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Zettagrid's Cloud Management

When we started Zettagrid in 2010 we were pretty much on our own when it came to building a cloud provider. There were very few cloud management platforms available and the ones that did exist were still young and a bit rough around the edges. Back then there were really only two choices for hypervisors - VMware or the open source Xen. Taking into account our internal skillset and the maturity of the management platforms we chose VMware. This was pre-vCloud Director so we were essentially building a cloud service based around software intended for the enterprise.

With the hypervisor choice made we set out to get Zettagrid to market fairly rapidly and for various reasons settled on WHMCS as our integrated shopping cart, billing and account management platform. One of the first tasks for our internal development team was to write code enabling WHMCS to provision VM's via VMware Orchestrator. Our choice to utilise the Orchestrator API's directly enabled our ability to offer on the fly customised VM's instead of the pre-defined instances that most of our competition offers even today. The initial incarnation of Zettagrid offered only Virtual Private Servers (VPS). With no support for Virtual Data Centres (VDC) at that time we decided that management of the provisioned VM's would be via the VMware web client. It wasn't until vCloud Director became available that we added VDCs to our offering.


High severity flaws found in OpenSSL

A "High Severity" OpenSSL flaw, which allows attackers to pontentially cause systems to bypass certificate authority checks, has been discovered:


Versions 1.0.1n, 1.0.1.o, 1.0.2b and 1.0.2c contain a flawed logic implementation and are vulnerable. Users of these versions of OpenSSL are advised to upgrade to 1.0.1p and 1.0.2d respectively.


Australian Metadata Retention - What you Need to Know

Australian Metadata Retention (known as Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2015)) is now law, having received assent on the 13th April. Service Providers now must start retaining metadata from October 13 2015 unless acting under an approved Data Retention Implementation Plan
Do I Need To Retain Telecommunications Data?
According to Part 187A, Metadata Retention laws apply to any service provider whose service is for carrying or enabling communications, operated by a carrier or internet service provider, or declared by legislative instrument, or the person is operates infrastructure in Australia that provisions any relevant services but does not apply for a broadcast license.
This by itself is an extremely broad definition, which is why Part 187B adds some exclusions. Notably there are a number of exclusions defined as a person’s immediate circle in section 23 of the Telecommunications Act 1997. This will protect many people such an Hobbyists who self-host, Government Agencies, Authorities and Institutions. There are also provisions under section 36 of the act ensures that if services are provided to a principle person as defined in section 23, they too will be exempt from metadata retention.

SAGE-AU Speaks Out Against Data Retention

Over the last few weeks, debate on the government's proposed mandatory data retention legislation has increased as government hearings continue into the bill.  Members of the Australian IT sector and Privacy advocates have widely condemned the bill, citing privacy concerns, costs and who would have access to to data.

SAGE-AU was recently featured in a ZDNet Article where SAGE-AU President Robert Hudson raised concerns about the additional work it will generate for IT professionals in servicing requests for access to the data and needing the authenticate the legitimacy of the request. "It's casting a very wide net to catch a very small fish. As it stands, SAGE-AU could not be considered to support it. We would require a lot more of the gaps to be filled before we consider it. And even then, I don't think it is a good idea, and SAGE-AU doesn't think it is an appropriate path to be taking.", said Robert.

Well known Internet rights advocate Mark Newton slammed the bill in his submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee, accusing the AGD of incompetence and "expecting everything and justifying nothing". The overreach that this proposal represents is precisely the same sort of conduct that Edward Snowden revealed as being carried out illegally by the United States.

Unfortunately it would appear that mandatory data retention will be passed in some form, with the Labor opposition indicating conditional support for the bill. What it's final form takes is yet to be seen.


Stylus Showdown

It appears we have gone full circle. Styluses are trendy again. Last time I remember using a stylus was on the screen of the first handheld devices like the O2 Atom and the iPAQ (or even earlier a palm pilot). The arrival of the capacitive touch screen encouraged people to believe that your finger was the best stylus, and that was probably because a fine pointed stylus does not work on a capacitive touch screen.

However in time, people have found they want to write on their tablets with the feel of a pen rather than finger painting and to that end a number of styluses have been developed with varying degrees of success. by making a serious attempt at being paperless, I have been using styluses over the years and can now give a comparison on just how usable they are.

Pictured from top to bottom:

    1. Adonit Jot Script Smart Stylus 
    2. Adonit Jot Pro
    3. Pogo Sketch
    4. Generic rubber tip

Lets do this in reverse order.