Thursday, October 20, 2016

Watson Crowdsources Cloud Computing

Recently I've been doing quite a bit of analysis work using the IBM Watson cognitive business platform. The really exciting thing about this opportunity is the way data can seem to have a conversation with you.  This got me wondering if social media data could carry on a conversation as well.  Given my almost unhealthy interest in cloud computing, we ran a one week experiment to "crowdsource the internet" in order to see if it held any interesting cloud computing insights . To narrow the volume of documents down to a reasonable number, I limited providers to those on the most recent Gartner IaaS Magic Quadrant:
  • Microsoft
  • Amazon Web Services
  • Google
  • VMware
  • IBM
  • Rackspace
  • Verizon
  • CSC
  • Interoute
  • CenturyLink
  • Dimension Data
  • Fujitsu
  • Joyent
  • NTT Communications
  • Virtustream

Leveraging Watson, I gathered cloud computing related social media documents. According to Watson, in one 24-hr period, there were 46,869 documents that mentioned these Cloud Service Providers (CSP) a total of 57,997 times. Google was totally dominating the online conversation with 73% of all mentions. Microsoft was a poor second at 17%.

Figure 1- Social media cloud computing "Share of Voice"

At this this point I took a look at overall industry sentiment. From this vantage point, Interoute outshines all rivals for positive sentiment.  Of particular note, however, was that Dimension Data simultaneously held the crown for largest percentage of negative and lowest percentage of positive sentiment. The Dell/EMC cloud provider Virtustream doesn’t even seem to be present in social media conversations. 

Figure 2- Customer Sentiment Regarding Cloud Service Providers
Figure 3 - Cloud Service Model "Share of Voice"
Microsoft dominated that segment of the conversation that specifically addressed the three standard cloud computing service models (Infrastructure-as-a-Service [IaaS], Platform-as-a-Service [PaaS], Software-as-a-Service [SaaS]). Over 53% of the working set referenced Microsoft with second place AWS coming in at 13.5%. Software-as-a-service is the unsurprising overall service model leader but Microsoft seems to be edging out AWS for Infrastructure-as-a-Service mentions.  Platform-as-a-Service is a distant laggard with only three providers (Microsoft, AWS and VMware) represented in social media exchanges.

Figure 4- Industry Vertical Cloud Computing "Share of Voice

In order to glean some business value, the documents were binned across thirteen industry verticals and analyzed for share of voice and author sentiment. The initial industry bins were:
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Wholesale trade
  • Information technology
  • Retail trade
  • Utilities
  • Financial services
  • Educational services
  • Transportation and warehousing
  • Entertainment, accommodation, and food services
  • Healthcare and social services
  • Public administration

Across this set, entertainment, government, education and healthcare industries seem to be most interested in the cloud. Surprising to me is that the construction industry interest surpasses that of financial services. Google seems to be driving industry related social media conversations with Microsoft and IBM rounding out the top three.

Although I wouldn’t use this non-scientific experiment to make any big bets, it does demonstrate how actionable data can be gleaned from the social media stream.  It may also shed a little light on the power of cognitive computing in the business world.

One especially intriguing capability that I didn’t use in this experiment is the use of Watson Explorer technologies with Semantic Analytics.  This solution is currently being used by IBM GTS to deliver “built to purpose” cognitive systems for the information technology industry vertical.
Figure 5- Cloud Service Provider Industry "Share of Voice

A key differentiator of this approach is its ability to extract meaning from the fragmented sentences normally found in unstructured IT service ticket description fields. Due to the global nature of GTS Services, this unstructured text is typically in multiple languages. Additionally, due to the different language skill levels of the globally sourced pool of agents, the grammar quality varies. This solution is used by GTS to uncover patterns and trends in the identification of contributing incident causes in order to prescribe appropriate preventative actions.

The digital transformation couple with cognitive computing is accelerating almost every industry. In the IT world, at least, cognitive computing promises to deliver the ability to bridge the gap between unstructured language data and effective maintenance action by correlating social media chatter and customer sentiments with the root causes of operational IT issues.

