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Archive for February, 2015

by: RickDelgado
26  Feb  2015

Cloud Services: Open Source vs. Proprietary

There’s nothing more punk-rock than the sort of DIY ethics currently fueling open-source communities. The general subversiveness combined with an apparent twice-a-week minimum black t-shirt rule among developers may make the open source scene look kind of like a cool-guy/girl clique, at least from an outsider’s perspective.

Everybody is rebelling against something, right?

In the cloud computing ecosystem the basic theme is rebellion against failure, according to whatever that means to whomever is considering the question. And within that question is the other major decision; whether the given needs call for an open-source, or proprietary architecture. So let’s take a closer look at what the major differences between those two models mean for businesses.

Charging for Software

Generally, open source models are free and won’t charge for the use of software. Proprietary models may offer free packages at first, but ultimately always end up costing the customer. Many updates to proprietary software are free, but significant upgrades and the ability to add new packages often comes with a fee. Charges can also come in the form of a per-user fee. Open source options are based more on the development of a community. They take direction from the demands of the market and tend to start with a small collection of developers and users. Successful projects are quickly picked up, while others are left to languish in obscurity.

Vendor Limitations

Vendor lock-ins occur with proprietary software. This means that the website and software used with a proprietary vendor can’t be taken to another provider. It also limits the ability to use other providers with the knowledge to use a particular product. In contrast, open source products are more flexible and allow users to move between different systems freely. Open source cloud computing offers a greater range of compatibility between several different products. Typically, if a proprietary solution goes out of business the end-user is left with an unusable product. With open source projects, there is usually another project or fork that can take off where the old one left off.

Modifying System Code

Proprietary software doesn’t allow the manipulation of the source code. Even simple modifications to change styling or add features are not permitted with proprietary software. This can be beneficial for users who are happy with a set of features that is completely managed by one company. For those who like to tinker and adjust software to their needs, it may not be an ideal solution. Open source options allow for modifications and a company can even create an entire fork based off the existing software. When a feature doesn’t exist within an open source application, a developer can be hired to incorporate the feature into the product.

Licensing and Hosting Costs

Using proprietary software isn’t for the faint of heart or light of wallet. Licensing and hosting fees are often higher with proprietary software. By using open source options, users can avoid having to pay operating system costs, and per-product fees to use the software. This provides more flexibility to those who run open source platforms. A new software package or feature can be quickly added on to an existing installation without the need to purchase a license. Additionally, proprietary software requires the use of commercial databases, which further add to the total cost of operation.

User Documentation

Product documentation is often more involved and useful with open source software. The reason for this is the large communities that often follow and support open source projects. Help documentation for proprietary software is often only surface level. This is partially due to the service-based nature of proprietary software. It’s more profitable when consumers have to rely on the company for support and technical services. However, this can negatively impact business if an update goes wrong and technical support can’t immediately correct the issue. Open source applications come with substantial documentation that is typically updated with each product release and freely available online.

Security and Performance Considerations

When you have an entire community of developers poking and prodding at an application, you tend to have better security. Many of the features that are put into proprietary software are designed to keep the software from being modified. This adds bloat to the code and prevents the option for a light and lean product. Additionally, excess code leaves more room for security and stability flaws. With open source software, there are many more eyes looking at the code and fixes tend to come in much more quickly than with proprietary software. Stability and advanced threat defense tends to be tighter with open source applications, as long as users keep their software updated. Out of date applications are just as vulnerable to hacking and infiltration as proprietary systems.


Open source and proprietary cloud services both aim to provide end-users with reliable software. Some users prefer the backing of a large company like Amazon or Microsoft, with a tailored list of compatible programs and services. Others prefer the interoperability and flexibility of open source alternatives like OpenStack or Eucalyptus. It’s not necessarily an issue of right or wrong per se. It just depends what the user’s specific needs are. For some open source software is the obvious choice, while those who want more predictably managed solutions may find proprietary solutions the ideal choice.

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Category: Business Intelligence, Open Source
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by: Jonathan
25  Feb  2015

5 Ways Big Data is Transforming the World of Design

Back in the analog days, designers used hands-on tools to bring their creations to light. But in this day and age of information and advanced technology big data and analytics tools are transforming the world of design as never before.

In a November 2014 article on Paul Papas, “the Global Leader for the IBM’s Interactive Experience practice, a next-generation digital agency, consultancy, and systems integrator,” discusses the revolutionizing power of big data in all facets and fields of design. Compiled from the author’s views and insights is this list of 5 ways big data is transforming the world of design.

