Microsoft Lync Server 2013: Quorum, Directors and Front-End services.

joostDuring recent implementation I was configuring a High-Available Lync 2013 environment. The environment had to be configured using one front-end pool with 2 servers, one director pool with 2 servers and an Edge pool with two servers. Now the issue regarding this configuration is the Lync quorum. For those of you who are not familiar with the quorum, it kind of states that more than 50% of the pool needs to be up and running in order to restart the services. The only service that is impacted by the quorum is the Front-End Service. This service can be found on both the front-end servers and the Director servers. Microsoft recommends using three servers per pool, but also support topologies where 2 servers are added to one pool. For more information regarding the Quorum, please check the blog of Murali Krishnan or TechNet.

After the configuration of the High-Available environment I had to test the environment on high-availability. during these tests the front-end servers were shut-down and restarted again. Doing this in the proper order made sure the quorum remained in good order and the services were started. Using the wrong order resulted in issues, which eventually were resolved by using the below mentioned PowerShell commands. 

Reset-CsPoolRegistrarState –PoolFqdn directorpool.domain.lan –ResetType ServiceReset
Reset-CsPoolRegistrarState –PoolFqdn directorpool.domain.lan –ResetType FullReset
Reset-CsPoolRegistrarState –PoolFqdn directorpool.domain.lan –ResetType QuorumLossRecovery

After the front-end servers, I tested the director servers. During these tests one of the front-end services wasn’t able to start. After a lot of tries and starting up the servers in various orders the service still wasn’t starting. So I moved on and tried several PowerShell commands (Reset-CsPoolRegistrarState). During the execution of the last command I received an error within PowerShell after a while. The notification was weird because the director servers al have a registrar, but due to some reason the PowerShell command thought that this wasn’t the case.

Reset-CsPoolRegistrarState : Could not connect to any server in Pool
directorpool.domain.lan during Phase 1.
At line:1 char:1
+ Reset-CsPoolRegistrarState -PoolFqdn directorpool.domain.lan -ResetType
QuorumL … 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
+ CategoryInfo          : InvalidOperation: (:) [Reset-CsPoolRegistrarState], Exception
+ FullyQualifiedErrorId : Error resetting fabric state. For details, see inner exception.,Microsoft.Rtc.Management.Hadr.ResetPoolFabricStateCmdlet

During the execution of the second command the Lync server performed some actions, which could be noticed in the PowerShell prompt. However after the reset of the quorum I noticed the following warnings in the Lync Server event log.

Event ID: 32169, LS User Services
“Server startup is being delayed because fabric pool manager is initializing.
Cause: This is normal when Pool is bootstrapped and indicates that the Front-End is waiting for a quorum of other Front-Ends to be started.

Resolution:
If this event recurs persistently, ensure that 85% of the Front-Ends configured for this Pool are up and running. For 2 or 3 machine Pools, initial cold-start of the Pool requires all machines to be started. If multiple Front-Ends have been recently decommissioned, run Reset-CsPoolRegistrarState -ResetType QuorumLossRecovery to enable the Pool to recover from Quorum Loss and make progress.”

After performing the above mentioned commands I was hoping that the servers were starting, however this wasn’t the case. So eventually we decided to open a support case at Microsoft. During the case, the Microsoft Support engineer asked me to install the Lync 2013 Cumulative Update of July 2013. The installation of the Cumulative Update did the trick. The services were able to start, even though the wrong order was picked. The Microsoft Support engineer stated that there isn’t any publicly available documentation regarding the July 2013 Cumulative update which addresses this issue, however in most cases this Cumulative update resolves the issue.

Normally I am not so confident by installing the latest Cumulative updates on this fast pace. In the past I had to deal with some faulty SharePoint Cumulative Updates, which were eventually retracted by Microsoft. So normally I would recommend a delay of 2 months for installing the Cumulative updates. But as the Microsoft Support engineer stated, the updates improved a lot and especially for Lync the updates can be installed, and is even recommended by Microsoft. After the environment was stable again, and I had evaluated the whole issue, I decided to install the latest Cumulative Updates on all environment I maintained.

TechEd 2013: Wrap up day 1

Two weeks ago I attended the TechEd 2013 Europe conference in Madrid. First of all I have to admit I was quite overwhelmed by the size of the conference. With a huge numbers of attendees, over 450 sessions and a whole conference center being used, it was quite impressive. During the following blogs I want to wrap up some of the interesting points speakers made during the sessions I attended.

Enabling People Centric-IT

During this sessions some further insights were given about the IT that people bring in. One of the trending topics, or issues that IT departments are struggling the most with is BYOD. Using the new software tools Microsoft developed it became a lot easier to manage all kinds of devices. Using Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 configuration Manager, users are now able to easily add file shares and apps to their own device. However when the connection with the device is lost (sold, lost or broken) it is very easy to disable the connection after which all company data is erased.

