Skip navigation.

Chris Foot

Syndicate content
Remote DBA Experts Blog
Updated: 13 hours 23 min ago

Database experts try to mitigate the effects of the Heartbleed bug

Tue, 2014-04-15 01:44

Recently, the Heartbleed Bug has sent a rift through global economic society. The personal information of online shoppers, social media users and business professionals is at risk and database administration providers are doing all they can to either prevent damage from occurring or mitigate detrimental effects of what has already occurred. 

What it does and the dangers involved
According to, the vulnerability poses a serious threat to confidential information, as it compromises the protection Open Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Security Layer technology provides for Internet-based communications. The virus allows anyone on the Web – particularly, cybercriminals – to view the memory of the systems protected by affected versions of OpenSSL software, allowing attackers to monitor a wide array of transactions between individuals, governments and enterprises and numerous other connections. 

Jeremy Kirk, a contributor to PCWorld, noted that researchers at CloudFlare, a San Francisco-based security company, found that hackers could steal the SSL/TSL and use it to create an encrypted avenue between users and websites, essentially posing as legitimate webpages in order to decrypt traffic passing between a computer and a server. For online retailers lacking adequate database support services, it could mean the divulgence of consumer credit card numbers. If customers no longer feel safe  in purchasing products online, it could potentially result in the bankruptcy of a merchandiser. 

Think mobile devices are safe? Think again 
Now more than ever, database experts are making concentrated efforts to effectively monitor communications between mobile devices and business information. As the Heartbleed Bug can compromise connections between PCs and websites, the same risk is involved for those with mobile applications bridging the distance between smartphones and Facebook pages. CNN reported that technology industry leaders Cisco and Juniper claimed that someone can potentially hack into a person's phone and log the details of his or her conversations. Sam Bowling, a senior infrastructure engineer at web hosting service Singlehop, outlined several devices that could be compromised:

  • Cisco revealed that select versions of the company's WebEx service are vulnerable, posing a threat to corporate leaders in a video conference. 
  • If work phones aren't operating behind a defensive firewall, a malicious entity could use Heartbleed to access the devices' memory logs. 
  • Smartphone users accessing business files from iPhones and Android devices may be exposed, as hackers can view whatever information a person obtained through select applications. 

Upgraded deployments of OpenSSL are patching liable avenues, but remote database services are still exercising assiduous surveillance in order to ensure that client information remains confidential. 

Mobile device management is a two-sided battle

Mon, 2014-04-14 01:39

The rise of the Internet of Things and the bring-your-own-device phenomenon have shaped the way database administration specialists conduct mobile device management. Many of these professionals are employed by retailers using customer relationship management applications that collect and analyze data from smartphones, tablets and numerous other devices. This level of activity creates a web of connectivity that's difficult to manage and often necessitates expert surveillance. 

Managing the remote workplace 
Merchandisers are challenged with the task of effectively securing all mobile assets used by their employees. Many of these workers have access to sensitive corporate information, whether it be a product development files, customer loyalty account numbers or consumer payment data. According to CIO, some organizations lack the in-house IT resources to effectively manage the avenues through which intelligence flows from smartphones to servers. 

As a result, small and midsize businesses often outsource to remote database support services to gain a comprehensive overview of their BYOD operations. David Lingenfelter, an information security officer at Fiberlink, told the news source that the problem many SMBs face is that their employees are using their own individual mobile devices to access company information. Many large enterprises often provide their workers with such machines, so there's inherent surveillance over the connections they're making. 

Moving to the home front 
Small, medium and large retailers alike are continuing to use CRM, which provides these commodity-based businesses with specific information regarding individuals. IoT has launched the capabilities of these programs, delivering data from a wide variety of smart mechanisms such as cars, watches and even refrigerators. Information being funneled into company servers comes from remote devices, creating a unique kind of mobile device management for database administration services to employ. 

Frank Gillett, a contributor to InformationWeek, noted that many consumers are connecting numerous devices to a singular home-based network, providing merchandisers with a view of how a family or group of apartment mates interacts with the Web. In addition, routers and gateways are acting as defaults for making network-connected homes ubiquitous. 

"These devices bring the Internet to every room of the house, allowing smart gadgets with communications to replace their dumb processors," noted Gillett.

However, it's not as if the incoming information submitted by these networks can be thrown into a massive jumble. In order to provide security and organize the intelligence appropriately, remote DBA providers monitor the connections and organize the results into identifiable, actionable data. 

Database experts contend with clients using Windows XP

Wed, 2014-04-09 14:23

Despite the fact that fair warning was given to Windows XP users several months before Microsoft announced that it would terminate support services for the outdated operating system, a large number of businesses continue to use it. Citing security concerns, database administration services have urged these professionals to make the transition to Windows 8.1.

Why it's a concern
The last four patches were delivered to XP users on April 7. Michael Endler, a contributor to InformationWeek, stated that the the 12-year-old OS still has twice as many subscribers as there are for Windows 8 and 8.1 combined. It's believed that general reluctance to switch to the new systems is rooted in how comfortable XP users have become with the solution. The problem is, IT professionals are expecting hackers to launch full-scale assaults on the machines hosting these programs in an attempt to harvest information belonging to individuals, as well as the companies they're working for. 

To the dismay of consumers, a fair number of banks and other organizations handling a large flow of sensitive customer data are still using XP. However, many of these institutions have hired the expertise of database support services to provide protection and surveillance for their IT infrastructures. Endler noted that select XP subscribers will still receive backing from Microsoft, though they'll be shelling out millions of dollars for the company to do so. 

