Wisteria Lane By Brian Smithson

“Journeys” a book of photography

  • January 31, 2012
  • News
In December 2011 we published a photography book on Blurb.com called “Journeys” and distributed to our customers as an original Christmas gift.

The precis of the book was simple: “Life is full of journeys; simple ones like a walk in the park, or more complex ones, like a path to achieve a goal.

Best Practices in Cloud Security

  • January 31, 2012
  • News

Spending on cloud computing is growing faster than any other form of IT spending, with organisations of all sizes looking to reap the benefits of cost savings, flexibility, increased productivity and more. In particular, the use of software as a service (SaaS) is becoming mainstream. Where organisations are reluctant to embrace cloud services, the reason is often owing to concerns over security, especially since many SaaS offerings mean that an organisation’s data processing and storage, much of which is data sensitive to the organisation, is handed over to the service provider.

However, cloud computing models can actually provide a more robust and effective level of security than technology deployed and managed in-house. For example, mitigation against the latest threats can be pushed out to all users of the service simultaneously, removing the need for patches and updates to be deployed by IT administrators to all users of the service. This also provides the assurance that all devices connected to the service are up to date in terms of their security posture.

Beyond threat mitigation, cloud delivery is suitable for a wide range of security services, from basic needs, such as malware protection, to advanced security services such as vulnerability management, security monitoring, policy compliance, and application security and testing.

As well as accessing security services, organisations will also benefit from the service provider taking responsibility for many aspects of security as it must, itself, have developed a highly secure infrastructure in line with best practice and good governance objectives. These incorporate a wide range of security controls and can attest to the quality and security of its services through management reports and audit trails.

Fran Howarth has recently published a new report that examines how the use of cloud computing can actually improve security, as well as discussing the issues and challenges that remain, including liability, contracting and SLA terms and conditions, data centre infrastructure, auditing and certification, and the need for further standards development. Download the report: Best practices in cloud security.

The Value of Where

  • October 31, 2011
  • News

Geographic information has many facets but the value for business today is the location, or position on the earth's surface.

Location is meaningful in many ways, such as:

  • The location of assets enables operations, management and planning.
  • The location of events facilitates the same and can predict future events.
  • The location of customers can enhance marketing and sales campaigns, insurance risk management and retail outlet planning.

When location is incorporated into the data of Information Systems, these systems are empowered to provide much more powerful decision support. In fact, location often highlights trends, risks and opportunities that would otherwise have been hidden.

The latent power of location and the business possibilities are what appeals to Natalie Newman. She entered the world of geographic information more than 30 years ago, working with land surveyors fixing the position of trig beacons. This understanding of measurement and geodesy has led to many interesting roles in the world of geographic information.

Natalie established the GIS (Geographic Information Systems) in two local authorities in South Africa. Then the opportunity to don the uniform of the South African Air Force tempted her to take up an exciting role in the Directorate of Geospatial Information. This directorate collected imagery, mapping and hydrographic information for all 3 arms of the forces. This insight into the world of defence could only broaden the view and understanding of the important role that geographic information and location can play.

The turn of the century raised the profile of the telecommunications arena and Natalie joined South Africa's Telkom, where the use of location was utilised for demand forecasting. After moving to the UK, she joined Hutchison3g as their Global Co-ordinator for Location Based Products prior to the launch of 3. She then moved to British Telecommunications where she raised the profile both inside and outside the organisation by establishing a GIS Focus Group right across the whole BT group.

Working as a Spatial Consultant with Netezza reinforced her belief that wonderful opportunities exist for location to add substantial value to all levels of information. Operations are empowered by knowing where to function. Management is informed with reporting that shows where the successes exist and where improvement is required. Strategic Planning is supported by intelligence that reveals where trends occurred and predicts where the next activity could happen.

This small piece of information, describing the location, has the potential to be a major contributor to the value of both Information and Business Intelligence.

1 Trig Beacons – A term describing control points with a fixed position (calculated with trigonometry) and used by further surveys as an accurate reference point.

2 Geodesy - The science that deals with the measurement and representation of the earth.

Nigel Stanley awarded Crisp Telecom Prize

  • October 31, 2011
  • News
Nigel Stanley

Nigel Stanley, Practice Leader for Security at Bloor Research has been heads down over the past couple of years completing an MSc in Information Security with the world famous Information Security Group at Royal Holloway, University of London. Along with his day job at Bloor and Incoming Thought where he runs a security consultancy and education business Nigel was spending 1 day per week at the campus in Egham, Surrey as a student - something rather unfamiliar to him. Nigel said, "It was tough to start with as I hadn't done such formal education for years. The MSc at Royal Holloway takes a lot of effort, especially if you have a day job." He added, "Lots of people ask me why I did the MSc. I suppose it was like mountain climbing – because it’s there!"

