Wednesday, July 10, 2019

New Rules for On-Line Platforms in Europe

We learn that...

The European Union approved new regulations promoting fairness and transparency of online platforms, coming into effect in summer 2020. 
This regulation is based on two key areas. First, several online platforms have superior bargaining power, enabling them to behave unfairly towards the many business users that need those platforms for selling their products and services. Second, many online businesses rely on their website ranking by search engines, which justifies transparency requirements for those search engines. The new Regulation aims to ensure a fair, predictable and trusted online business environment for the benefit of all consumers in the EU.
The main instrument in achieving these goals is the terms and conditions, which must clearly set out the rules for operating the platform. The platform operator can only amend its terms and conditions with 15 days’ prior notice and must give the platform’s business users a further 15 days to terminate the contract if they do not accept the proposed amendments. To ensure that all these principles are complied with, the new Regulation contains a full range of remedies. Platform operators must provide for an internal complaint-handling system that is easily accessible and free of charge. Complaints that are not resolved may be submitted to impartial and independent mediators.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

EU Regulations on UAVs (drones) Updated

In the Cyber and Copyright Group’s June 2019 Newsletter, we read:

The European Union has published common rules on the use of drones, aimed at harmonizing the law on this issue across the 28 member states of the EU, so that drone operators better understand what they may and may not do. According to the European Union’s Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), “once drone operators have received authorization in [their] state of registration, they are allowed to freely circulate in the European Union”. Although the common rules formally take effect on July 1, 2019, they will become mandatory only in June 2020 so that member states in the EU have sufficient time to adjust their local laws to the new regulation.
One of the new rules requires drone operates to register before using a drone. The rules prescribe three categories of drone operation – ‘open’ (for low-risk drones of up to 25Kg in weight), ‘specific’ (where drones require authorization to be flown), and ‘certified’ (a high risk category, such as using drones for delivery of shipments or flying over large crowds). Each category will be subject to its own set of regulations. The rules also deal with privacy matters, including provisions that require operators of drones with sensors capable of collecting personal data, to register them as such.

Updated rules are published here.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

US Department of Defense JEDI cloud contract under fire from Oracle

From The Register:

Ahead of its first day in a U.S. federal claims court in Washington DC, Oracle has outlined its position against the Pentagon's award of the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract to Amazon Web Services. Big Red's lengthy filing questions the basis of Uncle Sam's procurement procedure as well as Amazon's hiring of senior Department of Defense staff involved in that procurement process. Oracle's first day in court is set for 10 July. The JEDI deal could be worth up to $10 billion over 10 years. The Department of Defense handed the contract to AWS after deciding that only Amazon and Microsoft could meet the minimum security standards required in time. 

Oracle's filing said that U.S. "warfighters and taxpayers have a vested interest in obtaining the best services through lawful, competitive means... Instead, DoD (with AWS's help) has delivered a conflict-ridden mess in which hundreds of contractors expressed an interest in JEDI, over 60 responded to requests for information, yet only the two largest global cloud providers can clear the qualification gates." The company said giving JEDI, with its "near constant technology refresh requirements", to just one company was in breach of procurement rules. It accused the DoD of gaming the metrics used in the process to restrict competition for the contract. Oracle also accused Amazon of breaking the rules by hiring two senior DoD staff, Deap Ubhi and Anthony DeMartino, who were involved in the JEDI procurement process. Ubhi is described as "lead PM." A third name is redacted in the publicly released filing.

Monday, June 24, 2019

More Robot Cars, More Fun in the City

Drivers are already ditching their cars because of apps like Uber. Imagine what happens when driverless cars hit the roads.

Why bother owning a car when you can easily get where you want via your iPhone? This concept is known as “mobility as a service”, where passengers no longer own to their own cars, instead signing on for transportation-on-demand booked through smartphones.

