IT Security – The Snowden Effect

ostrich As I’ve been reading a few articles on Edward Snowden it’s beginning to make light a deficiency in many organizations, security.  This isn’t a new or earth shattering notion, its been this way for years and in my experience it’s the last thing people think about or put dollars towards.  At the 2013 @CIO_CAN Peer Forum Theresa Payton @fortaliceLLC, former CIO of the Whitehouse, painted a pretty clear picture that organizations are not making security a priority.

For IT risk and security, staffing levels should be between 5% and 12% of your total staff but many organizations have < 3%. – Chris Byrne, Gartner Security and Risk Summit, 2012

I’ll admit there is no way most people will be able to convince their organizations to staff 5-12% of their total staff to security.  Most organizations have a hard time getting IT staff at 5% of their total staff!  However because of what happened and how Snowden was able to gain access to the information he leaked, it will change the minds of those who previously thought security wasn’t a big deal.  Recent Gartner numbers on security spend are expecting a global growth of to $86 billion by 2016 – focusing on three areas: mobile security, big data and advanced targeted attacks.  I’m sure Gartner has already and is going to be working on different security approaches given this incident.

Theresa also found this quote which I found interesting:

Research cited in the CSIS report suggested many executives refuse to meet with IT security staff, fearing that by knowing the vulnerabilities in their systems, they’ll be held liable for breaches. –, Jordan Press, December 28, 2012

Some food for thought, but I can definitely see where that train of thought comes from.  In this day and age you can’t be an ostrich…scary!

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Happy Canada Day Long Weekend

canada_dayA quick entry this week to wish everyone a safe and happy Canada Day long weekend.  The weather in the Edmonton (#yeg) area is going to be fantastic as summer has finally arrived.  I love the heat and cannot wait to be outside the family and friends this weekend. 

Now this is a IT/Tech blog so I should at least say something from a technology stand point.  As luck would have it a great yet sad story from a Canadian tech company that just isn’t having any luck emerged.  The results are in and BlackBerry’s shares are down 27% on the TSX. OUCH!  Not surprised as holdouts for the Blackberry device are slowly dwindling and converting to Android, Apple and Windows Phone.  Windows Phone recently replaced Blackberry as the third form factor and has been showing some pretty steady growth.  Now that Blackberry has a back seat in 4thBBkeyboard place and with dismal 2nd-quarter results, it’s only a matter of time before more and more companies abandon this platform in favour for much more innovative devices.  Lets also not forget BlackBerry plans to scrap the PlayBook which in all honestly was a weak attempt to get into the tablet marketplace.  What’s sad is I’m all for supporting Canadian companies, however this one has just run out of innovative steam.

For those looking for events in the Edmonton area for Canada day, check out or the City of Edmonton’s website

Stay safe this long weekend!


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New Challenge

CIOCANI’m always up for new challenges and I think this time I’ve really taken on a good’er that will stretch me as a person and a leader.  I recently became the Edmonton Chapter President of the CIO Association of Canada.  I’ve been a member for almost two years and have been part of the board of directors as a member at large for over a year.  The outgoing president, Dean Doige has become a close peer of mine and strongly suggested that I should consider it.  So I did and well now the fun begins!

What I’m most excited about is stretching myself in all kinds of areas, mostly the public speaking which I’ll be doing a lot more of as we put on events through the year.  I’ve really come to enjoy the CIO Association of Canada and it’s members as I’ve learnt a lot from them.  I subscribe to the success principal of getting around people who are more successful than you and I can say there is no shortage of that in this group.  Being part of an association that is here to facilitate networking, share best practices, promote executive development and drive advocacy on issues facing IT executives has certainly sky rocketed my career.

I have huge shoes to fill as Dean has done a tremendous job with the Chapter over the last two years a long with a highly successful Peer Forum this past spring.  I hope to continue this success through the next year and look forward to growing the chapter even further as we continue to be the premier association for IT Executives in Canada.

If you are an IT Executive in the Edmonton area and are looking to join an association like I described above, please get in touch with me and I’ll invite you as a guest to our next event.  You can also follow us on twitter, the local chapter @CIOCAN_EDM and the National account @CIO_CAN.  Lastly you can check out the CIO Association Canada website here –

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Social Media via State of Emergency

For those who don’t already know, most of Southern Alberta is in a state of emergency as massive flooding has decimated towns such as High River and good portions of Calgary remain underwater.  While I’ll share a few photos and post some links for those who wish to help out via the Red Cross, my post is more on the impact of Social Media in incidents like this.


