The Buzz Issue Lexicon

For those who need their buzz and need it fast, we offer this lexicon. What follows is an easily digestible summary of all the buzzy technology terms discussed in Network World’s 2005 Buzz Issue, along with suggested questions to help you further research any term.

EtherFabricOne of three competing technologies to boost server bus speeds at the interconnect between CPU and network. Based on Ethernet, EtherFabric competes with InfiniBand and iWarp.
Questions to ask about EtherFabric, InfiniBand and iWarp:
  • Is this compatible with Ethernet or will I have to purchase specialized gear?
  • Do the network interface cards have to be on both ends of the connection?
  • Can I test-drive it on my hardware in my network running my code and my applications?
  • What additional training do I need to deploy and manage this interconnect?
  • Is it compatible with bigger bandwidth? Can I move to faster speeds without buying new gear?

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Grid computing

This emerging technology remains in the buzz as users discover more ways to use this mega-powerful computing platform. Early adopters have been talking about how they use their grids as the computer of choice for their service-oriented architectures.

Questions to ask about grid computing:

Ask grid software vendors the following questions.
  • What software has been demonstrated to operate on your grid infrastructure?
  • What do I need to do to my applications so they can be used across the grid?
  • What support will I be given to work with my current enterprise application vendors to move software to the grid?
  • What interoperability tests have been done with your software and other virtualization products?
Ask application vendors the following questions.
  • Is anyone running this software on a grid?
  • Is anyone running this software using data virtualization?
  • Can this software be modified so that its computational needs are divided among a large multiprocessor system?
  • What are you willing to do to adjust your software so that it can be operated on grid?

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Holographic storage

Holography-based storage systems are able to read 1 billion bits of data with each flash of light, and therefore hold 60 times as much data as a DVD and write 10 times faster, vendors say. First-generation products are expected by September 2006.
Questions to ask about holographic storage:
  • How much archival data do you have?
  • Will the initial size of the disks (200G to 300G bytes) be sufficient for archiving this data?
  • Are you concerned that holographic media will be removable?
  • How long will your storage media last in the long run?
  • Are you concerned that, at least initially, holographic storage systems will be proprietary?

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InfiniBand

The most established of three competing bus technologies. Aimed at speeding the connection between CPU, storage and network nodes, InfiniBand competes with EtherFabric and iWarp (see entry below).
Questions to ask about InfiniBand, EtherFabric and iWarp:
  • Is this compatible with Ethernet or will I have to purchase specialized gear?
  • Do the network interface cards have to be on both ends of the connection?
  • Can I test-drive it on my hardware in my network running my code and my applications?
  • What additional training do I need to deploy and manage this interconnect?
  • Is it compatible with bigger bandwidth? Can I move to faster speeds without buying new gear?

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iWarp

Composed of several other technology protocols, iWarp is a method for speeding interconnects that competes with InfiniBand (see entry, above) and EtherFabric. It combines processing and routing functions on a single chip so that a computer on one end of a network connection can write directly to the memory of another located across the network.
Questions to ask about iWarp, InfiniBand and EtherFabric:
  • Is this compatible with Ethernet or will I have to purchase specialized gear?
  • Do the network interface cards have to be on both ends of the connection?
  • Can I test-drive it on my hardware in my network running my code and my applications?
  • What additional training do I need to deploy and manage this interconnect?
  • Is it compatible with bigger bandwidth? Can I move to faster speeds without buying new gear?

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Near Field Communication (NFC)

A close-range wireless connection option developed by Royal Philips Electronics and Sony. Operating at 212K bit/sec, it is expected to be a safer and cheaper wireless option well suited for mobile commerce applications such as wireless credit card transactions.
Questions to ask about NFC:
  • What is the result of the latest trials overseas?
  • Which vendors have signed up to support NFC?
  • Under what circumstances is NFC a better option than Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or RFID?

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Podcasting

An increasingly popular application that allows iPod users and those with other MP3 players to download radio broadcasts when broadcasters publish their radio shows as Really Simple Syndication files.
Questions to ask about podcastings:
  • How many employees are performing podcasting at work and what is the drain on my network because of that?
  • How might I create a policy regarding podcasting and train users to follow it?
  • Can I make use of employee familiarity with podcasting to distribute enterprise information?

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Ransomware

A new form of cybercrime in which attackers break into a network, encrypt data files then demand payment for the decryption key. While worrisome, ransomware can be protected against by established enterprise security measures such as fast patch updates and intrusion detection/prevention. However, users must be educated on what to do should they encounter a ransom note.

Questions to ask about ransomware:

  • Do you have any experience in detecting or disarming ransomware attacks?
  • Can you offer protection against security attacks that occur quickly? (A variety of attacks can be performed at more than 1 million packets per second.)
  • If my company comes under a ransomware attack, how might you be able to help me quickly decrypt the affected files?
  • Once a vulnerability is found, how long do you typically take to distribute a patch?
  • If I suspect a thwarted ransomware attack, how should I report it to you, and how will you inform the authorities while protecting my confidential information?
  • What kinds of innovative technologies do you offer to battle dangers such as Trojan horses and key loggers that work through the Web and often go undetected by, or can even disable, anti-virus software?

