What you don’t know, may hurt you – John Hughes – Ep 20

We are all familiar with the saying “what you don’t know, won’t hurt you”. Well in the world of data management, security and privacy the opposite is most definitely true.

For most of us, as our organisations become more digital, we are increasingly realising the value of our data, how big an asset it is and how important maintaining it is.

However, although we understand how valuable our data is, we actually have very little insight into what is happening to it on a day to day basis.

Ask yourself, do you know exactly what data you have across your business, do you know exactly who has access to it, where it is stored, when it gets accessed, if it even gets accessed and when it’s accessed what gets done with it?

In my time administering IT systems, or working with those that do, I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been asked “who changed that file”, “who deleted that file?”, “can you tell me the files that a user has accessed and copied to a USB stick?” the answer is normally no, and it’s normally no, because our standard storage solutions can’t tell us.

Imagine a logistics company asking questions like, “who’s driving that lorry”, “who was the last person to drive it?”, “where is Fred taking that lorry?”, “can you tell me the type of lorries we have?” and been told, no, we don’t know any of that information, ridiculous right? Yet we do that with our data asset.

We have talked in recent episodes about the threat to our data security and privacy, be it policies or procedures or our people. Just as significant a threat is the inability to fully understand what is going on with our data sets, a lack of insight and analysis means it’s very easy for our data to be abused, lost and stolen without us having the slightest knowledge of it happening.

That’s our focus this week, in the last of our data security & privacy episodes, I chat withjohn hughes John Hughes of Varonis. Varonis provide data analytics and insights into how we use our data, what our data is, who is using it, what it’s used for and if it’s even used at all.

We discuss a little of the history of Varonis, why data insight is so critical, why it’s a cornerstone of our ability to meet compliance requirements and how it’s a crucial part of our defence against data security attacks.

Enjoy the show and thanks for listening.

To find out more about Varonis;

Check out varonis.com

Have a look at their excellent range of BLOGS at blog.varonis.com and of course follow them on twitter @varonis

You can also request a free GDPR data assessment via their website

If you want to learn more about any of the topics in this series, and you are in the North West England on April 5th, you can join me and a range of speakers at www.northwestdataforum.co.uk

You can find the previous 3 episodes in this series here;

Best Take Care Of Those Crown Jewels – Sheila Fitzpatrick – Ep 17

Don’t Build Your Data Privacy House Upside Down – Sheila Fitzpatrick – Ep 18

Make People Our Best Data Security Asset – Dom Saunders – Ep 19

If you’ve enjoyed this episode, then why not subscribe;
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Podcasts for the weekend 17th March 2017

It’s Friday, what on earth am I going to do with a weekend away from the world of tech?

Don’t worry my friends, take some tech with you by way of these fine tech podcasts…


The NetApp boys are in again this week, another cracking episode, this time talking with NetApp CTO Dr. Mark ep77Bregman as they brush off their crystal ball to discuss the future of data and how it is the new business currency.

Tech ONTAP Ep 77 – 2017 CTO Predictions


Observed Tech Podcast

If you have an interest in all things Windows, then the excellent Rich Hay (better known as @winobs on the twitters)  shares the latest in what is happening in the world of Microsoft Windows.

A great info packed podcast and certainly keeps you bang up to date with the world of Windows and beyond.

In this episode plenty of insider builds, as well as a sprinkling of XBOX and the Google Cloud Next Conference.

Observed Tech Ep 221

IT Governance

This is a handy little show – only 3-4 minutes long, but provides a great round up of data security news, talking latest threats, breaches and information around IT Governance and Security.

Always 5 minutes well spent this.

IT Governance Podcast

Tech Interviews

And if all that isn’t enough – why not give Tech Interviews a listen, as this week we discuss the human side of data security and privacy. How do we turn our people into our best security asset?dom saunders

That’s the challenge that NETconsent’s Dom Saunders helps me to take on, so if you want your people as part of your data security armoury, this could be just the show for you.

