Security in your Software-as-a-Service (SAAS) Application

‘Credit Crunch’ might be the favourite buzzword of the moment, but ‘Security’ and ‘Software as a Service’ are not very far behind. Ok, they’re a long way behind ‘will I lose my house’ or ‘will I have a job tomorrow’, but you get the idea. So I’m proud to associated by this article by Max and Chicco, even in a very minor way (as a reviewer).

IBM Developer works logo

Here’s the 2 minute overview of Securing a multi-tenant SAAS Appliction, just published on IBM Developerworks.

  1. Software as a Service (SAAS) has a great pitch – let us host your software for you, cheaper and less hassle than managing it yourself.
  2. Most SAAS companies host multiple clients on one server = New security concerns.
  3. LDAP (Similar to Windows Directory) is a standard already in wide use for Authentication (making sure people who they say they are).
  4. Spring Security (aka Acegi) is a well used Authorisation toolkit – i.e. make sure those people only do things they are allowed to do.
  5. The article shows you how to bring SAAS , LDAP and Spring Security together to get secure, scalable , hosted applications using the very best in widely understood technologies.

Of course, I’m not going to spill the beans on how exactly they do it; for that you’re going to have to hotfoot it over to the IBM Developerworks website.

Ireland's chance to vote Obama or McCain

What if Ireland really did get a chance to vote Obama or McCain in the forthcoming US Presidential election? While this Irish Times article suggests that we’re more Memphis than Massachusetts (think about that – Dana as an Irish version of Sarah Palin), now we’re going to find out what would really happen if we got to vote.

No, I’ve not found some ‘back door’ to allow us to take part, but the Economist is running an online poll to find out what would happen if the US President was choosen by worldwide vote.

Hmm … looks like Obama is leading 8,375 to 15. Those 15 come from Georgia (wondered what happened there recently) and Macedonia (next door to Kosovo with large scale Nato intervention).

Life’s unfair with McCain getting tarred with the legacy of 8 years of Bush. Especially after what happened him in the 2000 election (South Carolina Primary) where Bush hit him with some very low attack ads alleging that McCains wife had an affair (in reality, the couple have a daughter adopted from overseas).

Warning: This blog has a 100% failure rate when it comes to forecasting politics.

Start your own business – DKIT – North East

Apologies for not gettting this posted by the closing date. But the ‘closing’ date on these things tend to be flexible, so if you’re interested if worth checking out the NEPP site. Mulley has already blogged about similar programmes at hothouse (docklands), sepp (south east) and m50 (Tallaght IT)  if you’re located outside of the North-East.

Our claim to fame is that FirstPartners.net went through this program in 2003. And failed. But failed quickly – we realised within months that the mad business idea (selling open source technology to accountants) wasn’t going anywhere. We were able to bring the lessons learned back into the main consulting business. Far better than a lingering , drawn out half-life.

More information is here (pdf format)

Enterprise Platform Programme
Enterprise Support for Innovative Knowledge based, High Tech and Information Technology Startups

Introduction
The Novation Enterprise Platform Programme (NEPP) is a programme of  support for graduate entrepreneurs with an innovative business idea in the Knowledge Based, High Tech or IT sectors.

The main objective of the programme is to develop the commercial and job creation potential of the participant businesses. The programme delivers comprehensive training in business and management to equip participants to successfully start up and manage a new business. The
programme assists participants in the achievement of personal and business development goals in relation to the project. It also assists participants in the completion of market or technical feasibility studies and/or the preparation of a business plan.

Past Participants
Since its conception in 2001, over 70 entrepreneurs have participated on the Programme. A survey conducted recently confirmed that over 54 businesses have been established by NEPP participants resulting in total employment of 311 people and sales of €27million per annum.
Participants have also raised over €39 million in VC funds.

 The programme will be managed by the Regional Development Centre, on the campus of Dundalk Institute of Technology. Participants may choose to be based in the professional, entrepreneurial environment of the Regional Development Centre, and will have access to the laboratories, equipment and resources of Dundalk Institute of Technology.

