Recent Blog Posts

Intel and CoreOS Collaborate to Democratize Cloud Computing

A powerful trend sweeping through today’s data centers can be summed up in a single word: Containers. Container-based virtualization allows you to package applications and the required software libraries to create units of computing that are scalable and portable. Today, Nick Weaver shared Intel’s vision for containers and the mainstream democratization of sophisticated cloud computing at CoreOS Fest in San Francisco. If the level of the engagement at the conference is any indication, I expect the industry to join us on the path toward broad scale deployments of advanced, easy to consume, hyperscale technologies.

 

The container concept is a central feature of hyperscale cloud technology. Hyperscale technologies promise to make software developers more productive, data center infrastructure more efficient, and IT resources easier to deploy and consume. It is not hyperbole to say that broad proliferation of hyperscale cloud technology could have an impact on data centers that is similar to the impact that virtualization delivered years ago.

 

While it was once mainly in the domain of highly advanced data centers, the orchestrated container concept is now emerging as a viable open-source solution for mainstream data centers that want to operate with greater efficiency, flexibility, and performance.  It will enable organizations to deploy highly efficient cloud technology that is on par with that used by the most sophisticated cloud service providers.

 

At Intel, we fully support the addition of container technologies to the mainstream data center, and are actively participating in the ecosystem to bring containers to data centers of all levels of sophistication. With this goal in mind, Intel is collaborating with CoreOS and the Kubernetes community to advance the company’s Tectonic stack.

 

Tectonic is a commercial distribution of the combined CoreOS portfolio and Kubernetes. Kubernetes is a Google-led open source project for application scheduling. This combination makes Tectonic a unique offering that provides container software and scheduling in an integrated package. The Tectonic suite delivers a complete solution for businesses transitioning to a distributed, container-based software infrastructure for both private, public, and hybrid cloud.

 

As part of this newly announced collaboration, we’re working with CoreOS and associated communities to make Tectonic more scalable. To help Tectonic reach customers as quickly as possible, we are enabling the development of easy to order and consume appliances. We expect that this work will lead to ready-to-ship, hyperscale cloud systems that coincide with the future GA release of the Tectonic suite. We were excited to have two ecosystem partners, Supermicro and Redapt, signal their intent to work with CoreOS and Intel to bring rapid time to market for Tectonic. We were also pleased to collaborate with Supermicro to demonstrate this combination running on their hardware at CoreOS Fest today.

 

I caught up with CoreOS CEO Alex Polvi at the conference, and here’s what he had to say about this early demonstration of Tectonic in action: “Today Intel gave us a glimpse of the future. This is the beginning of a deep partnership to enable businesses to take advantage of containers, distributed systems, and the next generation of infrastructure.”

 

This collaborative effort builds on Google’s substantial investments in CoreOS and Kubernetes. In April, CoreOS announced that Google Ventures had invested $12 million in CoreOS and its efforts to bring Kubernetes to the enterprise.

 

Using features of the Intel platform, the Intel SDI-X team has innovated with CoreOS to overcome cluster scalability limits, while raising the bar on performance.

 

At Intel, we are excited to be a part of the broad ecosystem that is working to bring containers to the masses. This is a key component of our desire to see private and hybrid cloud computing grow significantly over next few years.

 

For more information on the innovation Nick and his team is delivering, take a look at http://nickapedia.com/.

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Executives with a Pragmatic Position on Cybersecurity are a Rarity

Hitachi Innovation Forum.jpgThis week I had the honor of being an invited guest at the Hitachi innovation forum.  A panel of executives opened the conference with a theme of innovation, inclusivity, and sustainability.  The Chairman and CEO, Hiroaki Nakanishi, showcased the sizeable breadth of global products and industries of this massive conglomerate and emphasized how their solutions contribute meaningfully to the lives of people every day.  After highlighting their strategy to push further and do more with to improve mobility, energy, water, and healthcare of people around the world, he dared the attendees, including customers, industry experts and business partners, to ask questions and give their thoughts. 

 

It was a quiet and reserved audience.  Not every day does the leader of a $93B company ask for unscripted questions in a public venue in front of hundreds of attendees and media. 

 

For those who know me or read my blogs, you are likely aware I am neither shy nor am I reserved to play-nice at marketing events.  I am very passionate about cybersecurity and live for moments when we as an industry can constructively discuss security, the impact it holds on our world, and the role technology companies have in protecting our tech-rich future.

 

So I broke the silence, stood up, and asked the Hitachi executive panel a straightforward no-nonsense question: 
Hitachi solutions are connecting and enriching the lives of people around the world.  Your vision is truly inspiring.  But with such power and innovation comes new risks which put in jeopardy the security, privacy, and safety of your devices, solutions, and customers.  What is Hitachi’s strategy and commitment to secure and protect products and people in the future?

