Twin peaks: #MFSummit2017

Like scaling a mountain, sometimes it makes sense to stop and see how far you have come, and what lies ahead. #MFSummit2017 is your opportunity to check progress and assess the future challenges.

We called the first #MFSummit ‘meeting the challenges of change’ and it’s been another demanding 12 months for Micro Focus customers. Maintaining, or achieving, a competitive advantage in the IT marketplace isn’t getting any easier.

The technology of two recent acquisitions, the development, DevOps and IT management gurus Serena Software and multi-platform unified archive ninjas GWAVA puts exciting, achievable innovation within reach of all our customers. These diverse portfolios are also perfectly in tune with the theme of #MFSummit2017.

Build, Operate, and Secure (BOS)

BOS is the theme of #MFSummit2017 and our overarching ethos. Micro Focus products and solutions help our customers build, operate, and secure IT systems that unite current business logic and applications with emerging technologies to meet increasingly complex business demands and cost pressures.

Delegates to #MFSummit2017 can either focus on the most relevant specialism, the possibilities the other two may offer – or sample all three. This first blog of two focuses on Build.

DevOps – realise the potential

Following keynote addresses from Micro Focus CEO Stephen Murdoch and General Manager, Andy King, Director of Enterprise Solutions Gary Evans presents The Micro Focus Approach to DevOps.

Everyone knows what DevOps is, but what does it mean for those managing enterprise applications?

Gary’s 40-minute slot looks at the potential of DevOps to dramatically increase the delivery rate of new software updates. He explains the Micro Focus approach to DevOps, how it supports Continuous Delivery – and what it means to our customers.

Interested?

Want to know more about this session, or check out the line-up for the Operate and Secure modules – the subject of our next blog? Check out the full agenda here.

Use the same page to reserve your place at #MFSummit2017, a full day of formal presentations and face-to-face sessions, overviews and deep-dive Q&As, all dedicated to helping you understand the full potential of Micro Focus solutions to resolve your business challenges.

Our stylish venue is within easy reach of at least four Tube stations and three major rail stations. Attendance and lunch are free.

If you don’t go, you’ll never know.

Ice Phishing, Whaling, and Social Engineering

Introduction

According to the 1960’s song, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”. But it’s also the time to be on the lookout for a cyber-attack posing as an email with the best wishes of corporate executives. In 2016, a fake phishing email sent by JPMorgan was able to dupe 20% of its staff into opening and clicking on a simulated malware link.

There She Blows!

The latest attacks are based on “whaling”—a refined kind of phishing attack in which hackers use spoofed or similar-sounding domain names to make it look like the emails they send are from your CFO or CEO. In fact, Whaling is becoming a big enough issue that it’s landed on the radar of the FBI.

Trawling the Network

Whaling hasn’t quite overshadowed regular old phishing, though. A 2016 report by PhishMe states that over 93% of phishing emails are now ransomware. And almost half of those surveyed by endpoint protection company SentinelOne state that their organization has suffered a ransomware attack in the last 12 months. If it’s not ransomware, it’s hackers looking to put other types of malicious code on corporate or public networks or to gain access to passwords belonging to employees or other users. Alarming new types of ransomware, such as Samas or Samsam, will toast your organization just by opening the email—no click required. The dangers are very, very real.

But while it may be impossible to prevent employees from opening phishing emails or clicking on a link, there are ways to create an inoculated environment filled with cyber-hygiene to mitigate the effects of an attack.

Don’t Get Caught

As levels of sophistication of the cyber attacks continue to increase, vigilance is key. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind:

  • Take offline backups of critical information for recovery from ransomware. While “snap copying” live volumes is trendy, you could be snapping ransomware-encrypted files.
  • Implement the security protocol of “least privilege” for all users to minimize access to critical systems and data. Be sure to collect and correlate user entitlements to enforce least privilege.
  • Limit the use of “mapped” drives, which can be encrypted by ransomware. Use secure systems designed for file sharing
  • Implement multi-factor authentication in case user credentials are compromised without forgetting to include strong authentication for your  mainframe systems.
  • Speaking of mainframes, often the locale of some of the most sensitive data in the corporation, ensure that the terminal emulator being used:
    • Is certified on whatever desktop operating system is in use
    • Implements the latest security standards
    • Is configured so that macros can only be run from trusted locations and cannot be used as a point of attack.
  • Ensure that you have a single point of control for all of your identity, access, and security settings, but don’t forget to monitor the people who manage it.
  • If employees use intelligent personal devices such as smartphones and tablets, think about implementing an endpoint management system, which can be remotely disabled (and the device wiped), in case it is lost or compromised.