This post was brought to you by IBM Global Technology Services. For more content like this, visit Point B and Beyond.

Cloud Musings
( Thank you. If you enjoyed this article, get free updates by email or RSS - © Copyright Kevin L. Jackson 2015)

Sunday, October 16, 2016

New Horizons® Delivers CloudMASTER®

For over 30 years, New Horizons has provided more than 30 million students with industry-leading technical training that delivers the most relevant and intuitive computer courses and certifications. They are the world’s largest independent IT training company, with over 300 computer training centers in 70 countries (and counting). In a move to expand that lead, New Horizons is now proud to offer the complete suite of CloudMASTER programs, providing vendor-agnostic cloud training as the spearhead of their cloud curriculum.

We are now living in a technology world governed by the advent of Digital Transformation – the inclusion of digital technology in all aspects of our lives and the ways in which businesses need to adjust to meet this reality. This is the messaging IT Professionals are hearing from all major technology vendors. No matter the details each vendor may use to spin this message, Digital Transformation cannot exist without the cloud at its core. Our customers are going to need to be cloud-proficient in order to achieve professional growth or to obtain employment. The NCTA CloudMASTER® program is the perfect starting point to achieve this proficiency.

CloudMASTER® certification program is comprised of three courses with exams:

  • Cloud Technologies: An overview of cloud computing will help you develop a deep understanding of the models and understand the landscape of technologies used in the cloud and those employed by users of cloud services. You will receive multiple points of view, firsthand experience and a foundation in managing industry leading cloud services like Amazon Web Services, Drupal, Wordpress, Google Docs and Digital Ocean.
  • Cloud Operations: This module helps you study the management of cloud operations and addresses the application need for compute power, managing CPU scaling, and meeting both structured and unstructured storage requirements. You will learn how to painlessly deploy fairly complex applications that scale across multiple instances in cloud technologies including Windows Azure Chef, Chef Solo, Linux and Windows Tools.
  • Cloud Architecture: This module includes OpenShift, OpenStack, VMware, Amazon Web Services, Azure and Rackspace, and provides a framework to assess application performance needs while addressing business requirements of Return on Investment (ROI), Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Groups will complete a cloud assessment of Fortune 100 firms using public information and make presentations to the client.

Those seeking CloudMASTER® status must pass each of these exams or take one cumulative CloudMASTER examination.

Both the cloud and New Horizons are global by design. With that as a foundational strategy, they are targeting this new offering across the globe beginning with their US-based centers and expanding throughout EMEA and the Middle East.  New Horizon also has the largest “Guaranteed-to-Run” course schedule in the world.  Ranked in the top 5% of the industry for training quality and customer satisfaction they also serve as official training partners for multiple technology leaders including Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and CompTIA.

For more information and additional details on how to become a NCTA CloudMASTER, please:

( This content is being syndicated through multiple channels. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of GovCloud Network, GovCloud Network Partners or any other corporation or organization.)

Cloud Musings
( Thank you. If you enjoyed this article, get free updates by email or RSS - © Copyright Kevin L. Jackson 2016)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

See You At RSA Conference 2017!


I am personally excited to be delivering the (ISC)² CCSP Two-Day Crash Course at RSA Conference 2017!

"The current state of cybersecurity means there are many opportunities for the industry as a whole to collaborate on new innovations. Discovering the next great opportunity will require everyone to embrace new and unique perspectives from a broadly diverse base of people and sources.

RSA Conference 2017 provides the opportunity for all attendees at all levels to grow their knowledge, exchange ideas with peers and further their careers. With opportunity comes great responsibility for the future. Our actions today will have a lasting impact on the strength of the industry—and the safety of the world—tomorrow."

This course will cover the six domains of the Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) CBK and deepen your knowledge of cloud computing and information security. These six domains are:

  • Architectural Concepts & Design Requirements
  • Cloud Data Security
  • Cloud Platform & Infrastructure Security
  • Cloud Application Security
  • Operations
  • Legal & Compliance

In the course you will receive the official (ISC)² CCSP student handbook to use during the course and throughout your studies to prepare for the exam.

