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Monkeys Cause System Failure

July 28, 2015

Nobody likes to talk about his or her failures.  Admitting to failure proves that you failed at a task in the past and it is a big blow to the ego.  Failure admission is even worse for technology companies, because users want to believe technology is flawless.  On Microsoft’s Azure Blog, Heather Nakama posted “Inside Azure Search: Chaos Engineering” and she explains that software engineers are aware that failure is unavoidable.  Rather than trying to prevent failure, they welcome potential failure.  Why?  It allows them to test software and systems to prevent problems before they develop.

Nakama mentions it is not a sustainable model to account for every potential failure and to test the system every time it is upgraded.  Azure Search borrowed chaos engineering from Netflix to resolve the issue and it is run by a bunch of digital monkeys

“As coined by Netflix in a recent excellent blog post, chaos engineering is the practice of building infrastructure to enable controlled automated fault injection into a distributed system.  To accomplish this, Netflix has created the Netflix Simian Army with a collection of tools (dubbed “monkeys”) that inject failures into customer services.”

Netflix basically unleashes a Search Chaos Monkey into its system to wreck havoc, then Netflix learns about system weaknesses and repairs accordingly.  There are several chaos levels: high, medium, and low, with each resulting in more possible damage.  At each level, Search Chaos Monkey is given more destructive tools to “play” around with.  The high levels are the most valuable to software engineers, because it demonstrates the largest and worst diagnostic failures.

While letting a bull loose in a china shop is bad, because you lose your merchandise, letting a bunch of digital monkeys loose in a computer system is actually beneficial.  It remains true that you can learn from failure.  I just hope that the digital monkeys do not have digital dung.

Whitney Grace, July 28, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


What We Know About SharePoint 2016

July 23, 2015

Everyone is vying for a first look at the upcoming SharePoint 2016 release. In reality those details are just now starting to roll in, so little has been known until recently. The first true reveal came from Bill Baer at this spring’s Microsoft Ignite event. CIO distills Baer’s findings down into their article, “SharePoint 2016: What Do We Know?

The article says:

“The session on SharePoint 2016 was presented by Bill Baer, the head of SharePoint at Microsoft. This was the public’s first opportunity to learn what exactly would be in this version of the product, what sorts of changes and improvements have been made, and other things to expect as we look toward the product’s release and general availability in the first quarter of next year. Here’s what we know after streaming Baer’s full presentation.”

The article goes on to discuss cloud integration, migration, upgrades, and what all of this may point to for the future of SharePoint. In order to stay up to date on the latest news, stay tuned to, in particular the dedicated SharePoint feed. Stephen E. Arnold has made a career out of all things search, and his work on SharePoint gives interested parties a lot of information at a glance.

Emily Rae Aldridge, July 23, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Microsoft Takes SharePoint Criticism Seriously

July 16, 2015

Organizations are reaching the point where a shift toward mobile productivity and adoption must take place; therefore, their enterprise solution must follow suit. While Office 365 adoption has soared in light of the realization, Microsoft still has work to do in order to give users the experience that they demand from a mobile and social heavy platform. ComputerWorld goes into more details with their article, “Onus on Microsoft as SharePoint and OneDrive Roadmaps Reach Crossroads.”

The article states Microsoft’s current progress and future goals:

“With the advent of SharePoint Server 2016 (public beta expected 4Q 2015, with general availability 2Q 2016), Edwards believes Microsoft is placing renewed focus on file management, content management, sites, and portals. Going forward, Redmond claims it will also continue to develop the hybrid capabilities of SharePoint, recognizing that hybrid deployments are a steady state for many large organizations, and not just a temporary position to enable migration to the cloud.”

Few users chose to adopt the opportunities offered by Office 365 and SharePoint 2013, so Microsoft has to make SharePoint Server 2016 look like a new, enticing offering worthy of being taken seriously. So far, they have done a good job of building up some hype and attention. Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime leader in search and he has been covering the news surrounding the release on Additionally, his dedicated SharePoint feed makes it easy to catch the latest news, tips, and tricks at a glance.
Emily Rae Aldridge, July 16, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Kashman to Host Session at SharePoint Fest Seattle

July 14, 2015

Mark Kashman, Senior Product Manager at Microsoft, will deliver a presentation at the upcoming SharePoint Fest Seattle in August. All eyes remain peeled for any news about the new SharePoint Server 2016 release, so his talk entitled, “SharePoint at the Core of Reinventing Productivity,” should be well watched. Benzinga gives a sneak peek with their article, “Microsoft’s Mark Kashman to Deliver Session at SharePoint Fest Seattle.”

The article begins:

“Mark Kashman will deliver a session at SharePoint Fest Seattle on August 19, 2015. His session will be held at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle. SharePoint Fest is a two-day training conference (plus an optional day of workshops) that will have over 70 sessions spread across multiple tracks that brings together SharePoint enthusiasts and practitioners with many of the leading SharePoint experts and solution providers in the country.”

