3 key ways Hadoop is evolving

Hot themes at the Strata+Hadoop World conference reflect the shift for the big data platform

The Strata+Hadoop World 2015 conference in New York this week was subtitled “Make Data Work,” but given how Hadoop world’s has evolved over the past year (even over the past six months) another apt subtitle might have been “See Hadoop Change.”
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Here are three of the most significant recent trends in Hadoop, as reflected by the show’s roster of breakout sessions, vendors, and technologies.

Spark is so hot it had its own schedule track, labeled “Spark and Beyond,” with sessions on everything from using the R language with Spark to running Spark on Mesos.

Some of the enthusiasm comes from Cloudera — a big fan of Spark — and its sponsorship for the show. But Spark’s rising popularity is hard to ignore.

Spark’s importance stems from how it offers self-service data processing, by way of a common API, no matter where that data is stored. (At least half of the work done with Spark isn’t within Hadoop.) Arsalan Tavakoli-Shiraji, vice president of customer engagement for Databricks, Spark’s chief commercial proponent, spoke of how those tasked with getting business value out of data “eagerly want data, whether they’re using SQL, R, or Python, but hate calling IT.”

Rob Thomas, IBM’s vice president of product development for IBM Analytics, cited Spark as a key in the shift away from “a world of infrastructure to a world of insight.” Hadoop data lakes often become dumping grounds, he claimed, without much business value that Spark can provide.

The pitch for Hadoop is no longer about it being a data repository — that’s a given — it’s about having skilled people and powerful tools to plug into it in order to get something useful out.

Two years ago, the keynote speeches at Strata+Hadoop were all about creating a single repository for enterprise data. This time around, the words “data lake” were barely mentioned in the keynotes — and only in a derogatory tone. Talk of “citizen data scientists,” “using big data for good,” and smart decision making with data was offered instead.

What happened to the old message? It was elbowed aside by the growing realization that the culture of self-service tools for data science on Hadoop offers more real value than the ability to aggregate data from multiple sources. If the old Hadoop world was about free-form data storage, the new Hadoop world is (ostensibly) about free-form data science.

The danger s making terms like “data scientist” too generic, in the same way that “machine learning” was watered down through overly broad use.

Hadoop is become a proving ground for new tech

Few would dispute that Hadoop remains important, least of all the big names behind the major distributions. But attention and excitement seem less focused on Hadoop as a whole than on the individual pieces emerging from Hadoop’s big tent — and are put to use creating entirely new products.

Spark is the obvious example, both for what it can do and how it goes about doing it. Spark’s latest incarnation features major workarounds for issues with the JVM’s garbage collection and memory management systems, technologies that have exciting implications outside of Spark.

But other new-tech-from-Hadoop examples are surfacing: Kafka, the Hadoop message-broker system for high-speed data streams, is at the heart of products like Mesosphere Infinity and Salesforce’s IoT Cloud. If a technology can survive deployment at scale within Hadoop, the conventional wisdom goes, it’s probably a good breakthrough.

Unfortunately, because Hadoop is such a fertile breeding ground, it’s also becoming more fragmented. Efforts to provide a firmer definition of what’s inside the Hadoop tent, like the Open Data Platform Initiative, have inspired as much dissent and division as agreement and consensus. And new additions to the Hadoop toolbox risk further complicating an already dense picture. Kudu, the new Hadoop file system championed by Cloudera as a way to combine the best of HDFS and HBase, isn’t compatible with HDFS’ protocols — yet.

There’s little sign that the mix of ingredients that make up Hadoop will become any less ad hoc or variegated with time, thanks to the slew of vendors vying to deliver their own spin on the platform. But whatever becomes of Hadoop, some of its pieces have already proven they can thrive on their own


How do enterprises really use Hadoop?

A panel session at Strata+Hadoop 2015 explores the ways enterprises are making the most of the big data platform

It’s easy to think most of the big, urgent questions around Hadoop are technical: What’s so special about Spark vs. MapReduce? What are the data governance tools like?

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But judging from the turnout at a session at the Strata+Hadoop World 2015 conference in New York yesterday, the most urgent questions may be the simplest: What’s the best way to get started? How do you demonstrate to the rest of the company that Hadoop is worth the effort?

The session, entitled “Real data, real implementations: What actual customers are doing,” was chaired by Andrew Brust of Datameer and featured panelists from American Airlines, Kelley Blue Book, and American Express describing their companies’ real-world achievements with Hadoop and what it took to make them happen. Clearly the subject had draw: The audience packed the room, with some attendees lining up along the back wall or sitting on the floor.

Brust’s opened the panel with a question likely echoed by most enterprises users: How do we get started quickly in Hadoop?

American Express Publishing Corp.’s Kendell Timmers stressed not technology, but people — specifically, an “information buddy system.” Early adopters who wanted to work with Hadoop did all the original heavy lifting, figuring out how to get data into the system and what to download and work with. By the time a second wave of adopters had arrived, the first wave had already developed ways to support each other, such as creating a wiki or roster of “wizards,” people who would take an hour out to field one-on-one questions.

Which makes more sense, Datameer’s Brust asked: To hire outside Hadoop talent or train one’s own people? Jeff Jarrell, a data architect at American Airlines, noted that while his company does a lot of internal grooming, “a lot of people [from outside] do want to get into this space.” Many of the company’s outside hires are from universities with data science programs. “[From there] we get ‘adepts’ — first-year hires — who are motivated to use the tech.”

Timmers said American Express’s approach was to do both — get people from the outside who are a quick start and bring in new ideas, but also cultivate internal talent to leverage what they know about the business. “You already have a lot of valuable people who know about your data, and that’s extremely valuable and not replaceable,” he said.

This emphasis on the human element makes sense — a shortage in Hadoop skills is a big reason why many Hadoop deployments don’t provide the expected return on investments.

What about demonstrating proof of business value to the rest of the company? At American Express, Timmers said the proof came with a program that matched third-party offers to card members, using algorithms to determine the best matches. The original algorithm “took two and a half days to run” and produced poor matches; the new Hadoop-based match algorithm runs in “only four hours,” produced far better results, and ended up enjoying wide adoption.

Ryan Wright, a manager of data management at Kelley Blue Book, said his company developed an entirely new reporting environment for the marketing side of the business that allowed them to budget better. This example underscores that enabling self-service reporting with Hadoop is one of the most tangible ways to demonstrate its value.