Conclusion

Good corporate governance and awareness can help prevent  users from clicking on phishing emails, but a more robust approach needs to ensure that IT  can mitigate the risks if they do.

The helpful hints above should hopefully serve to get you through the holidays and provide even a sensible resolution for 2017.

Data: Challenge & Opportunity

Data Challenges

Researchers claim that the average smartphone user glances at their device roughly every seven seconds. Do you? It’s an impulse that each of us experiences within our daily lives, whether at the airport, the bank or the shopping mail, but also in workplace. Why is this so? Well, mobile technology has unleashed the power and desire for instant information that’s readily available to all using our device of choice. The mobile economy is underpinned by data. This quest for information, engagement or even entertainment requires instant, readily accessible access to this valuable resource and without it that same mobile experience would be well, not nearly that exciting. But the demand for data is not isolated to those searching for the latest sports scores or for that needed holiday recipe.  Business organizations have the same need to unlock the value of their business data and leverage that information to make smarter decisions leading to new market opportunity. But for many businesses, it’s not quite so simple.  There are a number of challenges that must be addressed.

Many core business systems are written in the COBOL language.  In fact, over 70% of business transaction processing is supported by COBOL technology.  It continues to be the lifeblood of core business applications in the airline, insurance, banking, manufacturing and retail industries as well as a prominent piece of public services IT infrastructure. But unlocking COBOL data is not easy.  Traditional COBOL systems utilize COBOL data files for information access and storage. Retrieving data from these systems requires a knowledge of the COBOL language but also an understanding of the application itself. This creates challenge for an organization that desires to gain real time access to data for business intelligence, analytics or reporting needs. COBOL data is not relational which makes the use of modern tools difficult for analysts and developers, alike.  Applications underpinned by COBOL data files also experience application reliability and serviceability issues. COBOL data files can and often do become corrupted which compromises business continuity and reduces application up-time. Also, even during scheduled application maintenance, application recoverability can be slower than desired. So, how can you overcome these challenges and what are the options?

Options

In an effort to gain easier access to COBOL business applications, some will utilize tools to extract, transform and load data into a new repository. Other options include mirroring the data or creating copies for analytics and data warehousing purposes. The challenge with these options is that the data, itself, is not relational nor available in real-time which means the data is immediately out-of-date. Re-writing these COBOL applications is often considered an option too in order to achieve the benefits of SQL and RDBMS.  Doing so, however, can be risky and costly to the business.  Additionally, the size of the average COBOL application codebase is large and is often measured in millions of lines of code (MLOC) which means the prospect of changing or re-writing these systems to accommodate RDBMS or SQL integration is almost unobtainable for many.  So where do we go from here?

A Better Bridge – For the Old and the New

There’s a better path to achieve the benefits of SQL and RDBMS without application code change. For business analysts and end users seeking to gain real-time access to relational data or create custom reports without the assistance of the development team, a new data modernization toolset enables you to utilize modern, off-the-shelf reporting tools such as Excel or Crystal Reports to access existing COBOL application data with ease. And for developers and technical teams seeking to utilize the power of SQL alongside modern RDBMS platforms to improve application uptime or reliability, a supplemental toolset is available to bridge existing COBOL business applications to relational database management platforms, including SQLServer, Oracle IBM DB2 and PostgreSQL.  With these solutions, organizations can unlock the power of business data, enabling all to make smarter decisions that drive opportunity and new digital business.