Save you seat now by registering today for the 2017 RSA Conference, February 13 – 17, at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA.

( This content is being syndicated through multiple channels. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of GovCloud Network, GovCloud Network Partners or any other corporation or organization.)
Cloud Musings
( Thank you. If you enjoyed this article, get free updates by email or RSS - © Copyright Kevin L. Jackson 2016)

Friday, October 7, 2016

#KnowYourData: The Key to Business

Last week’s Strata-Hadoop conference in New York, NY was showcase of how big data is redefining business. Every company, every demonstration and every conversation highlighted how data is driving the exciting new business models unveiled at last week’s event.

I also learned quite a bit about the Trusted Analytics Platform (TAP). TAP is an open source project that Intel developed to make it easier for developers and data scientists to deploy custom big data analytics solutions in the cloud as well as reduce development costs and time to market. A few examples of how businesses are using TAP and data analytics to blaze new trails include:

  • Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP), the largest university hospital in Europe, worked together to build a cloud-based solution for predicting the expected number of patient visits and hospital admissions;
  • Levi Strauss & Co. explored the possibilities through a proof of concept that helped salespeople quickly find misplaced items in a store so they can ensure those items are on the shelves, in the right spots, and ready for customers,
  • The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) used advanced analytics to enhanced the visualization capabilities of the Open Modeling Framework (OMF), an electrical power grid modeling and simulation solution
  • Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) leveraged data science, graph analytics, and machine learning to enable faster discovery of new drug therapies. 
  • Doctors at Penn Medicine's heart failure and transplant program used big data to improve heart health by identifying patients who require proactive treatment. 

For me, one of the most fascinating briefing was from NASDAQ which evaluated TAP’s capability to serve as the core of an analytics-as-a-service platform. The financial juggernaut was able to demonstrate this open source platform’s ability to ingest 7 million 300 byte messages per second within their rather strict latency requirements. TAP essentially proved its ability to be the data and data-analytics hub of a financial transaction eco-system!

TAP’s real value lies in its ability to give application developers immediate access to several application language platforms. The associated runtimes, combine with dynamically bindable services and expressive APIs, to enable greatly reduced development timeframes.  This capability also simplifies integration with data analytical capabilities developed by the team’s data scientists.

At the Intel booth I also learned that TAP was being incubated by INTEL as an open source tool that makes it easier for organizations to create big data applications. TAP pulls together all the different required software and tools. The platform approach is designed to broaden the field of users who can develop these business changing applications. Intel is also partnering with systems integrators like Accenture and Infosys. They are also working with second tier cloud service providers Rackspace and

( This content is being syndicated through multiple channels. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of GovCloud Network, GovCloud Network Partners or any other corporation or organization.)

Cloud Musings
( Thank you. If you enjoyed this article, get free updates by email or RSS - © Copyright Kevin L. Jackson 2016)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A New Chapter: “Cloud Musings en español”

Since May 2010, “Cloud Musings” has demonstrated, educated and celebrated the use of advanced technology in business. Specific subjects are sometimes varied, but cloud computing and cybersecurity seem to have become our sweet-spot. Over this period, information technology has transformed from a business support arm to being the core of just about every business model. Business transformation is also accelerating as social media and big data analytics take their place in the mix. We are also very proud to have had the opportunity to partner with industry leading companies like Dell, IBM, NASDAQ and Intel. A shortcoming, however, has been our failure to directly address non-native English speakers. Today we will start to address that issue by launching “Cloud Musings en español”.

So out of all the languages we could have picked why Spanish? The simple answer is that many of our Spanish native speakers have asked us to. We actually have a significant following in Spain, Mexico and across South America so this channel is a natural for us. Also, please don’t forget the large Spanish speaking population in the United States! We strive to continue enhancing our value so delivering advance information technology insight and marketplace observations in the native tongue of a large segment of our readers is more than appropriate and long overdue.

Since this launch is both professionally and personally important, I’ve asked my good friend Arturo Durán to supervise and guide the GovCloud Network Team in this effort. Arturo not only “walks the walk and talks the talk” (natively in Spanish), but he shares my passion around employing advanced information technology in accomplishing business and mission objectives.

