Thanks for memory – Alex McDonald – Ep61

At the start of 2018 the technology industry was hit by two new threats unlike anything it had seen before. Spectre and Meltdown used vulnerabilities not in operating system code or poorly written applications, but ones at a much lower level than that.

This vulnerability was not only something of concern to today’s technology providers, but also to those looking at architecting the way technology will work in the future.

As we try to push technology further and have it deal with more data, more quickly than ever before. The technology industry is having to look at ways of keeping up and have our tech work in different ways beyond the limits of our current ways of working. One of these developments is storage class memory, or persistent memory, were our data can be housed and accessed at speeds many times greater than they are today.

However, this move brings new vulnerabilities in the way we operate, vulnerabilities like those exposed by Spectre and Meltdown, but how did Spectre and Meltdown look to exploit operational level vulnerabilities? and what does that mean for our desire to constantly push technology to use data in ever more creative and powerful ways?

That’s the topic of this week’s Tech Interviews podcast, as I’m joined by the always fascinating Alex McDonald to discuss exactly what Spectre and Meltdown are, how they Impact what we do today and how they may change the way we are developing our future technology.

Alex is part of the Standards Industry Association group at NetApp and represents them on boards such as SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association).

In this episode, he brings his wide industry experience to the show to share some detail on exactly what Spectre and Meltdown are, how they operate, what vulnerabilities they exploit, as well as what exactly these vulnerabilities put at risk in our organisations.

We take a look at how these exploits takes advantage of side channels and speculative execution to allow an attacker to access data that you never would imagine to be at risk, and how our eagerness to push technology to its limits created those vulnerabilities.

We discuss how this has changed the way the technology industry is now looking at the future developments of memory, as our demands to develop ever larger and faster data repositories show no sign of slowing down.

Alex shares some insights into the future, as we look at the development of persistent memory, what is driving demand and how the need for this kind of technology means the industry has no option but to get it right.

To ease our fears Alex also outlines how the technology industry is dealing with new threats to ensure that development of larger and faster technologies can continue, while ensuring the security and privacy of our critical data.

We wrap up discussing risk mitigation, what systems are at risk to attack from exploits like Spectre and Meltdown, what systems are not and how we ensure we protect them long term.

We finish on the positive message that the technology industry is indeed smart enough to solve these challenges and how it is working hard to ensure that it can deliver technology to the demands we have for our data to help solve big problems.

You can find more on Wikipedia about Spectre and Meltdown.

You can learn more about the work of SNIA on their website.

And if you’d like to stalk Alex on line you can find him on twitter talking about technology and Scottish Politics! @alextangent

Hope you enjoyed the show, with the Easter holidays here in the UK we’re taking a little break, but we’ll be back with new episodes in a few weeks’ time, but for now, thanks for listening.

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VMworld – It’s a Wrap – Ep42

VMware, along with Microsoft, is perhaps the most influential enterprise software company in the industry. VMware and their virtualisation technology has revolutionised the way we deliver IT infrastructure into businesses of all types.

It is not just traditional virtualisation they have made commonplace, the way they have driven the industry to accept our IT infrastructure can be software-defined, has made it more straightforward for us to adopt many of the modern technology platforms, such as cloud.

Today, however, the infrastructure revolution they helped create presents challenges to them, as the broad adoption of cloud and new ways of managing and deploying our infrastructure has led to the question “how do VMware remain relevant in a post virtualisation world?”

The answer is, of course, found by understanding how VMware see those challenges and what their strategic plans are for their own future development. There is no better way of doing that than spending time at their annual technical conference VMworld.

In last week’s show (Was it good for you? – vmworld 2017 – Ep41) we discussed with 4 attendees their views on what they learnt, what VMware shared and what they thought of the strategic messages the heard during the keynotes.

This week, we wrap up our VMworld coverage and a look at the modern VMware with two more insightful discussions.

Firstly, I’m joined by Joel Kaufman ( @TheJoelk on twitter) of NetApp. Joel has had a long relationship with VMware in his time at NetApp and has seen how they have evolved to meet the needs of their business customers and their ever-changing challenges.

We discuss that evolution as well as how NetApp has had to deal with the same challenges, looking at how a “traditional” storage vendor must evolve to continue to remain relevant in a cloud-driven, software-defined world.

 

To wrap up, I wanted a VMware view of their event and I’m joined by a returning guest to the show and voice of the VMware Virtually Speaking Podcast, Pete Flecha.

We discuss the key messages from the event, VMware’s place in the world, what VMWare on AWS brings and how VMware are getting their “mojo back” by embracing new ways of working with tools such as Kubernetes, delivering deeper security, tying together multiple platforms with their NSX technology and how VMware is giving us the ability to “Software Define All Of The Things”.

Pete gives an enthusiastic insight on how VMware view their own show and how they are going to continue to be extremely relevant in enterprise IT for a long time to come.

If you want to hear more from Pete you can find him on twitter @vPedroArrow and you can keep up with all the latest VMware news with Pete’s excellent podcast here at www.vspeakingpodcast.com.

That completes our wrap-up of VMworld 2017.

If you enjoyed the show why not leave us a review and if you want to ensure you catch our future shows then why not subscribe, Tech Interviews can be found in all of the usual homes of podcasts.

Thanks for listening.