Here is Macleod Trail SW under water. Below is what is normally looks like without the Elbow river causing massive flooding


Overall what I’ve found fascinating is the level of comradely and a sense of “brotherhood” to your fellow man or woman.  If I think back to say the Edmonton Tornado or 1987 commonly referred to as “Black Friday”, what we have today at our disposal of communication is nothing compared to what was available in ‘87.  The pictures, the communication (more on that in a bit), the “call to arms”, the willingness to volunteer all have been impacted by Social Media.  We are living this event through Social Media primarily and not in the older way of radio or TV.  Social Media is the new news outlet.

We now have an immediate sense of what’s going on and the impact a certain event has instead of waiting for the media to report it to us via radio or television.  Often the news and images would be to late and we’d be left scrambling around to try and help out after the fact.  Today people are seeing the incidents unfold in real time and in some cases people are opening their doors to perfect strangers to allow the evacuees a place to stay while things return to normal.  Check out the Kijiji ad’s I found on this…


I’m not saying this didn’t happen before however it was more reactionary and not proactive and to be honest it didn’t happen in as many numbers.  People via Social Media and in my case I’ve been following through Twitter with the hashtag #ABFlood and #YYCFlood, have a greater sense of wanting to help and volunteer their services, home, food, etc. It’s almost the opposite of a mob or riot mentality where people are coming together to do good things instead of bad.  That just goes to show that despite all the disconnection we have with technology, we can still leverage it for good and come together when it really matters.

TransCanada    TransCanadaMap

Now there is a bit of a flipside to the additional set of communication that happens during these events.  In some ways things can be misconstrued or misrepresented as everyone has the ability to write something on an event.  Some examples of information from this event that were just not true or people were getting a head of themselves:

  • The “big cats” from the Calgary Zoo were taken to jail cells at the courthouse.  This wasn’t entirely true at the time it was reported and was actually part of the Zoo’s emergency planning. 
  • The Saddledome had some flooding which was reported up to the 10th or 13th row however in some parts of the country, radio stations were reporting up to the 25th.  Not true.  Sean mentioned a radio station in Saskatoon reported that.


  • Drinking water was a huge back and forth.  People were saying the water wasn’t good to drink and you had to boil it, yet despite the news feed from CTV and the City of Calgary they maintained all day the water was safe to drink. 
  • The last thing I’ll mention is pictures and it’s funny as you watch the feed how people will re-tweet a picture that is 24 hours old and say it’s current.  Perhaps to them as they just came across it however a lot of people posted pictures from the day before showing what today looked like which wasn’t true.


Miscommunication is bound to happen and you have to check into things a bit more and find the official twitter accounts for say the Emergency Alert (@AB_EmergAlert) for more accurate information.  Getting in contact with official websites and emergency websites will be your best bet to find out real information. 

On the note of pictures, what I love seeing via sites like Twitter is the constant upload of pictures for events like this.  These “once in a lifetime” events are gettingFirefighter more coverage than events of the past and people are able to witness first hand in some cases through pictures and video via smartphones.  It’s unreal to think about how much information an event like this #ABFlood produces and how we as consumers of the data can stay in touch and live the experience in almost real time.  People are capturing some pretty amazing footage despite all the devastation, but even through all the devastation you can capture some pretty amazing shots like this firefighter who helped an elderly lady to safety.  That’s not always what the media catches and it’s pictures like this that need to go “viral”.

Lastly before I get to the information on how you can help out by donations to the Red Cross, Google has provided a pretty slick map to help people see where the evacuation zones are, road closures, bridge closures, traffic conditions etc. It’s this information age we live in and people are demanding we know more and more.  Check it out here:

If you want to help out please contact the Canadian Red Cross via their twitter account @redcrosscanada or you can just text REDCROSS to 30333 and you can donate $5 dollars right off your phone bill. Very easy.

If you need to call the Red Cross as an evacuee or are looking for family members please call 1-866-696-6484

The Alberta Government has an emergency website created just for this incident. You can find it here –

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Microsoft Canadian Leadership Summit 2013 Wrap Up

SPinWell that was quick, the CLS2013 conference is done and people have made their way home.  While only an evening and a day this event was packed with some of Microsoft’s latest and greatest information kicked off with a great keynote by Leonard Brody.  The night before was the social kick off with a visit to SPiN for some ping pong and refreshments. I wasn’t sure what to expect with a social gathering at a ping pong hall (very much like a pool hall) but it was different and refreshing. 