Eligible participants receive a consultancy / travel allowance of approximately €1150. Eligible participants may also apply for funding through Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation of Research and Development (CORD) grants, whereby they can receive up to 50% of their previous year’s verifiable income (the grant in total will be capped at a maximum of €38,000).

 

The Novation EPP is a comprehensive package of business development
support including:

  • Project management and on-going monitoring of progress
  • Travel / consultancy allowance
  • Structured business and enterprise training to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to start-up your own business.
  • Networking with entrepreneurs, industry practitioners, researchers and trainers. 
  • Access to office space and specialist facilities, equipment and resources.
  • Mentoring system which provides one-to-one advice and guidance
  • Business Coaching which aims to optimise participants’ business performance
  • The programme will commence in Sept. 2008 and there will be regular formal reviews of participants’ progress.
  • Prize Fund. The 2008/09 programme introduces a prize fund for participants. Eligible businesses will be judged on a variety of criteria including best improvement, degree of innovation, presentation before a panel and performance at end of year tradeshow.

java@cork 2008 – 1 day Java Conference

IT@Cork have got good speakers from Eclipse, Springsource and Sun, and a Bargain at 130 Euro .. More details are available here.

IT at Cork Logo

Java@cork 2008

Tuesday, September 9, Radisson SAS Hotel, Little Island, Cork
Featuring speakers from SpringSource, Sun Microsystems, Eclipse Foundation and much more…

Agenda

  • OSGI and the Enterprise Ben Hale, SpringSource
  • Lucene – Open Source Search Engine – Case Study, Phil Corcoran, RR Donnelley
  • Eclipse Verticals – From Open Source Consumption to Creation , Ralph Mueller, Director, Eclipse Foundation
  • Leveraging Eclipse For Desktop Applications – Case Study, James Sugrue, Pilz Ireland
  • Demo of Spring plugin tools for Eclipse, Jonas Partner, SpringSource
  • Spring Integration, Jonas Partner, SpringSource
  • SOA In Practice, Oisin Hurley, Iona Technologies
  • The Future of Java for Rich Internet Applications, Simon Ritter, Sun Microsystems

Fee: €80pp for members. €130pp for non members. Students fee is €40.
Registration: email admin@itcork.ie or visit www.itcork.ie

Why corporates should blog – reason one (of many)

I recently got into a conversation about corporate blogging. The sort of conversation that starts with ‘what is a blog?’ and ends with ‘it’ll never work here’. And, as always, the killer argument for corporate blogging popped into my head 5 minutes too late.

A tractor in a field yesterday

Many years ago, I used to work for Case, the company that builds big red tractors. It was great work, especially as people understood what you did – none of this ‘I work in computers’ malarchy. Only problem was that we were working in Navan Ireland, with most of our colleagues based in Racine, just north of Chicago.

Not too much of a problem for the first 15 or so people – people who worked out of Chicago for the first 4 or 5 months. We were able to build up personal relationships with a colleagues. We could ask later ‘how are the kids?’ or ‘are you still playing football?’. Small things, but make the real work discussions a lot easier.

The problem came with employees 15-100 – the ones that didn’t spend any amount of time in the US. Technically great people, but didn’t ‘click’ in the same way with Chicago. As a result, small misunderstandings became big misunderstandings, and projects got delayed.

And that’s where corporate blogging comes in. It allows people in far flung offices to connect. Doesn’t matter what you blog about – personal life, or some small project that’s happening in your local office. Chances are somebody else in the company will pick up on it and vital connections will be made.

And if you’re in the market for a big red tractor, click on the photo above. 125 BHP, Diesel Engine, a bargain at 16,500 Euro.

3 Steps to GTD: Time management for really, really busy people

Stressed? No time to talk to people? Losing sleep over tomorrow’s work? You don’t have a lot of time to read this, so I’ll keep this short.