Making a push for the new OS
In an effort to convince others to switch to the new Windows 8.1 update, Microsoft took a couple of strategic initiatives. Firstly, the corporation offered $100 to XP users still operating through the 12-year-old system to help consumers cover the cost of obtaining up-to-date machines. In addition, CIO reported that Windows 8.1 users won't receive patches or other future updates for the OS unless they install the new update. In other words, if businesses don't favor the changes the company has been making to 8.1, there's no way they can receive security fixes, leaving many to rely on database administration to mitigate the issue. 

In contrast, Windows 7 and 8 users will still continue to receive the same assortment of patches they've been accepting. Though Microsoft has garnered generally positive attention for its integration of cloud and mobile applications into its brand, the company's business techniques have been met with criticism. It's likely that the software giant is simply employing these strategies to assert itself as a forward-acting corporation. 

College finds success with Oracle’s business intelligence tools

Tue, 2014-04-08 14:02

Professionals who believe that business intelligence is simply another buzz phrase thrown around by database experts are often left at the bottom of the totem pole of corporate production. These naysayers often perceive analytics tools to be an extraneous expense, but the technology is in fact becoming a necessity for corporations intent on surviving in an increasingly competitive market. 

Reducing the amount of transfers
According to Campus Technology, Valdosta State University in Georgia recently improved its overall student retention rate thanks to business intelligence applications provided by database heavyweight Oracle. Before implementing the solutions, the institution retained a mere 67 percent of its first-year student body, costing the University an estimated $6.5 million in annual revenue. 

With the assistance of a database administration service, the organization began integrating the analytics tools in April 2012 in a two-part transition procedure:

  • In the first phase, VSU implemented Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition, a program possessing interactive dashboards, ad hoc queries and strategy management. 
  • The second stage occurred in the fall of 2012, in which the university launched Oracle Endeca Information Discovery. The software enabled administrators to collect and scrutinize student data from various sources.

After correlating the information gathered from Enterprise Edition and Information Discovery, VSU database administration noticed that pupils who eat breakfast on campus have a 10 percent higher retention rate than the majority, while freshmen who worked on campus had a 30 percent greater chance of staying at the school. As a result, the institution promoted on-campus eateries and invested $200,000 in student employment. A year later, VSU kept 2.5 percent more students than it did in previous years. 

Interest is increasing 
Interest in the technology has increased over the years, especially among companies in the retail industry. TechNavio reported that the global business intelligence market in the merchandising economy is anticipated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 9.19 percent over the next four years. Due to the incredible volume of data retained by commodity-based businesses, remote database support providers are introducing more complex data processing tools to their systems. 

"Basically, BI means getting the right information to the right people at the right time to support better decision-making and gain competitive advantage," TechNavio noted. 

Universities across the U.S. strive to make their institutions more appealing than their rivals. This could mean lowering tuition rates, promoting certain curricula or renovating dorms. However, school administrators could get a better idea of where to allocate resources after consulting the algorithmic conclusions of BI. 

How the Internet of Things will transform DBA services

Tue, 2014-04-08 01:48

Contemporary data warehouses are going beyond the basic store-and-save capabilities IT departments are used to seeing. However, due to increased usage of data collection and analysis tools, database administration services have managed more complex infrastructures that are better able to host these programs. An increase in server usage and action diversity has created an intricate environment demanding more assiduous maintenance and surveillance than was previously necessary. 

The next big thing? 
Teradata, a company providing information analysis architectures, recently introduced Teradata Database 15, which promises to deliver a logical, more intelligent data repository. Scott Gnau, president of Teradata Labs, noted that the company is offering users the chance to orchestrate analytic queries across multiple systems, incorporate and consume JavaScript Object Notation and run non-SQL languages. 

The organization's push for JSON is rooted in the prevalence of the Internet of Things. Companies are now using smart devices to amass millions of data points derived from the unique perspectives of each mechanism. The database experts claimed that the open standard format can offer organizations the agility needed to remain competitive. Business models, marketing campaigns and project developments can be quickly assembled from the human-readable text of JSON. 

To the satisfaction of innovative database administration professionals, Teradata 15 is expected to possess greater application development features. Without having to attain new parallel programming skills, creators can now access a more diverse array of data and construct programs through a robust environment. 

Organizing the disordered 
One aspect of IoT data is that it is largely raw, unstructured and unorganized. As a result, IT-driven corporations are reassessing the value of NoSQL databases, which have been built to better handle the digital information produced by a wide array of smart devices, websites and other resources. According to Forbes, Oracle experts have claimed that this newfound interest presents a great opportunity to the world's second largest software company. The source noted IDC Research's prediction that 90 percent of all data produced this decade will be disorganized. 

A traditional relational database management system is incapable of processing the heterogeneous, non-alphanumeric data that has grown quite prevalent of late. Forbes acknowledged the value of deploying a blog, which may possess carefully placed advertisements that drive the proprietor's revenue. Database analytics tools that skillfully select these instant marketing campaigns can only be supported by NoSQL, as it offers users horizontal scaling. 

RDBMS is slowly fading out of the mixture, giving way to a new breed of operations better acclimated to the current disorganized data climate. In turn, database support services will answer with new assessment and management tools capable of handling NoSQL operations. 