At the start, “Cloud Musings en español” will publish translated versions of “Cloud Musings” content. We will also look to publish IT in business stories that originate in the Hispanic business world.  Cloud computing, cybersecurity and big data analytics for government and business will continue to be at our core but the application of our vision will broaden. 

Please come visit use at:

We look forward to partnering with you on this exciting journey!

( This content is being syndicated through multiple channels. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of GovCloud Network, GovCloud Network Partners or any other corporation or organization.)

Cloud Musings
( Thank you. If you enjoyed this article, get free updates by email or RSS - © Copyright Kevin L. Jackson 2015)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Military Tips On Business Resiliency

Photo credit: Shutterstock

A steel bar is resistant to stress and is capable of maintaining its form while bearing large loads. While steel is also known as one of the world’s strongest metal’s (Titanium, Tungsten and Iconel round out the top four) , it is also susceptible to shearing and completely breaking. A rubber brick, on the other hand, will bend easily under even small loads, but it's extremely difficult to snap or break. Moreover, once the load is removed from the rubber, its flexibility returns it to its original form. This is how the rubber brick displays resiliency.

Business resiliency enables organizations that have suffered a damaging incident to bounce back to their former form. This is especially important for small and medium sized businesses because according to Tim Francis, enterprise leader for cyber insurance for Travelers, 60% of all cyberattacks in 2014 struck small to medium-sized businesses.  If you think company strength will protect you from this type of adverse incident, you are mistaken. Since salary and benefits for the workforce represents one of the largest expenses for a company, the “Revenue per employee” ratio is often used by investor as a measure of company strength. This ratio is most useful when comparing companies within the same industry. Using this ratio, the following companies were fairly strong before they were attacked but they didn’t have the resiliency to bounce back afterwards:

  • Code Spaces (Annual Revenue $2.4M, Employees: 12, Revenue/Employees: $200,000)  was cited by SC Magazine as one of nearly 60% of small businesses that fail within six months of being hacked. The company was accessed through via its Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud control panel. The attackers attempted to extort the business by claiming a “large fee” would resolve data loss issues. Code Spaces was unable to continue operations as it acknowledged that the company had suffered debilitating damages to both its finances and reputation.
  • In 2011 (Annual Revenue: $691,092, Employees: 2, Revenue/Employees $230,364)  had secured 10% of the market for Australian domain names, held multiple international domain accreditations and had 30,000 hosting clients through 3,000 active resellers. Later that year the business suffered a severe cyberattack when attackers targeted and destroyed servers inside Distribute.IT’s network, including back-ups, then locked the IT team out, meaning the only way to get control was to ‘pull the plug’ at the datacenter

By way of comparison, in 2015 the revenue per employee ratios for IBM and Panasonic were $244,447 and $275,839 respectively.  So how should a company build up resilience against a cyberattack?

Years of conflict have taught the military how to build resiliency and researchers with the National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have actually developed a scale to rate psychological traits that promote resilience.   Called the Response to Stressful Experiences Scale (RSES), the measurement has been tested in more than 1,000 active-duty military personnel and identifies six factors that are key to psychological resilience:

  • Positive outlook
  • Active coping
  • Self-confidence
  • Learning and making meaning
  • Acceptance of limits
  • Spirituality

With this as guidance, business leaders can take the following steps towards building cyber resiliency within your organization:

  • Build a positive outlook by educating senior management on the cyber threat and the practical steps that can be taken to prevent economic and reputational losses;
  • Actively cope with the threat through an active cybersecurity defense team with the responsibility to protect corporate assets;
  • Build self-confidence by periodically testing your cyber defense and business continuity processes;
  • Establish a continuous learning environment through regular and relevant training events for the entire staff;
  • Understand your limits and manage cyber risks that can't be eliminated; and
  • Believe in your team

In addition to these worthwhile leadership activities, more pragmatic steps should include:

With any luck, these steps will not only make your company more resilient, but it may also help you prevent the debilitating effect of a cyberattack.

