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10 Tips for Project Management Success in 2014

January 3, 2014
As we see yet another year come and go, I’d like to share my top 10 tips for Project Management. 10. Application projects - ALWAYS add buffer to your schedule There is one thing consistent on all application projects - Something unexpected will come up for which you haven’t accounted. Give yourself some contingency in your schedule to allow for the unknown to happen. 9. Define your success criteria This tells you what success looks like, so you know where you’re headed. This also helps you know when you have reached your destination and accomplished your goals. 8. Follow the basics for meeting facilitation ALWAYS allow five minutes near the end of each meeting for a quick review on “Who is doing what and by when?”. 7. Right-size your project processes You do NOT always require ALL PM tactics, templates, processes, inputs, and outputs to successfully complete your project. Customize and be flexible to suit the unique needs of each project. 6. Don’t allow your organization to engage in a project without a qualified project manager leading the troops No matter how small a project is, the project manager keeps the bigger picture in mind while the project team members sink deep into the day-to-day details and tasks (PM = Strategic, Team Members = Tactical). 5. Always have a good plan in place Don’t start doing the work until the work itself has been planned out. This will save you time and money in the long run. 4. Always be a critical thinker and problem solver If an issue comes up, think of different ways in order to solve your challenge; don’t just throw in the towel or extend the schedule – Get creative! 3. Don’t manage your project by schedules and timelines Lead your team through understanding and adapting to their differing personalities, communication styles, and approaches. You will be shocked by the deadlines you are able hit. 2. Operate on a no-surprise philosophy A project manager is a messenger of facts. Don’t wait till your facts are “red”; start communicating when they are “yellow”. Your stakeholders will appreciate the heads up when something is at risk, instead of when it has already become an issue. 1. Repeat out loud: “It’s not about me, it’s about them” A project manager’s job is to remove roadblocks for your team members and to get the most out of your team. Lead your project and your team through collaboration, respect, and fun - You will be amazed by the results. Happy PMing in 2014!!    Follow me @EyamieL
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Storage in a NetApp Nutshell

December 20, 2013
Silicon Valley – truly an innovator’s mecca where IT has a place to thrive, and ingenuity and the possibility of the next big technology idea could surface at any moment. Yes – I was quite impressed by my recent trip to the valley visiting the offices of NetApp in Sunnyvale, California. I had the opportunity to experience the exciting and vibrant culture that was once Network Appliance, and now known very simply as NetApp. What impressed me most about the NetApp environment was both the combination of passion for efficient and creative storage solutions as well as the somewhat humble approach to knowing they have more to do. Much more. NetApp is firing on all cylinders – or rather, spinning on all discs, to develop vastly improved ways to meet the needs of organizations to better store, secure, and access data – while helping organizations to go further, faster. That’s NetApp. One of the key technologies that took center stage is the compelling NetApp flash storage strategy. They are addressing the needs of organizations with two distinct routes. The first, FlashRay, takes an approach that can be optimized for specific workloads and comes with built-in efficiencies like deduplication and compression. The second is an approach to deliver high IOPS with extremely low latency while achieving perfection in price and performance. These two distinct architectures represent an exciting solution in the all-flash market segment. Combined with NetApp’s incorporated intelligent flash cache technology in its disk-based storage solutions – NetApp is establishing a new way in this game-changing technology. A real contender for organizations today that are looking for increased IT efficiencies and lightning fast application response times. There are some great innovations here. Faster, more efficient, and just plain cooler (that’s an intended pun on the reduced power and cooling costs when using NetApp Flash). It’s flash fever … and it’s time to consider it for your organization.
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Long View Systems Selected as a Partner for Microsoft’s Licensing Solution Provider (LSP) Program

