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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Saturday, June 25, 2016

Is it Real?

Social Media, Space Travel
Author: Mark Dixon
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
1:34 pm

Shuttle

This morning, I saw a cool photo of the Space Shuttle bursting through the clouds on Facebook and shared it with my friends.  

But alas, I subsequently found out in an article on Universe Today, that photographer Richard Silvera faked it;

The picture of the sky and clouds was taken by me from an airplane, and the shuttle is a picture from NASA. Then the assembly was done in Photoshop & Lightroom.

So, as the wise Abraham Lincoln once said, “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.”

Or was that George Washington?

 

Do Clickthroughs Drive Sales?

Business
Author: Mark Dixon
Monday, May 16, 2016
9:30 am

Aw, the firm predictability of click-throughs to revenue!

Marketoonist 160516

Thanks to Tom Fishbone, the Marketoonist, for this wry wisdom.

 

Hubble Spies a Spiral Snowflake

Astronomy
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, May 13, 2016
3:59 pm

The beauties of the universe never cease to amaze me. NASA’s photo of the day features the spiral galaxy NGC 6814 in all its otherworldly splendor.

Hubble friday 05132016

Together with irregular galaxies, spiral galaxies make up approximately 60 percent of the galaxies in the local universe. However, despite their prevalence, each spiral galaxy is unique — like snowflakes, no two are alike. This is demonstrated by the striking face-on spiral galaxy NGC 6814, whose luminous nucleus and spectacular sweeping arms, rippled with an intricate pattern of dark dust, are captured in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image.

NGC 6814 has an extremely bright nucleus, a telltale sign that the galaxy is a Seyfert galaxy. These galaxies have very active centers that can emit strong bursts of radiation. The luminous heart of NGC 6814 is a highly variable source of X-ray radiation, causing scientists to suspect that it hosts a supermassive black hole with a mass about 18 million times that of the sun.

As NGC 6814 is a very active galaxy, many regions of ionized gas are studded along its spiral arms. In these large clouds of gas, a burst of star formation has recently taken place, forging the brilliant blue stars that are visible scattered throughout the galaxy.

Just think – less that one hundred years ago, scientists thought the Milky Way Galaxy was the only of its kind in the universe!

 

My 11 Years Blogging on Identity

Blogging, Identity
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, May 13, 2016
3:00 pm

Eleven

Eleven years ago today, on May 13, 2005, also Friday the 13th, I wrote my first post for this Discovering Identity blog, then hosted on the Sun Microsystems blog server.  In my maiden post, entitled Sun-Microsoft Interoperability – Focus on Identity Management, I wrote about Scott McNealy and Steve Ballmer speaking about enabling interoperability between Microsoft and Sun platforms.  

In line with my focus on Identity Management, I commented:

Identity Management is the key to enabling interoperability. It is the pivot about which the Microsoft/Sun relationship turns. Why – because Identity, by its very nature, transcends platforms. Regardless of which application or platform is being used, a user’s basic identity doesn’t change. So, in a naturally heterogenous world, an ability to rise above the differences between computer platforms is necessary if companies are to reach goals of efficiency and connectivity they require for business success.

Although I might now change a word or two in that paragraph, the essence of the statement still holds true –  Identity is definitely a key enabler for digital interactions among people, systems, applications and devices.

As a novice blogger, I also commented about my excitement in joining Sun the previous October:

I’m delighted to be here, on the front lines of a market with high customer demand, multiple business benefits, interesting innovation, strong competition and real-world results.

It turned out that publishing my blog was the single most beneficial thing I did for my career at Sun. It opened doors, solidified my credibility, triggered new opportunities and launched new friendships with people all over the world.

A lot of water has passed under the proverbial bridge in the last eleven years. Just think – my blog is older than the iPhone and almost as old as Facebook!  Once a formidable giant, Sun Microsystems is no more. Interesting terms like the “Internet of Things” and “selfie” hadn’t yet been invented when this blog was launched. The number of channels for sharing information on the Internet has skyrocketed exponentially since then. But the content of this blog still hangs around. 

Although the frequency of my posts diminished dramatically after joining Oracle six years ago, and my blog’s popularity in the IAM industry certainly waned, I still find it enjoyable to make my little contribution to the blogosphere every now and then.

It makes me wonder, what will the next eleven years bring?