I mentioned before this event almost didn’t happen but it is clear with 250 people in attendance that people look forward to this event.  This year was a bit different as it was hosted at the newly opened Toronto MTC which Microsoft has invested a lot of money into.  The premise of the MTC is to allow customers to utilize the technology within the centre to solve business problems, a POC concept of sorts.  It’s free for enterprise customers with the caveat you need to get yourself to the centre and for people out West that can be a bit of a challenge to justify that expense to sr. business leaders.  Either way I think you’ll see some businesses utilize this great opportunity to solve some business problems not easily solved within an enterprises own walls.Brody_Leonard-760x429 (2)

Leonard Brody was an amazing speaker with a very eye opening topic around the next 365 days and how we are going through a “great re:write” with the way we as humans behave and consume information.  We as humans produce more data in the last 48 hours than we have in our lifetimes.  Just think about that for a second.  That’s almost incomprehensible yet is something we are faced with and is only increasing as we produce and consume more and more data.  I keep thinking about how things will change for my kids as they grow up in a world that is infatuated with data and how wearable devices are only going to contribute to this never ending trend.  The last thing I’ll mention that really hit home with Leonard’s talk was that the key to the next 365 days is understanding human behavior, not technology as some may think.

There were some great sessions which allowed for a lot more interaction than last year and had Microsoft staff willing to help and assist with understanding certain technologies.  I found this interaction to be much more effective than someone sitting up on a stage talking at me.  Sessions really highlighted Office 365 and the interaction between email, Lync, and SharePoint.  I even picked up a few things that I didn’t know that can help be more efficient with my use of Office.  Old dogs can learn new tricks 😉

MICROSOFT CANADA INC. Microsoft Canada opens world-class centre

The one thing I get the most out of with events like this is the networking.  Hands down it’s at least 50% of the value of attending leadership events like this.  Getting real world examples from other peers within the industry really helps dispel some of the things vendors will say that maybe are not 100% true.  Even with Microsoft framing the event, it helped to talk on things like Direct Access, Office 365, and other “work from anywhere” types of discussion.

The last thing I’ll mention and something I think Microsoft really missed the boat on, was using an event like this to get technology into the hands of the influential leaders within an organization.  Microsoft should be handing out Surface Pro’s and or Windows 8 Phones to it’s enterprise IT leaders.  This gets devices into the hands of influencers who can test out the devices if they don’t have them already and see if there is value there.  I think its a huge lost opportunity in my opinion and one I hear was addressed in past CLS’s. I guess that’s budget cuts for you.

I look forward to attending next year and hope it’s back in Redmond which offers a much better CLS experience I think.

MICROSOFT CANADA INC. Microsoft Canada opens world-class centre

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Microsoft Canadian Leadership Summit 2013


Once again the Microsoft Canadian Leadership Summit is back and I’ll be making my way to Toronto this year to attend.  This year almost didn’t happen and after taking to social media via twitter and LinkedIn enough people made a stink I presume, that they decided to bring it back however incorporated it with the opening of the Microsoft Technology Centre.  Typically it’s held each year at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington.  Let’s hope it heads back there next year as heading to Microsoft HQ is an experience in it’s self.

I find these type of events, the leadership events put on by Microsoft, Gartner and other key players in the IT community of huge value for leaders such as myself.  The networking with fellow IT leaders is at least 50% of the value.  The remaining value is held within the leadership keynote which will be by Max Long, President of Microsoft Canada and some breakout sessions through the day on areas of interest of attendees. 

One thing I’ve been critical with Microsoft on with not only CLS events, but with events like TechEd are having leaders such as Steve Ballmer speak.  At the very least when you have an event like CLS which gains the attention of CIO’s from major Canadian companies you’d have the key leader of Microsoft to speak to them.  A speaker like Steve would encourage, ignite and inspire leaders such as myself.  However he’s never at these type of events and for that I have to sigh, I think there is a largely missed opportunity to address the people in Canada who largely invest heavily into the Microsoft stack. Maybe next year?

Anyway if I hear of anything exciting, and I’m allowed to talk about it (non-NDA) I’ll be tweeting via my account @shaunguthrie and through hash tag #CLS2013 and will post a recap on here.  Looking forward to connecting with my peers in the industry!

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Windows 8.1


I don’t typically like reposting blog entries however this is a good one with some preview of Windows 8.1.  There has been a lot of criticism with Windows 8 however I’ve been able to use it with no problems thus far and really like the new interface.  It’s not perfect however I believe the new updates in 8.1 will help satisfy a lot of what has been missing and a lot of what people have been asking for.

How many of you out there have actually installed Windows 8 for personal? Any using it in the enterprise yet?

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