Microsoft Enables Transparent Encryption on Azure SQL Cloud Databases

Azure SQL Cloud DatabaseThe company’s Transparent Data Encryption option, borrowed from SQL Server, is now generally available as part of numerous upgrades to its cloud database platform.
Microsoft’s cloud customers can now more easily encrypt their databases with this week’s release of the new Azure SQL Database Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) feature.TDE enables customers “to protect your data and help you meet compliance requirements by encrypting your database, associated backups, and transaction log files at rest without requiring changes to your application,” said Jack Richins, principal program manager of Microsoft Azure SQL Database, in an Oct. 14 announcement. TDE hails from the Transparent Data Feature used by Microsoft SQL Server since 2008, he revealed. In its cloud-based implementation, his group added support for Intel’s AES-NI (Advanced Encryption Standard New Instructions) hardware-based acceleration, reducing computational overhead and improving performance.TDE encrypts the entirety of a database’s storage using an AES-256 symmetric key, explained Richins. “SQL Database protects this database encryption key with a service-managed certificate,” he said. Certificates are automatically rotated at least every 90 days, according Microsoft’s online documentation.Switching the feature on can be accomplished with just a few clicks. “All key management for database copying, Geo-Replication, and database restores anywhere in SQL Database is handled by the service—just enable it on your database with two clicks on the Azure Preview Portal: click ON, then click Save, and you’re done,” Richins said.
The company is currently previewing SQL AlwaysOn integration with Azure Site Recovery (ASR), Microsoft’s cloud-based disaster recovery service. SQL AlwaysOn is a set of high availability and disaster recovery technologies found in Microsoft SQL Server.”SQL Availability Groups can now be added to ASR Recovery plans along with virtual machines,” stated Prateek Sharma, a Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise senior program manager, in a blog post. “All capabilities of ASR Recovery plans such as sequencing, scripting and manual actions can be leveraged to orchestrate the failover of a multi-tier application that uses a SQL database, configured with AlwaysOn replication, as backend.”The offering also helps streamline IT operations, by removing “the need to write and manage the scripts required for failover of SQL AlwaysOn Availability Groups. This solution is currently supported only for System Center Virtual Machine Manager managed environments,” noted Sharma.Finally, Microsoft has added cross-database query support to Azure SQL’s elastic database query feature, essentially allowing multiple databases to contribute rows into a single result.”This makes possible common cross-database querying tasks like selecting from a remote table into a local table,” noted Microsoft Principal Program Manager Lead Torsten Grabs in a statement. “It also allows for richer remote database querying topologies.”Customers can also now access the elastic database query feature in Azure SQL’s Standard performance tier, announced Grabs. “This significantly lowers the cost of entry for cross-database querying and partitioning scenarios in Azure SQL Database,” he said.Users may notice somewhat of a delay, warned Grabs. “Due to the smaller DTU [Database Transaction Unit] limits in the Standard tier, it can take up to one minute to initialize elastic database query when you run your first remote database query.” Microsoft is working on improving the feature’s initiation latency, he said.

IBM Adds VMware Support to Advance Hybrid Cloud

IBM advanced its hybrid cloud capabilities by announcing a new cloud offering with VMware that enables enterprises to extend their existing on-premises VMware infrastructure into the IBM Cloud through VMware NSX.IBM said the offering, which includes monthly billing and processor-based pricing, enables customers to easily move workloads and applications across IBM’s global network of cloud data centers without sacrificing performance or low network latency.IBM’s SoftLayer cloud infrastructure runs VMware vSphere deployments via bare-metal servers. Enterprises can run a single VMware environment to do live workload migrations between data centers across continents while being able to easily implement disaster recovery solutions. This makes transitioning into a hybrid model easier because it results in greater workload mobility and application continuity, IBM said. It also helps companies make a more gradual transition to the cloud.“IBM is a key partner for VMware by providing its SoftLayer global cloud solutions for our joint enterprise clients,” said Geoff Waters, vice president of the Service Provider Channel for VMware, in a statement. “This partnership provides enterprises with a proven cloud platform on a global basis with high performance, enhanced security and control by using technologies from IBM and VMware. The ability to move workloads across continents offers enterprises new and exciting deployment options for their applications and cloud services.”

In addition, IBM is enhancing its Cloud Builder Professional Services capabilities to include full support for and deployment of VMware vSphere 6. Via IBM Cloud Builder it is possible to set-up a VMware vSphere implementation in hours and migrate workloads over to the new cloud leveraging a broad set of cloud based deployment patterns and capabilities. This can greatly reduce the risk and cost of cloud implementations by clients, IBM said.

Moreover, new cloud services featuring VMware NSX and VMware Virtual SAN will be available on the IBM Cloud beginning in November.In other IBM Cloud news, Etihad Airways and IBM announced a10-year technology services agreement worth $700 million whereby IBM will helpthe airline to enhance guest experience, upgrade its infrastructure and security, and improve efficiency. Etihad Airways, based in the United Arab Emirates, carried 14.8 million passengers in 2014, and serves 113 passenger and cargo destinations.IBM will deliver a range of services, including cloud-based platforms. The agreement includes plans for a new cloud data center in Abu Dhabi. The center will be developed and operated by IBM.“This is a long-term, strategic partnership which will allow Etihad Airways and its partners to harness the latest technologies as we deliver our services,” said James Hogan, president and CEO of Etihad Airways, in a statement. “This is a game-changing agreement for Etihad Airways, for our partners and employees, and for Abu Dhabi.”IBM was selected due its global reach, its experience and alignment with Etihad Airways’ technology and strategy of deploying cloud-first initiatives. The airline will tap IBM’s cloud, analytics, mobile, security and cognitive technologies.“By partnering with IBM in this transformation journey, Etihad Airways is accelerating the move to new technologies such as cloud computing and cognitive,” said Martin Jetter, senior vice president of IBM Global Technology Services. “These technologies will help the airline to improve efficiencies and achieve its ambitious growth plans as a globally integrated aviation group.”In addition, through IBM’s mobile solutions, developed under the Apple-IBMalliance, the airline will provide enhanced mobile capabilities to its employees and guests. Other solutions will enable airport operations to run more efficiently.Also, IBM and Etihad Airways will create a joint technology and innovation council in Abu Dhabi to develop more personalized travel solutions using IBM’s global research capabilities and the airline’s industry expertise.“This landmark agreement, a fundamental part of our technology and innovation strategy, will bring us a global IT delivery platform that is secure, resilient and future-ready for Etihad Airways’ companies and equity partner airlines,” said Robert Webb, Etihad Airways’ chief information and technology officer. “We have chosen IBM as a global technology partner due to its commitment to its people, its experience in delivering such transformations, and its history of leadership and innovation in the airline industry. We are confident that this collaboration will ultimately enhance our guest experience and reinforce our competitive position further within the industry.”Etihad Airways’ current data center, IT infrastructure, applications and security operations will be migrated to the new data center in Abu Dhabi, and disaster recovery will be managed at an IBM Cloud data center in Europe. This approach will allow the airline to scale and manage its IT resources more efficiently, while ensuring business continuity.As part of the agreement, around 100 Etihad Airways information technology employees will transition to IBM. IBM will manage the data center operation, including individual infrastructure services and IT helpdesk for Etihad Airways.The collaboration provides a global framework for technology service delivery for Etihad Airways and its Etihad Airways Partner airlines, including Alitalia, airberlin, Jet Airways, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles and Etihad Regional.The agreement was signed at the end of September 2015, IBM said.


Red Hat has become the leading vendor of OpenStack, but the company — and others — freely acknowledge serious issues related to complexity, scalability, and availability

OpenStack found its way into four of Red Hat’s top 30 deals last quarter, a quarter that saw the company pushing toward $2 billion in annual revenues — good for Red Hat, good for OpenStack.

Despite that rosy news, however, Red Hat’s earnings call highlighted several areas where OpenStack continues to fall short.
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OpenStack still has a long way to go

Take, for example, the OpenStack code base, which continues to be a cauldron of competing projects and a fair amount of poor-quality code.

This isn’t exactly news, given that early OpenStack leader Andrew Shafer once pilloried parts of the project as “a mishmash of naive ideas and pipe dreams.” More recently, OpenStack luminary Randy Bias has candidly derided the silos that different vendors impose on OpenStack, containing “special features that only you have.”

The result? “Every OpenStack deployment is its own unique snowflake,” Bias notes, due to the “hundreds upon hundreds of configuration options.”

