cloud

Why GoodData and HP Vertica have Collaborated

Why GoodData and HP Vertica have Collaborated 150 150 Kerry Butters

And, why should you care? Well, the partnership brings together two companies from opposing ends of the data analysis / management spectrum – and could light the way for future collaborations in this sector.

The Players

GoodData is a rising star in the field of cloud analytics. The venture-backed start-up recently introduced an Open Analytics Platform to provide a comprehensive set of services spanning the entire analytics lifecycle, from initial collection of records to data processing, visualisation and business intelligence.

With analysis conducted on the fly, GoodData is designed to be very easy for even non-technical business people to use.

Vertica is a high-performance columnar database which Hewlett-Packard acquired from Vertica Systems in 2011. Built to handle really large amounts of data, Vertica is better tailored to address the performance and scalability requirements of enterprise customers.

The Rationale

A key challenge faced by organisations today is the need for speed, high availability, and flexibility of data and analytics. Traditional solutions weren’t built to handle the variety and volume of data flowing through data-driven companies.

Amid increasing demand for its service, GoodData has in effect signed up as a customer of HP Vertica, which now serves as its data warehouse. GoodData claims this will lead to performance improvements, with some queries being executed orders of magnitude faster than before. Dashboards and reports should see dramatic improvements as well.

GoodData is leveraging the HP Vertica Analytics Platform to power its own cloud-based Open Analytics Platform, and enable real-time data analysis for its customers. This is done through a new data warehousing service. The package provides a single interface for scheduling, deploying and monitoring operations, and covers the gamut from load to visualisation of data.

The Way It’s Being Done

GoodData is introducing an “agile data warehousing service”. Essentially the scheme uses a columnar database alongside governance and integration processes, and includes:

·    A columnar warehouse, deployed across distributed architecture

·    Complete history of data, both in raw and transformed states, running from ingestion to visualisation

·    Integrated dual-stage storage

·    Separation of all raw data (in file storage or HDFS) from analytical areas, for changing business models

·    Data Integration Service Console for the integration of structured and unstructured data

·    Support for advanced cleansing and data manipulation

·    Fully managed clustering, provisioning, and sizing of data storage processes

·    Flexible data modelling functions for warehouse schemes, and aggregate data marts

·    Full disaster recovery and reconstruction from source data, at any time in the future

GoodData also pledges to take care of the underlying “plumbing work” (including clustering and resource allocation), while providing safeguards against data loss.

Their aim is to eliminate much of the hassle involved in managing analytical environments. The safeguards will address the reliability concerns that have traditionally held some organisations back from moving data to the cloud.

For The Customer…

With HP Vertica powering GoodData’s cloud-based Open Analytics Platform, customers are promised:

·   Fast and continuous loading from the staging and archiving system of their data storage service

·   Built-in analytical functions, and engines to increase the volume of data fed to GoodData’s analytic data marts

·   High speeds due to the pure columnar architecture, reflected in dramatic improvements in dashboard and report execution

·   Clustered, highly available, parallel architecture for infinitely scalable central warehouse storage in the long term

·   The Vertica platform, as the backbone to a complete end-to-end analytic system capable of handling all available data found within an organisation

Sounds Great. But…?

By greenlighting Vertica to be its analytics platform, GoodData is essentially admitting to the failings of its own lightweight offering.

In response to this, the company maintains that:

“We don’t sell our platform in a piecemeal fashion. Because we are a shared service hosted in the cloud, when a customer licenses GoodData, they have access to the entire platform – from back-end infrastructure (including Vertica) to our custom dashboards and reporting. We monetize through volume of data and number of users (or in the case of Powered By, number of customers), not by what part of the platform is being used.”

At a business level, companies will get an end-to-end analytics offering. And customers do want a complete solution, with all the pretty visualisations and real time analysis that can also deliver heavy-weight number crunching. Visualisation offerings from Informatica, Birst, Tableau and others offer part of the solution. But increasingly, customers want to gain a comprehensive Business Intelligence (BI) solution.

For the future, how tenable GoodData’s position is, now that it relies on HP for a significant part of its product offering remains to be seen. This is especially true, given that other vendors are doing both streaming and batch analytics from one consistent offering – within the one company

Does BYOD Present Security Issues?

Does BYOD Present Security Issues? Kerry Butters

The BYOD model is becoming increasingly prevalent, as employers and employees alike embrace the smartphone boom. Now productivity can be increased as employees can have constant access to their company’s online services.

However, with this ease of access come security risks that are worth considering. If you have, or are intending, to adopt BYOD solutions in your business it’s important to be aware of the effect, both positive and negative, that it could have on your business.

One of the major problems in the BYOD market is the lack of enhanced mobile security in communications between devices. At the moment, many BYOD enabled networks use the built-in security measures that employee’s smartphones come with. This could be a potential security vulnerability that could be exploited.

Another challenge for the BYOD market is the difficulty for businesses in tracking deployed assets. This is because once a mobile device is deployed in an organisation, tracking it becomes increasingly difficult, even with the implementation of BYOD security solutions. Both of the above areas have been considered in more depth in a market report by Infinity Research that found several security vulnerabilities in the BYOD model.

Security vulnerabilities

The report stated that one of the major drivers in the BYOD market is the need for enhanced mobile communication security. Most businesses are not properly safeguarding online networks and proper mobile device management (MDM) is paramount. Using MDM enterprise software allows an organisation to better protect and control data and configuration amongst mobile devices within an organisational network.

“The growing globalisation of organisations has led to an increased need for enterprise mobility,” the report states. “Enterprise mobility helps organisations exchange data and information without any time and location constraints. Hence, organisations have been increasingly adopting BYOD policies to implement enterprise mobility.”