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Source: TechEd Presentation ‘Enabling People-Centric IT’ by Andrew Conway

Looking at the possibilities, I have to admit that I really love those. The ease and simplicity of adding the device to the company’s network and the amount of policies that can be required by the IT department is bringing BYOD to a whole new level, and hopefully more accepted and supported by IT departments.

Overview of Enterprise Social from Microsoft

The next presentation I attended was more in the direction of my daily working experience. During the start of the session a lot of open doors were stepped into, although for me. During the recent years a lot of the numbers mentioned were still impressive, but heard of a lot. However during the presentation an interesting insight was given about the social roadmap of Microsoft, and in more detail SharePoint and Yammer was presented.

The most interesting part of the presentation was that of the announcement of the app which will be released for SharePoint 2013. Using this app you will be able to incorporate the Yammer enterprise flow into you SharePoint sites. Christophe Fiessinger (presenter) also showed some very interesting picture of Yammer integration in Dynamics CRM Online for example.

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Source: TechEd Presentation ‘Overview of Enterprise Social from Microsoft’ by Christophe Fiessinger

At the end of the presentation a basic roadmap is given. For me the most interesting point on the roadmap was the option that the newsfeed of SharePoint can be replaced with the newsfeed of Yammer. Personally I like the idea very much, as Yammer gives the users more possibilities in following and adding stuff. When these messages appear on SharePoint, SharePoint will become the major business platform in the enterprise (in most cases it already is). However discussing this roadmap Christophe mentioned that all new features will be placed into Office 365 first (and with a faster pace). And in alter stages the updates will become available for  on premise SharePoint farms. 

Designing for High Availability and Disaster Recovery in Microsoft Lync Server 2013.

During this presentation Justin Morris started with some kind of horror scenario of what could happen with your data center and why High Availability and disaster recovery is important. Using this setting the attention of the public was gained and the possibilities were easily explained. Starting of with the possibilities in Lync Server 2010 and followed by the changes in 2013.

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Source: TechEd presentation ‘Designing for High Availability and Disaster Recovery in Microsoft Lync Server 2013’  by Justin Morris

During the presentation Justin told that Lync 2013 was more dependent of SQL Server than it predecessors. However Lync is able to work for almost half an hour with now connection to the back end system. When the connection isn’t back at that moment Lync will start to fail as well. A design issues as well is related to the front-end pool. Within Lync 2013 the pool quorum is introduced. This quorum states that more than 50% of the pool needs to be up and running. When this is not the case the the other servers will go down as well. Justin also mentioned pools with two front-end servers. When one of the two are brought down (in case of maintenance) they should be brought up as soon as possible! When it is possible to bring down both of the servers, please plan this carefully!

Justin has mentioned a lot of other issues and pitfalls related to Lync Server 2013 deployments. You can just view the webcast or check the presentation (see hyperlink above).

Search Architecture, Sizing and Migration in Microsoft SharePoint 2013

During the last session of the day I attended a session related to SharePoint Search and the architecture. Within SharePoint 2013 the search architecture is completely changes (this was necessary due to the integration of FAST Search). Search now consists of 4 components (the feeding chain, the Index Core, The query chain and the analytics services). All of these components have their own components and makes SharePoint crawling all bits and pieces.

After all of the components the sizing for search is discussed. Sizing can be done in two manners:

  1. Scale up (more and faster resources)
  2. Scale out, adding more machines and distribute all components over these machines.

Using the some of the benchmarks and tests that are performed by Microsoft consultants it is showed where the load of the different components lays. Using these scenario’s enables you the scale the servers of search components.

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Source: TechEd presentation ‘Search Architecture, Sizing and Migration in Microsoft SharePoint 2013’ by Jan Inge Bergseth.

During the presentation Jan Inge mentioned the Query tool. This tool can be found on CodePlex and gives you insight of the contents that are stored in the index of the SharePoint Search.

After the presentation a lot of questions concerning Search migration were raised. On of the suggestions that were raised by migrating the entire index file was very interesting. However this possibility can only be used when all URL’s will remain the same.

Microsoft Lync Server 2013: Response Groups and RBAC

As mentioned earlier I am involved with several Lync implementations at the moment. During one of these implementation we ran into some issues with the Lync Response Groups. During the configuration of the Response groups we saw them using the Lync Server Control Panel. However a day later we mentioned that the workflows, queues’ and Agent Groups were not longer displayed. Using some of the PowerShell commands  available for Lync Server 2013 (see citing below) we noticed that the Agent groups still existed in the database, as we found the configured Agent groups, Queues’ and Workflows been returned using the PowerShell commands below (see picture below).

Get-CsRgsWorkflow

Get-CsRgsQeue

Get-CsRgsAgentGroup

At first we thought this might be some kind of bug of Lync Server 2013, as this isn’t the first time that a GUI of a program is not showing data. However when talking to some of the folks of Microsoft during the recent TechEd Europe conference, their wasn’t any clue or known issue, so we had to dig deeper into the problem.