1. Creativity – To illustrate how far design has come in the digital age, Papas has us first picture an architect at a drafting table laboring over a blueprint, or an auto designer modeling next year’s car out of clay. “With some variation,” says Papas, “those were creative tools that designers, architects and artists relied on to render their inspirations, refine their concepts, and finalize them into market-ready products.” While those tools may have some application today, Papas points out how high-performance computing, “has radically transformed the creative process in pharma, automotive, and government R&D.” Thanks to computer modeling and simulation capabilities, designers can render, test, refine and prove products in a virtual world before they go into production.

2. Innovation – “Today, data continues to affect the design of products in new and innovative ways,” says Papas. While no specific examples are mentioned in the article, Google’s autonomous cars controlled by real-time big data analytics comes to mind as an example of innovation in the automobile industry. Smartphones, which in actuality are powerful portable computers that in many ways have transformed our lives, are another example of innovation made possible by big data. According to Papas, “What’s truly revolutionary is how marketers and other business leaders are using data in the design of something much more intimate and essential — the personalized experiences that millions of individuals will have with their products, services or brands.” Which brings us to…

3. Experience Design – In the analog days the goal of designers was to create products that seamlessly combined form and function. In the era of big data, that model has been upgraded to what is being referred to as “experience design.” As Papas explains, when you pull “experience design” apart, “you have equal parts the design of beautiful, elegant interfaces and the creation of irresistible experiences that are smart, individualized, trusted and valuable — all 100 percent dependent on the astute use of data.” According to Papas, today’s businesses are defining their agendas by two forces—“massively available information and new models of individual engagement.” So powerful are these two forces for business that Papas says, “experience design is rapidly becoming a de facto element in contemporary business strategy.”

4. Behavioral Design – Not unlike the clay automobile designers use to mold and shape basic designs, big data is giving rise to a new medium, human behavior. Described by Papas as, “a harder trick to pull off than modeling metal,” designers are using human behavior to, “learn and modify designs before they’re implemented, as insight from data gives companies the ability to understand context, and learn and evolve with the consumer and create unique, reciprocal experiences.”

As evidence of the power of behavioral design, Papas cites Brown University’s dilemma of either upgrading its existing engineering school or moving the entire engineering department off campus to a larger, potentially better facility. “Through a deep analysis of a hodgepodge of data — from faculty collaboration patterns to course enrollments,” says Papas, “Brown discovered patterns showing an enormous amount of cross-fertilization between the school’s communities.” Based on the insights obtained from behavioral data that showed how the off- campus option would “negatively affect students, faculty collaboration and research dollars,” the university chose not to make the move.

5. The “Market of One”Thanks to big data analytics, Papas says that, “the long-anticipated ability to really find, know and engage the proverbial “market of one” is finally at hand.” While not mentioned in the article, images of consumers being engaged on their mobile devices by companies in relevant and meaningful ways—in real-time and in context—serve as an example of how marketers are able to reach the once elusive “market of one.”

Big data is truly transforming the world of design.

Going forward, Papas predicts that the powerful, data-intensive tools that designers now have at their disposal will continue to “render the designs and create the experiences that will unlock the next great level of possibility and value for enterprise in every industry.”

Category: Business Intelligence
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by: Robert.hillard
22  Feb  2015

Making the case for jargon, acronyms and clear language

All over the web, authors are ranting about the misuse of the English language in business.  It’s an easy article to write, picking out examples of jargon and the general torturing of sentences in the name of explaining apparently simple concepts while making the writer seem more impressive.

Some great examples from business can be found in this Forbes article: The Most Annoying, Pretentious and Useless Business Jargon.  Examples that I like (or hate) include terms like “swim lanes”, “best practice” and “core competence”.

There are good reasons for using jargon Rather than take cheap shots, let’s start by asking why people use jargon in the first place.  There are often good reasons for using most of the terms, even the ones that we all hate.  Every discipline has its own special language, whether it is science, architecture, law or business across every industry.  This use of language isn’t restricted to technical terminology, it also includes the way that concepts are expressed which can seem obscure or even absurd to an outsider.

While often justified, the use of jargon acts as a tool to exclude these outsiders from participating in the conversation.  This is a problem because there is good evidence that some of the most exciting solutions to problems are multi-disciplinary.

Experts seldom realise that they might be missing out on a breakthrough which comes from another field.  Business, for instance, is borrowing from ideas in physics (such as thermodynamics) in understanding the dynamics of markets as well as biology to understand how organisations evolve.