 

Before I get to their response, let me say I truly enjoy sitting down with business leaders from around the world and discussing cybersecurity issues.  In almost all cases, executives have the best of intentions, but are well groomed by their marketing and legal teams to recite vetted and scripted statements including how they are operating or making everything securely, put customers privacy first, and work hard to protect from the nebulous ‘hackers’ of the world.  This is the blasé norm and the expected underwhelming safe response.  I don’t expect anything different and I am rarely impressed.

 

But standing in front of this panel, I was surprised.

 

Mr. Nakanishi paused, took a deep breath, and gave one of the best answers I have heard from any industry leading executive.  He first commented on the fact it is an important question and a facet his company understands is becoming more significant.  With a genuine tone of concern and deliberate focus, he then answered they are striving to achieve harmony.  His viewpoint was Hitachi incorporates security, privacy, and safety in balance with customers’ expectations of value, usability, and functionality.  He went on to discuss how these expectations are a variable situation which changes over time.  He committed his company will strive for continuous incremental progress to remain ‘harmonized’ with the market needs.  The Chief Executive for Americas, Jack Domme, followed up with a supporting position of seeking the right balance of security to enable solutions in ways to both protect but not undermine their value.

 

Wow.  Harmony and balance.  This is the most pragmatic position for cybersecurity.  Whether we as customers consciously know it or not, this is what the market truly desires.  We must look past the peaks and valleys of security theatre, to see we all want technology to make our lives better and there is an optimal level of security which must align to ‘protect to enable’ in order to make it a reality.

 

I am always wary of the slick sales and marketing answers, which paint unrealistic positions and overinflated commitments, which are so common nowadays, to artificially smooth over public concerns.  None of that nonsense was present.

 

Well done Hitachi.  Thank you for recognizing the challenges, describing a realistic strategy, and talking in a direct and honest way.  Nobody has security figured out or solved all of the problems, but you have successfully recognized the right factors to tune for the very best results now and in the future.  You have earned this cybersecurity strategist’s respect.   

 

Twitter: @Matt_Rosenquist

IT Peer Network: My Previous Posts

LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/matthewrosenquist

 

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How to Deliver High-Performance Encryption to Ensure the Security and Privacy of Patient Data

President Obama recently unveiled the Precision Medicine Initiative — a bold new enterprise to revolutionize medicine and generate the scientific evidence needed to move the concept of precision medicine into every day clinical practice. The million-dollar question, or multi-million-dollar question, is how do we make this mainstream?

 

The emerging platform will be this amalgamation of data from payers, clinics, EHRs, images, laboratories, contract research organizations, pharma, and an analytics tool to make sense of all this data. Then to accelerate innovation and foster collaboration, we need tools to make all this valuable data we have amassed public for clinicians, researchers and bioinformatics specialists to practice their art.

 

Partnering with the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), GenoSpace is leveraging Intel® AES-NI technology to deliver high-performance encryption to ensure the security and privacy of patient data and needed analytics MMRF requires to further its mission of  accelerating the pace of treating and curing multiple myeloma and changing the paradigm of how all cancer research is conducted.

 

The GenoSpace architecture is hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) which provides flexibility and scalability for it developers and customers. To ensure the utmost security for this public cloud implementation, GenoSpace takes a ground-up approach to encryption. Its solutions gather all of the data that will be subject to analysis and layer encryption on top of that to safeguard the confidentiality of sensitive healthcare data stored on AWS or data that travels over the Internet. This adds an important extra measure of protection to AWS built-in security features.

 

Recently, GenoSpace evaluated the benefits of Intel® Advanced Encryption Standard New Instructions (Intel® AESNI), a silicon-based instruction set that accelerates encryption on Intel® Xeon® processors, which GenoSpace uses to process data. Meeting its customers’ performance and usability demands was a key objective for GenoSpace, given the amount of encryption and decryption that occurs when its software is used for analytics. To determine how the query response time of its population analytics application would be affected by encryption and by the hardware encryption acceleration that Intel® AES-NI provides, GenoSpace ran a series of tests focused on measuring the performance aspects of encrypting and decrypting stored data.

 

The key findings of this test revealed that Intel® AES-NI-enhanced encryption had a markedly positive influence on the performance of the GenoSpace Population Analytics application.