Response Groups

Last week during some searches for finding a resolution for the issue I stumbled upon a blog of Phil Sharp. Within this blog Phil describes the possibility to create custom RBAC roles in Lync Server 2013. Creating the custom RBAC roles weren’t part of the solution. However Phil mentioned the two Active Directory Groups which are involved in managing the Response features. As there are two groups (the manager and the Administrator role), it is obvious that managing the groups should be done by members of these groups).

When looking into these groups we noticed that the administrator which we logged into was placed directly into both Active Directory groups. So at first sight we thought this was the right way to configure the RBAC situation. However after some searches without any results we decided to remove the administrator from the CsResponseGroupManager group. By doing this and refreshing the workflow page and the Lync control panel made the workflows, Agent Groups and Queues’ reappear to the administrator.

CsResponseGroupAdministrator Can manage the configuration of the Response Group application within a site.
CsResponseGroupManager Can manage specific response groups.

Source: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg425917.aspx

The above mentioned scenario means that the the administrator has indeed all permissions, but these permissions will be overwritten by by managers group. Therefore it is necessary to add the administrator only the the CsResponseGroupAdministrator Active Directory group in order to make sure that the administrator is able to manage these groups. Managing these groups means also managing the unmanaged Lync Response Group workflows!

Conclusion
RBAC is a powerful solution but you have to be careful about where accounts will be added and which groups have permissions to manage certain configurations. This is not only for the access based groups but also for the functionality which is provided to the managers and administrators of the functionality in Lync 2013 and in particular the Response Groups.

Lync 2013: Certificate requirements for Lync 2013 Edge server

Last weeks I have been installing Lync in a large environment of a customer of ours. During the implementation everything went very smooth, till the last two days. First we discovered that there were some troubles using the mandatory profiles, and second we faced issues with federation. During the initial tests we noticed that federation was working for presence information and chat messages, however starting audio/video and starting a conference between a federated user and an internal user was where the trouble started.

After doing a lot of research and checking the environment we were totally out of ideas! all ports, and IP addresses were set correctly and all Best Practices were followed. During our search we found in chapter 9 of the Lync 2010 and Lync 2013 Resource Kit a reference to a utility that is called: MSTurnPing.exe. Using the MSTurnPing.exe program we are able to test the A/V Authentication Service and the A/V Edge Services. By executing this tool using the ‘Lync 2013 Management Shell’, which is started on a Front-End Server, lots of results can be gained. In order to execute this tool, navigate to the folder where it is located and execute the following command in the Lync 2013 Management Shell:

.\MSTurnPing.exe –ServerRole AudioVideoEdgeServer

During the execution of this tool we got results, which were saying:

Exception Message: The target principal name is incorrect
Cause: Lync Server Audio/Video Authentication service is not started
Resolution: Start Lync Server Audio/Video Authentication Service

After these messages I was a bit confused, cause the A/V authentication service was already started on the edge server and all of the other components (starting audio/video conference with external users) seems to work fine. After digging around, someone noticed to have a look at the certificate. Within the initial certificate there were no additional Subject Alternate Name’s (SAN’s). These SAN’s were also not proposed by the deployment wizard, and thus not added by us. Reading through blogs and discussion boards people stated that the Edge pool FQDN and the server FQDN needed to be added as SAN’s in the certificate (not sure why the pool FQDN should be added, as this was already the Subject Name of the certificate, however we followed by adding the pool FQDN as well). This requirement is not explicitly stated in this TechNet article.

Using these suggestions, we decided to replace the certificate on the edge internal interface. After a while (requesting certificates from the edge server to the internal CA wasn’t that easy) the new certificate were requested and added to the edge internal interface. In order to make sure that the new certificate will be used by the services, the server is rebooted. After the reboot I started the MSTurnPing.exe application once again and I received notifications that everything works perfectly.

Results MSTurnPing

Also the second step in testing, creating a call between a federated user and a internal user,  was executed perfectly and we were able to add audio and video, and create a conference as well during the meeting. During this tests everyone concluded that the requested functionality is working!

Conclusion

Make sure that the Server FQDN and the Edge pool FQDN are added to your internal interface certificate in order to make sure that all calls will be accepted and upgraded to a conference.

Lync 2010/2013 and mandatory Windows profiles

During the last couple of weeks I have been implementing Lync Server 2010 and Lync Server 2013 in various environments. During these implementations Citrix played a major role, as the users desktops will be provided by the Citrix platform. The installation process when using Lync Within Citrix is exactly the same. Even during the planning and configuration there isn’t a lot to worry about when using Citrix. Of course you have to plan for the amount of users and the tasks they are performing. Maybe even have a look at the possibilities/support options for desktop virtualization and the supportability by Microsoft and Citrix for the Lync client as well. However the major pains begins when the testing phase starts.