 

Oracle Public Cloud Security

Cloud Computing, Information Security
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, May 6, 2016
11:14 am

This morning, I read a recently published Oracle white paper, “Oracle Infrastructure and Platform Cloud Services Security”: 

This white paper focuses on shared and service-specific security capabilities of the following services: Oracle Compute Cloud Service, Oracle Storage Cloud Service, Oracle Network Cloud Service, Oracle Java Cloud Service, and Oracle Database Cloud Service – Enterprise Edition.

Oracle Cloud Services have been engineered from the ground up with security in mind. 

Security is a top priority for Oracle Cloud solutions. Oracle’s vision is to create the most secure and trusted public cloud infrastructure and platform services for enterprises and government organizations. Oracle’s mission is to build secure public cloud infrastructure and platform services where there is greater trust – where Oracle customers have effective and manageable security to run their workloads with more confidence, and build scalable and trusted secure cloud solutions.

Development of Oracle cloud services follows a rigorous methodology for incorporating security into all aspects of cloud services:

The Oracle Cloud Services development process follows the Oracle Software Security Assurance (OSSA) program. The OSSA is Oracle’s methodology for incorporating security into the design, building, testing, and maintenance of its services. From initial architecture considerations to service post-release, all aspects of cloud services development consider security.

However, despite this solId foundation of security in the Oracle Public Cloud, it was interesting to read about the “shared responsibility model” for information security:

Oracle Cloud infrastructure and platform services operate under a shared responsibility model, where Oracle is responsible for the security of the underlying cloud infrastructure, and you are responsible for securing your workloads as well as platform services such as Oracle Database and Oracle WebLogic Server. The following figure shows the shared security responsibilities.

The following diagram provides a good illustration of the shared security model:

Shared

This illustrates how customers can’t just “throw things into the cloud,” and hope all will be well. There are significant responsibilities associated with deploying enterprise workloads in the cloud, even when the cloud services provide a highly secure foundation.

 

First American in Space!

Space Travel
Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, May 5, 2016
8:05 am

Fifty-five years ago today, a long time before I knew anything about Cinco de MayoAlan Shepherd became the first American in space, riding the Freedom 7 Mercury space capsule atop the Mercury-Redstone Launch Vehicle for a fifteen minute sub-orbital flight. 

Freedom7

From Wikipedia:

Shepard’s mission was a 15-minute suborbital flight with the primary objective of demonstrating his ability to withstand the high g forces of launch and atmospheric re-entry. His spacecraft reached an altitude of 101.2 nautical miles (187.5 kilometers) and traveled a downrange distance of 263.1 nautical miles (487.3 kilometers). 

During the flight, Shepard observed the Earth and tested the capsule’s attitude control system, turning the capsule around to face its blunt heat shield forward for atmospheric re-entry. He also tested the retrorockets which would return later missions from orbit, though the capsule did not have enough energy to remain in orbit. After re-entry, the capsule landed by parachute on the Atlantic ocean off the Bahamas. Shepard and the capsule were picked up by helicopter and brought to an aircraft carrier.

The mission was a technical success, though American pride in the accomplishment was dampened by the fact that just 3 weeks before, the Soviet Union had launched the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, who completed one orbit on Vostok 1.

Although I was just eight years old, I remember this event distinctly.  I wanted to be an astronaut, just like Alan Shepard! In accord with the Cold War mentality of that time, we desperately wanted the US astronauts to beat the Russians, but it took several more years before the United States could achieve space race superiority.

 

Digital Transformation: Why Security and Privacy Matter

Identity, Information Security, Internet of Things
Author: Mark Dixon
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
12:26 pm

Yesterday, I enjoyed watching a Kuppinger Cole webcast entitled, “Digital Transformation: Why Security and Privacy Matter,” presented by Martin Kuppinger, Principal Analyst, Kuppinger Cole, and Jackson Shaw, Identity Management Expert, Dell Security:

Digital technology has changed our society in an appreciable way. Just as our personal lives are being transformed digitally, the same happens in corporations and with our traditional technology solutions. The digital transformation affects everything from customer experience andoperational processes to business models and IT focus. Even software development is being digitally transformed. This leads to new security and privacy challenges: In IoT and digital transformation, organizations have to deal with more identities and relations than ever before. 

