Upcoming articles: disaster recovery and compliance during the pandemic

For Computer Weekly, I am writing two linked features looking at the (ongoing) impact of the pandemic.

The first looks at key changes to disaster recovery. This is likely to include new risks, eg from home working, new threats, changes to software, networking and security, as well as to hardware.

But it will also examine the what needs to change in DR planning, for remote and distributed workforces, practical constraints around DR testing, and invoking a DR plan.

The second piece will look at threats to legal and regulatory compliance during the pandemic, principally around data protection and data security.

How have these threats changed, compared with pre-pandemic times, and are there new regulations, or new applications of regulations or laws, that IT directors need to take into account.

Please note, I am happy to receive input for both articles, as they are linked, but if your commentary or interview offer is aimed at one article, do indicate that.

The deadline for input into both articles is 1200hrs, London time, Thursday 11th February. Please contact me by email.


Upcoming article: software supply chain attacks

My next feature for The Daily Swig will be an in-depth look at supply chain software attacks.

In light of the SolarWinds incident, organisations are on their guard for this type of attack, but how can they find and block them?

The piece will ask:

What is a software supply chain attack?

Where have we seen such attacks

What makes supply chain attacks so dangerous?

What damage can be caused?


How to prevent, or protect against, supply chain attacks

Please submit leads for research, opinion or offers of interviews no later than 1700 GMT, Tuesday 19th January. As usual, all submissions by email please.

Storage features: Computer Weekly, January 2021

I am working on 4 further Computer Weekly storage features, to be published in early 2021.

The topics are listed below.

As each article has slightly different requirements please contact me if you have relevant expertise in the topic. I can then share questions or request supporting information, such as case studies or white papers, as appropriate.

The topics are:

Disaster recovery in the cloud

The cloud makes it much easier for businesses to “fail over” to a remote location. What are the general and specific requirements of cloud DR, its advantages, and how does it compare to in-house disaster recovery?

Big 3 cloud DR services 

What are the key DR services offered by the main cloud providers (AWS, Azure, and Google)? The piece will cover capabilities, services, costs, locations, on-premises offerings and any other elements relevant to using cloud infrastructure for disaster recovery.

Cloud file storage from AWS, Azure and GCP

This piece is a recap for 2021 of the main file services available in the big three public clouds. This will include storage types (file and object), use cases, and any premium offerings. This could extend to vendor-specific hardware, integration with on-premises hardware, or additional services such as DR or archiving.

Kubernetes backup

Kubernetes and containers are gaining ground in the enterprise, as an alternative to virtualisation. However this poses some questions around backup. VM backup is well understood by IT infrastructure teams, but containers are still new to some. What is the best practice for backing up Kubernetes, which methods can businesses adopt, and which vendors support this market?

The deadline for initial contact and pitches is 1200 GMT on Friday 11th December. This is to allow time to request additional information and to set up interviews. Please contact me by email initially.

Upcoming articles for Computer Weekly: storage

For Computer Weekly I am writing two further articles on storage technology. One on and one on Flash storage and RAID, the other on hyper-converged use cases.

Flash storage and RAID

For this article, we will look at how RAID technology works with Flash storage. Why does RAID still matter with Flash, and how will it operate with new storage technologies that could eventually replace Flash?

We will include:

  • Which RAID level is best for flash performance?
  • What benefits and drawbacks are there with parity based RAID in flash?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of mirrored RAID levels with flash storage?
  • What proprietary or branded RAID levels do the main vendors of flash storage offer? How do these translate into the commonly understood RAID levels?
  • What will supersede RAID as a means of drive/array data protection? For example erasure coding?

The deadline for submission of material is 1700, Wednesday 18th November. I can quote analysts and consultants; although I can’t quote vendors I welcome white papers or technical papers and case studies, as well as relevant product information.

Hyper-converged storage use cases

This article will look at five current use cases for hyper-converged storage.

The article will look at how hyper converged infrastructure works and where storage sits within that.

I am open to suggestions for the key use cases but the feature is likely to include:

  • Virtual machines and virtual desktops
  • Backup and recovery using HCI
  • High-performance, data rich applications such as AI and advanced analytics
  • Containers
  • Possible use of HCI by smaller businesses.

The deadline for submission of material is 1700, Monday 23rd November. The same quotation rules apply.

Upcoming article: OSINT (open source intelligence)

I am currently researching an in-depth article looking at the role of OSINT in information security.

The piece will look at how OSINT fits into other forms of intelligence security teams can use to monitor, track, and counter threats.

We’ll look at the various types of open source data, and how they are used. The piece will then drill down into common OSINT tools, from vendors and individual researchers.

And it will examine how they fit in with the other tools and techniques pen testers, white hats and security response teams have to counter threats.

I am keen to hear from pen testers and CISOs, but also other experts who know the space, especially if they have direct, hands-on experience of recon and intel tools in the enterprise or public sector. I can, however, include vendor comment.

Suggestions for leads, by email in the first instance, no later than 1700hrs Friday 6th November (the piece will be written the following week).

Upcoming article: Backup testing: what you need to know

For Computer Weekly my next article will look at backup testing.

A backup strategy is only effective, if backups are tested. A business can invest in the latest backup tools, but unless they test that backups work — and that they can recover data from them — that investment could well be wasted.

The article will cover:

  • What is the key aim of backup testing?
  • What needs to be tested, and how often?
  • What does effective testing involve?
  • Who needs to run recovery testing?
  • Which products or services can help?

Please send any ideas or contributions for the article by 1200hrs Monday 2 Nov, by email in the first instance.

Upcoming commission: Computer Weekly: Is there still life in spinning disks?

Conventional magnetic hard drives are being edged out by solid state storage across the enterprise. But there are still use cases where the spinning disk is best.

This article will look at the benefits of NVMe versus that of spinning disks, but also evaluate both technologies on cost, capacity and performance. It will then list the key applications and use cases where SAS or SATA drives are still the best options.

For this feature I am looking for analyst or consultants’ input, though case studies or white papers from vendors are welcome for background. Pitches by email by close of play, Tuesday 20 October – thank you.

Upcoming article: Unified File and Object Storage

For Computer Weekly, I’m looking at the emerging idea of unified file and object storage.

The piece will explain what this is, and more importantly why vendors are proposing it, and ask whether businesses should adopt it.

Are there use cases that could benefit unified file and object, and is this likely to become a significant segment of the market?

The deadline for suggested spokespeople is 1700 BST, Monday 5th October. I will then reply if further material is needed or to set up an interview. For this article, we are able to speak to vendors along with analysts and consultants/systems integrators.

As ever, contact me by email.

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.