Shifting preferences may change the priorities of database experts

Fri, 2014-04-04 10:01

Businesses are realizing that investment in data analytics tools can be a major boon to their market intelligence divisions. Digital information collected from smartphones, tablets and other devices is contributing to a seemingly limitless vat of knowledge for executives looking to launch the next big product or service. Due to the sheer scale and complexity of such an operation, corporations are outsourcing their IT responsibilities to database administration services capable of giving them a comprehensive view of all market and in-house insight.

Connecting to more, in unlikely places
Innovators have speculated that a smart refrigerator may emerge in the not-too-distant future, capable of providing owners with recipes obtained from the Internet based upon what food is being stored in the machine. It's this kind of intelligence that could potentially revolutionize the food industry. Grocery stores may build entire marketing campaigns based upon what edibles are most popular. Chain restaurants may use these devices to store their products and funnel the information into customized analytics tools designed to create new recipes.

Behind these developments is the Internet of Things. Lori MacVittie, a contributor to InformationWeek, claimed that the IoT will continue to be integrated with wearables, children's toys, pens and other items, a process that's sure to revolutionize the contemporary data center. However, she noted that harnessing these assets won't be an easy endeavor, even for the most capable enterprises. Ultimately, two optional procedures will most likely become necessities. First, database experts will need to be consulted. Second, the appropriate applications will need to be used in order to process the influx of information.

How the consumer will use it
It's generally understood how corporations will harness this technology, but many are still speculating on how consumers will interact with devices connected to IoT. According to Business Insider contributor Emily Adler, the instruments people use on a daily basis will enter the widespread data environment. She noted that home appliances may be consulted by homeowners to determine how much energy a household is spending, the residual effect being that an individual can determine how he or she can reduce their electric bill.

As fitness is an ongoing trend that is likely to remain prevalent over the next couple of decades, chain gyms and exercise centers could ask their customers to connect their wearable devices to their corporate databases. Already, these mechanisms are capable of recording how many steps a person has taken as well as their weight, blood pressure and other statistics.

This phenomenon will likely result in a trade-off between consumers and businesses, the latter consulting database administration support to harness programs capable of translating customer data into actionable intelligence.

Corporations seek to find optimal database security

Thu, 2014-04-03 01:46

Though it may sound counterintuitive, a number of database experts have claimed that a company may benefit from disclosing information regarding its IT infrastructure to competitors. This may seem like a network security nightmare in and of itself, but collaborating with other market participants may provide valuable insight as to how organizations can deter cybercriminals. Others prefer to stick with improvements issued by established professionals. 

Applying updates 
Possessing quality database protection is being seen more as a profit-driver than an expense, primarily due to the fact that if digital information is stolen from a corporate server, it could potentially result in millions of dollars in losses. It's no surprise that database administration services are being consulted now more than ever. In addition, the makers of the products these professionals interact with have assessed security concerns and sought to mitigate potential problems. 

Oracle NoSQL Database 3.0 was recently released, with improved performance, usability and safeguards. The upgrade utilizes cluster-wide, password-based user authentication and session-level SSL encryption techniques to deter cybercriminals from hacking into a company infrastructure. Andrew Mendelsohn, executive vice president of database server technologies for Oracle, claimed that that it helps remote DBA personnel construct and deploy state-of-the-art applications in a secure environment. 

Walking around naked 
Corporations often misunderstand the advice of IT professionals to share security protocols with their competitors. It's not about exposing weaknesses to cybercriminals and providing them with a comprehensive framework of the database's infrastructure, it's about collaborating with like-minded executives attempting to find a solution to an issue that isn't going to disappear. 

Evan Schuman, a contributor to Computerworld, cited Full Disclosure, an online community through which database administration support, C-suite personnel and IT professionals could publicly report network breaches and discuss methods through which security problems could be resolved.

Due to the fact that gray hat hackers could access the forum, researchers would notify software companies at least 30 days prior to posting on the website so that the developers could apply the appropriate patches beforehand. This kind of initiative identified problems before cybercriminals could exploit them. Unfortunately, to the dismay of its participants, rumors have been circulating that Full Disclosure will shut down in the near future.

"By not having this place to expose them, the vulnerabilities will remain hidden longer, they will remain unpatched longer, yet the attacks will keep coming," said an anonymous security manager for a retailer. 

Ultimately, black hat hackers have extensive communities through which they can share the same kind of information professionals posting to Full Disclosure are. If the website goes dark, cybercriminals will still have networks of communication, while law-abiding IT industry participants will not. 

Organizations using data to track environmental change

Wed, 2014-04-02 10:58

In light of a study recently released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the database administration needs of public agencies and organizations are expected to expand significantly. As it was industrialization and innovation that incited this worldwide issue, the Internet of Things will continue to be used to identify the detrimental effects climate change has on particular ecosystems and economies of the world. 

Patrick Thibodeau, a contributor to Computerworld, claimed that the IPCC's study acknowledged the importance of sensor networks to monitor the shifting global environment. Potentially, these devices could help government officials anticipate droughts, floods and natural disasters caused by rising temperatures. In addition, it is hoped that the mechanisms will identify ways to preserve water and food supplies as well as determine methods for reducing energy consumption. 

If public authorities choose to acknowledge the recommendations of the IPCC, the influx of new data derived from the IoT is sure to increase network traffic, requiring the expertise of remote database support to ensure that all analytics programs are running efficiently. As it's somewhat ambiguous as to how these sensors will be deployed, the kinds of avenues through which information flows into networks may pose as a challenge to in-house IT departments.