Even Red Hat has gotten into the criticism game, with CEO Jim Whitehurst acknowledging OpenStack’s scalability issues on the Red Hat earnings call: “One of the issues … with OpenStack is its scalability, but it’s basically … assuming applications that are stateless,” leaving Red Hat needing to “continu[e] to build more high-availability features to allow it to run traditional applications.”

Despite such deficiencies, OpenStack’s complexity is like red meat for Red Hat, which thrives on taking complex infrastructure and making it easily consumable by mainstream enterprises. As former Red Hat CTO Brian Stevens told me in 2006, “Red Hat’s model works because of the complexity of the technology we work with. An operating platform has a lot of moving parts, and customers are willing to pay to be insulated from that complexity.”

While Bias may not like the vendor-imposed complexity, you won’t hear Red Hat complaining about it. In fact, Red Hat is counting on complexity all the way to the bank.
Enterprises still aren’t thinking about OpenStack correctly

However, OpenStack is still early days for Red Hat customers, Whitehurst revealed during the earnings call. The only ones embracing OpenStack are “earlier adopters,” he suggested, with OpenStack deals “lumpy,” meaning sporadic and large when they do close (due to professional services required to make it work).

Among those early adopters, Red Hat may have a problem. They may may not be ready for what OpenStack was designed: cloud-native applications. As Bias says:

There is no doubt that OpenStack was designed as an AWS clone — that is its lineage. OpenStack is for cloud-native applications… It’s not for running applications that require a 5-9’s infrastructure. [Those] don’t belong on OpenStack.

But Whitehurst, speaking on the Red Hat earnings call, gave a somewhat different view as to Red Hat’s customers and their intentions:

One of the issues or features with OpenStack is its scalability, but it’s basically … assuming applications that are stateless, and so continuing to build more high-availability features to allow it to run traditional applications is something we’ve been talking a lot to customers about.

[T]here’s a general belief that OpenStack is going to be a kind of low-cost platform of choice with customers going forward, but there’s a sense that, hey, Red Hat, you need to help us take some of our existing applications and migrate them onto OpenStack. So we’re actively working with some customers on that.

Such legacy applications aren’t likely to be a good fit for a cloud-native platform.

Of course, the kinds of early adopters interested in OpenStack also have big wallets. While Whitehurst didn’t go into detail, he did highlight the kinds of companies that currently are willing to put up with OpenStack’s rough edges and pay up for professional services to fill in the many blanks it leaves: one of the “very large global telcos” and “a very, very large financial service institution.”

In other words, unless you’re big with serious technology chops, you’re probably not safe going into the OpenStack water. Otherwise, be prepared to pay equally big professional services fees.

But wait! There’s more.
Docker is a much bigger deal than OpenStack

As big as the community behind OpenStack has been, Whitehurst declared Docker the “single biggest topic that comes up among … [Red Hat’s] leading [customers].” In fact, Whitehurst noted that he hears more from customers about Docker than OpenStack.

I’ve argued before that Red Hat should forget OpenStack and double-down on Docker. Listening to the earnings call, this argument gains even more force. Whitehurst talked about why Docker containers are such a big deal. It’s “not because the infrastructure people necessarily want [Docker],” he said, “but [because] developers are picking it up because it’s so much more productive for developers.”

OpenStack is a vendor response to Amazon Web Services — and a half-baked one. Containers, by contrast, immediately make developers’ lives easier (just as AWS does), so they’re being adopted in droves. Developers aren’t asking for OpenStack, and it’s the developer that Red Hat must satisfy.

Let’s review: According to the leading vendor of OpenStack, the technology isn’t mature and as a result is expensive to implement successfully. Enterprises continue looking to OpenStack to solve problems its ill-equipped to solve — and Docker attracts vastly more interest because it meets real developer needs.

Why continue to pour resources into OpenStack?


How a Cloud Antivirus Works

How a Cloud Antivirus Works

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panda cloud antivirus

Panda Cloud Antivirus scans your computer at regular intervals and checks it against the latest malware threats in its database.

Screenshot by Stephanie Crawford for HowStuffWorks

Whether you have years of computing behind you, or you’ve just bought your first laptop or desktop, you’re probably familiar with the need to protect computers from viruses. A virus is a software program that installs itself on your computer and makes undesirable changes to the data on your computer. Though there are rare viruses designed to target offline computers, we’re talking about malicious software (malware) you can pick up from the Internet.

To prevent malware from attacking your data, you can use antivirus software. One antivirus option is a technology called cloud antivirus. Cloud antivirus software does most of its processing elsewhere on the Internet rather than on your computer’s hard drive. Internet technology like cloud computing has made such innovations both possible and affordable.

Cloud antivirus software consists of client and Web service components working together. The client is a small program running on your local computer, which scans the system for malware. Full locally installed antivirus applications are notorious resource hogs, but cloud antivirus clients require only a small amount processing power.

The Web service behind cloud antivirus is software running on one or more servers somewhere on the Internet. The Web service handles most of the data processing so your computer doesn’t have to process and store massive amounts of virus information. At regular intervals, the client will scan your computer for any malware listed in the Web service’s database.

Here’s a summary of the advantages cloud antivirus has over traditional, locally installed antivirus software:

  • You have access to the latest data about malware within minutes of the cloud antivirus Web service learning about it. There’s no need to continually update your antivirus software to ensure you’re protected from the latest threats.
  • The cloud antivirus client is small, and it requires little processing power as you go on with your day-to-day activities online.
  • It’s free! You can get an impressive level of virus protection from the free versions of cloud antivirus software. You can also purchase upgrades for additional utilities and support, for prices that are competitive with popular local-only antivirus applications.

Now that you know what cloud antivirus is, let’s look at the features of cloud antivirus software and how you can use them to keep your system clean.


5 Ways to Keep Your Information Secure in the Cloud

In 2011, hacking groups like Lulzsec and Anonymous provoked an Internet firestorm by hacking major Web sites like Fox.com and online services like Sony’s PlayStation Network. Millions of user accounts were compromised. Usernames, passwords, home addresses and credit card information — lax Web site security often allows hackers easy access to boatloads of personal information. We can blame corporations for poor security and hackers for maliciously attacking Web sites, but there’s a third party often at fault in these attacks: ourselves, the users.

No, it’s not our fault Web sites get hacked. But poor Web safety habits put us at risk when we shouldn’t be. How often do you use the same username and password? Every time you create a new profile? If someone hacked your Facebook account, could they just as easily get into your e-mail inbox? Reusing passwords — or using weak passwords — makes you an easy target for identity theft. Remembering multiple passwords can be a pain, but there are Web services that can help. We’ll talk about one of the most popular options later in this article.

Internet cloud services — services that store your data on a server rather than on your hard drive so you can access it from any Internet-enabled device — are more powerful than ever before. Backing up photographs and important documents has never been easier. Google Docs and Gmail can take the place of Microsoft Word and Outlook Express. Banking sites take the place of expensive finance applications. All we have to do is be safe while we use them. Here are some simple safety tips for keeping your data secure in the cloud. First up: making your passwords as tough to crack as Fort Knox.

Play Smart with Passwords

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The beauty of cloud computing lies in the easy access you have to your data using any Internet-connected device. But without proper security precautions, you could be leaving yourself open to trouble.

Computer Image Gallery

The beauty of cloud computing lies in the easy access you have to your data using any Internet-connected device. But without proper security precautions, you could be leaving yourself open to trouble.

