Upcoming articles: ransomware backup and erasure encoding

For Computer Weekly, I am writing 2 feature articles for September 2020.

The first looks at backup techniques to counter ransomware. We are looking for best practice around securing original data, creating the optimal backup routines, configuring backup software, testing, and data restoration. The piece will also touch on the importance of offsite storage. The article will be technology neutral, and highlight best practice across all media (including cloud, disk, tape and optical.

The second article covers erasure encoding. The piece will consider why it is growing in importance, how it is used, and its pros and cons. Are there specific workloads, and storage types, best suited to erasure encoding?

Please send background information, including white papers, research or case studies, by Wednesday September 9th for backup techniques for ransomware and by Friday 11th September for erasure encoding.

As ever, contact me by email.

Filming during COVID-19

Camera solo operator

The global pandemic has restricted live events and filming. But Interviews and pieces to camera are still the cornerstone of programmes and corporate video.

Online video calling services are good, but can’t fully replace a professional interview.

So that we can provide face to face filming in the current conditions, we have put together two new video packages.

These are designed to minimise the risks from COVID-19, but still allow interviewees or presenters to appear on camera, in person.

To do this we have:

  • picked a venue that is large enough for social distancing and flexible enough to allow different set-ups
  • designed a single-person production workflow, reducing the numbers on set
  • provided links for communications teams and others to view the production remotely
  • undertaken industry-recognised training in COVID compliance measures
  • put in place strict procedures for cleaning equipment and the venue
  • limited bookings to two a week, so there is 72 hours between each client’s shoot

Our set up includes

  • Two 4K video cameras
  • Sound recording, via a boomed mic (no lavalier or handheld mics)
  • Lighting
  • Backdrops as required

The costs for these filming packages are:

  • Half day: £625
  • Full day: £875

The above prices include the location hire and parking, we are located in SW London.

Footage can be supplied as .mov files uploaded to the client’s servers, or edited. Editing starts at £400 a day. 

If you would like to find out more about the service please email stephen.pritchard@ensmedia.co.uk or call 0207 099 4862 and we will call you back.

Note all costs exclude VAT at the current UK rate.

Upcoming article: why use tape storage today?

For Computer Weekly I am writing a feature on tape.

As a data storage medium, tape has been on the verge of obsolescence for decades. But the format endures. Why are IT and data managers continuing to choose tape?

The piece will look at:

  • The limitations and benefits of tape in today’s data centric environments
  • New and emerging tape formats and technology enhancements, such as software defined tape
  • How tape works with other storage media, including the cloud
  • Key use cases for the various tape technologies currently on the market.

The deadline to suggest interviewees or to share research is Wednesday, 5th August at 1700 BST. Initial submissions by email please.

Upcoming article: where next for the EU and cybersecurity?

This month, Germany took over the EU’s rotating presidency.

For the Daily Swig, this piece will investigate the German Presidency’s plans to improve the EU’s cybersecurity posture.

One of the Presidency’s six priorities is strengthening security and common values. For security, this is focused on better cross-border collaboration, inn crime and counter-terrorism.

For cyber specifically, the Presidency wants closer cooperation on network and information security, especially for critical national infrastructure and “other enterprises in the public interest”. And devices sold in the EU will need a minimum level of IT security.

How will the EU achieve these goals? And are these the right priorities right now? The feature will ask whether the EU’s objectives will mean greater security for citizens, and also assess its impact on the cyber security community, including business, security vendors, the workforce and academia and research.

I’m keen to speak to experts from across the cybersecurity space, especially those who have worked on EU initiatives. Please email

your suggestions for interviewees, or background information, by 1700 BST, Thursday 9th July.

Video interviews online: how to make the most of them

With travel restrictions and social distancing still in force, more media interviews are taking place online, via a webcam.

This short video looks at some simple techniques to make those interviews look – and sound – as good as possible. They will work equally well with Skype, conferencing tools such as Zoom, WebEx or Microsoft Teams, and dedicated webinar platforms.