Stephen E. Arnold is also keeping an eye out for the latest news surrounding SharePoint and its upcoming release. His Web service efficiently synthesizes and summarizes essential tips, tricks, and news surrounding all things search, including SharePoint. The dedicated SharePoint feed can save users time by serving as a one-stop-shop for the most pertinent pieces for users and managers alike.
Emily Rae Aldridge, July 14, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Watson Still Has Much to Learn About Healthcare

July 9, 2015

If you’ve wondered what is taking Watson so long to get its proverbial medical degree, check out IEEE Spectrum’s article, “IBM’s Dr. Watson Will See You… Someday.” When IBM’s AI Watson won Jeopardy in 2011, folks tasked with dragging healthcare into the digital landscape naturally eyed the software as a potential solution, and IBM has been happy to oblige. However, “training” Watson in healthcare documentation is proving an extended process. Reporter Brandon Keim writes:

“Where’s the delay? It’s in our own minds, mostly. IBM’s extraordinary AI has matured in powerful ways, and the appearance that things are going slowly reflects mostly on our own unrealistic expectations of instant disruption in a world of Uber and Airbnb.”

Well that, and the complexities of our healthcare system. Though the version of Watson that beat Jeopardy’s human champion was advanced and powerful, tailoring it to manage medicine calls for a wealth of very specific tweaking. In fact, there are now several versions of “Doctor” Watson being developed in partnership with individual healthcare and research facilities, insurance companies, and healthcare-related software makers. The article continues:

“Watson’s training is an arduous process, bringing together computer scientists and clinicians to assemble a reference database, enter case studies, and ask thousands of questions. When the program makes mistakes, it self-adjusts. This is what’s known as machine learning, although Watson doesn’t learn alone. Researchers also evaluate the answers and manually tweak Watson’s underlying algorithms to generate better output.

“Here there’s a gulf between medicine as something that can be extrapolated in a straightforward manner from textbooks, journal articles, and clinical guidelines, and the much more complicated challenge of also codifying how a good doctor thinks. To some extent those thought processes—weighing evidence, sifting through thousands of potentially important pieces of data and alighting on a few, handling uncertainty, employing the elusive but essential quality of insight—are amenable to machine learning, but much handcrafting is also involved.”

Yes, incorporating human judgement is time-consuming. See the article for more on the challenges Watson faces in the field of healthcare, and for some of the organizations contributing to the task. We still don’t know how much longer it will take for the famous AI (and perhaps others like it) to dominate the healthcare field. When that day arrives, will it have been worth the effort?

Cynthia Murrell, July 9, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Want To Know What A Semantic Ecosystem Is

July 8, 2015

Do you want to know what a semantic ecosystem is? The answer is available from TopQuadrant in its article, “Semantic Ecosystem-What’s That About?”  According to the article, a semantic ecosystem enables patterns to be discovered, show the relationships between and within data sources, add meaning to raw data artifacts, and dynamically bring information together.

In short, it shows how data and its sources connect with each other and extracts relationships from it.

What follows the brief explanation about what a semantic ecosystem can do is a paragraph about the importance of data, how it takes many forms, etc., etc.  Trust me, you have heard it before. It then makes a comparison with a natural ecosystem, i.e. the ones find in nature.

The article continues with this piece:

“As in natural ecosystems, we believe that success in business is based on capability – and the ability to adapt and evolve new capabilities. Semantic ecosystems transform existing diverse information into valuable semantic assets. Key characteristics of a semantic ecosystem are that it is adaptable and evolvable. You can start small – with one or more key business solutions and a few data sources – and the semantic foundation can grow and evolve with you.”

It turns out a semantic ecosystem is just another name for information management.  TopQuadrant coined the term to associate with their products and services.  Talk about fancy business jargon, but TopQuadrant makes a point about having an information system work so well that it seems natural.  When a system works naturally, it is able to intuit needs, interpret patterns, and make educated correlations between data.

Whitney Grace, July 8, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Google Before The SEC

July 6, 2015

Searching the Web you can find the most amazing and obscure items, such as this little gem from the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Web site: “Schedule 14A” registered by Google IncSchedule 14A explains information required for an SEC proxy statement, which is given to stockholders when votes are solicited at stockholders’ meetings.  This Schedule 14A lists many of the high-tech projects Google is working on to improve the lives of people.  Google founder Sergey Brin supposedly writes the schedule, but more than likely is was written by an assistant and his name was signed at the end.

It opens with this brief passage:

“When Larry and I founded Google in 1998, many elements came together to make our work possible. Like other companies at the time, we benefited from the increasing power and low cost of computation and from the unprecedented shift of information to the internet. We shared a profound belief in the power of technology to make life better for people everywhere and imagined what life could be like 10, 15, 20 years down the road. Nevertheless, now that we are here, I am amazed at the progress and opportunities. For example, I could not have imagined we would be making a computer that fits in a contact lens, with the potential to make life better for millions of people with diabetes.”