©iStockphoto.com/Thinkstock

In 2011, hacking groups like Lulzsec and Anonymous provoked an Internet firestorm by hacking major Web sites like Fox.com and online services like Sony’s PlayStation Network. Millions of user accounts were compromised. Usernames, passwords, home addresses and credit card information — lax Web site security often allows hackers easy access to boatloads of personal information. We can blame corporations for poor security and hackers for maliciously attacking Web sites, but there’s a third party often at fault in these attacks: ourselves, the users.

No, it’s not our fault Web sites get hacked. But poor Web safety habits put us at risk when we shouldn’t be. How often do you use the same username and password? Every time you create a new profile? If someone hacked your Facebook account, could they just as easily get into your e-mail inbox? Reusing passwords — or using weak passwords — makes you an easy target for identity theft. Remembering multiple passwords can be a pain, but there are Web services that can help. We’ll talk about one of the most popular options later in this article.

Internet cloud services — services that store your data on a server rather than on your hard drive so you can access it from any Internet-enabled device — are more powerful than ever before. Backing up photographs and important documents has never been easier. Google Docs and Gmail can take the place of Microsoft Word and Outlook Express. Banking sites take the place of expensive finance applications. All we have to do is be safe while we use them. Here are some simple safety tips for keeping your data secure in the cloud. First up: making your passwords as tough to crack as Fort Knox.

Is your password something that could be easily guessed, like a pet's name or -- heaven forbid -- the word "password"? If so, change it immediately.

Is your password something that could be easily guessed, like a pet’s name or — heaven forbid — the word “password”? If so, change it immediately.

Hemera/Thinkstock

Passwords are designed to keep our information safe from prying eyes. They’re like locks. A hacker may force the door and break your lock, but most of the time a strong lock keeps people out. But let’s be honest: Passwords are annoying. Remembering them is a pain, so we often take the easy way out and use simple passwords that we won’t forget. But if they’re easy to remember, they’re also easy to guess.

When the site RockYou.com was hacked in 2009, a security firm examined the 32 million compromised passwords and found that thousands upon thousands of users relied on the same basic phrases. The password “123456” took first place with 290,731 hits; “12345,” “123456789,” “Password” and “iloveyou” rounded out the top five most-used passwords [source: Tom’sHardware]. If you use one of those passwords, change it. The more complicated your password is, the safer your data will be. It’s true, complex passwords won’t be as easy to recall. Find a safe place to record your passwords if you can’t remember them.

The best passwords combine letters, numbers and symbols into an unusual configuration. Don’t take the easy route and capitalize the first letter of the word or use the numeral “1” in place of the letter “l” or a zero in place of the letter “O.” Throw in a few random numbers or characters like a plus sign (+) or underscore (_) and you’ll be far better off than anyone relying on “password123” or “qwerty” to keep them safe. Once you have a good password, what you do next is just as important: Don’t spread it around.

Don’t Reuse or Share Passwords

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The beauty of cloud computing lies in the easy access you have to your data using any Internet-connected device. But without proper security precautions, you could be leaving yourself open to trouble.

Computer Image Gallery

The beauty of cloud computing lies in the easy access you have to your data using any Internet-connected device. But without proper security precautions, you could be leaving yourself open to trouble.

©iStockphoto.com/Thinkstock

In 2011, hacking groups like Lulzsec and Anonymous provoked an Internet firestorm by hacking major Web sites like Fox.com and online services like Sony’s PlayStation Network. Millions of user accounts were compromised. Usernames, passwords, home addresses and credit card information — lax Web site security often allows hackers easy access to boatloads of personal information. We can blame corporations for poor security and hackers for maliciously attacking Web sites, but there’s a third party often at fault in these attacks: ourselves, the users.

No, it’s not our fault Web sites get hacked. But poor Web safety habits put us at risk when we shouldn’t be. How often do you use the same username and password? Every time you create a new profile? If someone hacked your Facebook account, could they just as easily get into your e-mail inbox? Reusing passwords — or using weak passwords — makes you an easy target for identity theft. Remembering multiple passwords can be a pain, but there are Web services that can help. We’ll talk about one of the most popular options later in this article.

Internet cloud services — services that store your data on a server rather than on your hard drive so you can access it from any Internet-enabled device — are more powerful than ever before. Backing up photographs and important documents has never been easier. Google Docs and Gmail can take the place of Microsoft Word and Outlook Express. Banking sites take the place of expensive finance applications. All we have to do is be safe while we use them. Here are some simple safety tips for keeping your data secure in the cloud. First up: making your passwords as tough to crack as Fort Knox.

Is your password something that could be easily guessed, like a pet's name or -- heaven forbid -- the word "password"? If so, change it immediately.

Is your password something that could be easily guessed, like a pet’s name or — heaven forbid — the word “password”? If so, change it immediately.

Hemera/Thinkstock

Passwords are designed to keep our information safe from prying eyes. They’re like locks. A hacker may force the door and break your lock, but most of the time a strong lock keeps people out. But let’s be honest: Passwords are annoying. Remembering them is a pain, so we often take the easy way out and use simple passwords that we won’t forget. But if they’re easy to remember, they’re also easy to guess.

When the site RockYou.com was hacked in 2009, a security firm examined the 32 million compromised passwords and found that thousands upon thousands of users relied on the same basic phrases. The password “123456” took first place with 290,731 hits; “12345,” “123456789,” “Password” and “iloveyou” rounded out the top five most-used passwords [source: Tom’sHardware]. If you use one of those passwords, change it. The more complicated your password is, the safer your data will be. It’s true, complex passwords won’t be as easy to recall. Find a safe place to record your passwords if you can’t remember them.

The best passwords combine letters, numbers and symbols into an unusual configuration. Don’t take the easy route and capitalize the first letter of the word or use the numeral “1” in place of the letter “l” or a zero in place of the letter “O.” Throw in a few random numbers or characters like a plus sign (+) or underscore (_) and you’ll be far better off than anyone relying on “password123” or “qwerty” to keep them safe. Once you have a good password, what you do next is just as important: Don’t spread it around.

Don’t Reuse or Share Passwords

The annoyance of remembering passwords strikes again. It’s bad enough that we tend to use simple, easy-to-remember passwords for our Web logins — we also tend to pick one or two passwords and use them again and again for our e-mail, banking, Facebook and everything else. That’s bad. In fact, that’s really bad. If your password is compromised, someone could easily gain access to your e-mail account. And change that password. And then go to every site you’re registered on and change those passwords — the replacement passwords are always sent to your e-mail address.

Use different passwords for different sites. At the very least, change up letters, symbols and capitalization if you plan to use the same word or phrase across multiple sites. Make absolutely sure you don’t repeat a password across sites that have your credit card information or social security number. Your e-mail password is the most important. Keep it secure and don’t use it for any other sites.

One last password tip: Don’t tell other people your passwords. Even if you trust them, it’s not a particularly good idea. The more people who know your passwords, the greater the chances that those passwords could be accidentally compromised. All these password rules make our online lives more secure, but they don’t make them easier. Next up: a tool for taking some of the inconvenience out of password management.

Manage Passwords with LastPass

Manage Passwords with LastPass

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The beauty of cloud computing lies in the easy access you have to your data using any Internet-connected device. But without proper security precautions, you could be leaving yourself open to trouble.