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RFID

Radio frequency identification remains buzzy as the defense industry, Wal-Mart suppliers and the pharmaceutical industry work their way toward fulfilling various mandates for it. With a new interoperability standard passed last year, vendors have made progress, but the hype over what the technology can ultimately do to automate the supply chain still far outpaces RFID's current capabilities.
Questions to ask about RFID:
  • What experience do you have in designing RFID systems for my industry?
  • How will you design redundancy?
  • Do your products support the Gen2 RFID standard? If not, when will they, and what are the migration options?
  • What independent testing can you show me that verifies your products can work in the conditions of my warehouse?
  • How do your products secure my data?
  • Have your products ever been integrated with my ERP system? What work is being done in that area?
  • How much do the tags cost?
  • How will your system help me analyze the data for long-term trends?
  • Using your system, how can I securely share RFID with strategic vendors or customers?

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Rootkits

These attackers tools have been around for a while but have recently become stealthier and more sophisticated. Rootkits secretly give attackers root control of a system and can allow a hacker complete control, even of your security software. Specialized detection tools are available, but handling everyday security tasks well — such as patch updates — is the most critical defense.
Questions to ask about rootkits:
  • Which of the following detection algorithms is used?

    -The cross-view approach (detects hidden objects to indicate a rookit has been embedded).

    -Direct rootkit detectors (catches hooked entries into IDT/SDT/IRP).

    -Signature-based approach.
  • Does the rootkit defender combine cross-view detection with heuristics-based file analysis? (So far, no tools do both, but they should.)
  • Can the tool detect the rootkit at time of installation?
  • Does work have to be stopped for a full scan of the machine to detect the rootkit? How long does that take? How often should you scan?
  • Does the technology detect kernel, memory, BIOS and/or user mode rootkits?
  • Can the tool automatically remove the rootkit? Often rootkit removal requires booting into safe mode and then manually cleaning.

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SOA service offerings

Vendors have decided the buzz over service-oriented architecture is ripe for the plucking. While trying to sell a product that may not be oriented toward the SOA, vendors are increasingly offering services such as SOA readiness evaluation, development and management. But experts warn that an architecture built on services isn't delivered as software, so for any offered SOA service, the buyer must beware.
Questions to ask about SOA service offerings:
  • How much experience do you have implementing SOA? After you hear the product pitch, request client references similar to your situation to make sure the vendor can deliver SOA beyond implementing its specific product set.
  • Are you certified in implementing best-practice processes? Most of SOA is architecture and processes, not technology. Vendors must know more than how to install integration middleware or an enterprise service bus.
  • How are you going to equip me to maintain my SOA going forward? Whether it be engineering, training or process certification, IT shops will need tools to evolve, maintain and manage their SOA. An SOA is not a one-off project that a vendor can wrap up in a consulting engagement.
  • What work are you doing with standards? SOA depends upon disparate components integrating on the fly. While vendor-specific wares and integration platforms can help, the ultimate goal is for interoperability via standards.

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SOBA

The service-oriented business application is a term being espoused by Gartner analysts as the latest incarnation of the services-oriented architecture concept. The SOBA is the incarnation of the enterprise business application wholly designed for the SOA so that it is completely composed of resusable bits of code. SOBA proponents say four steps are involved in moving from the monolithic software model of today to the SOBA.
Questions to ask vendors:
  • How are you deconstructing monolithic applications and exposing the functions of your software?
  • Are you using Web services specifications beyond simple Simple Object Access Protocol wrappers?
  • Are you participating in the creation of Web services standards such as those for transactions, reliable messaging and orchestration?
  • How do you plan to incorporate these standards into your applications/platforms?

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Software appliances

Enterprise software users have a new choice in how they deploy and manage these large, complex applications. Software appliances are an option that sits between the two polar extremes — own it yourself or hire an ASP. A software appliance resides at the customer's premises, but uses modular, pay-as-you go pricing schemes and is managed remotely through Web interfaces by its vendors. Just install and go — much like a hardware appliance, proponents say.
Questions to ask about software appliances:
  • Is it priced flexibly? Is a pay-as-you-go leasing option available?
  • Which modules are available and can I pick and choose just the ones I want?
  • Does the product support well-accepted standards, such as the LAMP stack, XML and Web services?
  • What self-management, self-healing tools does it use and how will you access the software when more hands-on management is required?
  • How is the underlying operating system hardened and what other security measure does the appliance employ?

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ZigBee

A networking protocol developed by over 100 vendors for sensors. ZigBee-enabled sensors are expected to eventually be embedded in everything from light switches to appliances.
Questions to ask about ZigBee:
  • Which consumer electronic devices are likely to be ZigBee compliant?
  • Will traffic from ZigBee wireless nets interfere with my data wireless nets and what can I do to avoid that?
  • What role will IT play in building and supporting eventual ZigBee networks for in-building devices?

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Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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