. No more, no less
  • Geographic and Provider abstraction – most importantly, with a good Cloud platform you, the user, shouldn’t have to care about where your data and compute power is, and who is providing it – you simply have access to what you need, when you need it

Now obviously the above statements are gross simplifications – in particular the point about ‘caring where your data is’ – there are obviously needs in practical implementation to be compliant with laws and business policies (i.e. some financial business may require that data stay within a specific country), but at a high level the statements are true.

The Cloud is an incredible opportunity for business to respond more quickly to the natural peaks and troughs in the markets (for example, retail business have huge spikes in demand around Christmas but may not need the same support from their IT the rest of the year), and thereby to free up crucial cash to put into other areas that better serve their customers and employees. It is still a relatively young concept (at least in this form – it is certainly arguable that this model is simply the development of the Mainframe and ‘dumb’ client model that IBM built it’s foundations on), and it is a hugely exciting time to be a part of the industry.

The IT industry is of course notorious for ‘the next big thing’, and that very same ‘next big thing’ being a footnote in history the next year – but I don’t think (and clearly IBM doesn’t either) that the Cloud is going anywhere.

It’s time for you to get your head around it.

Thanks for reading.

P.S If this article didn’t help, I reckon this video is pretty good: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTNgV0O_oTg

CAMSS: The mobile world is transforming – Ryan McManus

The mobile era is transforming at an incredible rate and is becoming the centre of everything we do. In this blog I shall be giving a short introduction into what the word “mobile” actually means and how it can be used to make a big impact on day to day operations. You can either look at this blog from a customer perspective – what would I like to see company’s provide me? Or a business perspective – what do I want to provide my customers?

Don’t be confused by the word mobile. It has so much more potential than just how many megapixels your camera is or how many songs your phone can hold. There are over 1.9 billion devices connected to the internet and on average someone looks at their mobile phone 150 times a day, which just shows how much potential can be utilized and transformed into something beneficial.

Why do we need to be more mobile? There are a number of reasons why we are looking to be more mobile and it’s not just for business needs. With an estimated 10 billion mobile connected devices by 2020 there is no sign of the mobile growth slowing down. Living in such a fast paced environment, people want more convenience at their fingertips and not to waste unnecessary time if it can be done faster. The use of physical money, cheques and bank cards is transforming with a contactless functionality added to cards and the introduction of Paym where all you need is a mobile telephone number to pay someone. A more recent example is Apple Pay where you pay for items using your mobile device. Just imagine if in the future you are able to diagnose medical conditions via your mobile at home. No long waiting lists to see a doctor for consultation, but instead, identifying critical conditions at the early stages to give you the best chance to get the right care and diagnostics in your own home.

Mobile can’t perform without the applications that give it purpose. It is no good having all that technology at your fingertips with the fancy memory and top of the range processor without the applications that can be used to provide people with added value. Simply having to zoom in on a web site is not good enough any more. We need applications designed for mobile to be at the centre of our thinking.

From a business perspective, Mobile is not just a tick in the box. Just to say you have an application does not mean you have kept up. It’s how you use the application and how the application can be built upon to deliver continuous benefits ahead of competitors and transform the industry. Your mobile development needs to be created with the mind set of flexibility and opportunity and not with a tunnel vision of one short term accomplishment. Mobile needs to allow quick iterations that can be supported by the infrastructure already in place, to tailor what a business wants to get from it and support their company directive.

It’s not just about what we can do on devices; it’s about what we can learn from them as well. All the data being circulated in the mobile world can be synthesized into useful information to provide knowledge to businesses to help them understand their employees, devices and customer trends. It can then be used to suggest improvements or direct their business initiatives to enable them to grow and become more efficient. Getting the right information first hand enables businesses to act faster and stay ahead of competitors.

Competition is a big factor that also contributes to how fast the mobile market is transforming. As the market has lots of unlocked potential, companies have an opportunity to explore and be proactive to give their company an advantage. Due to the competition, certain companies are forced to embrace the term “keep up or get left behind”. E.g a bank that allows sign up to products via mobile as well as the Internet browsers provides more options of convenience to its customers as opposed to one that just allows ‘in branch sign up’. Using a mobile platform to transform your industry and make processes more efficient and user-friendly could create more areas of opportunity or expansion and therefore revenue.

An application needs to provide a personalized user experience and support anyone’s goal of maximizing productivity. For example a mobile flight check-in to save time or giving employees mobile access to a system that diagnoses faults. It needs to be designed well and be responsive to ensure the user is not kept waiting. The application also needs to be compatible with a lot of different views and different devices to maintain a high customer experience. The applications should be adaptive and have the same look and feel no matter what device.

