Telling data stories – Amy Nicholson – Ep 25

Data is increasingly driving the world we operate in and the way we are using data to drive it is changing rapidly. Business decisions are no longer made just by Fred with his humongous spreadsheets, or Mary and her accounts package wizardry.

Data analytics is now something that we see every day, even if we don’t realise it, from the intelligence in our smartphones, to high performance computing crunching masses of numbers, the use of analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning is becoming increasingly commonplace. This was highlighted at the recent IPExpo event in Manchester, Data Analytics (alongside security) seemed to be the major focus for most of the presentation theatres.

I attended a handful of analytics and data transformation sessions including one delivered by Microsoft which focussed on using data to drive actions. It was an excellent session and I was lucky enough to catch up with presenter Amy Nicholson afterwards.

We had a great half hour chat discussing the continued development of the data amy nichoanalytics market, how people are using analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence to bring exciting innovation to their businesses and organisations.

During our chat, we looked at how companies like Microsoft are making these data tools more accessible and how platform as a service offerings, allow us to focus on getting value from our data without having to worry about the infrastructure behind it, regardless of how complex it may be.

We looked at how the data analytics conversation is changing, no longer focussed on technology, so steady techies, but on how we solve complex business problems, using these intelligent solutions and asking them to learn things from our data that on our own we couldn’t.

In fact that was one of Amy’s key messages, analytics technology is not about replacing humans, but supplementing what we do, whether that is tools that remove some of the dull and repetitive tasks from our day to day work or providing us with more intelligence so we can make better decisions.

We talked about how the design of data analytics solutions, both how we interact with and how we visualise results that come from them are crucial to their success. Ensuring that they meet their main purpose of delivering key information, to people when and where they need it, so they can take good and informed actions.

We also discuss how we have now moved from worrying whether we have enough data to whether we have good quality data, because without good quality, we are never going to make good decisions.

In fact, Amy touches on an interesting point about how, as the title of this episode suggests, what’s really important is that we can use that data to tell a story, a story of how we fix a challenge, a story of how we do something new and inventive, or even a story of how we can reduce the monotonous and repetitive tasks.

We wrap up looking at the kind of tools available from Microsoft to help you get started with data analytics in your organisation, we discuss the Cortana analytics suite and its component parts that you can consume to help you start getting not only more value from your data, but to use that data to help take better actions.

Oh yes, don’t miss the connected cow story!

Hope you enjoy the show and Amy’s infectious enthusiasm for her subject.

If you want to find out more from Amy you can follow her on twitter @amykatenicho

Check out the connected cow video

You can find out more about the Cortana Intelligence Suite here

Next time on Tech Interviews I’m joined by Ian Finch as we discuss the rise of the chatbot!

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Tech me for the weekend

The mix of podcasts and articles seemed pretty popular last week, so thanks for those who dived and enjoyed the tech bits I’d found interesting.

So hopefully I can serve you equally well with some top tech content from this week.

Podcasts

Greybeards on Storage Tier 0 storage

If you like your storage podcasts deep and technical then these are the beards for you.. Howard Marks and Ray Lucchesi are two very experienced and very respected members of the storage community, it’s an understatement to say they know their stuff!

This week they are talking about how the next generation of NVMe based tier 0 storage  is shaping up. Not sure what NVMe or tier 0 is? Then this may be the place to learn, don’t go in without your technical head on though, you have been warned!

Greybeards on Storage Podcast

Note To Self – Deep Learning Racism

This week I’d attended the IPExpo event in Manchester (UK) and had listened to a lot of sessions discussing machine learning, artificial intelligence and digital transformation, all fascinating topics and all will have a lot of impact on the way we do business in the future.

On the journey back home from the event I caught this weeks Note To Self podcast, all about, coincidentally, machine learning, however it is a very much a cautionary tale of where machine learning can go wrong and how we are not quite ready to hand over the reigns to the machines just yet.