An example of a new innovation 
The types of devices the government and non-profit environmental agencies use are quite variable. Some may track the shifting tides across the Atlantic and the Pacific while others will determine the acidity of farming soil. If all the data collected by these devices is assembled onto a single server, outsourced database experts may be consulted to mitigate it all. It looks as if scientists have already taken the first step. 

According to Space Daily, engineers from Europe developed the Sentinel-5 instrument, a mechanism which allows the continent's Copernicus program to monitor air quality around the globe. The article noted that atmospheric pollution is linked to millions of deaths around the world. 

"The readings will help to both monitor and differentiate between natural and human-produced emissions, providing new insight on the human impact on climate," noted the news source. 

Amassing and translating such an incredible amount of data will most likely necessitate the expertise of remote DBA to ensure that networks don't crash or overload. It's hoped that Copernicus, the world's first operational environmental surveillance system, will provide scientists with specific insight on how the earth's population can reduce emissions. 

The Merge Join Transformation and a SSIS Sorting Tip

Wed, 2014-04-02 06:43

My previous blog post was about the SSIS Lookup task and how it really works. Now that I have shown that the Lookup task shouldn’t be used for one-to-many or many-to-many joins, let’s take a look at the Merge Join transformation task. If you follow along with this blog, you will learn a little tip that will eliminate the requirement for you to add a SORT transformation task within your data flow task.

Previously, we isolated our results sets down to one employee in the AdventureWorks database and joined two tables together. I’m going to do the same thing here. This time, I am going to introduce a third table into the join logic. The three tables are listed below:

  • Employee Department History
  • Person
  • Department

Here is what it would look like via SSMS with T-SQL:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Let’s see how we can mimic this result set in SSIS without using T-SQL to join the three tables. First, I want to say it is not always going to be the best option not to use T-SQL instead of individual tasks in SSIS. I have learned over time that it is easier to write the join logic directly in you data flow source task sometimes. However, this is for demonstration purposes.

Let’s say you received a request to extract a result set, order the results set, and load it to another location. Here is what your package would look like in SSIS using the Merge Join transformation task:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Here are our results:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Notice, I used the SORT transformation task in the example above. I used this to depict what has to occur in a step by step approach:

  • Extracted data from the Person and Employee Department History tables
  • Sorted each result set
  • Merged the two results into one using inner join logic
  • Extracted data from the Departement table
  • Sorted the first Joined result set and the Department result set
  • Merge the Joined result set from Persons and Employee History with the Department table

Let’s talk about best practice for this example. This is where the Sort tip is introduced. Since we need an ordered result set per the request, we are using the merge transformation instead of the Union All task. Additionally, we used the Sort task. The Sort task can heavily impact the performance of an SSIS package, particularly when you have larger result sets than what we are going to extract from the AdventureWorks database.

Best practice is to bring in an ordered result set at the source and then merge your record sets. Well, how do you do that? Let’s walk through ordering your result set at the source and configuring your source to define the sorted column for merging your record sets.

First, we open the task and add our ORDER BY clause to our source.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Next, close the source task, right click on the same source task, and choose the Show Advanced Editor option.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

There are two specifications in the Advanced Editor that need to be defined in order to make this work:

  • Click on the Input and Output Properties tab
  • Click on the OLE DB Source Outputs
  • Change the IsSorted parameter to “True”

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

  • Drill down into the OLE DB Source Output to Output columns.
  • Click on your columns that you used in your ORDER BY clause.
  • Change your SortKeyPosition parameter from “0″ to “1″.

The desired results should look similar to those below:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Next, you can remove each sort task that directly follows your OLE DB Source task by repeating the steps above to reconfigure each source editor. Now, my data flow task looks like this:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

We get back the same results:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

In case you are wondering why I got rid of all of the Sort tasks except for the one that follows the first merge join, I’ll explain. There are two reasons for this. My second join is on DepartmentID and, most importantly, the merge transformation task is not considered a data flow source task and does not come with the functionality to define the sorted order.

To conclude my second blog post of this series, the Merge Join transformation task can be used to merge columns from two different tables using Join logic similar to the Joins that can be used in T-SQL. We have looked at a step by step break down of what has to occur to implement a Merge Join transformation task as well as discussing some tips and best practice in regards to using the Sort task in SSIS.

I hope this blog post has been informative and that you look forward to reading my third post soon.

Omnichannel retail changes the face of the merchandiser’s database

Tue, 2014-04-01 09:48

Retailers that have failed to adapt to the e-commerce landscape are seemingly destined for failure. Those that have executed an omnichannel product delivery approach have implemented complex data analytics programs to provide them with valuable market insight on both individual customers and groups of people. Helping them effectively manage this software are database experts well acquainted with the technology. 

Meeting expectations 
Although online shopping has driven profits for merchandisers, it's also presented them with a list of new problems. One challenge that has evolved with the prevalence of e-commerce is reaching customer satisfaction. Back in the days when the only place to purchase items was in a brick-and-mortar store, it was enough to deliver a product that functioned the way it was supposed to at a reasonable price. Now, retail websites are expected to possess customized marketing campaigns for particular visitors and offer more rewards to loyal customers. 

Meyar Sheik, CEO of personalization software vendor Certona, claimed that without the appropriate data and actions to target shoppers with relevant, applicable information, it becomes very difficult for merchandisers to execute an effective omnichannel strategy. In this respect, possessing the programs capable of managing and translating such a large amount of data is just as much a part of the the customer relations strategy as product development. 