Computer Image Gallery

The beauty of cloud computing lies in the easy access you have to your data using any Internet-connected device. But without proper security precautions, you could be leaving yourself open to trouble.

©iStockphoto.com/Thinkstock

In 2011, hacking groups like Lulzsec and Anonymous provoked an Internet firestorm by hacking major Web sites like Fox.com and online services like Sony’s PlayStation Network. Millions of user accounts were compromised. Usernames, passwords, home addresses and credit card information — lax Web site security often allows hackers easy access to boatloads of personal information. We can blame corporations for poor security and hackers for maliciously attacking Web sites, but there’s a third party often at fault in these attacks: ourselves, the users.

No, it’s not our fault Web sites get hacked. But poor Web safety habits put us at risk when we shouldn’t be. How often do you use the same username and password? Every time you create a new profile? If someone hacked your Facebook account, could they just as easily get into your e-mail inbox? Reusing passwords — or using weak passwords — makes you an easy target for identity theft. Remembering multiple passwords can be a pain, but there are Web services that can help. We’ll talk about one of the most popular options later in this article.

Internet cloud services — services that store your data on a server rather than on your hard drive so you can access it from any Internet-enabled device — are more powerful than ever before. Backing up photographs and important documents has never been easier. Google Docs and Gmail can take the place of Microsoft Word and Outlook Express. Banking sites take the place of expensive finance applications. All we have to do is be safe while we use them. Here are some simple safety tips for keeping your data secure in the cloud. First up: making your passwords as tough to crack as Fort Knox.

Is your password something that could be easily guessed, like a pet's name or -- heaven forbid -- the word "password"? If so, change it immediately.

Is your password something that could be easily guessed, like a pet’s name or — heaven forbid — the word “password”? If so, change it immediately.

Hemera/Thinkstock

Passwords are designed to keep our information safe from prying eyes. They’re like locks. A hacker may force the door and break your lock, but most of the time a strong lock keeps people out. But let’s be honest: Passwords are annoying. Remembering them is a pain, so we often take the easy way out and use simple passwords that we won’t forget. But if they’re easy to remember, they’re also easy to guess.

When the site RockYou.com was hacked in 2009, a security firm examined the 32 million compromised passwords and found that thousands upon thousands of users relied on the same basic phrases. The password “123456” took first place with 290,731 hits; “12345,” “123456789,” “Password” and “iloveyou” rounded out the top five most-used passwords [source: Tom’sHardware]. If you use one of those passwords, change it. The more complicated your password is, the safer your data will be. It’s true, complex passwords won’t be as easy to recall. Find a safe place to record your passwords if you can’t remember them.

The best passwords combine letters, numbers and symbols into an unusual configuration. Don’t take the easy route and capitalize the first letter of the word or use the numeral “1” in place of the letter “l” or a zero in place of the letter “O.” Throw in a few random numbers or characters like a plus sign (+) or underscore (_) and you’ll be far better off than anyone relying on “password123” or “qwerty” to keep them safe. Once you have a good password, what you do next is just as important: Don’t spread it around.

The annoyance of remembering passwords strikes again. It’s bad enough that we tend to use simple, easy-to-remember passwords for our Web logins — we also tend to pick one or two passwords and use them again and again for our e-mail, banking, Facebook and everything else. That’s bad. In fact, that’s really bad. If your password is compromised, someone could easily gain access to your e-mail account. And change that password. And then go to every site you’re registered on and change those passwords — the replacement passwords are always sent to your e-mail address.

Use different passwords for different sites. At the very least, change up letters, symbols and capitalization if you plan to use the same word or phrase across multiple sites. Make absolutely sure you don’t repeat a password across sites that have your credit card information or social security number. Your e-mail password is the most important. Keep it secure and don’t use it for any other sites.

One last password tip: Don’t tell other people your passwords. Even if you trust them, it’s not a particularly good idea. The more people who know your passwords, the greater the chances that those passwords could be accidentally compromised. All these password rules make our online lives more secure, but they don’t make them easier. Next up: a tool for taking some of the inconvenience out of password management.

If you wish you only needed one password for all of your cloud computing needs, a password management tool like LastPass can help.

If you wish you only needed one password for all of your cloud computing needs, a password management tool like LastPass can help.

LastPass is a password management utility that locks all of your unique passwords behind one master password. That means you can create separate logins for e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, cloud storage and everything else you do online, but still access those accounts by memorizing one single password. Web browsers will remember passwords for you, but LastPass can synchronize your information across multiple browsers and devices and fill in forms with a single click.

LastPass will even help you create randomized passwords that no one will ever crack. The service is free, but for a $1 per month premium account you gain access to the mobile version of LastPass for iOS, Android and most other mobile operating systems. What if LastPass gets hacked? That’s possible, but LastPasshasprotocolsinplace to encourage users to change their master passwords in the event of a breach. More importantly, validation tools like IP and e-mail address verification make it difficult for an impostor to log in to your LastPass account.

LastPass is just one example of a cloud-based service that makes managing data on the Web easier. When it comes to preserving your important pictures and files, finding the right backup services is key.

Back Up Your Data|

The beauty of cloud computing lies in the easy access you have to your data using any Internet-connected device. But without proper security precautions, you could be leaving yourself open to trouble.

Computer Image Gallery

The beauty of cloud computing lies in the easy access you have to your data using any Internet-connected device. But without proper security precautions, you could be leaving yourself open to trouble.

©iStockphoto.com/Thinkstock

In 2011, hacking groups like Lulzsec and Anonymous provoked an Internet firestorm by hacking major Web sites like Fox.com and online services like Sony’s PlayStation Network. Millions of user accounts were compromised. Usernames, passwords, home addresses and credit card information — lax Web site security often allows hackers easy access to boatloads of personal information. We can blame corporations for poor security and hackers for maliciously attacking Web sites, but there’s a third party often at fault in these attacks: ourselves, the users.

No, it’s not our fault Web sites get hacked. But poor Web safety habits put us at risk when we shouldn’t be. How often do you use the same username and password? Every time you create a new profile? If someone hacked your Facebook account, could they just as easily get into your e-mail inbox? Reusing passwords — or using weak passwords — makes you an easy target for identity theft. Remembering multiple passwords can be a pain, but there are Web services that can help. We’ll talk about one of the most popular options later in this article.

Internet cloud services — services that store your data on a server rather than on your hard drive so you can access it from any Internet-enabled device — are more powerful than ever before. Backing up photographs and important documents has never been easier. Google Docs and Gmail can take the place of Microsoft Word and Outlook Express. Banking sites take the place of expensive finance applications. All we have to do is be safe while we use them. Here are some simple safety tips for keeping your data secure in the cloud. First up: making your passwords as tough to crack as Fort Knox.

Is your password something that could be easily guessed, like a pet's name or -- heaven forbid -- the word "password"? If so, change it immediately.

Is your password something that could be easily guessed, like a pet’s name or — heaven forbid — the word “password”? If so, change it immediately.

Hemera/Thinkstock

Passwords are designed to keep our information safe from prying eyes. They’re like locks. A hacker may force the door and break your lock, but most of the time a strong lock keeps people out. But let’s be honest: Passwords are annoying. Remembering them is a pain, so we often take the easy way out and use simple passwords that we won’t forget. But if they’re easy to remember, they’re also easy to guess.