The video covers:

  • Internet connections
  • Audio: headsets and mics
  • Setting up the web cam
  • Lighting
  • Decluttering and arranging the “set”

If you have any questions about either the technical set up for online video, or media training and interview techniques, do drop me an email.

Upcoming feature: Storage for AI, ML and analytics

For Computer Weekly my next feature will look at the specific demands placed on storage architecture by artificial intelligence, machine learning, and analytics.

The piece will ask:

What different approaches to providing storage are there for these technologies? 

What limits, performance considerations and bottlenecks exist with the different approaches?

What ways of providing storage for analytics are we likely to see in future?

The article will cover both on-premises and cloud-based storage, where relevant. I’m keen to include some real-world use cases if possible.

I am open to comment from industry professionals, consultants, analysts and CIOs working with AI. ML and analytics.

Deadline for leads: 1700hrs BST, Tuesday 23 June. As ever, please email in the first instance.

Upcoming storage technology articles

I am researching two features for Computer Weekly, and am keen to have input from analysts and other industry experts.

The first is on file, block and object in the cloud and looks at the main storage offerings from AWS, Azure and Google Cloud Platform, including versions, performance, target applications and compatibility with on-premises storage.

The second looks at cloud providers on-site hardware offerings. Again, this is focused on AWS, Azure and GCP. Why are cloud providers offering on-site hardware, and what functions does it fulfil? Although some of these devices are multi-function, our focus is on their use for data storage.

The deadline for submissions is 1700 BST, Friday 15 May; please contact me by email if you can help.

New podcast episode: securing home working

In the latest episode of my Security Insights podcast, I speak to Amar Singh about steps organisations can take to secure home working.

Amar is the CEO of the Cyber Management Alliance, a cyber security adviser and crisis management firm. Amar is well-known as a security practitioner, speaker, and former CISO.

The CMA recently issued a free-to-use checklist on the steps security and IT teams can take to ensure working from home isn’t opening up businesses to undue risks. To listen to the interview, go over to the podcast on the Security Insights page.

If you are, or know, an expert in security who’d be a good guest for the podcast, please drop me an email. The podcast sets out to address strategic security issues and thought leadership in both the physical and cyber domains.

Upcoming articles: Compliance and Object Storage

I am writing two articles for Computer Weekly’s storage section, one on storage and data compliance for the enterprise, and the other on the growing field of high-performance object storage.

Data compliance

This piece will look at the top 5 UK compliance concerns in 2020.

What are the five key laws/regulations that must be adhered to by UK organisations in 2020, including both current and upcoming legislation. For each we will look at the implications of the law/reg for storage, backup, and archiving.

This could, for example, include legal search and e-discovery, or the Right to be Forgotten under GDPR.

We will also look at how the cloud fits in.

High performance object storage

Object storage has been known as a good way of storing lots of unstructured data, but with less emphasis on performance.

But AI and analytics workloads are prompting storage architects to look at performance too. The feature will cover:

  • Where object storage is heading in performance terms and what’s driving it.
  • Which performance metrics matter
  • How have object storage vendors improved performance?
  • Who are the key object storage vendors that are tackling the challenge of better performance and what do they offer?

The deadline for leads for both articles is Friday 20th March, please contact me by email if you can help.
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Upcoming commission: the environmental impact of tech

I am writing the following piece for a corporate audience – it will appear on the customer portal of a UK-based banking group.

While Big Tech can demonstrate high-profile efforts to promote sustainability, the true cost of the tech sector to the planet is thought to rival the aviation industry’s carbon footprint. With data centres and AI innovation guzzling energy at the present rate, it’s estimated that powering internet technologies creates 2% of global emissions. How and where in its activities is the sector most energy-hungry, and what steps can be taken to reduce its carbon footprint? Who is innovating in this area and how can their efforts be emulated by smaller companies?

Although we’re highlighting the environmental impacts of the tech sector, the piece will be geared towards potential and actual solutions rather than too much finger-pointing. The focus is larger SMEs and smaller corporates.

The deadline for written comment is 1700 London time on Monday 16th March. However if you would like to set up an interview please contact me as soon as possible, by email.