• Deconstructing Cloud by A. Bilobrk

    Posted Aug 27th, 2013 By in Book Review With | No Comments

    The steep learning curve to today’s cloud computing leaves many people scratching their heads, wondering what opportunities do exist with the cloud. If you are still unclear about what today’s cloud computing really means, then you need to read Deconstructing Cloud by Andrea Bilobrk.


    This eBook provides an objective and unbiased look at how the cloud is can transform the way your organization operates. For you c-level people out there, this should be a go to resource. Unlike most cloud computing books, this one is exceptionally easy to read and should be the first reference point for anyone wanting to demystify what cloud computing can do  for your business.


  • Windows Phone App Studio – More Tools Citizen EUAD

    Posted Aug 9th, 2013 By in Windows 8 With | No Comments Windows Phone App Studio – More Tools Citizen EUAD

    (header image courtesy of Microsoft)

    Microsoft has announced the Windows Phone App Studio (Beta), a browser based tool  that will allow you to create a Windows Phone application without writing any code.

    WindowsPhoneAppStudio001(Image courtesy of Microsoft) 


    I wish I heard about this earlier, such as when I learned of LightSwitch several months before the first beta was out. No matter. I’m a fan already, and will likely be on this bandwagon before GA is even announced (pending the receipt of an invitation code I requested of course…hint, hint).

    Most of you who follow my blog already know that I am big champion of the “Citizen Developer“. This tool seems to reinforce what the research is saying. End user application development (EUAD) is on the rise. Tools like these are being delivered to meet an increasingly hungry market of latent developers.

    How long do you think it will be before Google creates a similar tool for Android, and Apple for iOS?

    For some time now I’ve been holding off on buying a Windows Phone. My Samsung Android phone meets my needs today. This new Windows Phone App Studio may just push me to get the Windows Phone now. Is this a strategic move by Microsoft?  Of course it is.

    Much I like I did with LightSwitch, I’m going to keep on eye on this and see how it progresses. I suspect this particular offering is one of, or an iteration of, other tools that will progressively enable more EUAD capabilities. It would seem logical that this would evolve into a tool for creating Windows 8 applications, possibly even integrate some of the LightSwitch development techniques. Who knows.

    Interesting and exciting times indeed.

  • Building SharePoint 2013 Apps Using LightSwitch Rollup

    Posted Jul 24th, 2013 By in LightSwitch, Technology With | No Comments

    Hey, I may be all about cloud computing these days, but my heart is still anchored in all that is LightSwitch. With the new Visual Studio 2013 Preview out, I’ve been a busy little beaver (okay, a busy big ol’ bear) with all that interesting LightSwitch stuff.

    JobManager_001(a service management billing application being built with VS2013 LightSwitch)

    For what it’s worth, here is a bit of a web content rollup about creating LightSwitch applications in SharePoint (yes, most are from Microsoft):

    More to come I’m sure.

    Hey, if you’re curious to learn more about LightSwitch, I’m your guy. Contact me and I’d more than happy to chat with you about how using LightSwitch can shave weeks, if not months, of your next line of business software project.


    Paul P

  • Organizations Struggle with SharePoint Data Security Governance

    Posted Jul 12th, 2013 By in Cloud Computing With | 1 Comment

    This article is not quite specific to my cloud security bandwagon context, however I was just reading an interesting report from Aberdeen Group. The report, titled SharePoint Collaboration Secure and Mobile, talks to a couple of SharePoint data security concerns that I found interesting. Most notably, how organizations are not performing well at data governance with their SharePoint environments.

    Data Security and the Cloud Sprawl

    Keeping track of corporate data is harder today than it ever has been. Introduce the use of cloud services for data management, and now your looking at whole different dimension end-points to worry about.  Adding the elastic and organic nature of the cloud, specifically in how cloud services are used to host data, seems to only compound security and privacy concerns.

    And it’s tough to keep up. As quickly as we move to adjust and implement governance models, a new way of doing something in the cloud is made available. SharePoint is arguably the most commonly used collaboration software used today. Consider the massive amount of documents, lists, and knowledge that is managed by today’s enterprise SharePoint environments, and the number of users that have access to those environments. Those same users are also accessing elastic cloud services and social networks that when combined, represent a sprawl of new risks that are sometimes impossible to map and keep track of.

