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Companies Apply Advanced Intelligence to Bolster Mainframe Security

This post is an update of an article that originally appeared on the Dancing Dinosaur.

The mainframe has proven to be remarkably secure, racking up the highest security certifications available. Today, it comes, according to IBM, with the industry’s highest certified level of isolation for a commercial system: Evaluation Assurance Level certification or EAL5+. Security like this is necessary anywhere multiple parties want to access and share important information.

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Mainframe security is top-of-mind for companies today.

But that is not sufficient by itself. Compuware, in conjunction with Syncsort and Splunk, recently announced Application Audit, a software tool that aims to transform mainframe cybersecurity and compliance through real-time capture and analysis of user behavior. Syncsort followed-up with an announcement this week that details the importance of the Ironstream Integration with Application Audit in improving an organizations’ ability to detect threats against mainframe data, correlate them with related information and satisfy compliance requirements.

User Behavior

As I reported previously, capturing user behavior, especially in real-time, is seemingly impossible if you rely only on data you collect from the various logs and SMF data. Compuware’s Application Audit not only captures but analyzes mainframe application user behavior.

As Compuware explains: Most enterprises still rely on disparate logs and SMF data from security products such as RACF, CA-ACF2 and CA-Top Secret to piece together user behavior. Unfortunately, this is too slow if you want to capture bad behavior while it’s happening. Some organizations try to apply analytics to these logs but that also is slow. By the time you have collected enough logs to deduce who did what and when, the damage has been done and the bad guys are gone. Throw in the escalating demands of cross-platform enterprise cybersecurity and increasingly burdensome global compliance mandates and you haven’t a chance without an automated tool optimized for this.

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The mainframe, Compuware continues, fortunately, provides rich and comprehensive session data you can run through and analyze with Application Audit, and in conjunction with your organization’s security information and event management (SIEM) system, you can see more quickly and effectively what really is happening. Specifically, it can: detect, investigate, and respond to inappropriate user behavior.

Intelligent Systems

IBM, as I wrote previously, is not ignoring the advantages of analytics for z Systems security. IBM continues to flog its cognitive system on z for real-time analytics and security, promising to enable faster customer, business, and systems insights with decisions based on real-time analysis of both current and historical data. The z, thus, amounts to an analytics platform designed for availability, optimized for flexibility, and engineered with the highest levels of security.

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Intelligent systems are improving mainframe security.

The data Compuware and Syncsort collect with Application Audit is particularly valuable for maintaining control of privileged mainframe user accounts. Privileged user accounts are susceptible to misuse by owners motivated by everything from financial gain to personal grievances, as well as by outsiders who have illegally acquired valid credentials. You can imagine what havoc that could wreak.

Security Fraud

Through Application Audit, Compuware orchestrates a number of players to deliver the full security picture, specifically through collaboration with CorreLog, Syncsort, Splunk, and others. Compuware explains that Application Audit’s Splunk-based dashboard enables you to discover and address security fraud associated with today’s increasingly common composite applications, which have components running on both mainframe and distributed platforms.

Mainframe security is poised for a large leap forward as organizations begin to effectively leverage the recent gains in artificial intelligence (AI), cognitive computing, machine learning, deep learning, and a host of related technologies. These leverage the growing speed and power of computers to mimic human thinking fast and accurately enough to be effective.

Learn more about Syncsort Ironstream, which collects and forwards mainframe machine data to Splunk, and Syncsort’s full portfolio of mainframe solutions.

 Companies Apply Advanced Intelligence to Bolster Mainframe Security

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Amex Global Business Travel pools data lake to bolster ‘duty of care’

Business travel is seldom an unalloyed pleasure. Nor is it a trivial cost for corporate organisations. New American Express Global Travel (Amex GBT) president Philippe Chérèque, formerly the firm’s chief commercial and technology officer, says some customers are close to spending $ 1bn on travel each year.