When the site RockYou.com was hacked in 2009, a security firm examined the 32 million compromised passwords and found that thousands upon thousands of users relied on the same basic phrases. The password “123456” took first place with 290,731 hits; “12345,” “123456789,” “Password” and “iloveyou” rounded out the top five most-used passwords [source: Tom’sHardware]. If you use one of those passwords, change it. The more complicated your password is, the safer your data will be. It’s true, complex passwords won’t be as easy to recall. Find a safe place to record your passwords if you can’t remember them.

The best passwords combine letters, numbers and symbols into an unusual configuration. Don’t take the easy route and capitalize the first letter of the word or use the numeral “1” in place of the letter “l” or a zero in place of the letter “O.” Throw in a few random numbers or characters like a plus sign (+) or underscore (_) and you’ll be far better off than anyone relying on “password123” or “qwerty” to keep them safe. Once you have a good password, what you do next is just as important: Don’t spread it around.

The annoyance of remembering passwords strikes again. It’s bad enough that we tend to use simple, easy-to-remember passwords for our Web logins — we also tend to pick one or two passwords and use them again and again for our e-mail, banking, Facebook and everything else. That’s bad. In fact, that’s really bad. If your password is compromised, someone could easily gain access to your e-mail account. And change that password. And then go to every site you’re registered on and change those passwords — the replacement passwords are always sent to your e-mail address.

Use different passwords for different sites. At the very least, change up letters, symbols and capitalization if you plan to use the same word or phrase across multiple sites. Make absolutely sure you don’t repeat a password across sites that have your credit card information or social security number. Your e-mail password is the most important. Keep it secure and don’t use it for any other sites.

One last password tip: Don’t tell other people your passwords. Even if you trust them, it’s not a particularly good idea. The more people who know your passwords, the greater the chances that those passwords could be accidentally compromised. All these password rules make our online lives more secure, but they don’t make them easier. Next up: a tool for taking some of the inconvenience out of password management.

If you wish you only needed one password for all of your cloud computing needs, a password management tool like LastPass can help.

If you wish you only needed one password for all of your cloud computing needs, a password management tool like LastPass can help.

©iStockphoto.com/pagadesign

LastPass is a password management utility that locks all of your unique passwords behind one master password. That means you can create separate logins for e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, cloud storage and everything else you do online, but still access those accounts by memorizing one single password. Web browsers will remember passwords for you, but LastPass can synchronize your information across multiple browsers and devices and fill in forms with a single click.

LastPass will even help you create randomized passwords that no one will ever crack. The service is free, but for a $1 per month premium account you gain access to the mobile version of LastPass for iOS, Android and most other mobile operating systems. What if LastPass gets hacked? That’s possible, but LastPasshasprotocolsinplace to encourage users to change their master passwords in the event of a breach. More importantly, validation tools like IP and e-mail address verification make it difficult for an impostor to log in to your LastPass account.

LastPass is just one example of a cloud-based service that makes managing data on the Web easier. When it comes to preserving your important pictures and files, finding the right backup services is key.

If there’s one piece of advice the tech savvy have been espousing for years and years, it’s this: Back up your data. A power surge, faulty hard drive platter, robbery or other unexpected system failure could happen when you least expect it, and if your data isn’t backed up you’ll beat yourself up over it for weeks. Years ago, backing up data was an arduous task. Hard drive storage was costly, but floppy disks only held a paltry amount of data. Eventually, ZIP disks and CD burners offered enough space to facilitate backups, and DVDs and cheap hard drives made them easier still. But now we have something even better: the cloud.

Cloud storage solutions come in all shapes and sizes. Dropbox offers only a couple gigabytes of free storage, but its interface is incredibly simple to use. It creates a folder on your hard drive that’s linked to the Web — all you have to do to upload files is drag them into the folder. WindowsLiveSkydrive is designed to make it easy to view and edit Office documents in the cloud. Amazon’s Cloud Drive offers 5 gigabytes of free storage and a Web interface for uploading your files. Other services, like SugarSync and Mozy, focus more on automatically backing up your important data and storing it, rather than making it easily accessible online.

Here’s the smartest way to backup your data: Don’t rely on one service. Store files you access frequently in Dropbox and back up more in a free service like Amazon Cloud Drive. Keep a local backup on a secondary hard drive or on an automated backup drive like Apple’sTimeCapsule. With your data securely backed up and your passwords uncrackable, there’s only one thing left to be concerned about: your browsing habits

Back Up Your Data

your unique passwords behind one master password. That means you can create separate logins for e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, cloud storage and everything else you do online, but still access those accounts by memorizing one single password. Web browsers will remember passwords for you, but LastPass can synchronize your information across multiple browsers and devices and fill in forms with a single click.

LastPass will even help you create randomized passwords that no one will ever crack. The service is free, but for a $1 per month premium account you gain access to the mobile version of LastPass for iOS, Android and most other mobile operating systems. What if LastPass gets hacked? That’s possible, but LastPasshasprotocolsinplace to encourage users to change their master passwords in the event of a breach. More importantly, validation tools like IP and e-mail address verification make it difficult for an impostor to log in to your LastPass account.

LastPass is just one example of a cloud-based service that makes managing data on the Web easier. When it comes to preserving your important pictures and files, finding the right backup services is key.

If there’s one piece of advice the tech savvy have been espousing for years and years, it’s this: Back up your data. A power surge, faulty hard drive platter, robbery or other unexpected system failure could happen when you least expect it, and if your data isn’t backed up you’ll beat yourself up over it for weeks. Years ago, backing up data was an arduous task. Hard drive storage was costly, but floppy disks only held a paltry amount of data. Eventually, ZIP disks and CD burners offered enough space to facilitate backups, and DVDs and cheap hard drives made them easier still. But now we have something even better: the cloud.

Cloud storage solutions come in all shapes and sizes. Dropbox offers only a couple gigabytes of free storage, but its interface is incredibly simple to use. It creates a folder on your hard drive that’s linked to the Web — all you have to do to upload files is drag them into the folder. WindowsLiveSkydrive is designed to make it easy to view and edit Office documents in the cloud. Amazon’s Cloud Drive offers 5 gigabytes of free storage and a Web interface for uploading your files. Other services, like SugarSync and Mozy, focus more on automatically backing up your important data and storing it, rather than making it easily accessible online.

Here’s the smartest way to backup your data: Don’t rely on one service. Store files you access frequently in Dropbox and back up more in a free service like Amazon Cloud Drive. Keep a local backup on a secondary hard drive or on an automated backup drive like Apple’sTimeCapsule. With your data securely backed up and your passwords uncrackable, there’s only one thing left to be concerned about: your browsing habits.

Be Alert and Play It Safe

The beauty of cloud computing lies in the easy access you have to your data using any Internet-connected device. But without proper security precautions, you could be leaving yourself open to trouble.

Computer Image Gallery

The beauty of cloud computing lies in the easy access you have to your data using any Internet-connected device. But without proper security precautions, you could be leaving yourself open to trouble.

©iStockphoto.com/Thinkstock

In 2011, hacking groups like Lulzsec and Anonymous provoked an Internet firestorm by hacking major Web sites like Fox.com and online services like Sony’s PlayStation Network. Millions of user accounts were compromised. Usernames, passwords, home addresses and credit card information — lax Web site security often allows hackers easy access to boatloads of personal information. We can blame corporations for poor security and hackers for maliciously attacking Web sites, but there’s a third party often at fault in these attacks: ourselves, the users.