This episode looks at the story of Jacky Alcine and how a seemingly innocent picture caused a storm of controversy.

http://www.wnyc.org/story/deep-learning-racism

VSAN 6.6

If you’re a VMware user and interested in the latest iteration of vSAN, then you’ll want to catch two great shows from Pete Flecha and John Nicholson as they are joined by a couple of guests in a 2 part podcast looking at what’s new and exciting in this major update to the popular vSAN platform.

check out both of them here;

vSAN 6.6 – Part 1

vSAN 6.6 – Part 2

At your data’s service

In this weeks Tech Interviews I got to chat with Dave Sobel of Solarwinds MSP about the impact that as-a-service data tools are having on business, how it’s changing the way we deal with data, the way we secure data and of course how analytics tools are allowing us to find new and interesting ways of getting value from our data assets.

Dave shares some great background on how service providers can help us all take advantage of new and exciting data services.

Give it a listen.

At your data’s service – Dave Sobel – Ep 24

Articles

If listening isn’t enough and you want to curl up with a nice technology article this weekend, then why not try these…

For an Intelligent Workplace, Think Proficiency, Not Efficiency

Liked this article from CMSWire talking about the challenge that comes with trying to embrace new ways of working and new technologies, in organisations that are just not ready for it!

CMS Article

What the Data

One of my favourite presentations at IPExpo this week was from Microsoft’s Amy Nicholson, who talked about the Cortana Analytics Suite (podcast coming out next week with Amy – stay tuned) and how by making this technology more accessible people are delivering really smart and ingenious ideas that are revolutionising the way they do business.

She wrote this excellent accompanying blog post.

What the Data

The Opportunity of disruption

Picked this article up from NetApp’s blog site, but dovetails nicely with the Amy’s presentation.

Using these great and accessible data tools is one thing.. getting our data into them is another, the importance of a data strategy that understands that challenge is going to be critical to the success of many of our businesses.

In this article Maria Olsen talks about how NetApp and Microsoft are working together to build data strategies that allow just that.

An interesting piece to get you thinking about your own strategies.

It’s a two parter, here’s the link to part one, part two is linked in the article.

The Opportunity of disruption

I hope that’s given you plenty to enjoy this weekend (and this long weekend if you are in the UK).

Look at for more next week, as well as a great Tech Interview with Amy Nicholson talking Anlytics and Machine learning, due out Tuesday.

Have a great weekend.. one and all.

 

 

At your data’s service – Dave Sobel – Ep 24

I think we all accept that as individuals, businesses and organisations, the way we see our data is changing, more than ever we see it as an asset and like any asset we see it as something to treat carefully, ensuring it is stored properly, secured, protected and of course something we are getting value from.

A big part of this shift is driven by the technology industry itself, tools, technologies and services are now available that allow us to use our data in ways that previously we had not been able to.

However, it is not just that these technologies exist that is driving this change, but it is how much more readily available these tools and services now are and this is mainly due to a new breed of service providers.

This is the focus of this week’s podcast, as I’m Joined by Dave Sobel, Sr. Director of Community and Field Marketing at SolarWinds MSP.

Dave has a wide experience in the technology industry, having both operated his own service provider and now with the provider of a global platform used by service providers and end users around the world.

In this episode, we talk about how the way we use our data is changing and how this is driving not only great new opportunities for business, but also creating a new breed of service providers and platforms to support new and inventive ways for us to make the very most from our data assets.

We talk about the evolution of what we think of as a computer from mine and Dave’s shared Commodore 64 experience to modern voice interfaces and how this evolution is changing how we collect and use data. But even with this change, we look at how the data and the information is the only thing that matters, that those devices are no longer that important to us.

We also discuss how the technology conversation in organisations is changing, how today technology decisions are not just with IT, but with application and service owners who are asking how to gain more insight from the data they collect and how technology can drive success in their parts of an organisation.

Finally, we look at security, how the complex security challenge is also driving a new breed of services and the things that you should consider before you take a new service into your organisation.

Dave also shared the difference between security advice from non-experts and those that truly understand the threat, summed up brilliantly in the graphic below.

I think Dave provides a great insight into the changing data market and the part that service providers play in allowing us to do the very best with our valuable data assets.

I hope you enjoyed it.