 

  1. Provider library choice significantly impacts results. The choice of encryption provider library and AES mode had the largest impact on performance. While Bouncy Castle showed no appreciable improvement with respect to Intel® AES-NI, the NSS library with Intel® AES-NI enabled performed more than 78% faster than Bouncy Castle and is the obvious choice for encryption. For decryption, NSS was approximately 96 percent faster than Bouncy Castle and 90 percent faster than SunJCE. With respect to AES modes, ECB, which is the simplest algorithm, outperformed other modes. However, because ECB is less secure than the other modes, and given the sensitivity of healthcare data, it is generally not appropriate for healthcare applications. For best performance and security, test results implied that the combination of CBC and the NSS provider library should be used, as it has the shortest routine time.
  2. Intel® AES-NI significantly decreases the impact of increasing key length. Typically, increasing the length of the AES encryption key (which functions much like a password) to strengthen security also increases encryption/decryption time. As key length increases, one expects a near linear increase in encrypt/decrypt times. But the study showed that by using NSS with Intel® AES-NI, the impact of doubling key length was reduced twenty-fold.
  3. The benefits of Intel® AES-NI increase with the size of data sets. In Phase 2 of the study, where sample genomic data was used, GenoSpace found that enabling Intel® AES-NI improves request times by nearly 9 percent. In fact as the size of the data sets scales up, there are even greater performance gains—an almost 14 percent improvement.
  4. Intel® AES-NI had less impact on the application’s overall performance. GenoSpace concluded that with Intel® AES-NI, encryption can scale more efficiently than other operations, such as data serialization, sorting, and filtering.

 

Intel® AES-NI-enhanced encryption significantly enhances the performance and usability of the GenoSpace Population Analytics offering, which, in turn, results in increased user productivity and satisfaction with the overall solution. Enabling high-performance and secure solutions paves the way for healthcare organizations to embrace the use of genetic population analytics to significantly increase the effectiveness of research, healthcare, and disease treatment options.

 

While healthcare workers and researchers put these tools to work, they can be confident that Intel® AES-NI accelerated and hardened encryption can help mitigate serious security breaches.

 

What questions about encryption do you have?

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Tektyte Edi-Expand: Raspberry Pi-like IO For Intel Edison

Intel Edison with IO capabilities like a Raspberry Pi, DONE. Adding easily switchable 5V and 3V3 IO levels .. NEW pic.twitter.com/Rie4658PPa — Tektyte (@tektyte) May 2, 2015 Melbourne, Australia-based Tektyte Industries has announced that they will be Kickstarting a new … Read more >

The post Tektyte Edi-Expand: Raspberry Pi-like IO For Intel Edison appeared first on Intel Software and Services.

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Lenovo RD650 scaled to fit with Intel P3700 and NVMe SSD

Lenovo built a truly scalable, storage tiered, two socket Intel Xeon E5 based system in the new Lenovo ThinkServer RD650. Lenovo also offers both of our Intel families of Data Center SSD, namely SATA and PCIe-based NVMe SSD drives, powered with the ultra efficient NVMe driver stack . Principled Technologies tested SQL Server 2014 analytics converging multiple virtual machines onto a single RD650 using Hyper-V virtualization demonstrating the performance advantages of each technology.

 

 

At Intel we have a calculator and took the rack system list prices of all three systems and divided by the performance quotient for database queries used in the testing. This quotient is something you can learn more about when you look into the white paper.  The TCO results on a Cost for Performance basis are quite interesting – especially SATA SSD to PCIe SSD. It’s important to realize processors that are made busier more quickly with PCIe SSD is an amazing story, and not just for the user experience and query times, but for the amount of work you can actually get done on a few inches of rack space.

RD650.png

                                                                                          

  System Type                                                          Legacy                SATA SSD        NVMe SSD

Cost for Performance

             $29.29

$25.42

$11.39

 

 

Please take a look at the full paper here or price yourself a more capable server today:

http://www.lenovo.com/images/products/server/pdfs/whitepapers/thinkserver_rd650_storage_performance_wp.pdf

http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/servers/thinkserver/racks/rd650/

 

Please take a look at the full TCO analysis document:

TCO: Lenovo ThinkServer RD650 Storage Performance SQL Server 2014

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Architecture: Amplify Your Value by Thinking Beyond IT!

Amplify Your Value (3).png

“Wait, wait, wait…before we talk about all these projects, shouldn’t we talk about our operating model? Are we really as diversified as we think?”