The Masters at Holloway is made up of 6 modules and a dissertation. 4 modules are compulsory and then you are allowed to choose two electives. All of these are examinable, and Nigel sat 4 exams the first year and 2 the second year. Nigel said, "I hadn't done an exam for 25 years, so it was a trial to start with." The results are still pending but Nigel is hopeful he has passed. The second year saw Nigel complete a dissertation. "This was more my thing, and I was looking forward to it", said Nigel. Choosing a topic was a challenge as the information security field is so wide, but Nigel focussed on his core interest which is smartphone security. "Orange R+D Labs are sponsors of the Smart Card Centre at Royal Holloway and they were able to support my research into comparative security of Google and Windows Phone 7 platforms", said Nigel. The dissertation took about 4 months to complete and ended up over 18,000 words – quite a large piece of work. "One challenge was understanding how to write and reference as an academic piece of work. The formal structures slow down the process but they add real rigour to the work."

At the Royal Holloway Smart Card Centre open day in September 2011 Nigel was surprised to receive the Crisp Telecom Prize. This is an annual award to the project voted as top for that year. "The competition was tough; not only was it MSc students there were a number of PhD students as well, with some very technical research, so it was even more surprising that my work was selected. I must thank the team at Orange and my supervisor Prof. Keith Mayes for steering me in the right direction to get a good project together," said Nigel.

Alongside Nigel’s studies he has also been working with a number of interesting clients, one of which is IHS Janes the world famous defence analysis company. IHS Janes invited Nigel to take part in four webinars covering cyber warfare, cybercrime and cyber terrorism. "I have been studying these areas for a number of years, and have done some interesting research around jihadist use of the internet and smartphones. I also work actively in cybercrime investigations, so could bring some real practical experience to the webinars," said Nigel. He added, "Corporate clients care about risk, and it is good to help them quantify risk about these areas rather than them feeling that the sky is falling in after reading so much doom and gloom in the press."

Nigel continues to research, study and consult in the areas of mobile security, cybercrime, cyber terrorism, cyber warfare and information security. For more information, or to contact Nigel, please click here.

Visualisation and Business Outcomes

  • October 27, 2011
  • News

David Norfolk has responsibility for Development and Governance at Bloor, and these came together this quarter with the release of his report on MID's Innovator for Business Analysts, a flexible modelling tool for the business analyst role (distributed by Aptero Solutions). This, at one level, is a OMG BPMN tool but it is more than that. It supports a lot of what business analysts need to do to optimise business process (not just the drawing of diagrams) and, most importantly, helps them to communicate this to all affected - and to achieve the buy-in needed if change is to be effective.

He is now seeing an increasing focus on developing automated business services, measured by success in achieving business outcomes rather than just developing computer systems. At IBM Innovate this year, for example, IBM's product pitches uniformly stressed the business outcomes achieved instead of merely technical victories. He thinks that modelling is a key facilitator for this. Managed properly (which means giving people different views into a single model, as appropriate to their needs and experience), models provide a 'lingua franca’ for all the stakeholders in a development, from both the business and technical communities. More than this, if (as David believes) good governance includes the effective management of IT resources to deliver business outcomes, modelling helps to deliver this.

Incidentally, David also writes about mainframe technologies – because (whatever is fashionable) these can be an efficient way of delivering automated business services without wasting the planet's resources. Besides, he says, "I've been hearing about the imminent death of the mainframe every year since the mid-1980s – as it is still here, it must be doing something right!"

Modelling is really part of visualising the complexity of the real world in a way that helps people to manage this complexity. This probably goes along with David's other interest in photography as a way of highlighting the simple patterns and beauty present in the real world, which people look at every day but seldom 'see', in any real sense. He talks of "beauty in the mundane" and "going beyond the obvious", both important if photographs are to be more than records of pleasant times and postcards of pretty scenery or pretty people. He recently gained his ARPS distinction with the Royal Photographic Society with a panel of 15 abstract and semi-abstract prints illustrating the beauty that can be found by the road warrior in conference centres and hotel lobbies – according to the chair of the assessors, probably a first for an ARPS topic!

Bloor Welcomes New Analysts

Bloor is very pleased to welcome Natalie Newman as an associate analyst, Paul Bevan as a practice leader, Owen Ashby as a research director and last, but not least, Kevin Borley as an associate analyst.