If you want to follow Dave online you can find him on twitter @djdaveet

His company SolarWinds MSP can be found here

You can of course contact me in all the usual places.

If you enjoyed the show, why not subscribe on SoundCloud, iTunes and all other homes of podcasts.

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Tech me for the weekend!

I’ve produced a podcast for the weekend post over the last couple of months, giving a round up of good podcast content I’d caught over the week that you may of missed.

Well never one to stand still I’m stretching the scope of this post to include blogs and articles as well as podcasts.. so just things that have caught my eye and that you may of missed in your busy week.

I’ll eventually get around to change the post graphic… but heah it’s the weekend so the old one will do for now!

Podcasts

Let’s start with some listening pleasure – a couple of shows you may enjoy –

Speaking in Tech – Hacking Microsoft Windows

One of the industries bigger shows, so perhaps doesn’t need my promotion, but in a bit of a different episode, the team are joined by Chris Wysopal, noted hacker and CTO/co-founder of Veracode, as they talk about application security and how the world is changing and how our approach to security needs to change too.

Speaking in Tech

CTO Advisor – DevOps from the ground up

Keith Townsend delivers another show (only short about 13 minutes) doing a bit of a DevOps revisit, some great points covered with guest, Cloud Architect Jon Hildebrand, as they discuss what DevOps is and the cultural shift you need for it to work.

CTO Advisor

Storage Unpacked

Referenced this show before, run by a team of tech analysts who delve into the world of storage, this week an interesting chat with Chris Wahl of Rubrik, as they look at the secondary storage market place and how gaining value from data is becoming a significant part of the “backup data” market and how it’s changing how we protect our data.

It’s all about the data people!

Storage Unpacked

To round up the bumper selection of podcasts.. a bit of self promotion..

First up I got the chance to appear on the Veeam community podcast, discussing the work I do around data security and privacy, the impact of the upcoming GDPR legislation and how to build solid ransomware defences, all that and more with Veeam’s Michael Cade.

Veeam Community Podcast

And of course the most recent Tech Interviews – as I chatted with Mark Carlton about data fabrics, what they are and why they are an important part of your modern data strategy. Mark shares his experiences building a NetApp data fabric and the problems its helped him solve.

Weaving a data fabric – Mark Carlton – Ep 23

The Articles

As an additional gift, I thought I’d add a list of interesting articles I’ve read over the last week as well;

How GDPR could affect your business

Fresh from his Tech Interview adventures Mark Carlton shares his thoughts on GDPR and how it may affect your business. Read it here

Data Storage: The Need For Flexibility And Scalability

This one from Forbes talking about modern data storage, what interested me here was it supported the view that the storage conversation needs to be much wider, looking at a holistic data strategy not just disks and flashing lights. Find it here

10 Digital Workplace Trends Shaping the Future of Work

This article talks about the challenges that business are coming up against as they try to embrace new methods of working in enterprises that are not really ready for it! Read it here

What I’ve Learned about GDPR

Last up my own GDPR focussed post, as I look at some of the things I’ve learned as I’ve immersed myself in the GDPR world over the first part of 2017, I look at what it is, what it isn’t, where technology plays a part and why it is something to embrace and not fear! Enjoy it here

Hopefully that should keep you busy… if there’s anything that I’ve missed hit me up @techstringy on the twitters and let me know – have a great weekend

 

 

 

What I’ve Learned About GDPR

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that comes into effect in May 2018 is a subject that has moved to the top of many a list of priorities and is going to have a major effect on how we handle personal data.

Over the last year, I’ve spoken with businesses about their data security, how to avoid data loss, leaks and insider threats. However, over the first 3 months of this year (2017) this conversation, driven by GDPR, has shifted to compliance and privacy.

However, it’s evident that not everyone is either aware of the forthcoming changes or how to build privacy and security policies to deal with the complex problems it presents.

Over the last few months I’ve been pretty absorbed in the world of GDPR and thought it’d be useful to share a few of the things I’ve learned that may help you with your own privacy and security strategy.