Just as fields of science, medicine and law have their own language, so does every aspect of business such as human resources, finance, sales et cetera.  Even in general business, diversity of thought comes up with a better answer almost every time.  Getting to those ideas is only possible if the discussion is intelligible to all.

Jargon to avoid debate

While many discussions use jargon and acronyms as a legitimate shortcut, some use of jargon reflects a lack of understanding by the participants or even an attempt to avoid debate in the first place.  Take the example of “metadata”, a term which has appeared in many countries as governments struggle with appropriate security, privacy and retention regimes.

A plain English approach would be to describe the definition of metadata in full in every discussion rather take the shortcut of using the term on its own.  The reality is that even landing on a definition can lead to an uncomfortable debate, but definitely one worth having as the Australian Attorney General learned to his determent in this interview where the purpose of a very important debate was lost in a confusing discussion on what metadata actually is.

The Attorney General isn’t on his own, many executives have been challenged in private and public forums to explain the detail behind terms they’ve commonly used only to come unstuck.

Sometimes people use jargon, like metadata, swim lanes and best practice because they are avoiding admitting they don’t know the detail.  Other times, they are legitimately using the terms to avoid having to repeat whole paragraphs of explanation.  Of course, this is where acronyms come into their own.

Balancing the needs of the reader and author

Given that it takes at least five times as long to write something as it does to read it (and a factor of ten is more realistic for anything complex) the authors of documents and emails can be forgiven for taking a shortcut or two.

The problem is when they forget that every communication is an exchange of information and while information has value, the value is not necessarily the same for both the writer and reader.

For example, there is little that is more annoying that receiving an email which requires extensive research to work out what the TLAs contained within it actually stand for.  Of course, a TLA is a “three letter acronym” (the most popular length of acronym with examples including everything from “BTW” for “by the way” through to LGD for “loss given default”).

Our propensity for short messages has only increased due to our rapid adoption of texts, instant messaging and Twitter.  I’ve written before about the role of email in business (see Reclaim email as a business tool).  Clarity of meaning is fundamental to all communication regardless of the medium.

Given that it does take so much longer to write than to read, it makes sense for the writer to take short-cuts.  However, if the information is of the same value to both the writer and reader, then the shortcut needs to offer a tenfold benefit to the writer to make-up for the additional cost in time to the reader who has to decode what the shortcut means.

This equation gets worse if there are multiple readers, if the benefit is greater to the writer than the reader or when the writer has the advantage of context (that is, they are already thinking about the topic so the jargon and acronyms are already on their mind).

In short, there is seldom a benefit to using jargon or acronyms in an email without taking a moment to either spell them out or provide a link to definitions that are easily accessed.

Is this the best you can do?

Perhaps the need to make sure that a reader’s time is spent wisely is best summed up in this anecdote told by Ambassador Winston Lord about Henry Kissinger (former US Secretary of State).

After giving Henry Kissinger a report that Ambassador Winston Lord had worked diligently on, Kissinger famously asked him if this “Is this the best you can do?” This question was repeated on each draft until Lord reached the end of his tolerance, saying “Damn it, yes, it’s the best I can do.”  To which Kissinger replied: “Fine, then I guess I’ll read it this time.” (sourced from Walter Isaacson, “Kissinger: A Biography”, Simon & Schuster 1992).

Category: Enterprise Content Management, Information Value
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by: Bsomich
20  Feb  2015

MIKE2.0 Community Update

Missed what’s been happening in the MIKE2.0 community? Read on!



Business Drivers for Better Metadata Management

There are a number Business Drivers for Better Metadata Management that have caused metadata management to grow in importance over the past few years at most major organisations. These organisations are focused on more than just a data dictionary across their information – they are building comprehensive solutions for managing business and technical metadata.

Our wiki article on the subject explores many factors contributing to the growth of metadata and guidance to better manage it:   

Feel free to check it out when you have a moment.

Sincerely,MIKE2.0 Community

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Start a new article, help with articles under construction or look for other ways to contribute

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This Week’s Blogs for Thought:

Keeping Big Data Secure: Should You Consider Data Masking?  

Big data is a boon to every industry. And as data volumes continue their exponential rise, the need to protect sensitive information from being compromised is greater than ever before. The recent data breach of Sony Pictures, and new national threats from foreign factions serve as a cautionary tale for government and private enterprise to be constantly on guard and on the lookout for new and better solutions to keep sensitive information secure.

Read more.