I was impressed by Martin Kuppinger’s discussion about what Digital Transformation really is.  I think some people take a very narrow, IT-centric view of Digital Transformation, but Martin took a much broader view, stating that Digital Transformation impacts every part of an organization.

The eight fundamentals of Digital transformation include:

  1. The Digital Transformation affects every organization
  2. The Digital Transformation is here to stay
  3. Digital Transformation is more than just IoT
  4. Digital Transformation mandates Organizational Change
  5. Everything & Everyone becomes connected
  6. Security & Safety: not a dichotomy 
  7. Security is a risk – and an opportunity
  8. Identity is the glue – who or what may get access to what?
As an Identity guy, I particularly liked the eighth statement.  The biggest thread weaving through the following chart is complexity – expanded interaction among multiples of almost everything.

KCIdentity

Jackson Shaw pointed out that Identity is evolving, from its initial focus on security and lowering operating costs, towards the goal of “Identity Transforming Customer Outcomes.”  Digital Transformation is all about enabling businesses to disrupt the old legacy way of doing things in favor of providing new, innovative products and services that deliver real value.  Certainly, Identity is a vital enabler to make that happen.

Identityevolution

 

On April 27, 4877 BC, the universe was created!?

Physics
Author: Mark Dixon
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
9:22 am

Do we really understand space-time?  Two interesting articles have recently crossed my virtual desk.

In the first, History.com reported:

On this day in 4977 B.C., the universe is created, according to German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), considered a founder of modern science.

Kepler2

Best known for his theories explaining the motion of planets, Kepler first observed the visible universe with his naked eye, and later with a telescope similar to the one used by Galileo Galilei.

While Kepler’s estimate of the age of the universe may have been based upon the best scientific understandings of his day, we now consider his view quaint and short-sighted.  We now have such sophisticated equipment for measuring time and distance that a current estimate of the age of the universe has been pegged at 13.77 billion years.

But will that current estimate meet the test of time (pun intended)?

In the second article, “Why Space and Time Might be an Illusion,” George Musser stated:

The ordinary laws of physics, operating within time, are inherently unable to explain the beginning of time. According to those laws, something must precede the big bang to set it into motion. Yet nothing is supposed to precede it. A way out of the paradox is to think of the big bang not as the beginning but as a transition, when space crystallized from a primeval state of spacelessness.

O SOMBRERO GALAXY 570

What will ultimately explain this paradox? What will give us a really accurate picture of the age of the universe? Perhaps “string theory, loop quantum theory, causal-set theory,” or perhaps something else?

When you take a step back from the dispute, you notice all agree on one essential lesson: the space-time that we inhabit is a construction. It is not fundamental to nature, but emerges from a deeper level of reality. In some way or other, it consists of primitive building blocks — “atoms” of space — and takes on its familiar properties from how those building blocks are assembled.

Atoms of space? Will the textbooks of a future generation speak of them as casually as we currently discuss carbon or plutonium atoms?  Just what will the future hold for our progressive knowledge of how space and time really work?  

I predict that at some future date, scientists will look back on our day and proclaim, “How quaint, but short-sighted were the theories of physics in 2016!”

 

Kuppinger Cole: Computer-Centric Identity Management

Identity, Information Security, Internet of Things
Author: Mark Dixon
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
8:16 am

Yesterday, I enjoyed attending a webcast entitled, “Computer-Centric Identity Management.” Led by Ivan Nicolai, Lead Analyst at Kuppinger Cole, the presentation was subtitled, “From Identity Management to Identity Relationship Management.  The changing relationship between IAM, CRM and Cybersecurity.”

I found the presentation to be concise, informative, and thought-provoking – particularly the concept that the IAM practitioner must transition from the role of “protector” to “enabler”.

I think the following diagram does a good job of illustrating the relationships people have with organizations, mobile communication devices and other devices in the growing world of IoT. Identity Relationships are critical in enabling the potential of Digital Transformation.

Kc

 

2016 Data Breach Investigations Report

Identity
Author: Mark Dixon
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
7:39 am

VerizonBIR2016

Verizon’s 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) is now available to download:

The 2016 dataset is bigger than ever, examining over 100,000 incidents, including 2,260 confirmed data breaches across 82 countries. With data provided by 67 contributors including security service providers, law enforcement and government agencies, this year’s report offers unparalleled insight into the cybersecurity threats you face.

Enjoy!

 
 
 
 
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