No, it’s not our fault Web sites get hacked. But poor Web safety habits put us at risk when we shouldn’t be. How often do you use the same username and password? Every time you create a new profile? If someone hacked your Facebook account, could they just as easily get into your e-mail inbox? Reusing passwords — or using weak passwords — makes you an easy target for identity theft. Remembering multiple passwords can be a pain, but there are Web services that can help. We’ll talk about one of the most popular options later in this article.

Internet cloud services — services that store your data on a server rather than on your hard drive so you can access it from any Internet-enabled device — are more powerful than ever before. Backing up photographs and important documents has never been easier. Google Docs and Gmail can take the place of Microsoft Word and Outlook Express. Banking sites take the place of expensive finance applications. All we have to do is be safe while we use them. Here are some simple safety tips for keeping your data secure in the cloud. First up: making your passwords as tough to crack as Fort Knox.

Is your password something that could be easily guessed, like a pet's name or -- heaven forbid -- the word "password"? If so, change it immediately.

Is your password something that could be easily guessed, like a pet’s name or — heaven forbid — the word “password”? If so, change it immediately.

Hemera/Thinkstock

Passwords are designed to keep our information safe from prying eyes. They’re like locks. A hacker may force the door and break your lock, but most of the time a strong lock keeps people out. But let’s be honest: Passwords are annoying. Remembering them is a pain, so we often take the easy way out and use simple passwords that we won’t forget. But if they’re easy to remember, they’re also easy to guess.

When the site RockYou.com was hacked in 2009, a security firm examined the 32 million compromised passwords and found that thousands upon thousands of users relied on the same basic phrases. The password “123456” took first place with 290,731 hits; “12345,” “123456789,” “Password” and “iloveyou” rounded out the top five most-used passwords [source: Tom’sHardware]. If you use one of those passwords, change it. The more complicated your password is, the safer your data will be. It’s true, complex passwords won’t be as easy to recall. Find a safe place to record your passwords if you can’t remember them.

The best passwords combine letters, numbers and symbols into an unusual configuration. Don’t take the easy route and capitalize the first letter of the word or use the numeral “1” in place of the letter “l” or a zero in place of the letter “O.” Throw in a few random numbers or characters like a plus sign (+) or underscore (_) and you’ll be far better off than anyone relying on “password123” or “qwerty” to keep them safe. Once you have a good password, what you do next is just as important: Don’t spread it around.

The annoyance of remembering passwords strikes again. It’s bad enough that we tend to use simple, easy-to-remember passwords for our Web logins — we also tend to pick one or two passwords and use them again and again for our e-mail, banking, Facebook and everything else. That’s bad. In fact, that’s really bad. If your password is compromised, someone could easily gain access to your e-mail account. And change that password. And then go to every site you’re registered on and change those passwords — the replacement passwords are always sent to your e-mail address.

Use different passwords for different sites. At the very least, change up letters, symbols and capitalization if you plan to use the same word or phrase across multiple sites. Make absolutely sure you don’t repeat a password across sites that have your credit card information or social security number. Your e-mail password is the most important. Keep it secure and don’t use it for any other sites.

One last password tip: Don’t tell other people your passwords. Even if you trust them, it’s not a particularly good idea. The more people who know your passwords, the greater the chances that those passwords could be accidentally compromised. All these password rules make our online lives more secure, but they don’t make them easier. Next up: a tool for taking some of the inconvenience out of password management.

If you wish you only needed one password for all of your cloud computing needs, a password management tool like LastPass can help.

If you wish you only needed one password for all of your cloud computing needs, a password management tool like LastPass can help.

©iStockphoto.com/pagadesign

LastPass is a password management utility that locks all of your unique passwords behind one master password. That means you can create separate logins for e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, cloud storage and everything else you do online, but still access those accounts by memorizing one single password. Web browsers will remember passwords for you, but LastPass can synchronize your information across multiple browsers and devices and fill in forms with a single click.

LastPass will even help you create randomized passwords that no one will ever crack. The service is free, but for a $1 per month premium account you gain access to the mobile version of LastPass for iOS, Android and most other mobile operating systems. What if LastPass gets hacked? That’s possible, but LastPasshasprotocolsinplace to encourage users to change their master passwords in the event of a breach. More importantly, validation tools like IP and e-mail address verification make it difficult for an impostor to log in to your LastPass account.

LastPass is just one example of a cloud-based service that makes managing data on the Web easier. When it comes to preserving your important pictures and files, finding the right backup services is key.

If there’s one piece of advice the tech savvy have been espousing for years and years, it’s this: Back up your data. A power surge, faulty hard drive platter, robbery or other unexpected system failure could happen when you least expect it, and if your data isn’t backed up you’ll beat yourself up over it for weeks. Years ago, backing up data was an arduous task. Hard drive storage was costly, but floppy disks only held a paltry amount of data. Eventually, ZIP disks and CD burners offered enough space to facilitate backups, and DVDs and cheap hard drives made them easier still. But now we have something even better: the cloud.

Cloud storage solutions come in all shapes and sizes. Dropbox offers only a couple gigabytes of free storage, but its interface is incredibly simple to use. It creates a folder on your hard drive that’s linked to the Web — all you have to do to upload files is drag them into the folder. WindowsLiveSkydrive is designed to make it easy to view and edit Office documents in the cloud. Amazon’s Cloud Drive offers 5 gigabytes of free storage and a Web interface for uploading your files. Other services, like SugarSync and Mozy, focus more on automatically backing up your important data and storing it, rather than making it easily accessible online.

Here’s the smartest way to backup your data: Don’t rely on one service. Store files you access frequently in Dropbox and back up more in a free service like Amazon Cloud Drive. Keep a local backup on a secondary hard drive or on an automated backup drive like Apple’sTimeCapsule. With your data securely backed up and your passwords uncrackable, there’s only one thing left to be concerned about: your browsing habits.

Internet hazards like viruses are, for the most part, easy to avoid. Shady Web sites usually look shady; e-mail attachments from spam addresses are never worth opening. Antivirus software is always a smart precaution, but smart browsing is an even greater ally. What does this have to do with protecting your data in the cloud? The same rules apply when it comes to buying online or creating accounts on new Web sites: Make sure the site is trustworthy.

If you’re buying from a retailer you’ve never heard of, do a little research on them first. They could have notoriously lax security and have a history of losing customer credit card information to hacking breaches.

Finally, be aware of what computers you’re logged into. Browsers will often ask to save your login information and keep a login session alive as long as the browser is open. If you log in to Facebook or your e-mail account on a friend’s laptop and then leave, you’ll likely still be logged in to those sites. If they’re trustworthy, that may not be a problem. But what if you’re using a public computer? Stay logged in to one of those and anyone could gain access to your account. Yep, that would be bad. Unless you’re using your own computer, remember to log out and never save your password and user information. Browse safe, and with a little luck, you’ll never have to worry about anyone finding a single one of your online passwords.


SAP’s HANA Vora Query Engine Harnesses Spark, Hadoop for Data Analysis

SAP says its new HANA Vora query engine extends the Apache Spark processing engine to provide the data analytics muscle to pull business insights from all types of big data.