Chérèque, who was American Express Global Travel’s CIO as well as its commercial head before becoming president, joined the firm two years ago. He has been putting $ 1bn into modernising the firm’s IT – in the direction of cloud computing, and capitalising on analytics.

“Traditionally, travel management companies have been satisfying the chief procurement officer rather than the business traveller,” he says.

Chérèque speaks of the need for more proactive care: “If there is fog at Heathrow, we call the passenger to say, ‘We have booked you on the Eurostar and you can fly from Paris.’

“The traveller is the key. If your engineer is stuck in the middle of India, that costs more to the company than saving 10% on the cost of the ticket.”

Chérèque says Amex GBT’s corporate customers are placing increasing importance on duty of care in the light of terrorist incidents and other misfortunes. When Brussels Airport was bombed in March 2016, Amex GBT could tell where travellers were because it had their Amex card data.

The company built an application that automatically sends an SMS text message to travellers when an incident happens: those who respond immediately show as green, then travellers not responding go orange then red. For example, it could immediately tell that there was one passenger on board the EgyptAir flight that crashed in May 2016.

The company is a joint venture between Amex and a private equity group headed by investment firm Certares. It has a treasure chest of $ 1bn in cash to put into IT, and has taken a comprehensively cloud approach.

“In the past two years, we have migrated not only from the data warehouse of Amex, but moved away from its HR system, its finance system and so on,” says Chérèque.

It is using Workday for HR, NetSuite for finance, and Coupa for procurement.

Data lake and visualisation

Christophe Tcheng, vice-president of core products and platform architecture, joined Chérèque from travel company Amadeus, which is the business alma mater for both men. Tcheng was head of research and development services at Amadeus, while Chérèque was executive vice-president. He was at the company for nearly 25 years.

Tcheng designed Amex GBT’s data architecture. He confirms it has 300 data people, with a small group of “around four” hardcore data scientists and developers.

Of choosing Hortonworks as the Hadoop distribution to build a data lake, which has been operative from 2016, he says: “It was a conscious choice to go for open source; it’s very robust and efficient. It’s not rocket science, but the trick is to make it work.

“In the past two years, we have migrated not only from the data warehouse of Amex, but moved away from its HR system, its finance system and so on” Philippe Chérèque, Amex GBT

“The idea emerged at the back end of 2014. We had an enterprise data warehouse, from Microstrategy. It was good technology, but it is technology from the 1990s. The industry is moving to Hadoop plus visualisation layers”.

For the latter, Amex GBT partnered with cloud business information (BI) and analytics company Birst to build a product called Premier Insight for corporate clients. This launched in November 2015, and Chérèque says dozens of corporations are using it.

Tcheng says on choosing Birst: “It is cloud enabled, and also because of its roadmap – with embedded BI, vision and investment. We didn’t want to choose the best platform for today if, in two years’ time, it is behind the pack.”

Amex can provide analytics into customers’ spend levels and so indicate where additional costs are being incurred, or where there are opportunities to make use of better buying power to improve efficiency of spend. It has card data from MasterCard and Citibank, among others, through application programming interfaces (APIs), as well as the Amex card data.

The analytics relies on having all the data sources together in one place, and then being able to visualise it for people to use through a browser. Birst provides the analytics platform and the data visualisation. 

Chérèque gives such examples as its customers being able to easily see where employees are not compliant – and so not using negotiated deals with hotel chains – and calibrating their airline spend.

“With the airlines it can be a cliff system – if you buy 100% [of the negotiated deal] you get a bonus back, if you spend 99% you get nothing. And if you spend more than 100% you could spend that money elsewhere. Airlines have had better statistics than the corporations, but now [the latter] have the information in advance – getting the data afterwards is no use.”

Chérèque also points to the sector possibilities in the firm’s use of a data lake with analytics. “We take care of most of the travel meeting and events for the pharmaceutical industry. We organise 40,000 meetings per year for them. With Birst, we can provide information about what is the average spend per trip in the industry. Someone in the pharmaceutical industry is not very interested in being benchmarked against Cisco or IBM.”