  1. Have a task / todo list. On Outlook , Excel , wiki or paper. Daily, pick off most important tasks and allocate time for them on your calendar.
  2. Schedule your time in some sort of calendar. Use Outlook, Google Calendar , Mozilla Lightening or even a paper diary. Keep about 1/3rd free for the unexpected. Timeslots no shorter than 30 minutes; bunch smaller todo’s together to make up. Set your mail program to show first your calendar and not your email – that way your daily agenda is set by your plans, not somebody else.
  3. Clear mail inbox twice a day (and only twice a day). Do same for phone calls (using voicemail) if that’s disrupting you too much. Only touch mails once: delete, respond, or make room on calendar / tasklist (action).

Adjust steps 1,2, and 3 as required. Get as fancy or as simple as you want.  Don’t aim for perfect, so you’ll be flexible enough when you need to change. Works for me. What works for you?

And yes, it’s probably already covered in ‘Getting things done‘.

Dear Mr LinkedIn, will you show me yours if I show you mine?

I like LInkedIn a lot, and have written about the business social networking tool before, so I’m not going to repeat myself.

There is one small change I’d like them to make – you have only the black or white option of either showing , or hiding your connections.

I think there should be a third option: ‘Show mine if you show me yours’. I’ve only met a handful of people that hide their connections; I’m still happy to connect to them – I typically scan my LinkedIn list when asked to recommend people. But there’s no incentive for them to open their list – they get a free ride no matter what they choose.

It may be co-incidence, but all of the people with hidden connections make their living from their professional network (e.g. recruiters, high end management consultants).

What do you think? Are these people being business savvy, or just parasites stealing our networking time?

Toddle – Drogheda man about to take over the world

I thought I was good at shameless self publicity. But Alan O’Rourke is even better at it. And he’s got a great business idea in Toddle (a very easy to use tool that allows people to send out dramatic, relevant emails).
Toddle - Alan O Rourke

The above picture is from the Irish Independent writeup on Toddle. And if you want to check out Alan’s mad-take-over-the-world-ideas , he blogs at PinStripe.

I’ll almost forgive him for being from ‘the faaaaaar soide’ – that’s the Meath side of Drogheda if you don’t follow our local tradition of ignoring people from the other side of the River Boyne.

And now for something completely different

I’ve been very lucky in the 9 years that I’ve been working for myself. Lucky in the opportunities to travel and the people that I’ve met. Lucky in I’m doing something I love – playing with and building the latest technologies.  Lucky on the financial side of things that it’s given me a wide range of choices.

So, it’s surprised the people I’ve told that I’m now going to be doing something completely different.

Why?
No it’s not the economy. I can see the effects of the slowdown but I’m one of the most ‘low maintenance’ people I know (anybody who lives in Drogheda and drives a ’98 Toyota isn’t exactly into bling!) I’d be ok. And the uptick (in 18months – 2 years time) is the most profitable bit of the economic cycle.

No , it’s not through lack of clients. One of the most painful parts of the decision have been the 3 prospective projects that I’ve had to turn down. The sort of ideal projects that I’d working to land for the previous 2 years.

No, it’s not through lack of choices. Two other ‘life changing’ choices I had to turn down were to scale inside a well known consultancy, or specialise in one tool and go international (you know who you are guys, thanks for making the final decision so hard 🙂

So why then?
The basic reason is that I’m enjoying this now (as in big smile on Monday mornings), but can see that I might not be enjoying it in 3 years time. And chances like this one don’t come along every day. That, and I’m fascinated by the new area and people that these guys are working with.

And what you’re doing is?
This is a big change for me, so a bit nervous about it and will blog about the new job (and it is very much a job, rather than being self-employed) in due course. It will either be the very best, or very worst thing that I’ve done.

Luckily it’s still dealing with People and Technology so no need to change the blog title … and I’m still a techie at heart (in that I’ll play with the stuff even if I’m not paid to) so expect more in that area!