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Jon Collins

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Everything should be encrypted, right?

Workshop Poll Here's the perfect plan to solve all those pesky security problems. Confidentiality and data leakage, secure backups, individual privacy, data integrity, identity and access management - all can be dealt with in some way by encryption. So why don't we all just use it then, and be done? Of course encryption is out there, embedded …
Jon Collins, 04 Jun 2010
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The software licensing minefield

Lab Software vendors make their money from licensing software for individual and corporate use. From the buying perspective, you’d think it could be a simple question of asking how much you need, and working out a price for that. But nothing in IT is ever so straightforward. In France they have an expression – “why do something …
Jon Collins, 02 Jun 2010
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The emerging cloud alternative

Poll Results If there’s one thing about the current furore about Cloud Computing that really gets our goats, it’s to do with the amount of unnecessary confusion that’s being generated. It's unnecessary because, behind it all, there’s actually a number of quite good things happening. Sure, it’s a tricky area as it cuts across so many things …
Jon Collins, 02 Jun 2010
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Understanding your information assets

Lab Information is power, right? Well, just how powerful must most organisations feel today, given the amount of information they are packing? The immediate irony is that the opposite is generally true – we create data with gay abandon, but our ability to keep tabs on everything that we create is showing itself to be increasingly …
Jon Collins, 24 May 2010
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Delivering a secure information infrastructure

Lab I recently had the task of writing an explanatory paper about Good Practice Guide (GPG) 13, a UK-government sponsored piece of guidance around "protective monitoring" – that is, being able to keep an eye on what's going on in your IT environment in order to spot when security breaches happen. Now, before you get all big brother …
Jon Collins, 18 May 2010
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The IT security blame game

Workshop Poll The word “governance” is one that tends to make most peoples’ eyes glaze over. But whether we are talking about running a corporation, managing an IT department or dealing with IT security, there has to be a mechanism in place for making sure that the right things are taken care of in an acceptable manner. And cutting through …
Jon Collins, 17 May 2010
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Standards and interoperability: Are you backing the right horse?

Lab IT can sometimes seem like a long, drawn-out process of making things work with each other. Whether it’s getting back-end systems to exchange information, or trying to open a file that has been sent in an unexpected format, most who work with technology will be familiar with the challenge. But surely standards are supposed to …
Jon Collins, 10 May 2010
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The evolving role of the IT security manager

Workshop Poll Results Security has long been the poor cousin of IT. As any security professional knows, the way we have traditionally implemented security is tantamount to a technological afterthought. Through the years we have attempted to block holes, protect the periphery and lock down access rights for running systems, in the knowledge that IT …
Jon Collins, 10 May 2010
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Building high availability into IT

Lab What does ‘high availability’ actually mean in the context of IT today? We’ve written elsewhere about more general availability and good systems design, but what if you want to assure availability when things go unexpectedly wrong? From a systems perspective this is where we start adding to the number of nines we talk about, for …
Jon Collins, 04 May 2010
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What's impacting IT security today?

Mini Poll Okay, we've banged on often enough about how security shouldn't be about products - it should be about making sure our data is adequately protected and all such good ideas. But the question is just how practical is this? We know a whole load of change is coming to IT today, some internal and some external. We also know that the …
Jon Collins, 29 Apr 2010
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Organisational change and IT

Lab It is great to theorise about all the good things IT can bring. Indeed, a fortunate few have that as their jobs. Just imagine what life would be like, for example, if it were possible to provision virtual servers on the fly, or provide real-time business intelligence tools to everyone who needed them, or implement management …
Jon Collins, 28 Apr 2010
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Architecting for IT service delivery

Lab A few years back I was involved in a project that turned out far more interesting than I expected. The plan was to write a training course about a software development methodology. As you see, it did start from a reasonably low point in terms of interest – but it quickly evolved into a much more worthwhile exercise. The course …
Jon Collins, 22 Apr 2010

Should all hard drives be encrypted?

Workshop Given the origins of computing in the coding and decoding of messages, it’s fair to say that the heritage of encryption is as noteworthy as what we now call IT. Indeed the principles of algorithmic codification of data, and the maths behind them, go back way beyond the illustrious efforts of Alan Turing and his ilk in the Second …
Jon Collins, 19 Apr 2010
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What does YOUR IT crystal ball say?