When a users logs into a Citrix hosted desktop a Windows profiles will be used. Within these profiles the ‘home directory’ and other information is stored. As users starts working on a remote hosted workspace it might not be wanted that the user can modify the computer settings. The only thing that users should do is changing the users desktop. In order to set these permissions special user profiles will be used. These special user profiles are called mandatory profiles.

Whenever a user is signed into Windows, remote or locally, the profile will be locked as mandatory profile. Using these mandatory profiles means that a very little amount of settings can be changed or stored within the profile. This behavior has some effects for Lync as well. For example during Lync conferences (an Audio/Video conversations with other features) Lync uses the Public Key Infrastructure keys, and stores these keys in the profile. When the profiles are mandatory these keys cannot be saved, resulting in the following error when starting the conference: (An error occurred during the online meeting, and in the dialog box: When contacting your support team, reference error ID 16389 (Source ID 0)).

In order to make sure that the Lync configuration can be tested, a little change to the registry needs to be applied. The registry setting for the state key needs to be changed to the hexadecimal value: 0x0000004 (4). The State registry key can be found in: HKLM\software\microsoft\windowsnt\currentversion\profilelist\{SID}. Make sure you open RegEdit as administrator. Of course the following Microsoft statement applies to changing settings to the registry:

Caution You can impair or disable Windows with incorrect changes or accidental deletions if you (or other users) use Registry Editor to change the system configuration. Wherever possible, you should use the Control Panel, Windows Diagnostics, and Administrative Tools in Windows to change the Registry. Registry Editor should be used only as a last resort.

When the changes to the registry are applied logging off and on makes sure that the logged in user enables the new settings. By logging off and back in makes sure that the user is logged in as a ‘normal user’. When Lync is started , you will notice a installation screen, this is done in order to change some settings in Lync. After signing in everything is working normally and Lync conferencing can now be tested, on the client machines!

Essay: Cloud Computing and SMAC defining the trends, benefits and threats

Introduction

SMAC is another new word in the IT world that, according to many IT analyst, should change the businesses. But is this really the case? SMAC contains four new technologies that can be used by businesses. However as Chris Curran states in his blog on June 27th 2012 we cannot be good in all of the technologies, and even most of the businesses need other emerging technologies such as visualization, sensors or transparent and flexible screens (Curran, 2012). And as Curran continues focusing for example on SMAC, can lead to miss fundamental capabilities as agile app building or field tech support. In order to define whether or not SMAC is a hype or already reality I will discuss the terms cloud and SMAC. Furthermore we will investigate about the trends, benefits and threats that the cloud will bring for businesses. Last but not least a real-life example will be described. In this real-life example a retailer is placed central within his omni-channel concept. These kinds of scenario’s sound a far from my own bed show, but most of the functionalities already exists.

What are cloud computing and SMAC?

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is defined as applications and services which are offered to the individual or to businesses over the internet. Within this definition some variations can be made as well. As some businesses may want to host their servers in the cloud and some businesses only wants to use an CRM systems from the cloud, several levels of services from the cloud can be defined. Typically there are three types of cloud services that are commonly known:

· Infrastructure as a service, where a series of servers is hired and deployed for whatever purpose necessary (CapGemini, 2009).

· Platform as a service where customers are able to create new software using tools and libraries that are delivered by the provider. In this service level the customer is responsible for software and deployment settings (CapGemini, 2009).

· Software as a service where the service provider, provides a software solution that can be used by a large number of customers. They all share the same platform, but the software which is used can be modified to each individual customer’s needs (CapGemini, 2009).

A distinction between a private cloud and a public cloud should also be made. As more and more tools are available through webpages businesses are able to create the own private cloud. Using these applications customers, partners and employees are able to login the platform which is created by the company and thus making. When combining applications that are installed in the data center of the business and another applications used from a could provider, we speak about a so called hybrid cloud solution (CapGemini, 2009). Examples of Cloud services which can be found for individuals are Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Google docs etc. For businesses examples can be found as well, for example Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps for business.

SMAC

SMAC stands for Social, Media, Analytics and Cloud computing. Actually SMAC is using the tools that becomes available when using cloud computing. Where companies have to think how the cloud can be useful to them, SMAC makes companies think about how all applications needs to be integrated and create a useful work environment for mobile employees (VentureBeat.com, 2012).

However SMAC tends to be narrowed down by Google and other companies, in which they say it is used by employees to find each other and to work together within a single environment with all kinds of tools (Cloud Computing Journal, 2013). However when looking at a description given by PWC for example, SMAC can also be described as adding new possibilities to extend existing services in order to create new services for customers. These services can be made available through the company that is already delivering the service, but can also be delivered by third parties (PWC.com, 2013). Looking further at SMAC we can see four different kinds of technologies that continues to evolve and thus creating more and more possibilities when combining these technologies.