It is followed by a description of the contact lens that measures glucose levels in a body, then it goes into how Google revolutionized search and in turn delivered high-end services like email and Google Photos.

What Google piece would be complete without mentioning the self-driving cars?  Autonomous cars came about by increased computation power, but at least they do mention it will be sometime before they are ready for consumers.

Google does have an impressive list of accomplishments, sure to please any stockholder.  The question is will there be anything they will not experiment with?

Whitney Grace, July 6, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Meatbags Prevent Google’s Self-Driving Car

July 2, 2015

Driving is a privilege not a right…for humans and Google wants it for its self-driving carsGoogle, however, is still in the test phasing for its self-driving cars and announced that they would publish results of the study on a monthly basis.  They first report recently came out and it says that Google cars were in twelve accidents when they were on real roads.  The Register takes a snarky, informative approach to self-driving cars in “Google: Our Self-Driving Cars Would Be Tip-Top If You Meatheads Didn’t Crash Into Them.”

Google has twenty-three Lexus SUVs that have driven 1,011,338 miles with the self-driving software and 796, 250 miles with a human behind the wheel.  Many of the cars have taken to the real road, but nine are still restricted to the private track.

Google blames all twelve of the accidents on human error, not the software, and it is due to either the human driver in the autonomous car or the driver in the other car.  The Google cars, being rear-ended from driving too slow, caused seven accidents.  One accident was due to the Google car braking trying to avoid a collision and two more were when non-Google cars failed to obey traffic signs.  The worst accident caused when a Google car was driving at 63 mph and was sideswiped by a car changing lanes.  No one was hurt.  The last two accidents were the fault of Google’s employees: both accidents resulted in Google cars rear-ending the cars in front of them.

Google is quick to point out the software’s positive aspects:

“The report also highlighted some of the smarter aspects of the cars’ software. Google cars can identify emergency vehicles, for example, and automatically give way in a fashion many fleshy drivers are irritatingly unwilling to do.  The other example given was Google cars dealing with cyclists who didn’t obey the rules of the road. One cyclist veered in front of the car at night, and the software was clever enough to stop immediately to avoid a crash.”

Google will have its cars drive ten thousand miles a week on the software.  A recent luxury car ad campaign was critical of the self-driving car, saying people want the luxury of driving themselves with all the benefits of said luxury car.  It will be the TV vs. radio battle again, but the one thing holding back the self-driving car will be human error.  Stupid, stupid humans.

Whitney Grace, July 2, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

ClearStory Is On the Move

July 1, 2015

The article on Virtual-Strategy Magazine titled ClearStory Data Appoints Dr. Timothy Howes as Chief Technology Offiver; Fromer Vice President of Yahoo, CTO of HP Software, Opsware, and Netscape discusses Howe’s reputation as an innovative thinker who helped invent LDAP. His company Rockmelt Inc. was acquired by Yahoo and he also co-founded Loudcloud, which is now known as Opsware, with the founders of VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, who are current backers of ClearStory Data. Needless to say, obtaining his services is quite a coup for ClearStory. Howe discusses his excitement to join the team in the article,

“There’s a major technology shift happening in the data market right now as businesses want to see and explore more data faster. ClearStory is at the forefront of delivering the next-generation data analysis platform that brings Spark-powered, fast-cycle analysis to the front lines of business in a beautiful, innovative user experience that companies are in dire need of today,” said Howes. “The ClearStory architectural choices made early on, coupled with the focus on an elegant, collaborative user model is impressive.”

The article also mentions that Ali Tore, formerly of Model N, has been named the new Chief Product Officer. Soumitro Tagore of the startup Clari will become the VP of Engineering and Development Operations. ClearStory Data is intent on the acceleration of the movement of data for businesses. Their Intelligent Data Harmonization platform allows data from different sources to be quickly and insightfully explored.

Chelsea Kerwin, July 1, 2014

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Microsoft Puts the Cloud First with SharePoint Server 2016

June 30, 2015

Discussion of the cloud seems to push users into two camps: for and against. While hybrid is probably truly the way of the future, folks are still currently either of the “love it” or “hate it” variety. Redmond Magazine has provided good ongoing coverage of the upcoming SharePoint Server 2016 release, and their article, “Microsoft Taking a ‘Cloud First’ Approach with SharePoint 2016,” gives more details about what can be expected.

The article says:

“SharePoint Server 2016 will be a very cloud-inspired product when commercially released next year . . . Microsoft’s cloud services have been looming in the background of prior SharePoint Server releases . . . Office 365 cloud services have played a role since SharePoint Server 2013, and they will do so going forward with SharePoint Server 2016.”

One of the main promotional points of the new release is a promised “unified experience” for SharePoint users. While cloud skeptics still have reason to be cautious, the promised improvements may win them over. To stay up-to-date with the latest news regarding SharePoint, stayed tuned in to and the dedicated SharePoint feed. Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime leader in search and his expertise comes in handy when trying to stay current without spending a lot of time doing independent research.

Emily Rae Aldridge, June 30, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


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