290x195sap1

SAP is introducing a new in-memory query engine called HANA Vora that leverages the Apache Spark open source data processing engine and Hadoop to mine business insights from vast stores of data produced by machines, business transactions and sensors.The name Vora, short for “voracious,” according to the company, reflects the product’s ability to apply big data analytics techniques to enormous quantities of data.”HANA Vora plugs into Apache Spark to bring business data awareness, performance and real-time analytics to the enormous volumes of data that industries of all types will generate just in the next five years,” said Quentin Clark, SAP’s chief technology officer, in a video introducing Vora.Clark cited estimates that global businesses will generate 44 trillion gigabytes of data by 2020. Vora will enable enterprises to merge this vast quantity of new data with existing enterprise data sets to “make meaning out of all that data.”

SAP says its goal with HANA Vora is to relieve much of the complexity and grunt work with Spark and Hadoop to produce meaningful business insights from distributed data sets.

The trick is to put big data analytics in context with an understanding of business processes to pull business insights from the data. That is what SAP says HANA Vora will achieve.Financial services, health care, manufacturing and telecommunications are just a few of the industries where big data analytics can produce significant improvements to business processes, according to SAP.For example, Vora can be used in the telecommunications industry to relieve network congestion by analyzing traffic patterns.  It can also be used to detect anomalies in large volumes of financial transactions that indicate the possibility of fraud.The company plans to release HANA Vora to customers in late September. Also available will be a cloud-based developer edition.SAP’s introduction of Vora is an “interesting strategic and practical move that could pay dividends over time,” said Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT.

“In essence, Vora is an in-memory query processor that can be used to speed queries of unstructured data in Hadoop/Apache Spark environments, as well as structured information in common enterprise data sources, including SAP HANA. That could be a very attractive proposition to SAP’s large enterprise customers.”The introduction of Vora is fairly timely because “Apache Spark is a very hot topic right now and other vendors, including IBM are making sizable investments” in Spark and Hadoop technology, King noted. SAP is bringing Vora to market at a time when adoption of Spark is still in its early stages and making it work with other SAP technology such as HANA, King noted.SAP also announced application development enhancements to the SAP HANA Cloud Platform that will enable enterprises to speed up the development of a variety of applicationsOne of the enhancements enables enterprises to develop applications that gather and analyze data collected from sensors and industrial control devices connected to the Internet of Things.

Services available on this platform include device data connectivity, device management and data synchronization features.SAP also announced new business services running on the HANA cloud platform. These include a new SAP global tax calculation service that is going into limited trial in September. It allows companies to calculate taxes from more than 75 countries around the world.The service supports many tax functions, including withholding taxes, value-added taxes and import/export taxes. The service also keeps pace with changes in tax laws that alter tax calculations.The company also announced a public beta test program for the SAP Hybris-as-a-Service on the HANA Cloud platform. Hybris is a cloud platform for building business services of virtually any kind. The Hybris- as-a-Service platform  is open to independent software vendors, enterprise IT organizations and systems providers to build their own cloud services and market them to customers or other application developers.

Article Source – http://www.eweek.com/cloud/saps-hana-vora-query-engine-harnesses-spark-hadoop-for-data-analysis.html


Microsoft Azure VMs Aimed at Bigger Enterprise Cloud Workloads

290x195msftlayoffs20142Microsoft is making more room on its cloud for big enterprise application workloads.In January, the company announced the general availability of high-performance G-Series virtual machines (VMs) for Azure that offered up to 32 virtual CPUs powered by cutting-edge Intel Xeon server processors, 6TB of storage capacity provided by solid-state drives (SSDs) and 448GB of memory. According to Microsoft, enterprise adoption is brisk, with a 50 percent increase in use over the past three months.Now, the Redmond, Wash.-based tech giant and cloud provider is aiming even higher.”Today, we’re excited to announce a variant of G-series, the GS-series, which combines the compute power of G-series with the performance of Premium Storage to create powerful VMs for your most storage- and compute-intensive applications,” wrote Corey Sanders, partner director of program management at Microsoft Azure, in a Sept. 2 announcement. Still powered by Intel Xeon E5 v3 processors, the new Azure VMs bring Premium Storage support into the mix.

GS-series VMs, which are compatible with both Windows and Linux, “can have up to 64TB of storage, provide 80,000 IOPS (storage I/Os per second) and deliver 2,000 [megabytes per second] of storage throughput,” Sanders said. Microsoft claims that compared to rivals, the new VMs offer more than double the disk throughput and network bandwidth (20G bps).

The new offering is aimed at large database-driven workloads, Sanders noted. “Relational databases like SQL Server and mySQL, noSQL databases like MongoDB and data warehouses can all have significant performance gains when run on GS-series,” he said.Businesses seeking to grow or enhance the performance of their existing applications can use the VMs to trade up. “You can also use GS-series to significantly scale up the performance of enterprise applications, such as Exchange and Dynamics,” Sanders added.GS-series VMs are available in five sizes. The starter size (Standard_GS1) provides two virtual CPUs, 26GB of memory, a storage performance rating of 5,000 IOPS and a maximum disk bandwidth of 125MB per second. The top-tier Standard_GS5 supports up to 32 virtual CPUs and 448GB of memory, providing the performance Sanders used to illustrate the technology’s cloud-processing potential.For businesses that don’t require quite as much cloud computing horsepower, Microsoft also announced looming price cuts for its D-Series and DS-Series VMs.”We’re continuously striving to make these more accessible at lower price points, and are pleased to announce today that we’re reducing the prices on D-series and DS-series instances by as much as 27 percent,” Sanders said. The new pricing goes into effect on Oct. 1.Azure VM customers are also getting a new diagnostic tool to aid those suffering from boot or runtime failures. The tool displays the serial and console output of running VMs.


Google Raises the Cloud Apps Bar With Powerful New Docs Features

NEWS ANALYSIS: In its never-ending battle for dominance in the cloud applications market, Google has brought some powerful and mobile-friendly new features to Google Docs.

Imagine a voice dictation system that actually works for more than short messages. Imagine that it could eventranscribe a long conversation or a brainstorming session.That’s been a sort of Holy Grail for voice dictation for a long time. But now it appears that Google has managed to pull it off.However it turns out that voice dictation is just one of the major new features to come out of the new release of Google Docs announced on Sept. 2. Google also announced a new Research function and a new Explore function.Research is designed to integrate the process of search with the ability to cut and paste, so that you can, for example, add details from an online encyclopedia to a paper you’re writing on a tablet—along with photos—and do it all quickly and easily with a minimum of touch actions.

Explore is designed to make sense of data that you’ve stored in the Google Sheets spreadsheet app and to display it in a way that makes sense. Of course, that data still has to get into the spreadsheet somehow and you still have to tell Explore what data you want to look at, but according to the details released by Google today, the rest is automatic

Making document creation and collaboration easier for mobile users is a major focus of the new version of Google Docs, but not everything works with every mobile device. Research and Explore work only on Android, while voice dictation and typing work only on Android and iOS mobile devices. All of the features will work on PCs running Windows and on Macs as long as you use the Chrome browser.Most of the changes to Google Docs are evolutionary rather than revolutionary. For example, there’s a new feature for handling changes in collaborative documents where you can see the newest changes rather than everything that’s been changed since the last time that changes were accepted.Google also has incorporated a vast array of new templates with some new themes and more flexibility. These should make the basic documents, slides and spreadsheets more personalized for your organization. There are also some big changes in collaboration.One of the biggest changes to Google Docs is a “Share to Classroom” extension for Google Chrome. This feature is aimed at the education market, but would prove just as useful in any situation where a group is being asked to all look at the same Web page at the same time.Google uses an example of a fourth grade teacher in a blog entry on the sharing feature, but it would work equally well in a corporate training environment.