The Architecture After Cloud

I think that Zach Nelson (Netsuite’s CEO) was wrong when he said that “cloud is the last computing architecture” but I also believe that his quote is a healthy challenge to take computing and business architectures to a new level. Nelson went on to say “I don’t think there is anything after it (cloud). What can possibly be after being able to access all of your data any time, anywhere and on any device? There is nothing.”  His comments are available in full from an interview with the Australian Financial Review. Aside from cloud, our industry has had a range of architectures over the decades including client/server, service oriented architecture (SOA) and thin client.  Arguably design patterns such as 4GLs (fourth generation languages) and object oriented programming are also architectures in their own right. I think that we can predict attributes of the next architecture by looking at some of the challenges our technologies face today.Read more.

MSP Cloud Computing Strategies to Consider in 2015

Managed service providers (MSP) have some difficult decisions to make in the coming year. Many of the pressing questions they’re facing revolve around cloud computing as the cloud has become a technology now being embraced by mainstream businesses of all sizes and types. Years ago, the dilemma surrounding the cloud was a relatively easy one to address, especially when clients were asking questions about what is cloud computing and how it could ultimately benefit their organizations.Read more.

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Category: Information Development
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by: RickDelgado
06  Feb  2015

MSP Cloud Computing Strategies to Consider in 2015

Managed service providers (MSP) have some difficult decisions to make in the coming year. Many of the pressing questions they’re facing revolve around cloud computing as the cloud has become a technology now being embraced by mainstream businesses of all sizes and types. Years ago, the dilemma surrounding the cloud was a relatively easy one to address, especially when clients were asking questions about what is cloud computing and how it could ultimately benefit their organizations. That was then, but Gartner now predicts that by 2016, organizations will store more than a third of their content on the cloud. Most clients are serious about adopting the technology, and they want their MSPs to make it happen. That means MSPs need to make sure their clients get it in 2015, but there’s no foolproof way to do it. The following are several strategies and methods to consider for successfully fulfilling the client’s demands for the cloud.


The first thing every managed service providers needs to have is a plan. That may seem unnecessarily basic, but it’s true that many MSPs don’t have a plan in place before delivering cloud computing to the client. MSPs need to craft a roadmap, something that will guide them through every step in the process. This isn’t just common sense; it saves on plenty of time and resources the further into the strategy you go. In many cases, planning can mean the difference between a successful cloud strategy and one that fails the client.


Of course, a plan is only the first step MSPs need to take. The next is to identify the right type of strategy that works best for the client. No matter the choice, it’s important for managed service providers to make it clear to the client what will happen, then deliver on those promises. In any scenario, the quality of service should still rank as a top priority, showing the client the worth of the MSP during a time of transition. But when it comes to offering a cloud computing service, there are a number of different strategies to think about. The first is a risk-taking strategy. A MSP that goes with this route actually foregoes partnering with any cloud provider and instead builds a private cloud. The main advantage of using this strategy is that it allows the MSP to retain absolute control over every aspect of the cloud. The downside is financial in nature. Building a cloud is a sizeable investment, and it will take a long time (around three years) to see a return on that investment.


A second strategy is more conservative in nature. The conventional method is to look for a major cloud provider like Amazon or Microsoft to make the cloud a reality for the cloud. This strategy makes it easier for clients to buy into cloud computing, plus there’s very little risk. The disadvantage for the MSP is that competition among these cloud providers is intense and growing increasingly brutal. The third strategy is known as the trailblazer option, which features the MSP seeking a white-label provider. This means the MSP can offer enterprise-grade infrastructure at a low cost while maintaining a more agile operation. This added flexibility is particularly attractive to clients.


Once a strategy is decided upon, it’s time to start the process of cloud onboarding. This part of the plan can also be difficult and fraught with pitfalls, but MSPs should know about three steps that can maximize the chance for success. All MSPs need to properly analyze the business, technical, and application abilities of the client, which will help the MSP know how to proceed. The transition phase helps to lay out a blueprint, mapping out expectations as the move to the cloud is made, and pointing out the overall impact it will have on the organization. Once the onboarding is complete, MSPs should also do ongoing performance analyses in order to optimize the applications that are now on the cloud.


Offering the cloud to clients can be a risky endeavor, but it’s a risk worth taking. Clients are much more interested in cloud computing than they were a few years ago, and managed service providers need to recognize this significant change. By following some of these steps and preparing the right strategy, MSPs can make sure the move to the cloud is a smooth and productive one.


Category: Information Development
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