An interesting example of new possibilities that is created by combining technologies is for example the acquiring of Goodreads by Amazon (The New York Times, 2013). By combining their unique selling point’s customers of Amazon get more social media possibilities at their disposal. On the other side using the analytics system of Goodreads, which is mainly based on peer-based analytics, combined with the system that is already been created by Amazon gets more interesting reviews and better recommendations for the users of both platforms. With regards to the mobile part of SMAC, GoodReads should be able to use the mobile platform that is created by Amazon with its Kindle. As GoodReads should be able to make additions to this platform, the users should benefit from these additions (Goodreads, 2013).

Trends, benefits and threats of Cloud Computing and SMAC

Several trends can be found around Cloud computing. The first, and in my opinion most important trend is the hybrid cloud. As not all applications will be hosted within the cloud, and data may not alwys be saved in the cloud, some of the data needs to be stored in-house. However most of the companies still want to integrate the data from their internal network with data that is stored in the cloud. Gartner recommends that enterprises focuses on application and data integration between the various applications (Gartner.com, 2012).

Besides this hybrid cloud, another trend can be seen as well. More and more developers of mobile devices uses the cloud as platform where the data is stored. Using this kind of method for storing the data enables the mobile devices manufacturers to create thinner and lighter devices than ever before. This is also the enabler for the SMAC term were already two of the four terms exists of mobile and cloud (Ahammed, 2013).

A third trend in cloud computing is the growth and the vendor choice. As the cloud package gains more and more momentum, the cloud is famous for its adaptability and scalability. As more and more businesses sees the cloud also as a archiving solution (were the cloud service provider makes sure that backups are available in case of emergency) data can be stored in the cloud (Ahammed, 2013). In fact there are some more trends in cloud, as games will go more and more to the cloud, the usage of data collected by mobile apps can be used for analytics (think for example of the Nike+ data that is stored within the cloud).

Using cloud computing brings various benefits to the businesses which uses them. However these benefits comes with certain risks as well. When moving to the cloud this brings some flexibility to the way in which the employees of the organization works. The data is not only available through the wires and Wi-Fi connection within your office building. However using cloud applications or services increase your dependency on you internet connection. When this connection is low of bandwidth the employees are not able to work fast enough, or cannot work at all (Shagin, 2012).

The second benefit is the cost reduction and the increase which the cloud bring to an enterprise. As most of the providers offers their usage of the solutions on a pay per use model, it is very easy to add or to remove users from the platform that is being used. This is in contrast with the on premise installation of services, which in most cases are ready to support a huge amounts of users. However this cost reduction is adding risks as well. Most of the cloud solutions are not prepared for usage in a hybrid environment. This will add large amounts of complexity and planning before the new solutions can be enrolled within an organization. In some cases the benefits will be lost due to the planning and the custom made connections that have to be made (Shagin, 2012).

A third benefit that is heard a lot is reliability. Due to the economies of scale that cloud providers tends to realize, providers invest more in the reliability of the systems they maintain. Another important aspect is that they hire highly experienced staff to work with these kind of environments, because of the simple fact that if servers malfunction, lots of customers notices the problems. Therefore cloud service providers try to maintain their infrastructure in the best possible condition. Cause when failures occur, penalty clauses apply in most cases (Shagin, 2012).

The last most common identified risk and benefit in one is identity and access management. Systems which are provided through an internally available datacenter already contains some security risks, services offered by a cloud service provider might be even riskier. As service providers are more commonly known, they are more a target for denial of service attacks, than individual businesses. However due to the nature of the providers the solutions which they can provide, in order to decline certain attacks are far more greater than smaller companies, that doesn’t have the knowledge nor have the money to implement such systems (Shagin, 2012).

Not only certain types of security is important to deal with. Regulations which can be used by governments, in order to get data is an important fact as well. Authorities always have access to certain types of data. Moving to the cloud doesn’t change these kind of regulations. However when looking at regulations from the United States (for example the patriot act and the fourth amendment) it is possible to request data, with none or limited legal protection. This issue specially applies to foreign citizens and organizations, as the legal protection is especially aimed at American citizens. Using the patriot act, authorities are able not only to request relevant data, but they can request all data, which might be data that is not relevant to the investigation (van Hoboken, Arnbak, & van Eijk, September 2012). When having identified this risk, a lot of organizations outside of the U.S. are more and more looking for other cloud providers or creating a private cloud for their organization.