For individual travellers, Amex GBT is using the data lake to develop personalisation. “We know what kind of restaurants you like to go to, so when you make the booking we can make recommendations. Also we draw on people who have the same behaviour as you, who are in your cohort – which kind of restaurants, which kinds of hotel they go to.

“The booking is the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot of things happening below,” he concludes.……..    ……………… ……. ………

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How Microsoft Social Engagement Can Bolster Social Marketing and Social Listening for B2B Firms

CRM Blog How Microsoft Social Engagement Can Bolster Social Marketing and Social Listening for B2B Firms

Although the B2B industry has long been skeptical about the impact of social media for its marketing purposes, more and more B2B businesses now find value in a web and social media presence as an opportunity to establish brand notoriety and recognition among peers and prospects. After all, it has fundamentally altered the way B2C businesses interact with their prospects and customers by allowing salespeople to inform and engage them directly.

As social selling expert Jason Miller from LinkedIn states in this video from Microsoft’s Thought Leader Series, sales are about relationships, and social media offers exactly that. It’s no surprise then that 73% of salespeople who use social media outperform those who don’t, says Miller. But how to harness this potential?

The nature of B2B products and services may not allow for the same kind of direct interaction that B2C businesses experience with their customer base over social media, but the basic notions of customer service and social listening remain the same in both cases. The channels are also different: LinkedIn, for instance, is among the top B2B social media marketing tools, as opposed to Facebook or Twitter, and a presence on the web can improve your search rankings.

And make no mistake, search rankings matter. Close to 90% of the buying cycle occurs before prospects even talk to sales, says Miller. In other words, customers thoroughly research their options before reaching out to potential partners and suppliers, meaning that having a strong online presence is crucial. By contributing insightful information about products, services, industry news and trends on your social media platforms, your organization can establish itself as an industry expert and support prospects and clients throughout their buying cycle, which in turn provides them with opportunities to engage with you directly.

Social media also lets you keep one finger on the pulse of what is going on in the market, whether it is reactions to your own brand and products or to your competitors’. The Social Engagement for Microsoft Dynamics CRM module is a great tool to achieve this. Personalized keyword search and tracking let you know what is being said about your organization, your products or your industry across a variety of social media platforms. Sentiment analysis measures user opinions, identifying consensus, trends, and negative or positive spikes. You can also follow relevant user accounts, such as key influencers or industry experts.

It’s no wonder that trends in B2B marketing increasingly take social media into account. With the proper tools, social media is the key to establishing yourself as a specialist in your field and measuring effectively what users are saying about your products and services. Having then gained new leads and prospects through your online presence, you can start looking into different ways to nurture them, such as a marketing automation practice. All in all, social marketing for B2B is here to stay, and various tools are at your disposal to help you exploit the possibilities offered by social media.

By JOVACO Solutions, Microsoft Dynamics CRM marketing specialist in Quebec

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Nutanix buys PernixData, Calm.io in a move to bolster its cloud ambitions

Nutanix will acquire two companies, PernixData and Calm.io, in a move that will give it more software talent and technology as it builds out its data center footprint.

PernixData specializes in scale-out data acceleration and analytics. Calm.io is focused on DevOps automation. Nutanix grew up as a software defined storage player, but obviously has broader ambitions.

With the moves, Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey is plotting a course where the company is better able to compete with software defined data center players such as VMware. For instance, PernixData is a VMware partner.

Nutanix offers infrastructure and a software platform that aims to converge compute, storage and virtualization. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Pandey said Nutanix had been looking at the two companies as acquisitions for months. “The light bulb went off when we saw how they integrated well with Nutanix,” he said.

According to Nutanix, the acquisitions are designed to expand its footprint throughout the data center as well into multiple clouds. Nutanix is chasing the so-called one pane of glass approach to cloud management.