New Solutions

Today, Micro Focus is delighted to announce a new innovation- a set of data modernization solutions to enable analysts, developers and management teams to better align their core systems of record with modern relational database management technology. With Relativity and Database Connectors, you’ll have the ability to unlock the value of business application data and leverage the power of SQL and RDMBS to gain access to business information, improve application reliability and better manage RDMBS costs while expanding application usage. To learn more about these new and exciting tools and how to get started on your own journey to data modernization, we encourage you schedule a complimentary value profile meeting with us. During this consultation, we’ll examine your business and technical goals and help align your data modernization needs to solutions that meet your objectives. As the demand for data only continues to rise, fueled by digital business and the mobile economy, we must find new and innovative ways to leverage core business systems to unlock both the power of data and the competitive advantage that it delivers.  Click here to learn more and get started with this complimentary service offering.

Süßer die Online Kassen nie klingeln. Wie digital ist das Fest der Liebe?

Süßer die Online-Kassen nie klingeln – so lautet das diesjährige Motto des Onlinehandel-Weihnachtsgeschäfts. Nahezu jeder zweite Deutsche beabsichtigt alle seine Geschenke für das Fest online zu kaufen. Doch wie gut sind die Online-Händler auf das digitale Weihnachten vorbereitet? Systemabstürze und nicht verfügbare Webseiten führender Online-Handelsplattformen in der Schweiz am Black Friday zeigen, wie schnell der Online-Kaufhype zum Bommerang werden kann und warum Last- und Perfomancetests so wichtig sind.

Die Adventszeit beginnt, Weihnachten steht kurz vor der Tür. Während die einen sich auf Duftwolken von Glühwein, Zimt und Anis freuen, die von Weihnachtsmärkten durch die Straßen ziehen, fiebern die anderen dem Black Friday, der Cyber Monday Week oder ganz einfach dem digitalen 24/7 Shoppingangebot im Netz entgegen. Dass die Digitalisierung auch vor dem traditionellen Weihnachtsfest nicht Halt macht, ist klar: Viele Bräuche wandern ins Netz ab  –  wurden früher noch voller Enthusiasmus Bilder von Spielen, Puppen, Büchern und Klamotten mühselig aus Katalogen ausgeschnitten, auf einen Din-A-4-Zettel geklebt, beschriftet, umrandet und dann als formvollendete künstlerische Meisterleistung auf die Fensterbank gelegt,  so versenden die digital Natives heute ihren Wunschzettel samt Emoijs via Facebook, WhatsApp & Co über das Netz. Sehr zur Freude des Onlinehandels, denn die voranschreitende Digitalisierung und die zunehmende Nutzung von social media erschließt den Werbetreibenden ein neues lukratives Feld – man erhält detaillierte Einblicke in das alltägliche Konsumverhalten der Menschen und somit die Möglichkeit, genau auf die Bedürfnisse und Vorlieben des Einzelnen Werbung zu platzieren.

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Süßer die Online Kassen nie klingeln …..oder auch nicht?

Einer aktuellen, repräsentativen Studie von Adobe zur Folge, boomt das Online-Geschäft gerade zur Weihnachtszeit. Im Vergleich zum Vorjahr wird der Umsatz, so die Studie, nochmals um 10 % gesteigert und aller Voraussicht nach auf 23 Milliarden anwachsen.  Angesichts dieser rosigen Umsatzprognosen verwundert es kaum, dass rund 43 % aller Deutschen ihre diesjährigen Weihnachtseinkäufe ausschließlich online tätigen wollen. Als Gründe für die wachsende Begeisterung für das Online Shoppen nannten die 4.000 Befragten vor allem, dass das Einkaufen über das Smartphone wesentlich einfacher geworden sei und sich die Mobile Optimierung der Shops  stark verbessert habe. Viele Händler nutzen deswegen hierzulande, auch aufgrund des wachsenden Bedürfnisses der Kunden, Einkäufe online tätigen zu wollen, Trends wie die aus Amerika bekannten Online Schnäppchen Kampagnen Black Friday oder Cyber Monday Week. Alleine für das Wochenende rund um den sogenannten „Black Friday“ schätzt Adobe das Umsatzpotenzial auf 549 Millionen. Doch der Hype um die Rabattschlachten im Netz birgt für die Händler auch Risiken.  So brachen führende Schweizer Online-Portale unter dem Ansturm der Shopper zusammen und scheiterten grandios im Stress-Test von «Black Friday». Statt erhoffter klingelnder Online Kassen läuteten die Alarmglocken, denn neben Umsatzeinbußen bedeuten solche Störungen auch immer einen Imageverlust – schließlich hat man für die Onlineaktion ja kräftig die Werbetrommel gerührt.  Unternehmen müssen hochperformante Websites bereitstellen, die auch Spitzenlasten problemlos bewältigen können. Deshalb sind Last- und Performance Tests nicht optional, sondern geschäftskritisch und lohnenswert. Für ein reibungsloses Funktionieren eines Programms oder einer Online-Shopping Plattform müssen die einzelnen Komponenten optimal aufeinander abgestimmt sein. Heutzutage müssen Apps und Websites – ganz egal in welcher Branche ein Unternehmen tätig ist – auf jeder Plattform bzw. auf jedem Gerät und unabhängig vom Standort zuverlässig funktionieren und dabei ein ausgezeichnetes Benutzererlebnis bieten. Inkonsistente Benutzererfahrungen und langsame Reaktionszeiten werden von Kunden kaum noch toleriert und führen im Falle des Onlineshoppings zu Kaufabbrüchen.