Real life case of Cloud computing and SMAC

An interesting example of SMAC in practice is the Omni-channel experience in retailing. Within Omni channel all channels that a retailing concept uses should be seamlessly integrated with each other. All data that is used should be the same for the store information, but also the information on the website, which is opened in a laptop/desktop, tablet or mobile phone (Coghlan, 2012)

For example a customer needs to be able to visit the physical store. As a product isn’t available in the physical store the customer should be able to purchase the same article using the website. This can be done using in-store computers, or using a mobile phone. Another possibility is to order the products at the cashier, which can link the customer details to the order. During the order several other products can be displayed to the cashier which are related to the products or exact replacements for the product in question. This analytics data is also available for the customer using the website of the shop the customer is in. Whenever the product is bought by the customer, the purchase can be shared through social media like Facebook and Twitter (McKenzie, 2012)

In the scenario above all parts of SMAC can be found. As retailers are now focusing on customers this scenario will be found in practice during the coming years.

Conclusion

SMAC is no longer a hype but already reality. This can be seen for example in the retailing industry where all four technologies (Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud) can be found. The abbreviation is being hyped as the four technologies are already in place and being used more and more in the combination of the four technologies.

For the cloud and SMAC several trends can be defined. The first and most important trend is the hybrid cloud. Due to some potential threats for the cloud technologies, where the most obvious is the security risk and the potential threat of the patriot act and the fourth amendment hat is being used by the American authorities. The second trend is the data storage of mobile applications within the cloud. As more and more possibilities arise to store the data. Storing the data in the cloud enables the users by performing analytics on the data. A third trend and benefit from the cloud is the mobility that will be given to their users. They are no longer attached to an office where a connection with the business network is necessary. Last but not least the reliability of the and the scalability of the cloud is an obvious example of benefits that the cloud can bring.

References

Ahammed, F. (2013, 02 12). Technologist. Retrieved from Trends of Cloud Computing Future: http://www.technogist.com/2013/02/trends-of-cloud-computing-future.html

CapGemini. (2009). A Path to the cloud. CaoGemini.

Cloud Computing Journal. (2013, 04 17). Retrieved from Google Enterprise Shows Us SMAC in the Real World: http://cloudcomputing.sys-con.com/node/2620715

Coghlan, T. (2012, 03 11). MaoSuit. Retrieved from Omni-Channel Retail 101: http://maosuit.com/stores/omi-channel-retail-101/

Curran, C. (2012, 06 27). CIO Dashboard. Retrieved from SMAC: Hype or Reality?: http://www.ciodashboard.com/social-media/smac-hype-or-reality/

Gartner.com. (2012, 04 02). Retrieved from Gartner Outlines Five Cloud Computing Trends That Will Affect Cloud Strategy Through 2015: https://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=1971515

Goodreads. (2013). Retrieved from Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/

McKenzie, S. (2012, 03 31). ecommerce consulting.com. Retrieved from Omni-Channel Retail: A Term So Confusing, Even Those Doing it Best Don’t Know What it Means: http://www.ecommerceconsulting.com/2012/05/omni-channel-retail-a-term-so-confusing-even-those-doing-it-best-dont-know-what-it-means.html

PWC.com. (2013). Retrieved from Exploiting the growing value from information: http://www.pwc.com/us/en/technology-forecast/2012/issue2/features/feature-creating-openeing-apis.jhtml

Shagin, A. (2012, 10 25). Business Innovation from SAP. Retrieved from The Risks And Benefits Of Cloud Computing: http://blogs.sap.com/innovation/cloud-computing/risks-and-benefits-of-cloud-computing-020025

The New York Times. (2013, 03 28). Retrieved from Amazon to Buy Social Site Dedicated to Sharing Books: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/29/business/media/amazon-to-buy-goodreads.html?_r=1&

van Hoboken, J., Arnbak, A., & van Eijk, N. (September 2012). Cloud diensten in hoger onderwijs en onderzoek en de USA Patriot Act. Amsterdam: Instituut voor informatierecht.

VentureBeat.com. (2012, 12 05). Retrieved from SMAC stacks: What every IT department should know: http://venturebeat.com/2012/12/05/smac-stacks/

Essay: Using the Internet of Things within the Healthcare Industry

As the second essay is finished and received very well I also wanted to share this essay. This time it is about the emerging technology ‘Internet of Things’ and  the healthcare industry. As mentioned earlier, if you have any question or comment please feel free to leave a reply!

Introduction

The healthcare industry is in emerging need for change. As the Economist states in their vision on the future of healthcare trends, patients are very skeptical that the system can deliver the high-quality healthcare to all patients (Economist, 2011). The economist also states that patients also tends to take more responsibility for their own health. Using this trend more and more software applications are available. Not all of them offer a quality that is comparable with the already existing healthcare technologies, however the fact remains that applications are created using a community of developers outside the traditional firms that deliver hard- and software for the healthcare industry. As the new application become more and more familiar the question is now how are hospitals coping with this new trend, and on which kind of technology should hospitals have a focus? Most of these applications become available with new functionalities on devices, however the data that is used within these applications are powered through the Internet of Things. So the key questions are, what is the Internet of Things, and what should hospitals expect from it?

