by Mark Chillingworth

CIO look back at July 2011

Aug 02, 201110 mins

As ever, July was a busy month in the technology sector, here’s the top stories of last month. 
A&N Media which provides technology and services to newspapers from the Associated Newspaper stable such as the free Metro newspaper as well as The Independent and Evening Standard, has set itself on a course to cloud computing adoption with the announcement of a deal with Microsoft to integrate its Office 365 platform.
A&N Media will use Office 365to deliver Microsoft Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange and Lync Online to the media company. In a statement CIO of A&N Media David Henderson said the company plans to own no servers or datacentres by 2015 and will have introduced a bring your own computer model for its employees. 
Oracle introduced an iPad appthat will allow users to access their Oracle virtual desktops. The Oracle Virtual Desktop Client App, available at no cost on Apple iTunes, allows uses to connect to virtual desktops managed either by Oracle’s Sun Ray Software and Oracle Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. With the software, users can run the enterprise applications they typically run from their virtual desktops, such as Siebel CRM. They can also run applications that require browsers. Users can find their desktops through an auto-discovery function. A virtual keyboard features a full range of keyboard functions, including the ctrl, alt, esc, insert, delete, tab, home, end and function keys. It supports multi-touch input as well. Sessions are secured through 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) encryption.
A senior official at the Bank of England has called for an urgent “redesign” of high frequency trading, also known as algo trading, involving a potential speed limit on trading systems.
Algorithmic trading, with computers executing orders based on complex codes, has developed to a point where network messaging times on major exchanges have fallen well below the 150 microsecond mark. The London Stock Exchange, which claims to have the fastest round trip messaging system in the world, offers 126 microsecond latency in production. In testing, networking firms are targeting sub-30 microsecond latency, with nanoseconds seemingly not that far from reach.
But Andrew Haldane, executive director for financial stability at the Bank of England, concurred with a number of prominent opponents of superfast trading, who are sceptical of the safety checks in place.
BAE Systems, the defence manufacturing company, plans to recruit 550 technologists and engineers for its cyber and intelligence and submarine businesses over the next two years. The company is looking for 150 graduates with technology, science, maths and engineering skills to join BAE Systems Detica this year, and another 200 graduates in 2012. In addition, it is recruiting 200 skilled engineers and project managers for the Vanguard Class submarine replacement programme at Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria. The successor submarine is scheduled to enter service in 2028.
Toshiba and SanDiskannounced the opening of a chip fabrication plant in Japan that is designed to withstand earthquakes such as the one that devastated parts of Japan and its Fukushima nuclear power plant earlier this year.
The factory, which is in Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture, will make chips such as NAND flash for devices like smartphones and tablets. Factory construction started last year, and the facility is being opened just a few months after a devastating earthquake and ensuing tsunami, which killed thousands and caused extensive damage to buildings and factories along Japan’s eastern coast.
Sony has revealed its S1 and S2 tablet computers.Sony announced in April that it planned to release both a traditional tablet, the S1, as well as a novel clamshell model, the S2. Both devices will run the tablet-optimised version of Android, “Honeycomb,” and there’s no word on pricing just yet.
The traditional S1 tablet will be a Wi-Fi only device. The S1 features a 9.4-inch screen and is wedge-shaped, the company says this makes the tablet easier to hold and easier to sit on your lap. The S1 will come pre-loaded with both Qriocity and Crackle, Sony’s cloud-based media services, and will also have PlayStation certification. In other words, the device will be able to run both PSP and first generation PlayStation console games.
Australian Rupert Murdoch’s News International publishing business faced a police investigation including the assessment of tens of thousands of emails, phone calls and documents, following the resignation of chief executive Rebekah Brooks over the phone hacking scandal.
Police from the Met are understood to be trawling through thousands of emails containing potentially damning information, as investigators probe the alleged grave malpractice by News of the World journalists who were attempting to get a story. The FBI is understood to be beginning a similar investigation in the US.
Microsoft confirmed that it accidentally leaked an image of its own social networking research project. Called ” Tulalip,” the site is designed to enable users to “find what you need and share what you know easier than ever,” according to an image on its home page. Judging from the buttons on the page, users are able to sign in to the site using their Facebook or Twitter accounts.
