Who is monitoring who

by coenvdbrink  

Last week I had a meeting with a big Chinese IT company, we are working on a joint solution for one of our customers. It seems that there is some restraint of going into business with a huge Chinese company. I have litterally heard that some customers do not like to have Chinese "spies" in their data center. Weird, isn't it... These same customers have their data centers full of hardware that are compliant to the patriot act. So what makes it that they do trust the USA, and they do not trust China? In my opinion, we do not do enough business with China. China still has an image of being underdevelopped, however, I am really positively surprised by the level of professionalism of the Chinese consultants I have worked with. And I have been regularly disappointed by the lack of professionalism of some American consultants. Sure, you'll find the rotten apple everywhere, I have yet to meet the rotten Chinese apple. (and I am not talking about my phone ;-) )

So, the USA has had this patriot act, which was in effect from 2001 till 2015 (!), which allowed the USA federal government agencies basically to intercept and inspect all data communication traffic, whenever they thought it was necessary. This act has been replaced with the Freedom Act in 2015 which is a bit more strict, but it still allows the US federal government to  conduct electronic surveillance, use pen registers and trap and trace devices, and use other forms of information gathering for foreign intelligence, counterterrorism, and criminal purposes, and for other purposes. Especcially this last sentence "for other purposes" spooks me. It allows the federal government agencies to intercept and check data transimissions. 

And does this make China worse? We do not know of any patriot/freedom act like thing for China. Maybe that is the reason? That we can live with the fact that we know for sure that someone can intercept and inspect all our data, and we prefer that above the uncertainty of some agency might be able to inpect our traffic. Honestly I do not know what is worse, I guess it all depends on what business you are in. For me, I would not be hesitant to allow some good Chinese professionals and Chinese products in my data center.

Happy New Year!

by coenvdbrink  

Hello all, welcome to 2017. A new year, new opportunities. Last year my previous assignment ended, and this year I started with a new. Still within my company, but now no longer for a specific customer, but for our global organisation. Very challenging! Good to meet up with the guys I've worked with in the past. This year I will focus on Network Harmonization, and Remote Access Strategies. So be prepared, my blog will mention these topics this year. Of course other topics like Software Devined anything, Agile, DevOps and Cloud will also be mentioned, as well as security. 

Network Harmonization, what to expect? If a company expands, through aqcuisitions, usually the networks and network architectures do not really line up. Different architectures, different hardware, different designs, or maybe even the exact same IP address ranges. All sorts of things that make a network perform sub-optimal. My job this year is to come up with a strategy to harmonize the existing networks, and create a blueprint for the future. Something that can really help driving not only our business, but the business of many of our customers forward!

Remote Access Strategies, with the current teleworker population, a hot topic. Each and every business has it's particular flavors, whether it be IPSec VPN, SSL VPN, Remote Network Access or just plain access to webservices like WebMail or Intranet. We need a unified solution that will work for a specific organization. It should be as simple as going to a gateway (with any device, regardless of physical location) and automatically be connected to the services you want and are entitled to. Easy like that when you write it down. More will follow...

In short, lots of challenges this year, I will keep you posted.

2016 was about Big Data

by coenvdbrink  

December again, a time to look back, a time to reflect on what happened last year... Lot's of things going on in the world, Brexit, Trump, the Olympics, UEFA European Championships (without Netherlands), and on a more personal level Practice Leadership and an unforgettable holiday with my family to Australia. Wow, goosebumps even thinking about it, what an experience!

What have I learned last year? I have certainly seen the power of the media. Although all the polls stated that Great Brittain would not leave the EU, and all media repeatedly reported so, it happened. Perhaps because the media were wrong, misinterpretation of data, or perhaps because the media influenced the public opinion in such a way that people did not feel the need to vote, since the verdict was already known. And then Trump, same story again! Why do we, as a human race, keep making the same mistakes? Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me... I truly believe that the media has played the most important role. Data analytics prior to elections were probably correct. Thoroughly analyzed, properly gathered, compared and cross checked, with the latest and greatest in technology. That cannot be wrong, right? Then why was the outcome so different, why (in both cases) did the unexpected happen? 

And then the Olympics, all the statistics, all the results, all the data, that is massive! These statistics are not only used to please the viewer, no... it is used by trainers, coaches and athletes to compare and improve results. Big Data analytics is part of modern day sports. Same goes for the UEFA European Championships, every soccer player has got a chip in his boots that track up to the centimeter what distance and at what pace the player moves. All data is gathered, analysed and displayed during, after or before a match. 

I even contributed to this trend, gathering and analyzing data. I have a list with the amount of kilometers we have driven during our roadtrip up the east coast of Queensland, and I also have a list with all the flights I took this year (FYI 14 flights, with a total of 41.685 kilometers).  Useful? No, but I am a geek :-D

After this short reflection, I would like to wish all of you a very happy holiday and all the best for 2017!

New Security Operation Center

by coenvdbrink  

Wow! I read today in the news that my employer is expanding its cybersecurity capabilities by opening a new security operations center in France (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/cgi-expands-cybersecurity-capabilities-by-opening-new-security-operations-center-in-france-2016-11-22-7202300) and I started wondering... We have thousands of people world wide protecting public and private data and monitoring all sorts of traffic just to find anomalies and act upon it. Sure. we have software for that, but nevertheless, it is important work! 

If you want to know more about our SOCs, please visit the following video: https://youtu.be/e61VJHUGdUI

ICT Service Provicer of the year

by coenvdbrink  

For the second year in a row my employer was awarded with the Computable ICT Service Provider of the year. During the 11th edition of the Computable awards ceremony, the most prominent ICT awards in the Netherlands, CGI was awarded with the ICT Service Provider of the year award, and our senior vice president was awarded with the CEO of the year award. Something to be proud of!!! More information on: https://www.computable.nl/artikel/nieuws/awards-nieuws/5869032/1853296/computable-maakt-winnaars-awards-2016-bekend.html

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