Internet of Things

In order to define the technology Internet of things it is good to have a look at the definition which is used. However a lot of definitions will be used for the internet of things. In 2010 a research group of the European Commission performed research to the Internet of things and when comparing all different kind of definitions, they came up with the following definition: “The Internet of Things is a dynamic global network infrastructure with self-configuring capabilities based on standard and interoperable communication protocols where physical and virtual “things” have identities, physical attributes, virtual personalities and use intelligent interfaces, and are seamlessly integrated into the information network” (Sundmaeker, Guillemin, Friess, & Woelffle, March 2010).

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Figure 1: Evolution from Electronic Data Interexchange to Internet of ThIngs

To put it into more simple words, within the internet of things all different kind of items, from socks to mobile phones, from cupboards to refrigerators everything can be connected to the internet. When all these kind of items uses the same kind of data formats , all of these devices will be able to connect to the internet, and thus creating an Internet of things.

The Internet of Things is not specially a new technology, however the Internet of Things is more an innovation because all kinds of existing technologies will be combined. As manufactures adds more and more new functionalities to the devices, all of these devices can become sensors for all sorts of problems. By creating (mobile) applications that uses these new functionalities more and better applications will be created by communities or manufacturers. For example Nike+ and Fitbit collect a lot of data when doing a running exercise, these companies are able to analyze the performance of the runner without any intervention.

In recent years the Internet of Things became more and more a popular buzz word. As the term was often used and the definitions of the term Internet of Things became clear, the technology was added by Gartner in their yearly hype cycle. Gartner creates a hype cycle in order to determine whether or not technologies are new or already commercially interesting. In the Gartner Hype cycle for emerging technologies 2012, the Internet of Things can be found for the first time (Gartner, 2012). Gartner reviewed the Internet of Things and stated that the Internet of Things is a technology trigger, which means that it is a fairly new technology where none too little products exists, however the stories and media will trigger significant publicity. Gartner also states that the Internet of things will be a common technology in more than 10 years (Gartner Hype Cycles, 2013).

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Figure 2: Gartner hype cycle for emerging technologies

Personal Healthcare / possibilities

As Inge Krogstad presents in her research, the Norwegian authorities have only one problem in healthcare for the coming decades, that is the need for more workers in the health- and care services. Krogstad states that Norway needs at least 100.000 extra workers within this business in order to care for all the people who needs this kind of service (Krogstad, 2012). The same problem arises for other west-European countries as The Netherlands, Germany, United Kingdom and also non-European countries as Japan and the Americas.

Krogstad states that the Internet of Things can help in resolving the issue that is described above. Krogstad states that the Internet Of things can help solving the issue as it enables more automatically clinical decision support and enables the patient with self-service and welfare technology (Krogstad, 2012). The most important part of the solution of Krogstad is the self-service bit. Within this context new applications will be available a lot in the coming years. The vision on the possibilities that the Internet of Things can bring for the self-service within healthcare changes at a very quick ratio. In 2005 Simonov et all created a discussion document in which they stated that there are possibilities to start a video conference with attached medical peripheral equipment, or home monitoring employing remote devices such as an Otoscope, Stethoscope and ECG to allow a remote physician to inspect inside a patient (Simonov, Zich, & Flavia, 2008).

However due to the changed technologies and the rise of the Internet of Things, specialized (and thus expensive tools) are no longer necessary. For example the Otoscope can be replaced by an iPhone with the application Remotescope (Georgia, 2012), an stethoscope can be replaced with an iPhone phone using the application iStethoscope (Guardian, 2010) an ECG can be created using technologies used by Nike+ and Garmin (Brandon, 2012). And this is only a short overview of three tools that are used a lot by physicians. New sensors are also being used more and more, Melanie Swan has created an overview of lots of sensors that are more and more feasible these days. For example nowadays stretchable electronic patches are available. These patches are able to monitor heart rate, brain activity, body temperature and blood pressure. After the measurements the patches sends their data wirelessly to devices which stores the measurements (Swan, 2012). Another example of new technologies which are being used to add new features are wristband sensors. These sensors, which looks like regular watches receives technologies to measure the type of exercise, allows single-button diet tracking, measures sleep and make personalized recommendation about changes a user can make to their life style in order to feel better (Swan, 2012). The last type of sensors that absolutely needs to be mentioned are the new available EEG’s. These devices are able to measure brain activity which can be used for example for sleep analysis (Swan, 2012). Examples of these new EEG devices are shown in Figure 3.

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Figure 3: examples of the first and second generation EEG devices

The remark that should be made for the above mentioned applications is that the data that is collected by the apps is served to the user. The user is able to do with the data whatever he likes, just storing the data within the application is a possibility and get some Business Intelligence out of the website that suppliers deliver with the application, or sharing the data through social networks as Facebook and Twitter. A famous example is the Nike+ sensor system which provides the user which these kinds of possibilities (McClusky, 2009). .However the most important users of the data, physicians, are not jet able to use the data or are not jet willing to use the data. As the Economist found in their research is that 49 percent of the questioned physicians are not seeing mHealth as an opportunity due to reimbursement structures, privacy and security issues and the lack of proven business models (Roney, 2012).