Leaving it to the professionals 
As more retail executives are more concerned about the intelligence derived from the data, many have hired database administration services to effectively implement and run the data analytics programs. In a way, these professionals do more than maintain a corporate network, they provide the expertise and tools necessary to keep the foundation of a business profitable. 

C-suite merchandisers aren't ignorant of this fact, either. According to a report released by research firm IDC, retailers are expected to heavily invest in big data and analytics projects in 2014, requiring the invaluable knowledge of IT services providers. In addition, the study showed that mobile applications connected to e-commerce operations will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 10 percent over the next three years. 

From what can be gathered based on the latter statistic, smartphones and tablets are anticipated to be major participants in omnichannel strategies. It is very likely that database administration companies will be hired to oversee the connectivity of these devices and ensure that the avenues through which they communicate are not exploited by cybercriminals. 

Overall, the functionality of data analytics tools and e-commerce software is dependent on IT professionals capable of assessing the needs of particular merchandisers. 

Enterprises learn how to capitalize on big data

Tue, 2014-04-01 01:42

Due to the limited capabilities of a 24-person IT department faced with data analytics programs, many organizations have turned to database administration experts to monitor and operate them. Though they may not deploy the systems themselves, an outsourced service well acquainted with specific client operations can provide valuable insight for business executives looking to gain actionable digital information. 

An unlikely friend 
Organizations providing data analytics systems often push their products as "one size fits all" programs that may or may not be applicable to businesses engaged in different industries. Database administration services acknowledge the specific needs of each of their clients and how they intend to use digital information processing software. Some may collect real-time data points on individual shopping habits while others may be using predictive tools to anticipate product backorders during an impending snow storm. 

According to CIO Magazine, rental-car company Hertz supplements its in-house analytics resources and data center with an outsourced IT service provider. Barbara Wixom, a business intelligence expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, claimed that the nationwide organization relies on the database experts to purge unnecessary information, host and manage data and provide insights. One of the programs the company utilizes examines comments from Web surveys, emails and text messages so that store managers can get a better view of customer satisfaction. 

Connecting with the rest of the company
As database administrator services encounter hundreds, if not thousands of different data analytics programs in a typical work week, their personnel have obtained the invaluable ability to communicate the results of the programs to the people utilizing them. Predictive analytics tools provide actionable results, but learning how they work can be a daunting task for marketing professionals just trying to get market insight on particular individuals or populations. 

Ron Bodkin, a contributor to InformationWeek, noted that acclimating individual departments to specific data processing actions is essential to the survival of a company. The writer cited Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, which created a data processing platform capable of hosting each team's separate needs and desires while still providing executives with a holistic view of all operations. 

"Access to internal data often requires IT to move from limiting access for security to encouraging sharing while still governing access to data sets," claimed Bodkin. 

The writer also acknowledged the importance of a general willingness to learn. Who better than database experts to educate unknowledgeable executives in how analytics programs operate? 

Health care executives find challenges in new IT adoption

Mon, 2014-03-31 01:59

As the United States Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services push health care providers toward electronic health record adoption, many industry leaders are finding the process to be much more difficult than the federal government anticipated. Many physicians are claiming that their in-house IT departments are struggling with implementation, while others are relying on database administration services to successfully deploy EHR programs. 

Forcing deployment 
As outlined by CMS, Stage 2 Meaningful Use requires all health care companies to utilize EHR systems by the end of this year. While some organizations have had better luck than others, the general consensus among professionals is that the industry was taken off guard by the mandate. Creed Wait, a family-practice doctor living in Texas, spoke with The Atlantic contributor James Fallows on a few of the issues hospital IT departments are facing. 

In general, Wait noted that if the health care industry was ready to deploy EHR systems, participants would have done so of their own accord. By forcing hospitals and treatment centers to acclimate to software that – in a number of respects – is poorly designed, Wait claimed the current approach is counterproductive to achieving better care delivery. 

"Our IT departments are swimming upstream trying to implement and maintain software that they do not understand while mandated changes to this software are being released before we can get the last update debugged and working," said Wait, as quoted by Fallows. 

Let someone else handle it 
In an effort to abide by stringent government regulations, some health care CIOs are turning to database support services capable of implementing and managing EHR programs better than in-house IT teams. According to Healthcare IT News, Central Maine Healthcare CIO Denis Tanguay noted that his workload nearly quadrupled once CMS' regulations came into effect. With just a staff of 70 employees to manage IT operations for three hospitals and 85 physician practices, Tanguay claimed that his department was buckling under the pressure. 

"My CEO has a line: We're not in the IT business, we're in the health care business," said Tanguay, as quoted by Healthcare IT News. "This allows me to focus more on making sure that we're focused on the hospital."

In order to resolve the issue, Tanguay advised his fellow executives that investing in a third-party database administration firm would be the most efficient way to streamline the EHR adoption process. The source reported that an outsourced entity specializing in network maintenance would be able to dedicate more resources and personnel to abiding by stringent CMS standards. 

IT outsourcing a popular trend in business practices

Mon, 2014-03-31 01:45

Due to the complexity of contemporary IT infrastructures, many enterprises are turning toward database administration services to efficiently manage and secure their digital assets. Between the sophistication of modern hackers and the amount of endpoint devices that are connecting to corporate networks, executives are deducing that on-premise IT departments are not capable of ensuring operability as well as outsourced services.