December 20, 2013
We’re thrilled to have re-qualified from a LAR to a Microsoft Licensing Solution Provider (LSP) partner for Microsoft as they undergo, what I feel, is the most significant transition in their organization’s history. The cloud is transforming businesses all over the planet, including both Long View’s and Microsoft’s. Microsoft’s announcement of Long View as an LSP says that not only have we succeeded as a partner historically, but that we also share a vision of the future on how we can jointly help our clients with the opportunities presented by cloud. With the advent of new devices, cloud services and business models, we’ll be in step with Microsoft innovating together for our clients on how technology can inspire and transform businesses. Accountability. This transition from traditional transactional activities to managed services is a critical differentiator for Long View. Our organization has the ability to deliver to our clients everything from a transaction all the way through to its operation, and for many of our clients, we assume responsibility for not only procurement but also operations in complete transparency. I remember one of our enterprise clients telling us that one of the characteristics that defined the difference between vendors and partners was sharing accountability for business outcomes. It’s not just about selling clients software, but playing a strategic role and sharing responsibility for the software and its productive use. Service delivery shift. Microsoft’s move to Office 365 and Azure is the beginning of a long term service delivery shift and we share a vision of the opportunities that this will present for our clients. In our history, we’ve implemented Windows 7, Exchange, Lync, System Center and a whole array of Microsoft technologies for many of our enterprise customers that we work with. We’ve also helped our clients buy and renew enterprise agreements, manage true-ups and just flat out do a better job of asset management. Long View will continue to be engaged on all of these items but we’ll also be focused on ensuring our clients take advantage of the new opportunities to be productive anywhere and anytime that come with Office 365, leverage exciting new form factors like Surface and Windows Phones, and finally to redefine what data centers look like in Azure based hybrid cloud scenarios. The 100 Year Vision. I believe that in choosing a partner, it’s not only about today’s capabilities but the vision for the future and a track record of performance on delivering vision. Long View’s path to becoming a 100 year old company focuses on our people centric culture, our agility and creativity. We’re helping our clients manage new devices and service through our mobility management offerings, integrated hybrid cloud solutions and operational services. Our focus on being agile and creative in the market allows us to not only adapt but to thrive in a world of change. While we’re happy to be part of the technology and market shift, we also recognize that there are new pressures on us to perform for both Microsoft and our clients. We look forward to the opportunities that being a Microsoft LSP will provide to our customers in ensuring maximum business value from their Microsoft investments.
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Cloud Privacy – Real vs. Perceived Security

December 19, 2013
There is a lot of buzz around Cloud and the privacy (or perceived lack thereof) of an organizations data in shared environments. We see organizations going through what some may call extreme lengths to ‘protect’ their data in the Cloud. In a lot of cases, some of these security protocols and standards requested go well beyond the level of security the organization itself employs to protect its own data. This got me wondering, is this necessary in all cases? Granted there are quite a few situations where all possible steps must be taken to ensure the integrity, security and privacy of data. However, in a lot of cases, it seems that the steps being taken are too cumbersome, and in some, counterproductive. I ask myself how organizations protect themselves from the more real threat of data loss and compromise in everyday scenarios. Take, for example, cleaning staff who are regularly in contact with files, data, and even have physical access to IT equipment. To what lengths are security protocols followed here? Are background checks completed and validated by the organization? Do companies have the right level of security and management protocols in place to restrict access and validate integrity? The question must be asked: Are the everyday activities of employees secured in the same fashion that one would like the Cloud to be? I would garner from experience, that they are most likely not protected at anywhere near a level that Cloud services are required to be. Most Cloud providers have security standards in place that meet or exceed internal IT environments. They follow industry standards and accepted certifications including SAS70/SSAE16 and PCI, and controls such as Cobit and ISO. These standards are rigorous and difficult to implement for most organizations. Cloud providers are typically built from the ground up to encompass these controls and requirements. Intrusion detection, security reporting, and 24/7 monitoring are a few of the ways Cloud Services keeps your data and business safe. I ask you to think about these and other related services. Ask yourself what level is appropriate to balance the risk/return on investment, and evaluate the benefits of using such outsourced services.
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Assembling the IT Governance Puzzle with COBIT

