Friday, July 10, 2015

The Skynet is falling The Skynet is falling!

How many times have we heard this? Y2K Armageddon, XP end of life, Criptolocker, and now 2003 end of life. Just because we haven’t had a major crash, does that mean we should just keep drunkenly driving down the pothole filled road?

The Internet is falling!

There were all kinds of wild speculations about what “Could” happen do to the Y2K issue. Everything from toasters not working to nuclear meltdown, and what did happen? Wikipedia tells us the following:

·        In Sheffield, United Kingdom, incorrect Down syndrome test results were sent to 154 pregnant women and two abortions were carried out as a direct result of a Y2K bug. Four babies with               Down syndrome were also born to mothers who had been told they were in the low-risk group.
·        In Ishikawa, Japan, radiation-monitoring equipment failed at midnight; however, officials stated there was no risk to the public.
·        In Onagawa, Japan, an alarm sounded at a nuclear power plant at two minutes after midnight.
·        In Japan, at two minutes past midnight, Osaka Media Port, a telecommunications carrier, found errors in the date management part of the company's network. The problem was fixed by 02:43           and no services were disrupted.
·        In Japan, NTT Mobile Communications Network (NTT DoCoMo), Japan's largest cellular operator, reported on 1 January 2000, that some models of mobile telephones were deleting new         messages received, rather than the older messages, as the memory filled up.
·        In Australia, bus-ticket-validation machines in two states failed to operate.
·        In the United States, 150 slot machines at race tracks in Delaware stopped working.
·        In the United States, the U.S. Naval Observatory, which runs the master clock that keeps the country's official time, gave the date on its website as 1 Jan 19100.
·        In France, the national weather forecasting service, Meteo France, said a Y2K bug made the date on a webpage show a map with Saturday's weather forecast as "01/01/19100". This also occurred on other websites, including, at the time a general-purpose portal site primarily for AT&T Worldnet customers in the United States.

Now whether there were fewer problems due the millions of dollars spent to make the required changes or the problems wouldn’t have been much worse will never be known. We can make an educated guess that adding all of those “00” to countless databases had some positive impact. I’ve never been sorry when I’ve been proactive.

The United States Navy still uses Microsoft’s Windows XP, they were not proactive. The decision to use the obsolete operating system costs the Navy $9 million every year and the total bill could be nearly 30 million dollars. For procrastinating. New figures from migration specialist Camwood show that 11 million machines are still running Windows Server 2003. As I write this there are 4 days until end of life of server 2003. Why are these 11 million machines not updated? Is it the cost of the software? The manpower cost to install and migrate? Apathy?

How many of your clients are still running server 2003? Are you pushing them hard to upgrade? Are you going to purchase extended support at $600 a server? (about the cost of 2012 R2) Are you having them sign documents releasing you from responsibility if they get hacked or infected? Are you adding additional measures to stop potential infections? Making additional backup and business continuity plans?

Just because the sky hasn’t fallen in the past is no excuse not to look up to make sure it isn’t going to hit you this time. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Technology Technicality

We need technology. I mean we can live without it, humans have for millions of years, but today, we need technology. Everything thing today is technology driven, from banking to soda machines. How many people are kept alive each day due to technology such as pacemakers and dialysis machines? (I’ll let you do the math.) Needless to say, a lot. Today, technology is important.
Please Stand By Technical Difficulties

Today was a tough day for technology. There were three major outages.
  1. United Airlines
  2. The New York Stock Exchange
  3. The Wall Street Journal

United stated a router issue was to blame for the airline to request a ground stop for U.S. departures. The New York Stock Exchange halted buying and selling of stocks for about 3 ½ hours due to what it called a "technical issue". A spokeswoman for the Wall Street Journal said its website's outage was still being investigated.

Three seemingly unrelated issues happening on the same day that point out one glaring fact, technology matters. Technology matters and the ability to keep it running and available is job 1.

I read an article written by Andrea Chang and Tracy Lien for the LA Times (Here) that had some really good quotes from several security experts. In my opinion they boil do to this; these are complicated systems, they will never be perfect, we can’t stop them from failing, but we can prepare for when they do fail so we can recover quickly.

So the experts are telling us that businesses need a Business Continuity Plan. Everyone who knows this raise your hand. OK, now if your hand is up, keep it up if you have a written and tested Business Continuity plan. Lost quite a few there didn’t we? Why? Why would you know you need one and not have one? Apathy? Cost? Odds? Whatever your excuse is, it isn’t good enough.

Even very small SMB companies spend many thousands of dollars and hundreds of man hours setting up technology to run their business. If more than 10% of your yearly technology budget isn’t for security and continuity you are doing it wrong and you’re leaving yourself exposed.

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Role by any other name…

Would smell so sweet… Well, that is how Shakespeare wrote it (more or less), around 400 years ago. It hold true today in my mind. And it is front of mind for me right now, as I start to expand my function as our MSP Evangelist. When I started looking at what I need to do in this role I realized that I already do all of this stuff…

How do you answer when someone outside your organization ask, “What do you do”? Is it a generic I’m a salesman. Or a technician. Or I manage operations, what does that even mean? I have always found myself, in hybrid roles. Having a primary responsibility and all kinds of “stuff” that I help with. So if I say I’m a Sales Engineer does it mean I’m not an Evangelist, and vice a versa?

I have always done events, and webinars, and blogs, and demos, and meetings, and calls, and I have always done them. Done. Helped. Worked with. Participated. Never owned. That is the biggest difference with having the role verses doing the role, owning the role.

So I guess when someone ask me what I do, I should answer with what I own.