Common problems 
As long as businesses continue to store critical information in their databases, hackers are sure to attempt to exploit them. Charlie Osborne, a contributor to ZDNet, claimed that these malevolent individuals and groups don't discriminate based on what kind of data enterprises harbor. Whether to obtain financial information, intellectual property or confidential information, cybercriminals look for the following vulnerabilities in an organization's network:

  • Companies without the assistance of third-party database administration often only test for what the system should be doing as opposed to what it should not. If unauthorized activity isn't identified, it can compromise an infrastructure.
  • Unnecessary database features employees neglect to use are often exploited by hackers capable of accessing the hub through legitimate credentials and then forcing the service to run malicious code. 
  • Database experts realize that encryption keys don't need to be held on a disk, but in-house IT teams may not be aware of this option, effectively giving infiltrators the ability to quickly decrypt vital information. 

Moving ahead 
While some corporations choose to stick to management techniques, others are looking for ways to solidify the operability of their systems. Minneapolis/St.Paul Business Journal reported that Cargill, a company specializing in the food procurement process, recently announced that it intends to hire the expertise of a database administration service to manage and oversee all IT operations for the worldwide organization. Although the move could potentially take away 300 jobs from the Twin Cities, some of Cargill's personnel will be hired by the outsourced company. 

As Cargill conducts operations over 67 countries, possessing more than 142,000 employees, its data collection methods are quite vast. Overall, the enterprise currently has 900 workers supporting IT operations, meaning that a mere 0.63 percent of staff is responsible for maintaining database functionality for the entire company. Furthermore, it's likely that many of these professionals don't have the industry-specific knowledge required to adequately manage its system. 

In Cargill's case, consulting with a company to undertake all database administration duties seems like the more secure option. Having a team of professionals well versed in the environment focusing all their energy toward one task can provide the food logistics expert with the protection necessary to conduct global operations. 

Open source outpacing proprietary counterparts?

Fri, 2014-03-28 01:53

Database experts are anticipating that the open source code industry will expand over the next couple of years. In the past, the technology was simply regarded as niche market catering to the exceptionally tech-savvy and hackers. However, the past half decade has yielded an evolved form of the software that many enterprises are interested in capitalizing on. 

More prevalent than believed 
ZDNet contributor Steven Vaughan-Nichols attended the Linux Collaboration Summit in Napa Valley, Cali., earlier this month, at which a collection of open source experts and members of the Linux Foundation discussed the future of the modifiable software. Jim Zemlin, executive director of the foundation, claimed that 80 percent of technology value, encompassing everything IT-related, will originate from open source development in the near future. 

Zemlin noted that businesses are relying on database administration services to maintain and support these solutions. Linux's Collaborative Development Trends report surveyed 700 software developers and business managers, 76 percent of whom worked for organizations amassing $500 million or more annually. 

"More recently, a new business model has emerged in which companies are joining together across industries to share development resources and build common open source code bases on which they can differentiate their own products and services," said Zemlin, as quoted by the source. 

Joining the trend? 
Although Microsoft has gained a reputation of primarily being a proprietary software developer, open source could be on the corporation's agenda. Either that, or it's simply solidifying its position as a competitor. According to InfoWorld, SQL Server 2014 will feature in-memory database technology, which is expected to make operations 30 times faster than usual. In order to be used, a company network must label file groups used to store tables as memory-optimized, enabling users to work off a conventional or substitute DB format. 

The news source noted that front-end applications of the program won't have to be rewritten, but database support services will have to modify existing data networks. Microsoft may have created a hidden dilemma for itself by requiring alteration of capable, functional databases. Corporations are comparing the new SQL deployment with that of LINUX products that have the same in-memory capabilities without the need to adjust entire operating systems. 

One feature that may attract CIOs is the ability to connect an on-premise database to the cloud. SQL Server 2014 also enables details to be backed up to Windows Azure storage. Although these traits as well as the aforementioned in-memory capabilities resemble that of an open source solution, whether Microsoft will join the evolving market is up for speculation. 

Department of Defense adopts new security standard

Wed, 2014-03-26 07:14

Due to the rising sophistication of cybercriminals, both public and private organizations throughout the United States are consulting database experts regarding best practices designed to deter network infiltration attempts. The Information Age has effectively connected virtually everyone with access to a computer, meaning that a plethora of sensitive information is being held in company and government data stores.

Skill levels are rising
As software vendors and cloud developers have consistently created new applications and technologies, malevolent figures infiltrating digital platforms have managed to adapt to the advancing environment. According to CIO, cybercriminal organizations have evolved from ad hoc groups motivated by gaining notoriety to vast networks of highly skilled individuals and groups working to obtain financial information. Law enforcement has had a difficult time capturing these entities, as they are spread over unspecified geographic locations.

In addition, remote database support personnel have noticed that these figures are able to encrypt the monetary data they steal and utilize various forms of cryptocurrency to make payments anonymously. These techniques make it difficult for federal and state authorities to effectively trace where the original transaction was placed. The news source acknowledged that cybercriminals are increasingly utilizing exploit kits to steal credit card numbers and sensitive data from computers. Apparently, depending on the sophistication of the underground enterprise, these groups have the potential to gain more profit than those involved in the drug trade.

Public measures
The United States federal government has responded by issuing data compliance standards, which has in turn fostered private investment in database administration services. However, InformationWeek contributor Leonard Marzigliano reported that the Department of Defense recently adopted a new risk-focused security approach assembled by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Teri Takai, the DOD's chief intelligence officer, announced the decision March 12, stating that this is the first time the organization has aligned itself with compliance regulations originally designed for civilian enterprises.