Lab Here’s a question for you. Is change really afoot in the way your organisation ‘does’ IT? I know, dumb question, of course it is – but not in the way that some might think. For a start, business and IT are constantly about change, for better or worse. My corporate days used to be full of meetings, initiatives, reorganisations, …
Jon Collins, 19 Apr 2010
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What’s new and improving about IT today?

Lab For anyone who has been in IT for a while, all that new and improved stuff can quite quickly feel like the same-old-same-old, repackaged for the latest generation of supposedly tech-literate masses. Still, the “I’ve seen it all before” game can be a dangerous one to play. It is too easy (for example) to look at social media and …
Jon Collins, 09 Apr 2010

Administrator access: Right or privilege?

Workshop Here’s a story, which may or may not be true. A long, long time ago, a UNIX sys admin was having a problem with some of his users, who thought it was really funny to download explicit photos from the then still-fledgling Internet and pop them up on other people’s screens. It wasn’t funny of course, but when the administrator …
Jon Collins, 08 Apr 2010

The IT management impact of home working

Workshop We’re pretty familiar with the kinds of issues that cause hassle for help, support and service desks the world over. Indeed, few requests for Reg reader feedback have engendered such a response as desktop support. User support is never easy, but at least in the old days when most IT equipment was contained in the same set of …
Jon Collins, 01 Apr 2010
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Virtualisation and sorcery: We’re all apprentices now

Lab It’s funny to think what might be made of this virtualisation lab in a few years’ time. When we kicked it off back in December last year, we wanted to gauge where organisations large and small were really at – and after a barrage of questions and a solid level of feedback, we think we now know. Whatever the evangelists and early …
Jon Collins, 29 Mar 2010

Office IT: One size doesn't fit all?

Workshop “We are all individuals” – Brian “I’m not” – computer user 'One size fits all' might be preferable for IT departments, but from an end-user perspective, everybody thinks they have different needs. But choice can be a two-edged sword. I remember way back when, having been put in charge of IT, I was surprised that desktop …
Jon Collins, 22 Mar 2010
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Potholes on the road to server virtualisation

Lab While the broader question of what’s going to prevent server virtualisation going mainstream might be interesting, it's far more pertinent to find out what’s going to prevent virtualisation working in your own organisation. According to your feedback, virtualisation itself doesn’t seem to require that great a skill set to get …
Jon Collins, 17 Mar 2010
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Growing up with virtualisation

On Demand As many organisations are discovering as they move beyond server virtualisation pilot projects, there's more to it than just consolidating servers and dealing with workloads. In this on-demand webcast, Jon Collins of analyst firm Freeform Dynamics talks to Zane Adam, general manager of virtualisation and systems management at …
Jon Collins, 08 Mar 2010
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Will we stop talking about virtualisation?

Lab Well, it’s been fun, but we’re starting to draw this virtualisation lab series to a close. Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be wrapping things up, tying things down and otherwise leaving things neatly parcelled. While of course it is a free society, so you don’t have to pay any attention to the stream of editorial on this …
Jon Collins, 04 Mar 2010
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Assessing your server virtualisation needs

Lab One of the appealing things about server virtualisation is that the “table stakes” are quite low. To virtualise a server, it really is just a case of configure the server, install the appropriate software, log in and off you go – or at least, it was last time I tried. From there it is possible to create VMs with relative ease, …
Jon Collins, 23 Feb 2010
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Desktop evolution offers alternative admin options

Lab Love them or loathe them, desktops are integral to IT service delivery. They are the most common point of access for users, and their performance has a disproportionately high bearing on user satisfaction and the perception of IT generally. Beyond this, we know from research that allowing the desktop environment to drift and …
Jon Collins, 19 Feb 2010
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Virtualisation and packaged applications

Lab To the outsider, suggesting that such workloads as SAP, Siebel and so on should be candidates for virtualisation feels like a bit of an anathema. Such packaged apps have a reputation for being monolithic and siloed, and perhaps inappropriate for running on a VM. Or indeed, if these are the flagship applications on which an …
Jon Collins, 16 Feb 2010