This post was brought to you by IBM Global Technology Services. For more content like this, visit Point B and Beyond.

Cloud Musings
( Thank you. If you enjoyed this article, get free updates by email or RSS - © Copyright Kevin L. Jackson 2016)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Meet Ameet Bakshi: The Insurance CloudMASTER®

Powered by Singapore-based Big Data start-up Crayon Data, tapped the insurance industry as being at the forefront of integrating cloud technology into their digital eco system. As stated in one of their recent articles

"Cloud based platforms, storage and applications change the way of creating and delivering their products and services, managing risks and claims, collaborating with channel members and partners, and communicating with customers, agents and brokers."

After serving as a successful IT Architect and Project Manager for over five years, Ameet Baksi took a stab at what was then the new cloud computing trend,   He completed his CloudMASTER® certification and quickly landed a position with Crum & Forster, a leading national property & casualty insurance company with a large, diversified specialty platform. After completing over four successful years with the firm, Ameet could now be referred to as "The Insurance CloudMASTER®"!

According to Crayon Data, cloud computing enables insurers to reuse their IT resources more efficiently by reducing the cost of acquiring and maintaining infrastructure. If this is true, Mr. Bakshi surely landed in a good position. The CloudMASTER® courses not only provided an understanding of cloud operations and security, but it also gave him the perspective he needed to be valuable to this subsidiary of Fairfax Financial Holdings, a $42 billion global firm engaged in property and casualty insurance.

“The skills you gained from completing the CloudMASTER® certification, are skills for life. They give you the self- confidence and knowledge needed to improve your income and to widen your employment opportunities. My overall experience during the course was excellent. The instructors were very knowledgeable and patient when teaching the material. My classmates were a very diverse group of professionals whom came from various occupations and backgrounds. The CloudMaster® course curriculum is well designed and the labs allow you the ability to get a hands on experience."

Key to his success was the willingness of the NCTA instructors to remain after class to help him better understand the material. That willingness also gave him the opportunity to gain more insight into cloud architecture and to improve his cloud assessment skills.

As more companies take advantage of cloud service benefits, the need for IT professionals to be skillful in the use and implementation of a wide range of cloud services becomes even more acute. This form of training also serves as a layer of protection against well-known cloud transition missteps like cloud service vendor lock-in and inadequate cloud service provider due diligence. If this type of training is for you, please check out the National Cloud Technologist Association (NCTA) and Logical Operations NCTA CloudMASTER® Certification Training Program.

( This content is being syndicated through multiple channels. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of GovCloud Network, GovCloud Network Partners or any other corporation or organization.)

Cloud Musings
( Thank you. If you enjoyed this article, get free updates by email or RSS - © Copyright Kevin L. Jackson 2016)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Understand The Language Of Data: Strata+Hadoop World and TAP

Our world is driven by data.  It may speak in whispers, but it can also scream insight and information to those that understand it’s language. This is why I’ll be attending Strata+Hadoop World, Sept 26th to 29th, in New York City.

Even though data can also speak many different languages, data scientist act as our interpreters and guides.  They help us survive and thrive in this data-driven world by addressing and taming the many business challenges it presents, including:
  • An appropriate interpretive language, be it The language itself algebraic notation, an adapted programming language or both;
  • Separating the data signal from the data noise;
  • The enablement of data access and data connectivity within the enterprise;
  • Handling the complexity and variety of complex data which can include images, videos and abstract representations of both the physical and living world;
  • Integration of the time variable into the data interpretation process;
  • Security and protection of the data; and
  • Collaboration with a strong and innovative technology partner.[1]
That last challenge is actually why I’m anxious to learn more about the Trusted Analytics Platform (TAP), open source software optimized to create cloud-native data analytics applications. This multi-tenant platform contains connectors for data ingestion, multiple distributed data stores, advanced processing engines and collaborative analytics capabilities.  It even includes machine learning, model building and visualization within a multi-language application runtime environment. This last feature enables developers and data scientists to use the languages with which they are most familiar. At every layer of the platform, performance optimizations maximize analytic operation speed.  Data security enhancements are also embedded, from the silicon up, to ensure protection of both the data and processing.