Takai told the source that the military entity will focus more on risk assessment, management and authorization techniques previously disregarded by the organization. The new policy will encompass all DOD information in electronic format and all of its subsidiary departments, such as the U.S. Navy. She stated further that the measure will be used to assess the cybersecurity of all IT residing in weapons, in objects in space, or on vehicles, aircraft and medical devices owned by the department.

Streamlining operability: Data center or private cloud?

Wed, 2014-03-26 00:59

Nowadays, businesses are searching for the best ways to make their networks more operable and fluid. Due to expanding technological capabilities, it's not uncommon for corporations looking to optimize resources to hire database administration services to monitor and manage their IT hub. These professionals are capable of determining how a data center or cloud could be utilized best. 

The quest for a leaner datacenter 
Rajat Ghosh, a contributor to Data Center Knowledge, noted that getting the most out of an on-premise solution means optimizing a usage-based pricing model for resource consumption. He recommended that companies and database experts should review the system based on demand (the users) and supply (the energy required to satisfy their needs). 

Ghosh noted that there's no singular solution for every kind of company. For example, some Internet Data Centers used by banks experience more transactional login requests, and necessitate different kinds of energy requirements than IDCs employed by social media websites, which encounter archival queries. Therefore, the professional created a metric system that compares the resource allocation index with the power usage effectiveness. He essentially developed a formula capable of determining what kinds of activity affects an IDC's output. 

Virtualization leads to greater efficiency? 
It's quite plausible that remote database services are utilizing Ghosh's measurement or a similar one developed by their own personnel. As a result, many of these professionals are recommending that their clients invest in information-handling methods that are capable of significantly reducing energy expenses. According to Forbes contributor Kurt Marko, network virtualization may provide businesses with a solution to this endeavor. 

The news source noted that the method's origins are embedded in software defined networks, which were created by academics in an attempt to eliminate the need for expensive network equipment. Following increased development of cloud computing, virtualization tools offer businesses the chance to take the next step by putting an abstraction layer between hardware and software applications. In turn, this creates an intelligent network over tangible data center devices. 

"The overlay provides applications with network services and a virtual operations and management interface," said Martin Casado, chief networking architect for VMware, a company providing virtualization solutions. "The physical network is responsible for providing efficient transport."

What this does it make it easier for remote DBA support to improve the efficiency of client servers. In addition, if an unforeseen issue occurs, these experts have the ability to manipulate the virtualization solution without having to change physical hardware. 

US businesses eye legalities moving toward mobile workflow

Wed, 2014-03-26 00:53

Mobile connectivity has enabled business professionals to not only work outside of the office, but complete complex tasks once deemed too arduous for a smartphone or tablet to handle. Accessing a company network through one of these devices means more work for remote database services charged with mitigating digital workflow. Many organizations engaging in the workflow are wondering about the legalities regarding this method. 

Discerning public intervention 
Criminals could potentially exploit mobile access avenues, meaning that companies handling sensitive customer data may face litigation in the event such information is compromised. Michael Finneran, a contributor to IT magazine No Jitter, participated in a session as part of the Enterprise Connect Orlando 2014 conference earlier this month that covered the legal issues surrounding bring-your-own-device. Some of the concerns expressed by executives included:

  • What happens if an unencrypted smartphone or tablet possessing troves of sensitive corporate data is lost or stolen? If the information is stored in the cloud, than it's not as big an issue. 
  • For companies relying on remote database support to provide mobile device management, erasing information from the device may wipe correlating information from the network.
  • Complying with security audits issued by regulatory bodies requires new best practices.
  • If an employee is conversing with a client or customer while driving and injures someone, the business that issued the phone may be liable for penalties. 

The concerns relate to pending regulations issued by the United States federal government that may subject organizations to various penalties in the event that customer or client data is lost or exposed.

Still moving forward
For many executives, it's becoming apparent that getting a database administration service to support mobile communications is essential to remaining competitive. It's best to provide workers with a protected, integrated system rather than have them use these devices for work independently. Automation World noted that smartphones are growing to be as much a part of industrial operations as they are in social life. 

As for factory workers and machine operators, the news source noted that these professionals obtained knowledge of how particular industrial processes work from supervisors and mentors. However, the current technological platform possesses a more complex operation blueprint, meaning that engineers need to be equipped with mobile devices providing them with critical information.

For example, if an alarm goes off and a particular instrument shuts down, the manager no longer has to spend the time relying on his own knowledge to find a solution because it's readily available on the smartphone. Essentially, this means that problems can be resolved much more quickly than they were ten years ago. 

Police departments using big data to fight crime

Tue, 2014-03-25 01:41

It's not an unusual concept, considering the capabilities of big data analytics tools used by major enterprises. Police departments throughout the United States have consulted with database experts to implement the same predictive applications to identify and prevent criminal behavior. Supporting the system requires diligent maintenance, but law enforcement is benefiting from it nonetheless. 

Gaining traction 
According to Long Island Newsday, Nassau County, N.Y. police officials have replaced the department's long-running mapping and statistics program with a data analytics application called Strat-Com. The program, supervised by a database administration service, provides officers with predictive information concerning future crimes based on historical information and gathered intelligence. 

Nassau police officials stated that implementation of the system in January resulted in a 12 percent reduction in violent infractions and property offenses as of March 1. The news source stated that the county's crime rate is the lowest on record since the organization began collecting data in 1966.

