Opinion

Hardware-defined security? Now that’s original

Do people in the IT industry lack imagination? I’m only asking.

Why else would everyone copy each other so slavishly?

Whenever three technology companies share the same postcode, that region has to rename itself Silicon Something even if, unlike Silicon Valley, there are no hardware manufacturers in the region at all. There are certainly none in London. So the naming of Silicon Roundabout makes no sense at all! Social roundabout would be more apt.

Another unwritten social commandment for IT executives seems to be that you must have a goatee beard, carry a coffee cup at all times and start every sentence with an inappropriate adverb. And speak in a fake American accent. “So, have you gotten any availability next Toosday?” “So, I was leveragizing.”

All creative work must be bundled contemptuously into one category – ‘content’ – but there will be hundreds of words used to lovingly categorise all the various activities of sales and marketing people. To me, SEOs, digital platform managers and customer relationship managers should all be lumped into one category: barbarians.

Similarly, every single aspect of technology now has to be described as ‘software-defined’. Storage, computing, datacentres, telecoms, even security. This doesn’t make sense either. Surely everything has always been defined by software – what other way is there or instructing a machine to react to circumstances? What were they defined by before? Astrology?

The difference between the software-defined world and the old world is meant to be one of software versus firmware at a high level, explains analyst Clive Longbottom at Quocirca.

But it’s pretty apparent that the end result will generally be a hybrid, he says. “There will be a good level of software abstraction where it makes sense, but with a large dollop of hardware-based intelligence, via the firmware in the silicon, where it is needed,” says Longbottom. 

We are now in the age of software-defined everything, says Longbottom. But we always were.

Even crime is software-defined now. Throwing a brick through a jeweller’s window went out with the dinosaurs. It’s all e-crime now and the criminals are getting younger by the day. Although curiously, as Guy Bunker of Clearswift observed at a recent e-crime Congress in London, the e-security people seem to be getting older. Cyber-security is the only sector where the age gap seems to be getting bigger, he says. As a result, the criminals are massively outmanouevring the police. I’ve never knowingly met an e-criminal – it would be interesting to know what accents are fashionable. Presumably everyone has to try to sound eastern European if they want to be hip.

Bridging the gap between old and new criminal networks is where Cloudview thinks it can make a difference. It claims to provide a link between olde world CCTV and new. It achieves this by creating a bridge that can take ancient analogue pictures and convert them into digital format that can be viewed over the cloud. Since the majority of the installed base of CCTV is run on olde worlde analogue systems, this would be a great trick, if they can pull it off.

It means that the existing recording equipment can be left in place (installing cameras isn’t the forte of most IT resellers) but they can be improved by the addition of some digital boxes, which is the IT reseller’s forte.

Cloudview encodes video and needs no fixed IPs, VPNs or Cisco engineers. The improvement comes with the addition of a box with some pre-installed firmware.

So, is this the world’s first hardware-defined network?

Now that would be original!

This was first published in April 2014

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