December 18, 2013
In my last post I identified the 5 Domains of IT Governance and discussed how the insertion of relevant components of these domains into the enterprise is necessary to ensure effective IT governance. While it is useful to understand these domains and their importance to the business, the ability to actually identify and implement IT governance using this framework can be a complex and overwhelming undertaking. The answer to this problem may however be found in a framework first released in 1996 which has been gaining much popularity and momentum in recent years. This framework is called the "Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology", though commonly is simply referred to as COBIT. But what exactly is COBIT and why should you care? COBIT and its recent version 5 release is a comprehensive framework that, put simply, has been designed to help realize the alignment of the enterprise with IT and to assist organizations with meeting planned business objectives. COBIT identifies how organizations can optimize value from IT through a balance of Benefits Realization, Risk Optimization and Resource Optimization.  This is achieved through the use of 5 key principles designed to be applied to organizations of all types and sizes: Notably, COBIT should not be seen as an alternative to the popular Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) or other common standards and best practices. COBIT instead should be seen as complimentary as it attempts to be the bridge between all of these resources by providing information and direction on "what" needs to be done and the interactions of the various components. In contrast, ITIL provides the more detailed information for best practices on ‘how’ to design and implement the required solution. The below table helps show the depth and usefulness of COBIT 5 as a single go to point through its unification of standards and frameworks into a single holistic model. Figure 1 - COBIT 5 Coverage of Other Standards and Frameworks In its most simplistic form the 37 enabling processes identified by COBIT can be used to identify IT gaps and opportunities within the enterprise and provide invaluable insight and direction for their remediation/implementation. The COBIT framework can however be extended much further than this. Most notably COBIT has recently released a "Goals Cascade" intended to provide an effective means for ensuring alignment of IT with the business; commonly seen as one of the most prevalent and costly issues in the industry today. Through the use of capability and maturity assessments, COBIT can also provide you with the means to realize your continual improvement objectives - another common headache for many organizations. COBIT has also been heavily used for years by IT auditors as well as IT security and risk professional and as such should be considered default reading for anyone responsible or exposed to these areas of IT. The full purpose and use of COBIT 5 is however not something that can be easily captured in a single blog entry. To get started with COBIT I would suggest downloading the ‘COBIT 5 – A Business Framework Manual for the Governance and Management of Enterprise IT’ from www.ISACA.org. This is a free resource which will provide an initial overview of the framework, how it is used and all the potential benefits it offers. The ‘Enabling Processes’ book, which maps out all 37 COBIT processes, can be purchased for a small fee for non-ISACA members and should be your next point of focus. It is also advisable to consider becoming an ISACA member, as this provides you with free or reduced cost downloads to much of the COBIT material as well as an abundance of other IT governance, risk, compliance and security related information and benefits (reduced pricing, monthly newsletter, chapter membership, etc.). COBIT 5 foundation courses are also becoming increasingly popular and should also be considered by anyone wanting to understand more about COBIT and how it can be applied to realize effective IT governance. References: ISACA (2012) COBIT 5: A Business Framework for the Governance and Management of Enterprise IT, Illinois: ISACA Publishing
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Disaster Recovery Maturity

December 17, 2013
As an IT Business Continuity Consultant, I come across many organizations who think that having a solid disaster recovery strategy in place or even better, a well-documented Disaster Recovery Plan on hand provides the assurance that they will successfully recover their IT environment following a disaster or a loss of access to the IT infrastructure. This is often far from reality; because you have documented the recovery procedures for your critical systems and have a technology solution in place in support of recovery, this provides no guarantee that you can recover from a disaster. Much like a fire department with a ladder truck but with no training and without a fire chief, a disaster recovery plan without ownership and commitment offers no guarantee. Successful, dependable and repeatable recovery can only be ensured as organization reaches a certain level of DR maturity. The answers to these initial questions will help you determine your organization’s DR maturity (be honest):
  • Do I have full executive support for Disaster Recovery Planning?
  • Is there an annual budget in place specifically for DR or is it funded like any other project?
  • Is there staff allocated to owning, updating and testing the DR plan (DR Plan ownership)?
  • What type of DR tests do we conduct and how frequently?
Some of this may seem obvious but let’s dig a little deeper. If your DR planning efforts are only mostly IT driven, your DR capabilities will always be somewhat limited. For one, you likely have to take a best guess at what the business recovery requirements are. With top executive support and commitment, you get to work with the business groups on defining those requirements. With executive support also comes the funding for DR as process rather than a project. Without an annual budget allocation, plan maintenance, testing and training must be justified and funded each year and risk being put on hold to accommodate higher priorities. Staff allocation for DR ownership comes with executive support, commitment and funding. This does not have to be a dedicated role and, depending on the size of the organization, can be part of a broader job description. However, ownership of the DR program is vital to ensuring regular plan maintenance, testing and DR training. Without ownership, everyone assumes someone else is taking care of it and your plan quickly becomes untested and obsolete. I mentioned testing a number of times already so let’s talk about it. It is a very common mistake for organizations to want to conduct a full blown DR test following the completion of a DR plan; this not only a mistake but also an unreasonable expectation and overall a bad idea that can turn into a disaster of its own by disrupting the production IT environment. Like anything else, you only get better with practice so do not expect to break the world slalom record the first time you ski; start small with something like a table top exercise at first (reading and ‘acting’ the plan as a group) and add new elements with each new test by including technology recovery components. Testing is one of the most noticeable signs of achieving DR maturity; as you DR tests increase in scale and integrate real recovery scenarios, you team gets better at it, becomes more familiar with the procedures and continuously improve the plan. This is also the best form of training allowing the DR team to achieve a constant state of readiness which ultimately, it the true sign of an organization’s DR maturity.
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SAM the Cloud