Perhaps, for instance, a commuting plan that charges by the mile or through a monthly fee, like Netflix. Getting rid of cars in growing urban centers is a smart idea, and the world’s automakers are preparing in various ways. A major switch to subscription transportation requires two components. The first is already well underway: the explosion of ride-hailing apps like Uber, Lyft, Grab and others.
The second is still in the works — driverless cars.

Removing the human from behind the wheel slashes the cost of a taxi ride which will make mobility as a service so cheap in many places, it won’t make financial sense to own a car any longer. Lowering the cost per mile will turbo-charge demand for mobility as a service, likely to become a $10 trillion business, according to Ford Motor Company.

That's why tech giants like Google and Apple are developing their own self-driving systems to take on the world's leading automakers, including Volkswagen, General Motors, Ford, and Toyota.

Eventually, a single smartphone app could connect us to a web of options, such as robo-taxis, self-driving shuttles, on-demand subway or tram, e-bikes, and electric scooters. No more driving ourselves though congested cities. All that parking freed up means more space for pedestrians and parks. Unless it is bad — fleets of individually-owned driverless vehicles loosed upon streets and highways, randomly ferrying individual occupants near and far. Or, with so many shared rides, significantly fewer vehicles will be on the road, where is the need to spend billions on bigger highways?

Autonomous vehicles will revolutionize passenger transport, but they are also rapidly changing the delivery business. Data generated from self-driving cars will provide cities with “a more granular viewpoint into everything from infrastructure wear-and-tear to detailed traffic flow information and even sidewalk congestion patterns,” says Brooks Rainwater, director of the Center for City Solutions at the National League of Cities.

Read more here…

Monday, June 17, 2019

How to Make Continuous Delivery a Reality in an Agile Environment

Continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) are core elements of successful DevOps. Systems engineers may start with CI because it is familiar. With a DevOps focus, organizations uncover configuration, packaging, and orchestration that are necessary to effective software development life cycle (SDLC). This empowers developers, administrators and engineers to create valuable CD practices, adding to agility.

Where less experienced developers might struggle with CI/CD performance, testing delays and other bottlenecks, the enterprise would do well to develop processes and best practices to make DevOps in the cloud a value-driven methodology. To save money, this will shorten the SDLC — because CD is all about updating web services. In public clouds such as AWS and Azure, this is done through pipeline stages (e.g. dev, test, staging and production). When containers are implemented with a platform-as-a-service (PAAS) approach, stages become sandbox environments, scratch instances, and production instances.

The benefit of such an approach is that the work outputs and products themselves benefit from flexibility. Regular face-to-face interactions and collaborations between team members are conducted to ensure the scrum teams level-set expectations. Finally, add value by continuous delivery throughout the life cycle, so that the end product is more secure and more reliable. Implementing an agile manifesto tracks with addressing evolving end user requirements. 

For CD, ensure user stories are married correctly to those requirements and that each story rolls up to an Epic that represents a standalone feature. This enables the devops team to release reasonably sized components of functionality that are consumable by users. These are also traceable back to the release plan. We want to ensure verification at each stage because this process defines acceptance criteria — so the stakeholders know when something is declared “finished.”

Schema, user interface, access control rights and static resources such as icons and images are all part of the creation process and we manage them just as diligently as source code. The DevOps team checks assets into a version control system as a single source of truth (GIT or Subversion). This benefits the client by ensuring that developers are making changes in a segregated environment — catastrophic failures are completely avoided with such approach, and integration into a risk management-based security framework is seamless. 

The organization should understand automated quality processes are essential — Selenium is a go-to tool for testing functionality. There are several verifications to make before functional testing. Static code analysis tools, such as PMD, are essential to ensure code conforms to a single style. Unit test coverage is also essential — establish a set of Key Performance Inidcators (KPIs) for coverage of at least 75% of code. Finally, after these automated tests pass, implement a manual peer review. This enables seasoned developers  to spot opportunities for performance improvement where automated tools can’t.