Insights that Inform

Sparkhound consultants are knowledge-seekers, skill-builders and problem-solvers by nature. This is where we share what we've learned and what we think about what's new (and next) in our industry. If anything you read sparks a question, fire away.

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Architecting a Well-Architected Cloud

Taking advantage of the cloud's inherent potential is achievable by approaching design strategically and with intentionality. A well-architected cloud is one that meets a company’s business and operation objectives in the most secure, reliable, efficient, and cost-effective way. Start with a solid plan that aligns to the business objectives and use the planning process to outline guiding principles. Adopting best practices and selecting the most...

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Upgrading from ServiceNow Jakarta to London or Madrid

Madrid is generally available as of March 6, 2019, making the Jakarta family unsupported. With the release of Madrid, all Jakarta instances are required to upgrade to a supported family, allowing the customers to benefit from the latest innovations made through versions, and to get the highest levels of security, availability, and performance. ServiceNow is continually working to protect customer information and the integrity of...

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GDPR: Does your organization need to comply?

Many have heard tidbits about the acronym ‘GDPR,’ but do not understand the regulation or feel that it doesn’t apply to their organization since it is a European Union law. Surprisingly, even without locations or affiliations in the EU, companies here in the United States may be subject to hefty fines for noncompliance. In addition to the risk of damaging reputation, non-compliance with the GDPR...

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End of Line for SQL Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2008 R2

In the next year, both SQL Server 2008/2008 R2 (July 8, 2019) and Windows Server 2008/2008 R2 (Jan 14, 2020) are hitting their end-of-life dates. No more security patches*, hotfixes, or support from Microsoft. In this day and age, and with your regulatory environment, this is a certain deadline. Soon, if not already, your security and infrastructure audits should flag these versions of SQL Server as a vulnerability.

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Taking GrovePi to the Cloud

With IoT devices, we can capture real-time data about the physical world and use it in our software applications. Often the code needed to pull data and manipulate it can be quite large and complex which is unsuitable for an IoT device with a lower-tier CPU lacking a vast amount of RAM. Alas! There is hope, as moving the data processing elements of the code...

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Jumpstarting Your IoT Projects with GrovePi

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a popular buzzword that is used frequently across many growing trends in technology today. IoT is the concept of linking multiple physical devices across the internet to have “smart” devices. Popular boards like the Raspberry Pi allow consumers to make custom smart projects, and the GrovePi is an add-on that offers a lot of freedom and brings plug-and-play sensors...

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Azure Managed Instances: a Distinct Cloud-Based SQL Offering

There is a new cloud offering: Azure SQL Database Managed Instance, released to General Availability timed with the Microsoft Ignite conference. Managed Instances fit between the PaaS and IaaS offerings and an important and distinct consideration for cloud SQL platforms. It combines many of the advantages of both, especially for lift-and-shift scenarios for on-prem SQL Server workloads.

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Managing Employee Turnover Risk

This story was recently spotlighted on In the competitive corporate landscape we work in today, understanding how to manage turnover can change the dynamics of how your company operates.

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What is the common stumbling block when adopting Agile methodologies?

I often speak with IT decision makers who want advice on what tool to buy to make their shop more "DevOps." My advice to them is not to buy anything.   DevOps isn’t something you triumphantly stick a flag in or acquire through tooling purchase or corporate acquisition.

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What type of Project Manager do I need?

It is increasingly difficult to determine how the different project/program/process certifications actually relate to different business aspects of agility or scope. When searching for a project manager, it’s easy to get lost in the alphabet soup after people’s names. If we draw a graph using scope and scale, then overlay the different certifications, it becomes much easier to see who’s particularly certified at what: ...

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SQL Server 2017 Details for the IT Decision Maker

SQL Server 2017, released in October, has introduced many new features that the IT decision maker role should be aware of. While I won't dive deep into technical details here, you should be mindful of the new capabilities and potential cost-savings involved. The velocity of SQL Server development is changing. There were only 16 months between SQL Server 2016 and 2017, the shortest release window...

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Spectre and Meltdown - Is SQL Affected?

Two separate hardware-based exploits have been made public that affect all modern CPU chips, including Intel, AMD and ARM, and operating systems. It is difficult to understate the impact. This flaw allows attackers to dump the entire memory contents off of a machine/mobile device/PC/cloud server, which could include passwords, SSL keys, etc. The “Meltdown” flaw is isolated to Intel and has vast potential to malignant...

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Do We Need to be AI Masters to Create a Chat Bot?

With the emergence of AI and machine learning, development of software is changing quickly. One of the new pushes is digital assistants. Whether it is a robust assistant like Amazon’s Alexa or Microsoft’s Cortana, or more simplistic like a chat window on a website the world is slowly starting to expect a more personal and human interaction with machines. The problem with the development of...

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Eleventh Hour Holiday Shopping

First, if you have not already read our popular blog about gift-worthy wine, you should.  For this list, we polled our team for unique ideas - maybe you find something on this list that's perfect... at the very least, this list will spur your creative juices. In no particular order: 

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Communicate with Purpose

Poor corporate communication can lead to misunderstanding, misalignment, or mistakes that waste time and effort. How can you improve communication in the workplace?

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The Best Red Wine for Gifting

Whether it's the last-minute "what are we bringing" as we rush to the holiday party, or the classic "what'd we get them last year," choose wine. It's not only a safe bet, it is typically universally appreciated. This article should help you stock your cabinet with wine worth gifting.  Affordability and availability are critical therefore we selected seven reds that all come with good reviews...

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Incremental Achievement

Throughout time there have been many references and phrases that teach children the importance of perseverance and patience - the story of “The Tortoise and the Hare,” “Rome wasn’t built in one day,” “patience is a virtue.” Pretty much everything important that we work towards requires time.

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Teaming Up to Help Students Thrive

Charity and volunteer work is an important part of our social structure — so much so that we teach children to do it, expect high school students to complete an appropriate number of volunteer hours and an estimated 10 million people per year even plan vacations around doing good works (known colloquially as “voluntourism.”) Like many good companies, Sparkhound has a charitable side. The Sparkhound Foundation was established in 2010 as a nonprofit charitable organization focused on...

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Is Your Organization RESPONSIVE & RELEVANT?

Let’s set the stage with a quick look at Organizational Effectiveness. Organizational Effectiveness can be defined as how successfully and efficiently your company is meeting its goals and achieving desired outcomes.  Organizational Effectiveness is measured across many areas including talent management, leadership development, adoption and sustainment of change, deployment of new processes and technologies, and more!  Your effectiveness and efficiency in these areas can also influence...

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Google Oauth Integration using an MVC ASP.Net App

Integrating with third party apps is a common requirement that is often frustrating with all of the varying API's out there. I had a tough time finding a complete example that used Google's authorization and API with ASP.Net and MVC. This tutorial shows you how to create an ASP.Net MVC project that integrates with Google Calendar from start to finish including creating the Google project. The...

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