Make People Our Best Data Security Asset







Podcasts for the weekend 10th March

It’s Friday, so I know what you are asking, What on earth should I be loading up into my podcast players for some weekend tech listening Uncle Techstringy?

Well I am glad you asked, here’s some shows I’ve heard this week, that I think are well worth sharing;


This is the NetApp podcast, always a great resource for learning about NetApp technologies and strategy, occasionally though, they also bring atechontap ep76 with yahoo topic with wider appeal for those who are a non NetApp audience, and this is one such episode.

Yahoo’s Jeff Mohler joins the team to talk about how Yahoo develop their infrastructure and the methodologies they use to measure performance, troubleshoot and deploy technology and how they have built their own tools for doing so.

Tech ONTAP Episode 76

Arrow Bandwidth

A little double header here. Arrow ECS are a global technology distributor so not necessarily a name you’d be familiar with. However our hosts David Fearne andarrow-bandwidth-logo-header Rich Holmes bring together shows covering a wide range of topics.

These two shows are looking at technology predictions for 2017. A lot of things I’m on board with, especially around data, management, security and analytics. I’d agree that they are all going to be things we see develop significantly this year.

Have a listen to the two episodes and see what you think;

Tech Trends Part 1

Tech Trends Part 2


A bit off topic this one… some of you maybe familiar with the very successful Freakonomics book, but the equally excellent podcast is always thought provoking and quick to challenge common held perceptions.freakanomics

This episode from a couple of weeks ago caught my attention, as it looked at the visual effects industry and how it’s possible for a seemingly very successful industry to be derailed by the effect of things outside of their control.

Always worth a listen.

No Hollywood ending for the visual effects industry

Tech Interviews

No list is complete without my own podcast. This week is part 2 of my chat with Sheila Fitzpatrick regarding data privacy.022617_1149_Besttakecar1.jpg

We pick up on the specific effect of GDPR on the UK and the wider impact on countries outside of the EU. We then take on the challenge of how do we start to build our data privacy policies and controls.

The focus is, make sure you get your foundations right, because without that, we may well find out data privacy house falling down.

Check it our here;

Don’t Build Your Data Privacy House Upside Down – Sheila Fitzpatrick – Ep 18

Enjoy the podcasts and have a great weekend.










Podcasts for the weekend 3rd March

Putting the weekend podcast recommendations into one post, seemed helpful to people last week.. so here we go again…

If you’re looking to get some Tech Podcast time this weekend, here’s some shows I’ve heard this week that you may enjoy and learn from…

A focus on IT security this week, heard some really interesting content, definitely learned quite a bit!

Speaking in Tech

Another cracker this one.. Ed steers the podcast ship with Peter Smallbone.. but this weeks guest Samy Kamkar steals the show.. potentially while stealing data! a fascinating insight into hacking and building the worm that took down Myspace (remember that!) great listen…

Speaking In Tech – Episode 250

Storage Unpacked

This is a relatively new show – lead by some of the industries best known commentators.

This is an interesting episode as Chris Evans is joined by Jaspreet Singh, founder of Druva.

Druva are a very smart company and this leads to an interesting chat about the importance of managing your “edge” data, that held on laptops, smartphones etc.. the stuff that goes out of the front door, how we protect it and most importantly how we find it again. Also a fascinating chat about cloud vendors, how to chose one and what you should think about.

Storage Unpacked – Cloud Data Protection

Note To Self

A little different this show – not as out and out techie focused, more a show about how we, as humans, use technology. This episode looks at the different tactics we can have as individuals dealing with concerns over privacy.

Always entertaining and thought provoking.

Note To Self

Tech Interviews

And of course, got to promote my own show, this week is the first in a series looking at data security and privacy. Data Privacy Attorney Sheila Fitzpatrick joins me to put some context around privacy, what it means, how it differs from security and also introduces the hot topic that is GDPR.

Sheila is hugely experienced in the field and has lots of great advice.. so give it a go.

Tech Interviews – Best Take Care Of Those Crown Jewels – Sheila Fitzpatrick – Ep 17

Happy listening.. look out for more next week.