Many organisations have been discouraged from adopting BYOD methods, as there is difficulty in ensuring the safety of all the deployed assets. This discouragement has influenced the saturation of BYOD policies and the security concerns have reduced the effectiveness of a BYOD security setup.

“With the implementation of a BYOD policy, employees can use their personal devices to handle their organisations data,” the report continued. “This increases the need for BYOD security solutions as such solutions provide data security and enable better handling of data.”

Implementing BYOD

The marketing report conducted by Infinity Research is the latest in a long line of reports documenting the difficulty of successfully implementing a BYOD program. There are clear benefits in terms of increased productivity when it comes to BYOD programs, however, with the security questions unanswered there is still some way to go before this model becomes universally adopted.

The current policies in place in many businesses are out of date and sync with the current way that data is shared and accessed. Many organisations are putting sensitive organisational and employee data at risk and the BYOD initiatives value for many organisations is currently mediocre at best. This is according to a survey conducted by Teksystems of more than 1,500 IT leaders and 2,000 IT professionals.

More than half of IT leaders and upwards of 65% of IT professionals reported that their employers fall within one of three categories regarding their BYOD policies: either “nothing has been communicated,” “there are no official policy guidelines,” or “employees are not allowed to use their own devices at work.”

One billion smart phones

Current predictions suggest that by 2018 the number of employee-owned smart phones and tablets used in the enterprise will exceed 1 billion. The growing trend towards BYOD policies is redefining business connectivity according to a report by analytics firm Juniper Research.

Ownership

Although the BYOD market is growing and has huge potential for businesses, it must be adopted and applied correctly. A current problem that businesses are facing is that of ownership. One of the main characteristics of BYOD is also one of the main detractors from this model: the employee owns and to some extent maintains and supports the device. Due to this, the company will have much less control over the device compared to a device that’s owned by the company.

An employer needs to address this BYOD issue before enabling employees to bring their own devices to work. There are other potential problems for an employee to keep an eye out for including:

·         Ensuring that work data does not merge with an employees personal data

·         Making sure that non-employees, such as family members who may use the device, don’t access work data

·         The employer should have a plan in place in the event of an employee resigning or being fired

Identify security risks

A business intending to implement a BYOD solution must identify key business objectives and benefits, as well as developing account security, and audit and data requirements. Any team developing BYOD policies should be multi-disciplinary and the policies created must be coordinated between IT, human resources, and legal departments.

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) provided a BYOD guide for employers setting out how to ensure that an organisation’s policies are in line with the UK Data Protection Act of 1998. If a business considers data protection risks at the outset, the organisation can embed data protection as one of its core values and in turn raise overall data protection and security standards.

The guidance provided by ICO has as a central tenet the importance of a clear BYOD policy. This ensures that employees that connect devices to the company IT systems are clearly aware of their responsibilities. A successful BYOD implementation can lead to a better separation of data. An organisation should also conduct an audit on the types of personal data that can be accessed from an organisation’s online infrastructure and the audit should also include what devices can be used.

Organisational networks at risk

It’s important to remember that an organisation that doesn’t implement BYOD policies successfully can put networks at risk that were otherwise secure. The ICO guidelines state that data security is of optimum importance and far outweighs any potential increase in employee productivity.

It’s possible for employers to use a sandbox or ring-fencing approach to data security. This means that data is kept contained within a specific app and it also ensures that, if the device is lost, the data that is kept on it remains confidential and retained via a backup facility.

It’s really important that a company ensures good safeguarding of its data to protect itself from legal action. If a company loses employee or client data, that company runs the risk of breaching the UK Data Protection Act which can leave an organisation vulnerable to legal claims brought by the client or employee in question and this can lead to a fine being by imposed on the company by ICO.

ICO recommends some guidelines to help an organisation avoid potential data protection and security breaches.

Consider the following:

·         Which type of corporate data can be processed on personal devices

·         How to encrypt and secure access to the corporate data

·         How the corporate data should be stored on the personal devices

·         How and when the corporate data should be deleted from the personal devices

·         How the data should be transferred from the personal device to the company servers

ICO also recommends that businesses implementing BYOD practices should install antivirus software on personal devices, provide technical support to the employees on their personal devices when they are used for business purposes, and have in place a “BYOD Acceptable Use Policy” that provides guidance to users on how they can use their own devices to process corporate and personal data. Employees should also be made aware that they can only process corporate personal data for corporate purposes.

Good monitoring practices

An organisation can alleviate some of the risks associated with BYOD practices by employing good monitoring practices. This monitoring could include recording the geo-location of employee’s personal devices, or companies can monitor the internet traffic on the personal devices. However companies must inform employees of the extent of its monitoring practices and ensure that employees are satisfied that the monitoring is justified by the real benefits and doesn’t infringe on privacy unnecessarily.

As the use of personal devices in the work place rises, so does the risk of company data being lost or stolen. Organisations must consider these risks and ensure that legal and data protection security measures are in place. Businesses need to think carefully about BYOD and implement appropriate policies and processes to tackle these issues and minimise the risks associated with BYOD.

The organisation is ultimately responsible for the security of company data and data protection requirements regardless of the ownership of the device. Businesses need to act responsibly to ensure the best application of BYOD policies.

A successful BYOD scheme can really boost productivity and streamline business processes, so it’s definitely something worth considering. With cloud services becoming increasingly used in businesses of all sizes, it can mean that employees can work from any location, even out in the field. However, a good MDM and sound policies are necessary to facilitate this, or a business runs the risk of exposing sensitive data and essentially, itself to hefty fines.






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