It’s complicated

GDPR is a complicated bit of legislation, its scope is vast and too some degree we will all be affected, whether as organisations having to sort out our compliance or as individuals whose data will fall under the scope of the regulation, we will see lots of changes.

Remember it is a complex bit of legislation, which leads to…

Good news, GDPR is not an IT problem

It’s true, it’s a legal and compliance issue, not an IT one, just because we are talking about data, an organisation cannot say, “it’s data so can’t IT just sort it out?”

Absolutely not, IT will be a critical partner for helping to deliver compliance, but only in the same way the Board, HR, Finance or anyone who touches data is going to be a key partner in maintaining compliance.

Is your organisations view of GDPR that it is only an IT problem? If it is then you need to look at how you educate them, quickly, that it isn’t!

Roughly what is it?

We’ve heard what it isn’t so what is it?

In its simplest form it is updated legislation, replacing the EU’s data protection directive, but it goes beyond updating, growing in scope and potential penalties for noncompliance.

To quote the EU ;

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) replaces the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC and was designed to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, to protect and empower all EU citizens data privacy and to reshape the way organizations across the region approach data privacy.

The goal of GDPR is too ensure the personal data held about us can only be used for the purposes it was gathered for and is treated with due care to ensure it is not abused by those who would wish to exploit it.

It’s privacy, not security

One of my go to people when it comes to data privacy is NetApp’s Sheila Fitzpatrick, Sheila is a data privacy attorney with nearly 35 years’ privacy experience and is NetApp’s data privacy officer and global privacy counsel.

Sheila makes the point that data security, IS NOT data privacy.

Data privacy is much wider in scope than just security, Sheila likes to use the example of a data privacy wheel, where security is just one spoke on that wheel.

When designing data privacy solutions, we should understand the full lifecycle of the personal data we collect, assess, process and use, from the minute we collect it until we finally destroy it.

If your organisation is looking at GDPR and saying, “isn’t that just more of that IT security stuff” then it’s time to educate again, it’s so much more than just security.

Will it affect me? Does it matter if I’m not in the EU?

Both valid and common questions, the answer, pretty much every time is a resounding yes. It doesn’t matter is you are inside or outside of the EU.

Location is irrelevant, if you hold data on EU citizens, regardless of where you are based, then you will fall under the scope of GDPR.

What about putting data in the cloud?

Cloud presents an interesting issue, as actually does the placing of data with any 3rd party, as the data controller, you are ultimately responsible for what happens to it. The general advice is to ensure two things, if you are passing your data to someone to process ensure that you have a clear contract in place with them.

If you are looking to a cloud provider, then ensure they have appropriate data privacy policies and safeguards in place so that you are not exposed to risk.

What should I do?

What are some steps you should be taking?

Dealing with GDPR is going to be a constant challenge so it’s important to get started, here’s where I’d start;

  • What are my current policies and are they appropriate?
  • Understand your current data, where is it, how much do I have, who has access, what does it contain?
  • Why do you have that data and why do you collect it.
  • Educate your business, so that from top to bottom people understand the importance of data privacy and the impact that this new regulation will have.
  • Deliver your GDPR compliance plan.

You’ll notice there is very little technology highlighted in those initial steps, maybe something to help you to understand your current data sets, but apart from that, it’s policies, procedures and education.

Technology will have a place, in reality, you are going to find it hard to remain compliant without some technical tools and resources to help you do it.

What have I learned?

There is lots too learn!

It’s complex, it’s not a technical problem with a “silver bullet” to fix it. It is a business legal and compliance issue.

The most interesting thing I’ve discovered though, is even if GDPR wasn’t something we had to comply with, it is something that contains such a level of good and sensible practice it is something that we would want to adopt anyway.

Because in the end, it’s all about our data, let’s keep it secure and private.

For more GDPR resources try out some of the following;

EU GDPR Site

UK Information Commissioners Office

You can also check out a friend of mine, Mark Carlton and an excellent GDPR post he recently published.

How GDPR could affect your business

I also did a series of podcasts to support a recent event that we ran, they cover GDPR in broad terms as well as looking at some specifics on data management and how to work with your people, feel free to check them out;

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

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

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

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

.