Podcasts for the weekend 24th Feb

I’m a big fan of podcasts, from entertainment to education. My car is a constant home to them, as I drive around, I always have something on, looking to learn about a new topic, or just catch up on my favourites.

Over the last few weeks, on a Friday, I’ve been tweeting out my fave episodes from the week, as little recommendations for some weekend listening.

This week, rather than have people having to follow multiple tweets, I thought i’d put them all into a single BLOG post, and will make it a weekly place for 2 or 3 podcasts recommendations for your weekend that you can hopefully enjoy.

So here we go, some podcasts i’ve enjoyed this week (20th Feb)..

vSpeaking Podcast

Pete Flecha runs a very informative podcast over at VMware, it’s where I keep up to date with all the latest from the Software behemoth! – this week after a bit of a break Pete is joined by Duncan Epping as the explore vSAN use cases- lots to pick up on, as well as some great insights into where VMware are seeing success with their storage play…

Check it out here vSpeaking Ep 36

Speaking In Tech

Always a fan of the Speaking In Tech podcast, and some weeks they out do themselves, this is one of those weeks as Greg and Eddie are joined by Josh Atwell… worth a listen for the fascinating debate over Robotics triggered by Bill Gates recent statement regarding taxing the use of robots in industry.

Find it here Speaking In Tech Ep 249

Geek Whisperers

My favourite podcast, so always gets a shout with a new episode, Amy, John and Matt discuss “Moonlighting”, as they are joined by Mike Colson to talk about “side gigs” why you do them, why you shouldn’t and how to manage the problem. Great show.

Geek Whisperers Ep 130

Tech Interviews

No point writing this if I can’t pimp my own podcast – This week I pick up on part two of my chat with Microsoft’s Matt McSpirit, as we discuss what happens when you want the capabilities of cloud, but public cloud can’t be for you, so you decide to build your own. But How?

Matt introduces us to Microsoft’s private cloud platform, Azure Stack.


When Public Cloud Isn’t The Answer – Matt McSpirit – Ep 16

If you enjoy the podcast round up idea, let me know and I’ll keep them coming.

Have a great weekend.


DevOps Hipster

IT loves a trend and right now there is nothing more hipster than DevOps, it’s a constant topic of conversation, there’s even a DevOps novel (check out the excellent Phoenix Project), but why, what is it all about, can I buy myself a DevOp?

It’s a topic that I’ve just started to learn about and thought that I’d share what I’ve found so far by way of a DevOps intro BLOG.

Let’s start with what DevOps isn’t;

You can’t buy a DevOps

It certainly is not a product, you won’t find a DevOps as a SKU from your favourite IT supplier, nope you certainly can’t go buy a DevOps.

It’s not a framework

I don’t think DevOps is a framework or a methodology either, it’s not an ITIL or Agile, it’s not a set of processes laid down that you qualify in and follow. This isn’t a criticism of those approaches, but if that’s what you want, then you won’t get that with DevOps. It can certainly be a part of a methodology, a DevOps culture in a more formal framework I would suggest is fine, but it isn’t a framework in itself.

What is it then?

If you can’t buy it and it isn’t a framework, then what it?

I referenced earlier The Phoenix Project, which is, genuinely, an IT novel that looks at the trials and tribulations of our hero Bill Palmer at Parts Unlimited, a fictional account of project delivery in business (it is much more engaging than it sounds!), A friend of mine said;

“if you’ve not read The Phoenix Project you probably don’t understand the challenges of your customers”

Now while that may be a little strong, certainly reading it has given me a whole different view of how modern businesses technology departments are challenged. In a world that changes increasingly quickly, we cannot allow our competition to be more agile than we are, delivering services faster and better and taking our customers with them.

In my opinion, it’s an attitude, a cultural shift, a different way of working, of attacking the problems we are presented with. It’s the idea of bringing together disparate groups inside an organisation to ensure the delivery of better and more timely solutions to solve the challenges that modern organisations face.

Why is DevOps even a thing?