December 16, 2013
With software vendors trending towards cloud licensing at a rapid rate, companies across the globe are asking themselves the same questions.  How does Cloud affect my software asset management practices? What is the difference between on premise and cloud licensing terms? How can I ensure compliance? Understanding software asset management in the cloud means understanding the changing license structure. Cloud licenses are almost exclusively subscription based, but some clouds do offer transferability of your on premise licenses to the cloud environment - check your current contract for terms and conditions. Subscription based licensing, rather than perpetual on premise licensing that you own and deploy in-house, is the part of cloud licensing that most dramatically affects your Software asset Management and compliance. With perpetual licensing you controlled when new versions were released, but were also responsible for the costs to deploy the new version including the software upgrade costs if you did not already have a software protection or assurance plan in place. Tracking software is mostly done by the hardware asset. With subscription licensing, cloud providers will move to the next version of software and you will be migrated along with the change, please note some providers do offer the ability to stay one version back. These costs are all included in your monthly or yearly charge with the vendor. Tracking software is primarily done by tracking the user. With these different license types come different software asset management tracking and in today's environment you will most likely be adapting your software asset management practices to track both on premise and cloud licensing for some time as mixed environments prevail. Ensuring compliance means following your software asset management best practices regardless of where the license resides. 1. Inventory Frequently 2. Get Organized 3. Review and Evolve Policies and Procedures 4. Maintain your SAM Plan For more information on software asset management visit http://www.longviewsystems.com/solutions/it-procurement-services/licensing/or for the latest updates follow us on twitter @LongViewSystems.
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HP Storage Announcements from Barcelona

December 13, 2013
Data and back up are continuing to grow at an exponential rate, as are the business challenges that accompany any advancement in technology. This week we have been watching announcements from HP Discover conference in Barcelona, and here are some solutions that help address these common pain points. Upgraded Security In the HP StoreOnce product line, HP has announced an upgraded operating system which will add backup integrity checking, VLAN tagging, and multi-tenancy capacities.  An optional StoreOnce Security Pack Software will provide the ability to encrypt data at rest and securely erase data for compliance purposes. Physical and Virtual models To complement the OS upgrade, HP has introduced a number of new physical and virtual models.  The virtual solution is a StoreOnce VSA which can be used in Cloud and ROBO deployments.  The following physical solutions have been added to the portfolio:
Model Capacity
HP StoreOnce 2700 Series 5.5TB
HP StoreOnce 4500 Series 36TB
HP StoreOnce 4700 Series 160TB
HP StoreOnce 4900 Series 432TB
HP StoreOnce 6500 Series 1.7PB
  95% Reduction in Stored Backup Capacity The StoreOnce 6500 Series offers a capacity of 1.7PB (estimated 35PB with deduplication) and promises to be 40% faster than the StoreOnce 6400.  HP is also offering a guarantee under a new program called the “HP Get Protected Guarantee Program”.   The program guarantees a 95% reduction in stored backup capacity consumption when using solutions from the new portfolio. 2X Performance In the HP StoreAll product line, HP has announced the StoreAll 8200 Gateway.  This device will be available in February, will provide 2x the performance and is estimated to cost $34,650.00 USD. Public Cloud to In-House Production An upgrade to the HP StoreAll OS (v6.5) in January will provide support for OpenStack Object Storage.  This will allow for Cloud Storage applications to be developed in the public cloud and then moved in house for production. Enhanced Search Capabilities The StoreAll will have enhanced ExpressQuery search capabilities and will provide more flexible queries, customizable reports, and file auditing for data forensics or discovery. Increased Performance and Reduced Latency In the HP 3PAR StoreServ product line, HP has announced an upgrade to the OS and larger MLC SSD’s (480GB and 920GB) which will be available in the new year.  The results of these improvements will be increased performance and reduced latency.  Optional Priority Optimization Software will provide QOS functionality for applications or tenants. For further updates from the conference, and the latest technology news, follow us on Twitter @longviewsystems or visit our website http://www.longviewsystems.com/solutions/it-project-delivery/storage
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What Does a Customer Really Want?