According to a Microsoft spokeswoman, “ is an internal design project from one of Microsoft’s research teams which was mistakenly published to the web. We have no more information at this time.” The spokeswoman did not say whether the company is going to launch either a social network or a social search site associated with its Bing search engine.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has found the Lancashire Police Authority in breach of the Data Protection Act after it accidentally published restricted personal data online. The personal data was related to an individual’s complaint, and was marked restricted in two agenda documents. However, the police authority failed to redact the restricted information before publishing the documents online. Despite being alerted to the breach by the complainant on 24 January 2011, the authority also failed to remove the information for a further four days. On investigation into the incident, it was discovered that the breach  occurred because of the incorrect use of a relatively new system for publishing the agenda packs online.
MI5 is making improvementsto some of its IT systems in response to recommendations made by the coroner at the inquests into the July 7 London bombings in 2005. Lady Justice Hallett, the coroner, urged MI5 to improve how it handled and shared data, and to improve its processes to ensure that it showed the best-quality photos to witnesses. MI5 was criticised at the inquest for cropping a colour photograph of suspect Mohammad Siddique Khan so poorly that it could not be shown to a witness for identification purposes.
The agency said that it has now improved its IT systems and photography procedures to ensure that the incident cannot happen again. It said that in 2004, the majority of MI5 photos were taken using ‘wet film’ and scanned onto a flatbed scanner and uploaded onto the corporate IT system before it was cropped using “software available to in the service at the time”. The quality of the image was reduced during the scanning process, and then further still by the cropping software the agency used.
Supermarket chain Tesco is set to offer in-store Wifi to customers, according to a report. The company said the move was a response to changing customer habits. Shoppers were already checking rivals’ prices in store on their mobile devices, it said.
“You can stand Canute-like and pretend nothing is happening… or you can say it’s happening and I am going to help it happen,” said Tesco chief information officer Mike McNamara. Tesco is conducting a Wifi pilot in four stores, before rolling out the service more widely. McNamara said the company “may switch it off” if customers are found to be “streaming video forever”.
Domino’s Pizza has said that a move to cloud computing, and the outsourcing of a number of its key IT elements, are crucial steps to providing “resilient” and “flexible” technology as it grows its business.
In the last year, the pizza firm has moved its fast-growing e-commerce site onto servers hosted by Rackspace, and outsourced the management of its wide area network to KCom. Domino’s retains an in-house IT department for more “strategic” work.
As the company reported that it had grown revenues by 12 per cent to £102 million, in the six months to 26 June, it said online sales accounted for 42 per cent of all delivery revenues. The right IT infrastructure was vital to support the e-commerce channel and other operations, it said.
SAP second-quarter revenues grew 14 per cent, driven by strong software sales in all regions. Based on IFRS (international financial reporting standards), revenues for the quarter ended June 30 were €3.3 billion (US$4.78 billion according to the exchange rate on the last day of the quarter). Software revenue jumped 26 per cent to €802 million ($1.16 billion), while software and software-related service revenue was €2.58 billion ($3.74 billion), a rise of 14 per cent. Profit after taxes for the quarter was €588 million ($853 million), a 20 per cent jump. That outcome compared favourably to the first quarter, when after-tax profits rose 4 per cent.
Earlier, SAP updated its full-year financial guidance, saying that non-IFRS operating profits for fiscal 2011 will come in at the high end of the previously estimated range of €4.45 billion (US$6.45 billion) to €4.65 billion ($6.74 billion).
ITV, the broadcaster, announced it will be investing in building its online business, after reporting a 45 percent increase in profits. In its interim results for the half year ended 30 June 2011, ITV revealed that “solid progress” in the first year of its five-year Transformation Plan had helped to increase its profit from £165 million in 2010 to £240 million this year. It added that its cost-saving programme is on track to deliver £15 million of savings in 2011.
“Our new online team is investing in both quality of technology and ease of use, and in driving up commercial performance,” ITV said in its results. It aims to invest £25 million in online, content and digital channels this year, of which it has already spent £12 million in the first half of 2011. Revenues for the online business increased by 33 percent to £16 million in the period.
Among its initiatives, ITV plans to widen the distribution of its play-back platform, ITV Player, which is available on Freesat, Playstation 3 and on Android and Apple devices. The number of average monthly unique users online grew 19 percent to 10.8 million, while views of long videos on the site rose by 64 percent to 180 million across all of its platforms.
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) have launched a new system to identify uninsured drivers. The system works by comparing the Motor Insurance Database with the DVLA’s vehicle database. It forms the bedrock of the Continuous Insurance Enforcement initiative, a collaboration between the DVLA, the Department for Transport and MIB to reduce the number of vehicles being driven on UK roads without insurance. It was prompted by the 2004 Greenaway Report, which identified that UK had the highest incidence of uninsured drivers in Western Europe.
The system was developed with IBM consultants. To link the insurance and vehicle databases IBM started by analysing the “big data” on vehicles registered with the DVLA and data on insured vehicles from the Motor Insurance Database.