    SharePoint Concerns

    Coming back to SharePoint, Aberdeen presents some points about what organizations are performing well at with SharePoint, and what they are not doing well at. Two pieces of insight are presented in the report; how well are organizations doing when they use complementary security technologies for SharePoint, and how they are struggling with SharePoint data governance.

    The use of complementary security technologies seems to be what most are doing well at. Measurements of security-related incidents, non-compliance incidents, and human related errors, were each used to determine how organizations fared.  Strategies such as; disk encryption, data classification, data loss prevention, and rights management are used. According to the report, best-in-class users of SharePoint are leaders in the use of disk encryption and data classification, while the lagging performers seem to have more issues due to data loss, and rights management security.

    Clearly understanding expectations of how data is accessed and used seems to be a challenge for most organizations using SharePoint. SharePoint empowers users with the ability to do a lot of things, including the ability to define very granular security permissions. Without a clear and defined expectation of what users should or should not do, users can wreak havoc with the data. Organizations, according to the report, are struggling with data governance.

    What can be done?

    As per the report, there are some steps that can be taken to mitigate a more secure SharePoint environment.

    • Data Classification. Taking an inward-out strategy by putting controls on the data. The idea that information about the data follows the data wherever it goes, even it happens to go outside of the SharePoint environment – such as into the cloud sprawl.
    • Prioritize Security Objectives. Create, or apply existing, data security and compliance protocols to SharePoint data.
    • Policies and Procedures. Especially important for publicly traded companies, data in SharePoint needs to meet legislated compliance regulations, as well as organizations guidelines.
    • Knowledge and Training. Teach users how to do things right the first time.
    • Best Practices. Using security best practices will scaffold the privacy and protection of the data.
    • Complementary Tools. There are many complementary data protection tools for SharePoint. Use them.

    I can see much of the above being applied to pretty much any other internal, and external cloud-based, environment. What attracted me to this report were data security concerns, and how poorly many organizations are doing with data governance.

    Do you see any of this being a concern? How about in your own organization?

  • Canadian Legislation and Cloud Security

    Posted Jul 10th, 2013 By in Cloud Computing, Security, Technology With | No Comments

    If you’re a Canadian based enterprise looking into cloud services, you need to understand that Canada has it’s own domestic security policies that, essentially, mirror those of the United States. You’ve likely heard of the United States’ Patriot Act. Canada has it’s own version of the Patriot Act called the Anti-Terrorism Act (Bill C-36), which amended the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act (CSIS Act) as well as the National Defense Act.

    The Anti-Terrorism Act is legislation created in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US. This act amends existing legislation to give Canadian security agencies additional powers to respond to terrorism threats. In effect, the act offers more security and surveillance powers to agencies, when required.  Some of the provisions of act expired in March of 2007, which were not renewed as a result of a House of Commons vote a month earlier.

    In 2012, Bill S-7 was introduced in  the Senate. Bill S-7, also known as the “Combating Terrorism Act” sought to restore the expired C-36 provisions, as well as amend new crimes to the bill. The recent bombings in Boston escalated the agenda of S-7, which resulted in a vote in April which saw the bill passed into legislation.

    The Anti-Terrorism Act is similar in context to the Patriot Act in the US. What is somewhat different is that Bill C-36 also considers other concerns. Consider the United States Foreign Intelligence Service Court (FISC), which is responsible for issuing surveillance warrants to the likes of the FBI and NSA – basically allowing foreign spies to be spied on. Bill C-36 provides amendments to the CSIS Act that essentially offers the same powers to Canada’s own domestic security and intelligence communities. Considering that Canada is known as a world leader in communications research and technology…

    Understanding that these laws are created in the spirit of preventing terrorism, and not meant to be an over arching mechanism to keep tabs on everyone and everything. The immediate thought of a Hollywood type spy movie plot is an unfortunate, and a sensational, scenario that many in the real world immediately think about when first we talk about security and privacy in the cloud. We have the oversight, and general understanding of what the difference is between right and wrong, to mitigate the risks that the legislation is not being used for what it is intended to be used for.

    What to know more about Canadian privacy legislation, and then some? Check out this massive list of resources compiled by David T.S. Fraser here…

    Also, his blog post by Shaun Calderwood from Perpetual West is another terrific resource for all things cloud security and privacy in Canada.

    What are your thoughts on domestic cloud security and privacy concerns?

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