December 12, 2013
As I started my journey, I went to the only true source of relevant information – Google. In 0.46 seconds I received 1.3 billion answers to the question “What do customers want?” This made me pause. If this was a case study, and I was a customer of Google, did they just deliver what I wanted? They answered my question, surely, but were my specific needs met? Was I able to easily find the answer? Overwhelmingly the research argues that customers desire fundamentally basic things, though the order might vary depending on the product or service the customer plans to consume. At a most basic level, and in no specific order, customers want:
  • Value for money
  • Ease
  • Good service
  • A quality product
  • Predictability/reliability
Though each of these answers is obvious and relatively straight forward, they only describe the needs of a specific interaction. In the IT services business there is an underlying requirement for a trust based relationships, especially if there is a transformational or annuity characteristic to the transaction.  A foundation of trust must already exist for there to be an opportunity to satisfy the “wants” of the customer. The more transformational, or the longer the commitment associated with the decision, the stronger the trust based relationship needs to be. As magnitude or complexity of the decision increases, so does the need for relationships to extend to multiple layers of the organizations. At Long View, we have set ourselves on a 100 year journey. We have chosen to focus on customer relationships to lead our market segment as argued by Treacy and Weirsema in “Discipline of the Market Makers”. This necessitates that a strong trust based relationship, our integrity pillar, exist before we are able to apply customer specific wants like value for money or ease to each transaction. So did Google meet my needs as a customer? Yes. I wanted an answer to a question which I received quickly and easily. The experience and output was predictable and it didn’t cost me a cent. Follow me @pedge07
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Security Update – What is Ransomware?

December 10, 2013
While most of you have heard of Malware, I want to take the time to send out information regarding the latest malware that is on the rise. What is it? Ransomware is malware that stops you from using your PC until you pay a certain amount of money (the ransom). The two types that exist are Lock Screen, which locks the screen and prevents you from accessing anything on your PC, and Encryption, which encrypts the files on your PC to stop you from accessing them. The Encryption ransomware is the most malicious since the malware can encrypt your data using an algorithm that cannot be broken, and it warns the user that if the ransom is not paid to the malware operators, the key will destroyed and the data lost forever. How is it propagated? Essentially the malware enters through an infected file from a site or email. An example is below of how one company’s files were infected:
  • Account department received an email from a software company with a zip file attached
  • When the receiver opened the file, a white box quickly flashed on screen
  • Within a few hours, the company received word of a corrupt file on the system
  • By the time the file was found on the network, hundreds of gigabytes of data was lost
How do I protect my PC? First, make sure that your PC operating system and antivirus/malware protection are up to date and always observe best computing practices such as avoiding visiting unverified sites, clicking links from unknown sources, and avoiding executing/opening attachments from dubious email messages. If you have any questions please contact us through our website: (http://www.longviewsystems.com/contact/) If you would like further information on this threat, see the link below to Microsoft’s protection center: https://www.microsoft.com/security/portal/mmpc/shared/ransomware.aspx  
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