For many of us working in IT it’s fair to say we’ve seen real changes over the last few years in how we deliver technology, be it virtualisation as a more flexible way of deploying servers and desktops. Smartphones, which have changed the way we interact with technology and consume applications or, of course, the cloud.

The way we consume cloud applications and infrastructure is possibly the final nail in the coffin of “traditional” IT deployment, we need a new server, bit of software or service, what do we do? wait 6 months for traditional IT to deliver? or do we jump over to AWS or Azure, credit card In hand and order it, having it delivered in minutes and ready to go.

These changes have moved us from a world where we were OK with an IT project taking months to deliver, to one where, if we do that today, we’d probably be looking for a new job.

It is this that has driven the need for, not only an organisations IT team, but for the entire organisation to look at new ways to react more quickly to changing business needs and challenges.

How do we make sure Internal IT doesn’t become redundant?

How do we then make sure that as an IT team, or even as an organisation, we don’t become redundant?

Let’s face it, we love the convenience of the app store or a cloud deployment, so why wouldn’t we want that in our business? Why not be able to deliver a new service with a couple of clicks, a system that is automated, built on templates, accessed by a catalogue and deployed the same way every time, it has lots of benefits, from efficiency to security, so we are all doing it aren’t we?

Well maybe not, because, it can be hard, our developers aren’t talking to test, who aren’t talking to infrastructure teams and often IT isn’t talking to the business and the business isn’t talking to IT. The more responsive our organisations need to be to challenges, the less acceptable this becomes and the more pressure IT comes under to deliver, often leading to short cuts which can lead to problems and failures.

It is this that has made IT and business sit up and look at new ways of delivering solutions and of course DevOps is one such way. An approach that allows us to speed up and de-risk project delivery, encourage better communication between what the business needs and how those deploying technology can help them to achieve it, as we all know modern IT cannot be the department that says “no” to everything.

To do that we need to embrace new practices, technologies and ways of working, but importantly, not just IT, the entire business needs to embrace this way of thinking or else it will fail.

But we don’t do development, is there a point to DevOps?

Maybe the most fascinating part of DevOps for me, Is I think it goes beyond just ways to get software delivered faster, it can definitely stretch more into the daily lives of IT departments in more “traditional businesses”.

If we look at DevOps practices, like deployment templates and desired state configurations, we can adopt them right into daily operations, the idea that my deployments are delivered against my company standard, every single time is very attractive. Think about securing data, having the ability to have a desired and secure state quickly re-applied to a machine is very powerful, both from a management and audit perspective.

Is DevOps for me?

Of course, I couldn’t say and I’m certainly no DevOps expert, but from what I’ve seen so far, the DevOps mentality certainly has significant benefit as we look to modernise how we manage and deliver technology to our businesses and in my opinion moves beyond the scope of just software development, I can see possibilities in how we run our IT in organisations of all types.

And whether it’s DevOps or something else, there is no doubt, to ensure we remain relevant to our organisations, we need to modernise our approach to IT, how we talk to our businesses, how we understand their needs and how we ensure we get solutions into our organisations quickly.

I hope these initial DevOps thoughts have answered some of your basic questions and if you want to find out more, I can certainly recommend The Phoenix Project and below I’ve pointed out a couple of other useful resources giving a range of insights into starting a DevOps practice.

Thanks for reading.. now go buy yourself a DevOp!

Microsoft Channel 9 DevOps Channel

Tech Interviews Intro to DevOps with Richard Fennel of Blackmarble

A great 20 minute video discussing DevOps from NetApp Insight (Where you may hear the quote I mentioned earlier!)

Gene Kim’s The Phoenix Project

This ain’t no predictions BLOG

Last week I was fortunate to be asked to appear on one of my favourite podcasts, Arrow Bandwidth. I was joined by a group of my technology peers and was asked to do the thing that people like to do this time of year and make some predictions for 2017.

I’m not much of a predictions person and not licenced to drive a crystal ball, so thought it would be better to, rather than try to predict things that were going to take us by surprise in 2017, focus more on things from 2016 that will potentially grow more rapidly in 2017.