Instead of starting from scratch and deploying a host of different tools, packages and services, TAP provides an extensible environment that combines many open-source components into a single, integrated platform.  This integrated architecture provides the APIs, services and extensibility to support the needs of data scientists and application developers for varied analytics on virtually any data, of any size, located anywhere. It also provides management tools and services to control and monitor operations from top to bottom.

TAP also includes a rich marketplace where tools and services can be easily integrated and provisioned on demand. This marketplace is accessible through a simple, browser-based interface to a purpose-built service catalog. Application developers, data scientists and system operators all have the flexibility to choose the tools and services that they need for ingestion, storage or manipulation of data. In addition, system operators can add services to the TAP Marketplace in their instance of TAP, which saves time by eliminating the need to identify and curate key tools and libraries. All of this is done in a secure and collaborative high performance environment. A growing number of organizations support, use and contribute to TAP in order to address many use cases like:
  • Customer behavior analysis using wearable IT systems;
  • Tracking disease progression and treatment;
  • Asset management using RFID data;
  • Equipment failure prediction and optimization using sensor data; and
  • Privacy-preserving genomic analysis using diverse distributed data sets.
Join me in New York next week at Strata+Hadoop World to learn more. To prepare, you can read TAP documentation and code at , visit their public Jira at or contact them directly at


( This content is being syndicated through multiple channels. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of GovCloud Network, GovCloud Network Partners or any other corporation or organization.)

Cloud Musings
( Thank you. If you enjoyed this article, get free updates by email or RSS - © Copyright Kevin L. Jackson 2015)

Monday, September 12, 2016

Transformative Training for Hybrid Cloud

Figure 1- Shawn Bolan, Technical Training Manager,
New Horizons of Nebraska,
In a recent CloudTech article multi-cloud, or hybrid cloud, strategy was heralded as “…
transformative for businesses, allowing them flexibility to scale offerings, save on hosting solutions, and ultimately offer better solutions to their customers. The article goes on to cite:
  • A 2016 Dimensional Research survey of more than 650 IT decision-makers that indicated that 77 percent of businesses are planning to implement multi-cloud architectures in the near future; and
  • A 2015 IDC study that found that 86% of enterprises predicted they will need a multi-cloud approach to support their solutions within the next two years.  

The actual benefits of hybrid cloud include:

  • Improve disaster recovery and geo-presence
  • Ability to use unique cloud-specific services from different providers as they are needed
  • Ability to leverage the public cloud benefits of low-cost and unlimited scalability in order to move agile applications to the cloud
  • Use of a private cloud for red-tape bound applications or more traditional infrastructure

This may be why Shawn Bolan, Training Manager for the world’s largest independent training vendor New Horizons , decided to prepare for the new hybrid cloud world by becoming a NCTA CloudMASTERS® instructor. With over 300 locations across 70+ countries, New Horizons always wants to help keep their clients ahead of the curve and the NCTA CloudMASTER Certification is certainly posed to do just that.

Although Shawn already possesses numerous vendor certifications from companies like VMware, Cisco and CompTIA, this “non-vendor specific” preparation, will enable him and his team to deliver the high-level training needed to implement quick hybrid cloud adoption at the demanding pace of IT. According to Shawn, “Training doesn’t stop once you’ve entered the cloud. It actually enhances your

Monday, September 5, 2016

Surviving the coming "Hackerpocalypse"

Photo credit: Shutterstock
With all the excellent training available on television today, we are all now well prepared to deal with the coming Zombie Apocalypse.  Our failure as a society lies, however, in our misunderstanding of the nature of the cybersecurity challenge. This failure threatens us all and our survival will depend on society’s ability to deal with the evolution and maturation of the changing enterprise cybersecurity challenge.

If you’re completely oblivious to the living dead threat, a zombie apocalypse refers to a widespread (usually global) rise of zombies hostile to human life.  The zombies will engage in a general assault on civilization where victims may become zombies themselves. This causes the outbreak to become an exponentially growing crisis. The spreading phenomenon swamps normal military and law