I couldn’t believe my ears! I looked across the table at the EVP who had just spoken. He was the newest member of our IT steering team and he was talking about business operating models. I nearly jumped out of my seat! “ENTERPRISE ARCHITECTURE AS  STRATEGY!!!! You’ve read the book!??!” To say I was stunned was an understatement. This EVP had barely shown an interest in anything to do with technology or IT. The only reason he was even added to the steering team was because the partners wanted him to take a more active role in other areas of the business, obviously grooming him for bigger and better things. He, almost sheepishly, replied, “I saw it in the airport bookstore coming back from Phoenix yesterday and bought a copy. I’m not done reading it yet, but the first few chapters sure made a lot of sense.”


I know I was stammering all over myself as I explained we had used that book as the foundation for building our IT Strategic Plan two years earlier. We HAD discussed and defined our operating model, we had designed core diagram, we were progressing across the stages of Enterprise Architecture Maturity. I excitedly whipped out the core diagram and began to explain the projects we were discussing in context of the diagram. You could literally see the lights going on for him.


The book we were discussing, “Enterprise Architecture as Strategy”, by Jeanne Ross, Peter Weill and David Robinson, has become my “bible” for guiding IT. While that discussion took place at a previous stop in my career, we used the same framework for developing the strategic plan here at Goodwill. In fact, it is the next step in our story. Last month, we discussed having a vision. Just like building a building, to turn that vision into reality you need an architect.

Now, I will confess, I took a somewhat different approach than described in the book. The authors recommend (and I would tend to agree given different circumstances) the leaders of the business spend time defining the operating model and discussing the core diagram. Honestly, I didn’t think our leadership was ready for that type of exercise, nor did I think we had time, I was brought in to produce results and I didn’t think my boss would wait for six months while we worked through the process. Not to mention, I really take offense to the hidden implications that IT is not “the business” and that we don’t understand, “the business”. Would it be more effective to go through the process as a leadership team, absolutely. But, like in the example above, it took two years before “the business” was ready to tackle something like is described in the book.


The approach I took was to have my team read the book, then go through the process of defining the operating model and designing the core diagram. We didn’t do it in a complete vacuum. We had countless conversations with the division heads and leaders about their specific business units. What came of this process was something just short of amazing.


Without covering too much of the material in the book (you HAVE read it, haven’t you?), there are four basic operating models of a business: Diversification; Coordination; Unification; and Replication. These are defined on a pair of axis: low to high process standardization and low to high process integration. Think about our Goodwill organization. We had four main business units. Everybody knows and loves Goodwill Retail, but we also had Commercial Services (B2B Contract Manufacturing, Warehousing and Distribution), Education (we owned an operated a charter high school), and Community Initiatives (think mission: disability services, senior services, job placement).Screenshot 2015-05-04 at 9.03.33 AM.png


Wow! Those are pretty disparate business units to say the least! Very little process standardization, very little process integration. Must be the diversification operating model. But wait, digging under the surface just a bit, we found an interesting set of services. For lack of a better term, we called them “Wrap Around Services” on our Core Diagram. These services touched all of the business units, they were our link. More on that later!


Even with that revelation, we were still a business, who at its core, was diversified. Yet, the IT department was a centralized department, made up of generalists. Our systems approach was an ERP model versus a best of breed. Those did not seem to reconcile with what we now knew was our business model. As we continued to develop our strategic plan we began to examine all of our assumptions. Should we decentralize IT? Should we have specialists assigned to each business unit? Should we consider a best of breed approach?


Given the size of our department and the size of our company, we still believed there were efficiencies to be gained by keeping the department centralized. What we developed instead was a model that aligned the structure of the department to that of the business. The support model would follow the traditional Tiered Support Model, with Tier I providing that first level of support. Tier II functions would be still be filled by generalists. However, when a ticket was escalated to Tier III, those roles would be specific to a business Division (still staffed centrally, but with domain specific expertise).


This organizational architecture was then continued in our systems architecture. Although we were an ERP shop, we knew our plan must allow for deviation from the ERP model, if not complete abandonment, if the business case dictated it.


As our strategic plan began to take shape it became clearer that the business operating model and its core diagram and impacts throughout our department, impacting everything from people, and processes, to system.


It is very interesting to note that today, five years later, those wrap around services are at the very core of what we do. We have taken an holistic approach to helping our clients improve their economic self sufficiency. We may have a mother in our Nurse-Family Partnership program who needs her high school diploma. We have ten high schools in our geographic territory. We may have a student in our high schools that need a job. We have over 3,000 jobs in our various business units. When you extend these needs beyond the individual to the family it is easy to see how we have evolved from a diversification business model to a coordination business model. This transformation then feeds a transformation in our organization and eventually our underlying systems.


Next month: To Amplify Your Value Stop Doing “CF” Projects!