Personal opinion

In my personal opinion the usage of the combination of devices and applications that become available due to the Internet of Things and the possibilities they will add to our medical systems should be used and integrated a lot more within the medical systems of today. Using exchange and sharing of data from the applications the patients use, enables the physicians to gather more data that is accurate and valuable for the diagnosis of the health problem that is discussed. The more and accurate data can be found in the fact that familiar tools and surroundings can be used to monitor the patient. The usage of the tools already used by the patient enables gathering of data during a longer period of time, making sure that the data is consistent and not caused by coincidences.

The most important part is that hospitals, physicians and other employees in the health- and care industry sees the opportunities that the Internet of Things delivers and how these possibilities can contribute to the successful curing of the patients. The data must be received, stored and analyzed, therefore Hospitals should start discussing how the data that is gathered by applications, tools and sensors used by the patient should be integrated in a medical health record that is stored within the hospital.

As new technologies continue to enter the market new business models will become available as well. Based on a presentation given by TNO, there will be three different types of groups for new business models: Collecting and analyzing data, Communicate and interact, Automation and checks. Using the Internet of Things the primary business model that is already in place doesn’t have to be changed. Companies still needs to sell assets (like Nike and Philips) or services (Like FedEx and Tesco). However the services around these selling points can be quite different than we’ve seen in recent years. For example new apps can be sold, new target groups can be targeted and specialized data can be acquired and being shown to the user.

However certain challenges needs to be overcome, especially when looking to the healthcare industry security and privacy issues are one of the strongest challenges that still needs to be overcome. And when looking at privacy and security the most important challenge isn’t even mentioned. The most important challenge we face is the acknowledgement of these tools and the acknowledgement that these tools can deliver value to the healthcare or to the daily live (as these application might improve our live standards).

Conclusion

Within the Internet of Things all kinds of devices will be connected to the internet and thus connected to each other. Using these new technologies provides a lot more possibilities for already existing devices, and some devices that will be used in order measure certain aspects using sensors. Using these new techniques provides a lot of possibilities for new entrants in the markets.

References

Brandon, J. (2012, 02 01). We Test the "Internet of Things" with 3 Wireless Sensors. Retrieved from Popular Mechanics: http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/gadgets/reviews/we-test-the-internet-of-things-with-3-new-wireless-sensors-ant-technology#slide-4

Economist, T. (2011). The Future of healthcare in Europe. The Economist Business Intelligence Unit.

Gartner. (2012, 08 16). Retrieved from Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies: http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2124315

Gartner Hype Cycles. (2013). Retrieved from Gartner: http://www.gartner.com/technology/research/methodologies/hype-cycle.jsp

Georgia, T. (2012, 09 12). iPhone Attachment Designed for At-Home Diagnoses of Ear Infections. Retrieved from News Room: http://gatech.edu/newsroom/release.html?nid=155181

Guardian. (2010, 08 10). iPhone set to replace the stethoscope. Retrieved from Technology News: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/aug/30/iphone-replace-stethoscope

Krogstad, I. (2012, 02 01). Internet of Things for Healthcare Applications. Retrieved from Internet-of-Things.no: http://www.internet-of-things.no/Presentasjoner_01_februar_2012/Inge_Krogstad_SAS_Institute_Workshop_IoT_Oslo_01_February_2012%20.pdf

McClusky, M. (2009, 06 22). The Nike Experiment: How the Shoe Giant Unleashed the Power of Personal Metrics. Retrieved from Wired.com: http://www.wired.com/medtech/health/magazine/17-07/lbnp_nike?currentPage=all

medGadget. (2012, 09 20). Remotoscope, an iPhone Otoscope Inching Closer towards Commercialization (video). Retrieved from Medicine / Pathology / Pediatrics: http://www.medgadget.com/2012/09/iphone-otoscope-inching-closer-towards-commercialization.html

Roney, K. (2012, 07 20). Mobile Health: Why Physicians, Hospitals Should Overcome Reluctance. Retrieved from Becker’s Hospital Review: http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/healthcare-information-technology/mobile-health-why-physicians-hospitals-should-overcome-reluctance.html

Simonov, M., Zich, R., & Flavia, M. (2008). Personalized Healthcare Communication in Internet of Things. Proc. of URSI GA08.

Sundmaeker, H., Guillemin, P., Friess, P., & Woelffle, S. (March 2010). Vision and Challenges for realising the Internet of Things. Brussel: Cluster of European Research Projects on the Internet of Things.

Swan, M. (2012). Sensor Mania! The Internet of Things, Wereable Computing, Objective Metrics, and the Quantified Self 2.0. JOurnal of Sensor and Actuator Networks, 218-253.