Weaving a data fabric – Mark Carlton – Ep 23

Regular readers of my blog are probably familiar with the idea of the NetApp data fabric.

This fabric defines NetApp’s strategic direction for data management. How to plan, develop and deploy a solution suitable for a modern organisations data needs, not only the needs for today but also those for the mid and long term.

What I like about this data fabric approach is that it allows us to move away from thinking about “traditional” storage deployments, that you may associate with a vendor like NetApp, or It’s well known competitors’ like Dell-EMC, HPE, IBM and even the new kids like Pure, and to have a much broader data management conversation that encompasses cloud, analytics, software defined, security and privacy.

By shifting this focus, NetApp have been smart, but importantly for us as consumers of storage, they have allowed us to be smart as well, by focussing on the data and not on where it’s housed or the technology it lives on.

Recently a friend of mine from the NetApp A-Team, Mark Carlton, Mark Carltonwrote an excellent blog post “Top 4 questions about the value of the NetApp data fabric” in which he discussed the practicalities of this strategy, looking at its component parts, as well as some great examples of customer deployment.

It was such a good article, I thought I’d ask him onto this weeks Tech Interviews, so we could discuss in more detail his take on and experience of this data fabric strategy.

We not only discuss NetApp’s implementation of this, but also, and maybe more importantly, how the fabric has grown beyond a NetApp centric view and how 3rd party tools from the likes of Varonis, Veritas and Veeam are integrated into this fabric to enhance it further, making your data management solution more insightful, more complete.

Enjoy the conversation with Mark and then ask yourself, are you planning a data fabric strategy that allows you to meet your businesses ever changing needs? Because in the end, it’s all about the data!

If you want to follow up with either myself or Mark on this episode, you can find Mark on twitter @mcarlton1983 or of course me @techstringy

Don’t forget you can read Marks’ excellent blog post here “Top 4 questions about the value of the NetApp data fabric”

If you want more data fabric musings, then I wrote this piece about data fabric a little while a go, Data Fabric – What is it good for?

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Podcasts for the weekend – 6th April 2017

Another weekend rolls around, so what podcasts are going to keep you wrapped warm in a blanket of tech knowledge?

Picked up a handful of good listens this week to share;

So here goes;

Microsoft Partner Network – Personal branding and social selling

Social networks have no doubt changed the way that we look to interact, look to sell and of course look to buy. But it’s also become an important part of career development for many of us. This episode of the Microsoft partner podcast brings in Microsoft Director of Business strategy Jen Sieger to talk about how personal branding and thoughtful social selling can help to grow your business and career.

MS Partner Podcast

Datanauts – Transitioning to a less technical role

An interesting part of career development for many of us, is that time when we decide we need to step back from the tools and pursue a less technical role, maybe one that is more management, strategic or technical marketing. Now although this is not for everyone, for those that do want to make that shift, it isn’t often that easy.

This episode Tom Hollingsworth shares with the Datanauts team how he managed that move, how he balanced the less hands on with his want to maintain his technical knowledge and how he looks at whether to keep his certifications.

Datanauts – Transitioning to a less technical role

Cloudcast – VMware beyond virtualisation

Not sure if I’ve mentioned this podcast before, but it’s a well established goodie, this is episode 292 and talks with Chris Wolf, VP & CTO, global field & industry at VMware, as they discuss emerging trends in the enterprise as well as looking a little into the crystal ball of tech to see what we can expect to see coming in the not too distant future.

Cloudcast – VMware beyond virtualisation

Tech interviews – Availability as part of digital transformation

This week I was joined by serial Tech Interviews offender Michael Cade of Veeam. He’s been talking to me for a few months now about this idea of Availability as part of digital transformation, so I thought it was about time I got him on to explain himself.

So I did!.. we discuss the what we mean by digital transformation, what risks that introduces and how we need to ensure we maintain traditional availability design principles, or else we may find we are going to not only impact our technology, but our business too…

Availability as part of digital transformation – Michael Cade – Ep 22

I hope you enjoy the shows, if you have some podcasts you’d like to share, tweet me @techstringy and let me know…