Upcoming article: a deep dive into DDoS

For The Daily Swig, I’m writing an explainer on DDoS attacks, and how organisations can prevent them.

The article will include:

– A definition of a DDoS attack, and why they happen
– How a DDoS attack works, including its various stages
– Types of DDoS attacks
– Their impact on businesses
– The legal status of DDoS attacks
– Actions organisations can take to prevent or stop attacks and how to mitigate their impact.
We are also keen to include details of recent attacks, and any up to date research on the topic.

The deadline for submission of ideas, leads or content is 1700, on Thursday 21st November.

As ever email is the best way to reach me.

Upcoming articles: Disaster recovery planning, and Disaster Recovery as a Service

For Computer Weekly I am writing two linked articles on DR. The first is a top level overview on disaster recovery planning. The second looks more deeply at Disaster Recovery as a Service – a market analysts say is growing rapidly, and could soon outstrip conventional DR tools.

Essentials of disaster recovery planning

This article will cover the key points organisations need to consider when developing a disaster recovery plan. This will include:

Identifying the risks to of the organisation – this is about more than just IT. It will include physical, human and (cyber) security risks.

Identifying the key components of the IT system and the potential damage downtime or failure could mean to the organisation.

Determining RTOs and RPOs for each component of the IT system.

Developing a response strategy, which can comprise elements that range from premises and people to technology.

How disaster recovery can be provisioned in house, off site and in the cloud

Maintaining the DR plan. How is the plan validated, tested and updated?

Key DRaaS options

This is a drill-down into the key as-a-service options available for DR.

Why is DRaaS changing and how is the cloud influencing this?

What are the key features of:

  • managed,
  • assisted,
  • and self-service DR options

How does each work in terms of infrastructure, data transfer, and recovery etc and which types of use cases, size of organisation etc they are best suited to?

Finally, the piece might add pointers to help IT directors choose the right provision for their business.

Deadlines:

Customer case studies, research reports, technical information and white papers only please for these articles. For the Essentials, the deadline is 1700hrs, London time, Friday 15th November. For DRaaS, the deadline is 1700hrs, London time, Thursday 21st November. Please send information by by email in the first instance.

Upcoming article: Who needs object storage?

This article, for Computer Weekly, will be an explainer on on-premises object storage. It will set out the key differences between object and block and file, and their pros and cons.

The article will ask:

  • What is object storage?
  • What are its key use cases?
  • What workloads need object storage?

The second half of the article will be a product section giving a vendor-by-vendor run-down on whether they provide hardware or software products, their architecture, scaling, speeds and feeds, data protection methods and other notable features.

There will also be a box out on cloud-based object storage.

Please submit background information such as white papers and case studies, product information, and suggested interviewees/experts, by 0900hrs Friday 19th July by by email in the first instance.

Please do not submit pre-written commentary or quotes.

New website section: recent work

I’ve just added a new page to the website, which links to a selection of recent projects.

These are mostly journalistic assignments; for reasons of confidentiality I’m not always able to share non-journalism work in public.

Do check back as I will add further links when I can.

The page is here:

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!