"Proponents of predictive policing acknowledge the technology is most effective against property crimes like break-ins and vehicle thefts, since those are the most common offenses and provide huge amounts of data for police computers to analyze," the article stated.

Going to far? 
However, those worried about living in an over-aggressive police state have opposed the usage of predictive analytics, as it may incite cases of racial profiling or even entrapment. Cory Doctorow, a contributor to blog site Boing Boing, noted that the Chicago Police Department is using such a system to assemble a list of people it believes are likely to commit offenses. Database support services are used to maintain the program and make sure that results are not released to the public. 

Doctorow took note of the lack of transparency between the city's citizenry and the municipality, stating that it fosters mistrust and doesn't guarantee that unbiased, refined data is being produced by the predictive analytics program. He noted that the details of reports specifically targeting poor youths could be exploited and factored in differently than those coming from "respectable" backgrounds. 

In addition, the program uses tools capable of producing probabilities concerning people who associate with known criminals, but have never committed an offense themselves. Potentially, this could result in false or preemptive arrests. 

The concerns expressed by Doctorow are shared by critics of the U.S. National Security Agency and other organizations that have used analytics tools. It's part of an ongoing mission to figure out exactly how data is amassed, how it is discerned and most importantly, how it is used to identify criminals. 

Mobile device users try to contend with new threat

Mon, 2014-03-24 04:47

Cybercriminals are beginning to realize that many business employees are now accessing company data through smartphones and tablets, providing them with a new avenue to exploit. Database administration services have worked to deter a malicious program known as CryptoLocker, a malware execution that convinces victims that failure to pay the software author's demands will result in serious real-world consequences.

How it works
According to a report conducted by Dell SecureWorks, the ransomware traditionally encrypts files stored on a PC and informs the user that all control will be returned to them once the ransom is paid. The earliest versions of CryptoLocker were delivered through spam emails targeting business professionals, masking itself as a "consumer complaint" against recipients. The objective of this particular species of malware is to connect with a command and control (C2) server and encipher the files located on related drives, causing a major headache for those without database administration support to identify the hidden problem before it reveals itself.

"The threat actors have offered various payment methods to victims since the inception of CryptoLocker," the source reported, citing its appearance in early 2013. "The methods are all anonymous or pseudo-anonymous, making it difficult to track the origin and final destination of payments."

Extending its reach
If such a program could be engineered to hold entire databases hostage, the financial consequences could be catastrophic for multimillion-dollar enterprises. As if this prospect wasn't intimidating enough, CryptoLocker and other related ransomware are now targeting mobile device users, diverting database experts' attention toward those access points. Because the average business employee now uses more than one remote-access machine, organizations may have to halt operations in the event these assets are compromised.

CIO reported that malevolent figures employing this technology are more interested in the data smartphones and tablets handle than the devices themselves. Thankfully, there are a number of simple, routine steps business professionals and remote database support personnel can follow to protect the information:

  • Educate those utilizing mobile technology on data loss prevention. If employees are aware of the techniques implemented by hackers, than they'll be well-prepared for attacks.
  • Regularly perform data backups
  • Create and deploy a data classification standard so that workers know how to treat particular kinds of information, whether it's highly sensitive or public knowledge.
  • Develop a security policy that establishes requirements on how to handle all types of media.
  • Get a remote DBA group to constantly monitor all mobile connections and actions.

If these points are implemented into a company's general practices, it will provide a solid framework for mobile device management.

Sports communities using data analytics

Fri, 2014-03-21 01:00

Professional sports franchises and even some members of the National Collegiate Athletic Association are turning to data analytics tools in order to better predict the outcome of competitions. Database administration services employed by these organizations often monitor programs capable of developing training programs and game plans based on algorithmic conclusions. 

Educators taking advantage of the technology 
According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the university's annual Sloan Sports Analytics Conference has positioned the school as a crucial part of the growing sports analytics industry. The two-day event typically attracts a sold-out audience consisting of almost 3,000 attendees, about 10 percent of them owners, players and representatives from some of the most reputable professional teams in the United States and Europe. 

Daryl Morey, a 2000 MIT graduate and managing director of basketball operations for the Houston Rockets, stated that many sports organizations in the U.S. have hired database support services to manage a working infrastructure for their analytics applications. He told the source that teams are using the tools to develop in-game strategies as well as business plans. 

The article noted baseball's utilization of advanced metrics programs such as value over replacement player, a system created by Keith Woolner that simulates how much an athlete contributes to his or her team in comparison to a near-average stand-in teammate at the same position. 

Taking it to the next level 
Due to the amount of money invested in professional and even a few collegiate sports teams, new developments in analytics tools are sure to provide those organizations with more accurate, plentiful information. Lauren Brousell, a contributor to CIO, noted that remote DBA experts have regulated programs capable of replacing the judgment calls of baseball umpires, supplying fans with customized digital information and delivering real-time surveillance. 

The news source stated that technology vendors are trying to capitalize on the wearable technology market. Fitness trackers are becoming popular among everyday consumers, but sports teams are looking to take the next step. Athletic apparel company Adidas recently created devices players can attach to their jerseys. 

"Data from the device shows the coach who the top performers are and who needs rest,"  wrote. "It also provides real-time stats on each player, such as speed, heart rate and acceleration."

Some tools are being developed to show what will draw fans to sports venues. John Forese, senior vice president and general manager of Live Analytics, stated that knowing specifics like whether a person is interested in an opposing team coming to town can be valuable intelligence for franchises.