The series, “Amplify Your Value” explores our five year plan to move from an ad hoc reactionary IT department to a Value-add revenue generating partner. #AmplifyYourValue


We could not have made this journey without the support of several partners, including, but not limited to: Bluelock, Level 3 (TWTelecom), Lifeline Data Centers, Netfor, and CDW. (mentions of partner companies should be considered my personal endorsement based on our experience and on our projects and should NOT be considered an endorsement by my company or its affiliates).


Jeffrey Ton is the SVP of Corporate Connectivity and Chief Information Officer for Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana, providing vision and leadership in the continued development and implementation of the enterprise-wide information technology and marketing portfolios, including applications, information & data management, infrastructure, security and telecommunications.


Find him on LinkedIn.

Follow him on Twitter (@jtongici)

Add him to your circles on Google+

Check out more of his posts on Intel’s IT Peer Network

Read more from Jeff on Rivers of Thought

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Introducing Picorico: An open-source telemetry system for downhill bikes

This weekend at TechCrunch Disrupt NYC, a team of software engineers and hackers from DataDog‘s New York office assembled “the first open-source telemetry system for downhill mountain bikes” using Intel Edison and Python. Here is an outline of the problem … Read more >

The post Introducing Picorico: An open-source telemetry system for downhill bikes appeared first on Intel Software and Services.

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How Nebraska Furniture Mart Builds Customer-Centric Service

Nebraska Furniture Mart.jpgThe retail landscape is more competitive than ever. And it’s crucial to keep finding new ways to engage customers and meet their needs so they’ll keep coming back. For Nebraska Furniture Mart, one of the keys was to equip sales associates with versatile mobile devices that can let them present product information, check inventory, and even complete transactionsall without having to leave the customer.

 

A few years ago, the store ran a pilot with handheld devices that could let sales associates scan product codes and provide pricing and inventory information from the floor. But the devices couldn’t help complete the sale, so they were scrapped.

 

The tablet picture has changed over the last few years, with better screen size and touch capabilities, so Nebraska Furniture Mart decided the time was right to look for a new solution that could handle the sales process from A to Z. They needed devices the sales team could use to not only scan barcodes inventory information, but also to process credit card transactions. Long battery life was also essential, since the salespeople can’t stop to recharge in the middle of a shift.

 

After evaluating a number of device types and models, Nebraska Furniture Mart chose the Windows 8.1-based HP ElitePad tablet, which offers a familiar, touch-based interface plus a variety of retail-specific products including a strap for holding the tablet, an additional battery, an integrated scanner, and a card reader. The tablets include Intel® Atom™ processors, which provide the performance to support graphics-intensive functions and the energy efficiency to extend battery life over a full work shift.

 

The sales team’s productivity is up now that associates have the tools they need to move around the store with customers. They go from initial inquiries to processing salesall without leaving customers alone in the store or forcing them to stand in line for a cashier. With this new, improved customer experience, Nebraska Furniture Mart is looking forward to boosting both sales and customer loyalty.

 

You can take a look at the Nebraska Furniture Mart’s solution here or read more about it here. To explore more technology success stories, visit www.intel.com/itcasestudies or follow us on Twitter.

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Building Citizen-Centric Government with Mobile Devices

Michigan.jpgIf you’re a government agency anywhere in the world these days, you need to find ways to do more with less. And for the state of Michigan, one big challenge was to make the government better meet the needs of 9.9 million citizens while saving the state money.

 

Technology was the key.

 

With a goal of delivering citizen-centric services, the state launched a pilot to give government employeesin different jobs across multiple agenciesa variety of new mobile devices that can deliver a full range of functions. Mobility was key, because it would let government employees interact with citizens anywhere, saving a lot of time and duplication of effort. Versatility was another top priority, because employees wanted one device that could perform many functions instead of having to switch devices to get their work done. Having one device do multiple jobs would also save the state a lot of money.

 

As it kicked off the process of choosing the devices, Michigan decided to go with the Windows 8.1 Enterprise operating system to let users have access to the widest possible variety of applications to get their jobs done. The new devices include tablets and 2 in 1 Ultrabook™ systems—all with Intel® Core™ processors, which deliver the performance for enterprise-grade applications while helping improve energy efficiency with long battery life and rapid recharging.

 

Now the state’s agencies have the flexibility to select from several device types while cutting the number of devices employees needwhether they’re providing health and human services in a citizen’s home, making a traffic stop in a police cruiser, or inspecting a dairy farm. Plus, the state’s IT department can now manage a large number and variety of devices through a single enterprise management platform.

 

You can take a look at the state of Michigan’s solution here or read more about it here. To explore more technology success stories, visit www.intel.com/itcasestudies or follow us on Twitter.

 

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