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5 Tipps zur Beseitigung potenzieller Performance-Engpässe:

1. Frühzeitiges und häufiges Testen

Keinesfalls sollten Performance-Tests bei Applikationen erst vor ihrer Übernahme in den Produktivbetrieb durchgeführt werden, sondern in jeder Entwicklungsstufe und für alle Architekturebenen. Für Applikationen mit einer Drei-Schichten-Architektur bedeutet das zum Beispiel, dass Lasttests für die Präsentations-, Logik- und Datenhaltungsschicht in jeder Phase ihrer Lebenszyklen vorzusehen sind. Durch frühzeitige Tests können Fehler und Architekturprobleme schneller erkannt und damit auch der Kostenaufwand reduziert werden, da es bis zu 100-fach höhere Kosten verursacht, wenn Fehler erst am Ende des Softwareentwicklungsprozesses und nicht bereits zu Beginn beseitigt werden.

2. Ermittlung der maximalen Spitzenlast

Ein Unternehmen sollte auf jeden Fall wissen, für welchen maximalen Traffic die eigene Website ausgelegt ist. Unkenntnis kann hier desaströse Folgen für das eigene Geschäft nach sich ziehen. Viele Unternehmen vertreten allerdings die Auffassung, dass dies nur durch den kostenintensiven Aufbau einer Testumgebung zu ermitteln ist. Es gibt jedoch auch alternative Optionen wie Cloud-basierte Infrastrukturen für Lasttests, über die reale Szenarios simuliert werden können – zum Beispiel mit Tausenden von Usern. Verfügbar sind hier heute Pay-as-you-go-Versionen, mit denen eine Simulation von Spitzenlasten schnell und kosteneffizient erfolgen kann.

3. Durchführung von plattform- und geräteübergreifenden Tests

Anwender nutzen heute eine große Vielfalt unterschiedlicher Geräte und Plattformen für den Zugriff auf Websites. Deshalb ist es unerlässlich, dass sie problemlos auf einem Smartphone, Tablet oder Desktop-PC dargestellt werden können. Folglich müssen Unternehmen auch Performance-Tests für mobile Web- und mobile native Applikationen für Android, iOS, und Windows Phone durchführen. Ebenfalls zu berücksichtigen sind Bandbreitentests im Hinblick auf unterschiedliche Mobilfunkverbindungen über GPRS, 3G oder 4G.

4. Analyse der Fehler-Ursachen

Es ist keineswegs ausreichend, Performance-Probleme zu erkennen, viel wichtiger noch sind Root-Cause-Analysen. Als Teil einer Testing-Gesamtlösung ermöglichen Diagnosetools eine effiziente Lokalisierung der Ursachen von Performance-Problemen – auch unter Spitzenlasten –, und damit eine deutlich schnellere Fehlerbehebung.