Mobile also pairs with a lot of areas to provide an ultimate experience. For example your device connects to the cloud to maximise storage and processing power. It also could be linked in with social applications. As mentioned above the mobile data can be used for analytics to gain statistics for change or transformation. A huge area is also security. With all recent things in the news about hacking and loss of personal data it’s no wonder people are nervous about becoming mobile and transforming into a technology driven world.

Although the Mobile world is transforming at a rapid pace, the security of the changes need to transform equally as fast. Security needs to transform at the same rate to keep the Mobile infrastructure, traffic, and networks secure/ private to prevent nervousness and vulnerability to the provider and the consumer.

IBM is playing a huge role in the transformation of the mobile world and a recent example of this is the pairing with Apple to explore the potential of mobile devices. IBM and Apple are working together to combine the power of enterprise data and analytics with an elegant user experience to transform how enterprises empower their professionals to interact, learn, connect and perform.

IBM is also enabling companies to operate on personal devices on the move. This enables employees and businesses to get instant, secure and fast access to essential business functions. A good example of this is IBM empowering companies with a ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) strategy.

Mobile change aims to bring people a new, elevated level of convenience with many different benefits for both the customer and the business! I hope you found it a good insight into the mobile world and have a different outlook on the word “mobile”.

CAMSS: Fit for the Future – Guest Post by David Briggs

And so we develop this series once again with a guest post, this time from David Briggs – Delivery Partner, Portfolio of Public Sector accounts & Chair of the UK PM Professions board.  It’s a really good one, so make sure you check it out – and reach out to David (in the comments) and let him know what you think!

When I look back over my career and the clients I’ve worked with over the years I’m filled with pride at some of the amazing things that IBM does and the difference we make to people’s lives. I’ve mostly worked in the Public Sector and began by designing and testing some of the UK Air Traffic Control system. On very rare occasions the system had issues and they have to revert to their back up procedures, but generally I always had huge satisfaction knowing the system worked as I and others had tested it .. .and no one died! I started as a tester many years ago and I’ve always found it useful to have an excellent understanding of delivery and risks. As I’ve progressed through test management, into project and programme management, I’ve always tried to utilise the key experiences and knowledge I gained at each stage with re-inventing myself as technology and clients have changed.

I’m motivated by delivering leading edge solutions to clients that make a real difference and helping to develop people to grow their skills and capabilities. I have worked with incredible people over the years and it has been their skills and dedication that has meant we’ve delivered and made a massive difference to our clients. Over the years the technology, delivery approach, and solutions have evolved and the IBMers delivering them have evolved as well. It is our adaptability and flexibility combined with our excellent engineering capability that means that we can continue to move with the demands of our clients and the market.

The latest of these shifts in our client’s demands is the move to an agile and develops delivery method with a focus on transforming the business through CAMSS. As I discuss how clients in the Public Sector are looking to deliver their services to the public, it is clear that they are recognising that customer needs are changing. In particular, the need for delivery of these services using mobile devices and to utilise analytics to make smarter, quicker decisions and apply appropriate risk.

As IBMers we mustn’t throw away our experience and knowledge in pursuit of these new capabilities as they are critical to differentiating ourselves from our competitors. It is because of the people we have working for IBM that I’m confident that we can make this transition and stay ahead of our competitors by continuing to successfully deliver highly complex solutions. Sometimes we can lose focus on the huge opportunity and real challenges of moving with the technology and we can feel uncomfortable and personally threatened by the messages around CAMSS and Fit for the Future. One of the key lessons I’ve learnt over the years is that you shouldn’t be afraid of change and to evolve. We already have superb capabilities and skills that mean that we can evolve more easily than our competitors, even if we personally don’t feel confident in that, and we can continue to make a real difference to our clients and society.

CAMSS: Security – Thomas Cope

And so you’re back from outer space, I just walked in to find you here at my Blog Post. Hmmm doesn’t really work does it? Anyway Hello, it’s me Tom.C back with another blog. Firstly congrats for reading this far. I’m sure you saw “CAMSS” and thought “What on earth is that?” Well CAMSS is IBM’s strategy. It stands for Cloud, Analytics, Mobile, Social and Security. In this post I am going to cover the Security aspect of the CAMSS agenda as it is a sector I currently work in and one I am trying to move more into.

So what is security? Now that’s a big question and some might say it includes confidentiality, integrity and availability. However, others would say authentication, authorization and audit or even “it’s to make sure my bank transfer gets to the other end safely”. They would all be right. Security is making sure the “data”, whether that be physical assets, banking information or personal files, are safe. It is an extremely problematic area where billions of pounds are invested.

