Networking blogs: Mulling enterprise security systems

In this week's blogs, analysts point out weaknesses in enterprise security systems and offer insight into Microsoft's increased global presence.

Weaknesses in malware protection

Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Jon Oltsik reaffirmed that the construction and oversight of successful enterprise security systems involve a series of processes. Every step of each process needs to be 100% secure or else a company is susceptible to a number of vulnerabilities. And it only takes a weakness in one area to expose that vulnerability. As proof that areas of vulnerability continue to exist within the enterprise, Oltsik cited an Enterprise Strategy Group survey that asked 1,000 security professionals to identify security process weaknesses in relation to malware prevention.

The top five weaknesses were: 1) cyber security training to non-IT employees; 2) shortfalls in cyber security training for IT staff; 3) patching systems in a timely manner; 4) writing custom intrusion detection system/intrusion prevention system rules based upon threat and vulnerability intelligence; 5) deploying IT assets in hardened configurations.

Without strong fundamentals anchoring enterprise security, Oltsik said, nothing else matters.

Read Oltsik's analysis of top security weaknesses.

Eight rules of data networking

Networking engineer Greg Ferro reflected on the past 20 years of his career in technology and shares eight lessons that he has learned. Among them, he encourages users to take on challenging projects and to tap outside sources to help solve problems. He said relying on pure talent will bring success occasionally, but working hard on a daily basis is a sure way to get there. Stay ambitious. Remember why you are working at your job in the first place; if you aren't happy anymore, get a new job.

Ferro finishes with three key points: "You don't work alone," "write well, diagram better" and "personal productivity." He said a lot of networking people tend to be introverted. To that end, Ferro explained that he himself had to learn to cope in an extroverted world. Being able to work in a team is key. When Ferro said, "write well," he meant keep written information short and simple. Data, facts and perspective are important.

Finally, he challenged professionals to be flexible and learn to adapt to a changing work environment. To stay productive, Ferro says to write to-do lists during the day. To break habits, Ferro advises doing something as simple as changing your browser.

Get the full list of lessons from Greg.

Microsoft increases enterprise focus

Enterprise Strategy Group senior analyst Mike Bowker believes it's important to stay up to date with what Microsoft is doing with its data center, desktop, and, most notably, Windows Azure cloud initiatives. The cloud platform is now onboarding 1,000 users a day, Bowker said, adding that 70% of Azure's use comes from Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

Part of what makes Azure competitive is that it works across a global platform. Even with Microsoft's challenges -- the company got a black eye with its initial Surface launch and it is in the process of selecting a new CEO -- Bowker wrote that the software giant continues to be a dominating presence and should not be overlooked.

Read what Bowker says about Microsoft's accomplishments in 2013.

Choosing the right job

Defining a career in IT isn't easy. Management consultant Keith Townsend has dealt with some tough decision-making and offers advice to professionals on how to make strategic choices.

Sometimes engineers find themselves stuck with a steady paycheck at an organization that doesn't offer new technology projects to work on. Making the decision to find a new job with more exciting opportunities and risk losing job security can be difficult, Townsend said. For now, Townsend wrote, cloud infrastructure engineering, DevOps, network virtualization, OpenStack and public cloud management are viable options for technical infrastructure professionals to consider today

Which option is best? Townsend said that the answer is based more on a qualitative approach than a quantitative one. He said to rely on personal interests and enthusiasm when picking a career path. Although using emotions as a guide tool is not a guaranteed approach, it's an approach. Nothing is guaranteed, and technology is always changing. The most important thing, said Townsend, is that you are managing your career.

 Read about Keith's career-defining moments.

This was first published in December 2013

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