Natalie Newman

Natalie Newman – Senior Analyst – Focus Area: Geographic Information

Natalie has been involved in GI all her working life, from South Africa's Surveys and Mapping (Trig-Survey) in Cape Town to BT Global Services in the UK.

From the mid 80’s to the mid 90’s, she implemented GIS in local authorities with an organisational structure to support both the operations and the data. Local Authorities in SA manage utilities so this included electricity, water & sewer network and roads management.

As a GIS Consultant and Project Manager, serving mostly Government customers, Natalie was one of a 3-man team who initiated geographic information collaboration between three Government departments just after the 1994 democratic election in South Africa. This collaboration is now in place between Surveys & Mapping, Statistics South Africa and the Independent Electoral Commission.

Natalie served in the South African National Defence Force as a Staff Officer (Lt Col) in the Directorate of GeoSpatial Information (DGI) collecting information for all arms of the forces and formulating policy with respect to resources, standards and priorities.

In the UK, Natalie was the Global Co-ordinator at Hutchison3G for Locations Based Products and then joined BT Global Services. She established the BT GIS Focus Group and worked on various projects mostly in Local Government. Since leaving BT, she has worked as a Spatial Consultant for Netezza.

Paul Bevan

Paul Bevan – Practice Leader – Focus Area: Services

Paul has had a 34-year career in industry and started in logistics with a variety of operational management roles. For the last 26 years he has worked in sales and marketing in the IT industry, covering everything from mainframes to personal computers, development tools to specific industry applications, and, predominantly, over the last 10 years, covering IT services and outsourcing. He is also a non-executive director in an NHS Primary Care Trust.

Paul is particularly interested in the impact of IT Consumerisation, Virtualisation and the emerging, if somewhat over-hyped, world of cloud computing on both business users and IT vendors. His mix of business and IT experience, allied to a passionate belief in customer focus and “grown-up” marketing, has given him a particular capability in understanding and articulating the business benefits of technology. This enables him to advise businesses on the impact and benefits of particular technologies and services, and to help IT vendors position and promote their offerings more effectively.

Owen Ashby

Owen Ashby – Research Director – Focus Area: Marketing Solutions

Owen has spent over 20 years in Sales and Marketing with 17 of those in the IT and Technology sector.

His career started with BT and its early forays into SME Telephone Account Management; a time when fax machines were considered cutting edge and mobile (then portable) phones were the size and cost of a small bungalow.

7 years at Unisys saw progression through the ranks of sales and marketing and through Unisys' journey from Mainframe giant to Intel and MS innovator with its then revolutionary Es7000 technology. More recently Owen was a founding Director of Think Smart, an innovative and thought leading strategic sales and marketing consultancy. It developed robust and industrialised (repeatable and scalable) processes to reduce the cost, risk and time of either entering new markets or up and cross selling into an existing base.

Today, Owen likes to be at the cutting edge of thinking around sales and marketing and is fascinated by the "blank sheet" that the post-recession era presents along with the incumbent questions and challenges it poses for those that operate today in the IT and technology space.

For Bloor, Owen specialises in Marketing solutions. His work is focused on differentiation in maturing marketplaces and assisting organisations with models for gaining and retaining strategic competitive advantage.

Kevin Borley

Kevin Borley – Associate Analyst – Focus Area: CIO

Kevin Borley is a career CIO and joint founder of “The CIO Partnership”.

For the past 30 years Kevin has been in the forefront of corporate IT management and has had responsibility for both strategy and service delivery in senior IT Director and CIO roles. He has also managed delivery across a wide and diverse range of businesses in Europe, the USA and Asia-Pac. He has extensive Board experience and has also held membership of a number of senior CIO advisory panels and best practice forums.

Kevin’s has built a successful management career with blue chip multinationals, such as EMI, Thorn, The London International Group,and worldwide withGranada Group Plc, Bertelsmann Buch AG (Book Club Associates), Syntegra (the IT services and consultancy division of the BT Group). Recent SME / mid cap experience has been gained supporting Business Exchange plc, MWB Group plc., The Shaw Trust and Employment Opportunities.

His management experience includes mentoring executive and operational managers, management of business change programmes, IT planning, support for M&A and divestment activity, re-vitalising underperforming IT organisations, outsourcing and in-sourcing programmes,  management of service providers and management of off-shore software development programmes.

Raised in London and having travelled and worked extensively abroad, Kevin currently lives in Wiltshire.

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