5. Unmittelbare Alarmierung

Reguläre Performance-Tests helfen zwar, potenzielle Spitzenlast-Engpässe zu beseitigen, ebenso wichtig ist es aber, unmittelbar über etwaige Probleme informiert zu werden. Deshalb sollte ein Online-Händler auf jeden Fall auch ein Website-Monitoring-Tool mit Alarmierungsfunktion nutzen, das zudem tägliche Updates und Reports bietet, auf deren Basis auch potenzielle Schwachstellen beseitigt werden können.

Fazit : Auch wenn das Weihnachtsgeschäft bereits im vollem Gange ist – für Veränderung und Optimierung ist es nie zu spät, denn auch im kommenden Jahr gibt es nicht nur wieder einen neuen „Black Friday“ oder andere Online-Kampagnen, die gut vorbereitet sein sollten.  Mit Performance Tests, automatisierten funktionalen Tests sowie Lösungen im Bereich des Zugriffsmanagement und erweiterter Authentifizierungsmethoden bietet Micro Focus nicht nur Online-Händlern wichtige Unterstützung.

Gregor Rechberger

Gregor-Rechberger

Gregor Rechberger is the Product Manager for performance testing and application monitoring which includes load-testing and application performance monitoring products. Since joining Segue/Borland in 2002 he has held documentation, program, and product management positions and has over 10 years of experience in the testing discipline.

Building a Stronger Mainframe Community

Community brings individuals and groups together – united in a common practice, belief or behavior. We see positive examples of community in many aspects of our daily lives whether it is our local neighborhood, family settings or common interest groups. Good examples are also found in the software industry. Following on from a recent Mainframe Virtual User Group event, Ed Airey explores the importance of community and how this proven principle can yield lasting value for new and existing members.

What is the Mainframe Virtual User Group?

On November 17th, Micro Focus held the November edition of its Mainframe Virtual User Group (VUG). This fall meeting saw Micro Focus Enterprise users and Mainframe enthusiasts across the former Serena business, come together –united under one flag and one common theme – the future and growing importance of the Mainframe. The Mainframe VUG serves as a quarterly update offering company news, product roadmap updates, recent event highlights as well as a spotlight technology and educational demonstration.  November’s theme focused on the importance of DevOps and the increasing role that the Mainframe plays in enabling that practice across the enterprise.

Highlights from the September iChange event in Chicago were also covered in this briefing as well as a reference to valued technical resources* for community members. Al Slovacek, Product Manager for the ChangeMan ZMF solution provided several product roadmap updates including a review of ChangeMan 8.1.2 and 8.1.3 and a forward view into version 8.2.  Eddie Houghton, Enterprise product director, provided a similar technology overview and roadmap update for the Micro Focus Enterprise solution set, including the most recent version-Enterprise 2.3.2.

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DevOps takes center stage…

Perhaps the highlight of the November Mainframe VUG, however, was a live End-to-End Mainframe DevOps demonstration performed by Gary Evans, Technical Services Director at Micro Focus.  Gary showcased the development efficiency and test automation capabilities available within this continuous integration toolset designed for the Mainframe—a powerful solution to accelerate and streamline application delivery. Gary explained how organizations can get started quickly on their incremental path to DevOps and his demo was a great technology overview for DevOps newbies and seasoned practicioners alike.

These are exactly the reasons community matters. Sharing best practices, product knowledge and building a sense of shared engagement. Underpinned by a commitment to education, the Mainframe VUG seeks to share subject matter expertise across the Mainframe community.  Why not come along to the next community event and see for yourself?  Join us on Thursday, February 9, 2017 for our winter edition of the Mainframe VUG.  Watch the Micro Focus website for more information – registration begins in January.

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#DevDay is coming too

And for those local to the Chicago area this week, why not stop by another great community event-a Micro Focus #DevDay?  It’s your opportunity to see our technology in action, get your questions answered and connect with subject matter experts and industry peers.  You’ll even get a chance to try the tech yourself and it doesn’t cost a penny.

To learn more and register for #DevDay events, visit www.microfocus.com/devday  I look forward to seeing your there and at the next Mainframe VUG event in February!