Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Encrypt your Documents with IBM SFED

Today I'm working on the Integration of IBM's Cryptography solutions for long term archiving in Content Management Solutions like FileNet Image Services.

The idea is to encrypt confidential documents on the desktop using SFED (Secure File Encryption for Desktops) and than post them to the Document Archive.

This design poses many organizational questions :

What if the person who encrypted the file forgot the password ?

In that case, there are two main possibilities:
1. Use a Password Store


2. Allow for password recovery. An Administration Interface allows to recover the password. This requires, in addition to the technology, a strong real life procedure such that the password recovery tool isn't misused.

In SFED, the Security Domain of the documents determines if password recovery is possible or not.

What garantees that one can decrypt the document within 10 years from now ?

The combination of the use of encryption standard like Encryption AES, HMAC-SHA-512 or PKCS#12 and IBM's promises to stay in Business...

How to avoid that people use the same password for unrelated files ?

(If this password would be revealed for a file, all the other files would be at risk)

This is an organizational and security governance issue... You need to learn your end users not to put their passwords on a post-it on the workstation's desk. Security is not only technology...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Oh you're having a sabbatical in 2010 ! What will you do next year ?

“What will you do next year ?” is the main question I have to answer these days. Last Tuesday (Nov 17th 2009) I got the message from IBM that my sabbatical leave has been approved. Therefore, in 2010, I will not go to work as usual.

So, this week I met many people who have heard that I'm having a year off. Their main concern is “What will you do ?” but also “Will you be back in 2011 ?” .

As the Black Eye Peas would sing, I have a feeling that 2010 is gonna be a good year.

What will I do ?

I will have 3 main objectives in 2010:

1. Business

I will work on the opportunity of starting a business in the field of ePaper. Concretely, there are many activities I want to undertake around ePaper
  • Play with the eReaders technology (the IREX S1000, the Sony eReader or some Hanlin models for example): programming , integrating Content Management platforms like Alfresco, configuring for Personal Productivity, displaying Medical Information, downloading eBanking information or Marketing Material, Testing Notes Taking, Automatically producing content from RSS feeds...
  • Blog on ePaper related technologies. I will launch 2 blogs on ePaper (one in French, the other in English). I already have created 2 associated websites : and
  • Determine an ePaper Reference Architecture that will be useful for documenting ePaper applications. Publish white papers on the subject.
  • Gradually participate in ePaper projects, software, hardware and consulting as an independent consultant.
  • Re-Write and start to execute my business plan for ePaper
  • Participate to (or Organize) ePaper events
  • Build a network of ePaper enthousiasts around the world who can achieve together great ePaper projects

2. Sport

Together with my friend Laurent Saublens, we decided to get to the top of the Mont Ventoux by bike. I hope he didn't forget it because I want to take up the challenge.

(Photo Source : WikiPedia)

3. Free Time

For the first time in my life, for one year, I will have no agenda, no obligation. It will be an interesting experience. It might sound crazy but I want to truly understand what I will choose to do of my free time when facing an empty agenda. Here is what I believe I will do:
  • Cleaning – I have many things to tidy up at home
  • Spend more time with my family, especially Thomas (my son)
  • Painting, Drawing
  • Reading, Writing
  • Gardening (not 100% sure)
  • Local Tourism: watching busy people in the street, drink coffee with my eReader.
  • ...

And I'have just been told there is an additional objective:

4. Spoil my wife who deserves it (which was actually proposed by... my wife who was reading over my shoulder. But ok. Fair enough).

So, Will I come back (to IBM) ?

It will mainly depend on the successful execution of my business plan. If I'm happy being an independent entrepreneur, I will probably not come back to IBM. If on the contrary I'm not happy with the experience, I could come back to work for the Large Company. I don't know yet today.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

IT Profiles: can do attitude ?

Today most technological companies are faced wihth the same problem : the explosion of technologies.

In the past there were maybe only 2 or 3 possible technologies for solving a specific problem. Today you have 10.

For example, in the 80s most of programmers in large companies would work on the IBM Mainframe. Today, there are several populations : J2EE, Oracle, Microsoft, open source, Web... You only have to look at the agenda of next week's devoxx conference to get an idea of some recent technologies which didn't exist 10 years from now.

As a result of this explosion, IT skills have to evolve. IT people have to deal with going out of their comfort zone. Here is what I identify as key skills for the future IT professionals:

  • Capable of Abstraction : You should be able to design a solution even if you don't know about all the details. For example, If you don't exactly how does the Spring Framework works you still know what it does and where it fits because it's a "Model View Controller" System.
  • Fast Learner - If you don't know at all what it is, than Google and Wikipedia are your friends. You can find out, learn, use new things very fast.
  • Critic : a technology might be the best on the short term but never become a market standard on the mid to long term. Learn to find out what will stay and what will disappear. It's not about technology... IT Profiles must now be aware of the pro and cons of the new technology that is constantly proposed.
  • Strong Communicator : Solutions become complex and being paid for implementing them requires to give trust to your customer that it will indeed work as designed. To receive and give trust, communication skills are essential.
  • Customer Orientation : Don't use technology because it is cool (or just do it for yourself like me ;-)), use technology because it solves your customer's pain.
  • Can Do Attitude : Finally, to get competitive advantage, you'll need to dare to innovate, to make new assemblies, to make new combination of the technology. The specialization of businesses makes that the designing a new solution or the winning of a new customer is a matter of pushing the limits further. Too often I see IT Professionals going back to their comfort zone and saying 'This is not a problem for me'. I believe they are wrong because IT comfort zones will tend to disappear : they can be automated (ex: DB Administration) or outsourced at a lower cost (ex: Off Shore Software Factories).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Digital Natives...

"Le Digital Native déborde d'idées, il est ambitieux, imaginatif et multitâches. Il aime travailler en équipe, tout en ressentant un fort besoin d'autonomie et d'indépendance. Il a tendance à rejeter l'autorité, mais accepte la compétition."

Ouille, ca me fait penser a quelqu'un...

Source : Brainsfeed : (réflexion) > Les Digital natives: une nouvelle génération d'employés