So what does this mean for you? Well, if you’ve been reading the news recently all sorts of different attacks and data breaches are happening every day. At any point down the wire your data could be exposed, altered or stolen. Let’s take an example. You are at home on your banking app and you’ve just sent £100 pounds to your friend to pay them back for the steak dinner you had. What could go wrong? Well firstly you’re using a phone. Are you sure there’s no malware on it? Is it your phone or has someone cloned it after you took it in for repair? You are most likely using the WIFI but how do you know you are connected to your access point or an attackers with the same name? They could even be on your home network having cracked the password long ago because you didn’t change the default one, giving them opportunity to intercept traffic and divert money to their bank account. OK then, say the transfer got to the bank fine, how do you know they aren’t hidden away on a server? You may thank this a bit blown out of the water but all of the examples I have given have happened in real life and I’ve done one of them!!

So what do I do in the Security sector? It’s a massive area and I’ve only been exposed to a small portion of it. I work primarily on Identity and Access Management (I&AM) which grants or denies access to certain resources. That could be access to run a command on a Linux server or allowing someone to access the server room. I work with different IBM technologies to achieve this; TDS (LDAP), TAM, Webseal etc. I also work on Security Gateways such as IBM’s Datapower which act as customisable firewalls which follow business rules such as “You’re only allowed to transfer £1,000,000 in one transaction”. Finally I also work in Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) which is a system where Keys and Certificates are managed and created (which can get very complicated very quickly).

Why is it an emerging technology and why is IBM focusing on it? Security is huge and everyday thousands of attacks are taking place to gain access to critical data. Over the years attacks have gotten more and more complicated leading to sophisticated attacks and recently the “secure” software like SSL has proven to be not so secure after all, leading to a large need for good security measures.

In my opinion there is a big “Security explosion” on the horizon. That could be a virus, network attack, malicious APP or something completely new: a turning point where everyone sits down and completely rebuilds information security from the ground up.  Before security was an afterthought but next it will be the first thought that crosses your mind whether you’re a developer manager or consumer. No one wants their data stolen or manipulated so lets put a stop to it!

So I hope that explains IBM’s CAMSS Security in a Nutshell. It’s me Tom.C signing off till next time.

CAMSS: Mobile – Joe Barry

Mobile is a multi-billion pound industry and with an even brighter future it is no wonder that IBM are heavily involved. There are over 7.2 billion mobile phones in the world today, which is a big increase from the 6.8 billion that where around last year. 2014 also marked the year when the number of mobile phones surpassed the population of humans!

Mobile is not just limited to phones, it includes any device or service that is wireless and can be kept with you. Our lifestyle depends on us being as mobile as possible which is why companies are catering to the mobile lifestyle. Mobile devices have opened many avenues when it comes to business. Companies around the world are video conferencing, allowing employees to work from home (telecommuting) and have work e-mail on their phone. Technologies that we see in our everyday life would have been mind blowing 15 years ago.

Apps for me have become a way of life. I currently have a OnePlus One as my personal mobile and I love discovering new apps and tailoring them to my needs. IBM has an active interest in apps and even create their own for clients. With more people than ever with mobile phones, businesses are becoming mobile friendly to appeal to this massive audience. An increasing number of people completely rely on their phone for information, directions and purchasing products therefore I can only see IBM’s work in this area becoming increasingly more relevant.

Mobile in the future is when the sci-fi part of my brain gets excited. We have already had glimpses in the form of Apple’s iWatch which has become Apples most successful product launch to date receiving 7 million orders by the release day. Because of this it has also become the product that has shown the world how big the mobile industry is. Google glass, although not as successful, has shown us what is possible by pushing the boundaries of technology. However I am most excited about an idea that could be possible for us to have very soon and that is technology within clothes. Just imagine having a jumper that plays music in the hood and can control the volume and song from your sleeve. How great would it be to have a belt you could also use as a keyboard. Why not add a phone charger to your Jean pocket?

The possibilities are endless and IBM are helping to answer the many questions people like us are asking. Even though I have only been at IBM for 10 months I have already been in contact with a big player in mobile called Apple Pay. Apple Pay is a banking app for the new iWatch which allows customers to check their balance, make a payment and set up standing orders. In a nutshell it is internet banking at an arm’s length away. This is the first app of its kind and will soon be followed up by competitors trying to catch up.

IBM has always worked with members of the mobile industry. This includes the likes of Vodaphone and Apple. In that time IBM have created and managed a large number of software and apps for different mobile devices. IBM now wish to create smarter, more mobile cities in Spain with a partnership with Vodaphone. They are also creating customised apps for iPads that help the elderly in Japan by handling basic care giving duties, which I think is amazing! Both of these projects would really benefit the mobile industry and I am proud to be part of a company that can make such a difference. Being an IBMer gives you a chance to work with unique projects and high profile clients which is something I want to continue doing into my future.

When it comes to mobile, you can never predict the next breakthrough. It seems like nowadays everything is becoming mobile. What do you think with be the next step in mobile? How far can we go with it?