I’m not going to steal the thunder of my co-conspirators on the episode, you can check out the entire episode at the bottom of this post, but I did think it would be worth sharing those handful of topics that I expect we will see a lot more of this year;

Overall Theme – Data

Pretty sure no shocks here, how we store, secure, protect and get
the best from our data is going to continue to be a very significant part of IT focus in 2017 and will drive many of the key trends that I think we’ll see develop and dominate the tech landscape this year.

Governance and Control

This really accelerated last year and I can’t see any slowdown in 2017, hot topics like GDPR will ensure that control and security of data is high on the list of many a tech leader.

(Wondering why should you care about data privacy? Check out my chat with Sheila Fitzpatrick here to find out more)

It will be imperative to know the

  • What
  • Where
  • Who
  • When
  • Why

of our data. Not knowing who is accessing it, where it is, what it contains and why it is accessed will become increasingly unacceptable for leaders of an organisation. If it isn’t, you may want to ask the question why isn’t it?

I’d expect to see the continued growth of tools that provide behavioural analytics as the only realistic way of managing this problem, it’s no good working with tools that are based on knowns, they have to be things that can understand what is the norm and when that norm is deviated from.

Getting the most from your data

I think this is a truly fascinating area and fits with my belief that the most successful businesses will be the ones who know how to gain valuable insight from their d

The more and more data we gather, the more value can be gained from it if we know what is in it and have the tools to understand it. What excites me about this, is how the big cloud providers have truly democratised the ability to do this. The likes of Microsoft, Amazon, data-analyticsGoogle and IBM means that any organisation with a need for data analytics can access these services easily and cost effectively.

Increasingly these tools are getting easier for us to exploit, take something like Microsoft’s PowerBI plugged into familiar applications like Excel, allowing us to use powerful analytics from the comfort of our own desktop.

A word of warning though, to truly gain value from data you do need to know what you are doing, I read this great article in Forbes recently on this very subject. But even with that in mind, I have no doubt this will continue to be a fascinating area of growth..

End User Data Analytics

This took off at a real pace last year. Modern IT has to focus on delivering an effective experience to users, but for many of us, we realise how difficult dealing with a call that goes something like “my machine is running a bit slow” is. The problem is  many of our current IT monitoring tools only ever look at our core infrastructure, networks, servers, storage and often we’ll see these things with lots of green lights thinking all is well.

However, last year saw a rise in tools that started to look at IT performance from a user perspective, quickly identifying things like performance dips and configuration changes allowing us to spot poor performing software and badly written apps.

Spotting odd client device behaviour also has another benefit. Odd device behaviour is often the sign of a compromised machine, performance dips, machines connecting to sites they shouldn’t, or attempting to hit services they shouldn’t are all valuable warnings of a potential wider threat.

Our friend behavioural analytics again plays an important part, only technology that understands and learns the difference between normal and abnormal behaviour will be effective.

Make it Easier

Something I hope to see more of, is a drive toward simplification of our end user experience. Technology users today want to be able to focus on their work and not be lost and delayed by overly complex application delivery.

As those who deliver technology into our organisations we should understand IT cannot be seen as an impediment to doing business, we need to be able to react quickly to change, understand our business needs and how technology can help us meet them and not be the department that always says no, because if we are then our business will go around us, or maybe replace us with people who can be more agile and reactive.

DevOps isn’t just a buzzword but a way of working that we need to embrace and simplification of how we deliver our services, with better process and increased automation is a key part of this.

So in 2017, what am I expecting to see? A need for more understanding of our environments, of our data’s value, investment in data security and of course grasping the nettle of simplification.

It will continue to be a  fast moving and challenging world for technology pro’s but it’s an exciting one and a great opportunity to grasp.

So go grasp it and have a great 2017.

I hope you enjoyed this post, if you did, why not try out my tech interviews podcast at http://podcast.techstringy.com or you can find the back catalogue and notes on the Techstringy Interviews section of this site.

Check out the Arrow Bandwidth Podcast right here;