Upcoming commission: unstructured data compliance

For Computer Weekly, I’m looking at the compliance issues around gathering, storing and processing unstructured data.

This article will examine the likely compliance risks in unstructured data, and suggest potential solutions. It will ask:

  • What is unstructured data? How does it compare to structured and semi-structured data types?
  • Why is compliance an issue at all?
  • Why is achieving compliance of unstructured data potentially problematic?
  • What are the key steps to achieving unstructured data compliance?

As businesses gather ever greater volumes of unstructured data, and develop new ways to process and analyse the information, compliance becomes increasingly important. This is especially the case when organisations start to combine data sets, and use advanced analytics to search for insights in the information. Does the original consent to hold and process the data carry over to this type of application? And what happens when unstructured data is mixed with other data sets?

For the piece I am keen to have comments from data scientists, compliance experts, academics, lawyers and end user IT organisations. As the deadline is quite short, please send pitches, initial comments and leads to me by 1200 London time, June 13th by email please.

Upcoming commission: storage for machine learning

Data storage is an often-overlooked part of machine learning and other AI deployments.

This article will appear in Computer Weekly. It will cover:

  • Definitions of machine learning/deep learning
  • Its storage requirements including
    • Sizing, capacity, performance (to match compute)
    • Scale
    • Media (SSD vs HDD, hybrids of the two)
    • Parallelism
    • Throughput vs IOPS
    • Locations – including use of the cloud

For this article we are open to comments from vendors, as well as analysts, consultants and other experts. Examples of ML use cases and how systems were designed to run it are most welcome.

Initial pitches and leads by Wednesday May 29th by email please.

Upcoming commission: virtual server storage

My next article for Computer Weekly will look at the best storage options for virtual servers, including SAN, NAS and hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI).

Specifically, the piece will ask:

  • What kind of storage requirements virtual servers and their data have?
  • What are the characteristics of a) SAN b) NAS and c) hyper-converged storage? 
  • What are the pros and cons of SAN vs NAS for virtual machine storage? What are the management and performance issues?
  • What about scale? Is a SAN, NAS or HCI better suited to large or smaller deployments?
  • What impact do workloads have on storage choices? Are all virtual machine workloads created equal in I/O terms?
  • What other factors affect storage choices, such as the applications being used, scale of the deployment and even skills on the IT team?

First and foremost I am looking for background information, analyst research/ technical papers and case studies which will help to answer the points above. If you or your client has expertise in this area, please contact me by email in the first instance. The deadline for input is Monday, 13 May.


Upcoming commission: Scale-out NAS storage

My next article for Computer Weekly will be on “Scale-out NAS in the age of cloud”. The outline for the piece is below.

Scale out NAS is a very important storage technology for those that want to store large amounts of file and unstructured data. 

But in recent years it has had to fight off other methods of storing large amounts of unstructured data, namely on-premises object storage and the rise of the cloud providers and their (often object storage-based) storage offerings.

So, who are the key scale-out NAS providers now? What do they offer in terms of products? And how are they meeting the challenge of the cloud?

If you or your client has expertise in this area, please contact me by email in the first instance. The deadline for pitches and initial input is Monday, 25 March.

From rambling to robots: recent video projects

Directing the video shoot for Calm

Two stand-out projects of 2018 were videos I produced for the Danish manufacturer Universal Robots, and for the well-being app, Calm.

Universal Robots makes small, industrial robotic assistants, or “cobots”. They designed these devices to work alongside humans, and with conventional industrial equipment. The programmable robot arms can load machines, pick and pack products and even blow up balloons.

Using robots to automate manufacturing is hardly new, but Universal Robots’ equipment is used by small companies, as well as industrial giants such as Nissan. We visited B-Loony, a Home Counties SME; they’re using the cobots to ramp up production for its promotional products, such as bunting and the little flags that go in hamburgers.

Shot entirely on location in 4K, the video mixes a voiceover with interviews with B-Loony staff. Working in an industrial location brings the usual challenges of mixed light, health and safety and, of course, noise. But we feel the result captures the essence of what B-Loony does, and how the cobots help.

Our project for Calm could not be more different. Filmed in a beautiful private woodland in Oxfordshire, the piece introduces Calm members to Phoebe Smith, “sleep writer in residence”. Phoebe writes sleep stories, or “bedtime stories for grownups” for Calm. And she’s a pioneer of extreme sleeping: hanging a hammock off the side of a cliff or a tall building.

Phoebe is, of course, a travel writer and journalist, and a former features editor at Trail magazine. She is no stranger to TV appearances. We wanted a location, and a style of video, that complemented her own footage. We used a mix of Sony cameras – partly for their slo-mo features – a gimbal and a drone to capture the b-roll and the interviews. An additional challenge was to shoot in a way that allowed the video to be re-formatted in a square aspect ratio, for Instagram, 9:16 vertical for Facebook, and for subtitles. And we had to work around a herd of cows.

The links below are to the clients’ versions of the videos; both projects also involved capturing stills photos for the websites and blog posts. Feedback, as ever, is welcome.

Author interview with Phoebe Smith, for Calm.com
Vimeo version of the video, see how it appears on the client site here.

Main photo credit: Adam Plowdem

Call for speakers: Infosecurity Magazine Online Summit, Tues 26th March

I’m hosting a session for Infosecurity Magazine’s next online summit. The topic is Managing Vulnerability and Patch Management in the Enterprise and it’s on Tuesday 26th March, 12.30-13.30, GMT.

I am looking for a team of experts to present for around 10 minutes each, followed by a Q&A with the audience. The session will be live.

Speakers can be consultants, researchers or analysts from the UK and EMEA, but must not work for information security vendors.

Application process:

The process for speakers is:

  • Submit name and biography of possible speakers to me by 25/01/2019
  • I submit names to the Publishers
  • Selected speakers submit a summary of their ideas by 10/02/19
  • Final slides to reach me by 25/02/19

Synopsis:

Keeping systems patched and up-to-date in the face of modern threats – some of which you’re not aware of until they are being actively exploited – remains a constant challenge for all organizations. With every new piece of software, technology or service, the vulnerability surface expands.

This session will explore:

•           The real-life business risks of failing to keep software and technology up-to-date

•           The best strategies for patching and vulnerability management in the enterprise

•           How to scale the number of devices in your network and the volume of updates you need


If you or a client would like to take part, please email me at stephen dot pritchard at ensmedia dot co dot uk (no attachments please)

Many thanks!

New website for 2019

I’ve updated the website with a new, simpler and cleaner design. I’ll also be posting more regular blog updates here.

If you want receive blog posts, or keep up with my articles and projects, you can subscribe to new posts using the button at the bottom of the site.