|By Alf Pilgrim||
|December 9, 2009 11:00 PM EST||
Arguably the greatest barrier to businesses taking full advantage of cloud computing is the issue of security. Recent high-profile breaches of the cloud (the attack on Twitter being perhaps the most publicized) have only served to heighten concerns.
It's true; the potential consequences of a breach of cloud security are catastrophic, and this knowledge has served to make the debate rage even more fiercely. A cloud security issue within an organization has the potential to be a major business crisis, and against a backdrop of heightened public awareness of data loss and privacy issues such as ID theft, it's understandable.
But there's no denying that cloud computing is gaining momentum and will continue to become more and more mainstream. This year, for example, the UK government announced that it would be developing a cloud infrastructure (the ‘G-Cloud'), and the offer of flexible, low-cost and easily scalable IT means that many businesses are relying more and more heavily on cloud-based applications, storage and security.
The result is that the industry must get to grips with the security concerns. Fast.
One of the key questions is whether or not security concerns are justified. Is it the case that unnecessary fears are preventing organizations from getting the most from the wealth of benefits that cloud-based services can offer?
It's a bit of both in my opinion. First, there's certainly a lot of confusion. A recent report by Gartner  suggests that most organizations don't fully understand their business' existing security provision and therefore cannot accurately pinpoint exactly where the gaps are when it comes to working with a cloud-based provider.
Furthermore, a lot of the confusion - and concern - arises from the (largely incorrect) assumption that cloud security is a complex issue. Security of the cloud is not necessarily as complex as some would have you imagine.
One of the key ways in which cloud computing differs to other IT services is that the relationship between cloud service provider and client is detached, often with significant geographical separation between parties. In addition, the ‘on-demand' nature of the relationship means that the client has very little influence on the operational practices of the provider. The cloud business model has moved far away from nurturing long-term partnerships, focusing instead on ease of initiation (and termination!) of relationships.
Combine this with the often large numbers of potential cloud providers with whom an organization may have a relationship at any one time and the greater level of data sharing inherent in many cloud services, and the issues become clear.
One of the key issues that arises from a security perspective as a result is the greater transfer of data in and out of a company's own IT infrastructure. Cloud computing differs from other similar IT services by moving data further from its original owner. As data storage and email outsourcing become two of the most popular modern cloud-based services, security fears over the transfer of data, and later, over who has access to this data, remain significant concerns.
However the numbers of cloud providers involved and the level of sharing that is inherent with many cloud-based services may well prove to make the task of securing the cloud itself an almost impossible one.
The key problem is that by the time data has reached the cloud, it's normally too late. As soon as a company's data leaves the relatively safe confines of its own IT infrastructure, the potential is there for it to get into the wrong hands. For this reason, it's at the boundary between the organization and its external environment that security has to be the key priority for those looking to use cloud-based services.
Confidence in the Cloud
With all this talk of risk and security, it's easy to forget the rewards of cloud services. Cloud computing is responsible for offering some of the greatest efficiencies within IT for decades. Furthermore, cloud computing forms the basis for a range of cutting-edge communication tools that not only provide new ways to engage with customers and colleagues, but demonstrate that your business is agile and forward-thinking.
While security is an important consideration, let's not forget that security must essentially be about enablement. It's no good having security that operates by preventing access, clamping down etc.
Security in this day and age must be about giving businesses the confidence to take advantage of new technology. This in turn, will lead to better communication, connectivity and innovation.
For Your Eyes Only
The key premise on which the foundations for safe and effective use of the cloud is this: That there will always be data that is so sensitive that it simply cannot be allowed to leave the confines of your business.
In the case of highly sensitive material, the best course of action in most instances is to prevent it from leaving your organization in the first place. (It is classic psychology that sensitive or confidential material is considered less so the further away it gets from the original creator.) What is therefore needed is highly sophisticated automated checking of outbound data to ensure that data that shouldn't leave the organization does indeed remain there.
For this reason, the key priority for improving the security of cloud computing lies not in the security of the cloud itself but in the routes in to and out of the cloud. Consider the analogy of tangible security risks to homes and business premises; it's the access points that are always the weak point. Therefore it's vital to ensure the ‘windows' and ‘doors' of cloud computing are made as secure as possible. Addressing the security of your company's specific cloud entry and exit points is the best - and simplest - way to get a grip on the potential issues involved to enable businesses to take advantage of all that the cloud has to offer.
Inbound from the Cloud
Many believe that cloud-based email is the only way to attain the best levels of efficiency and cost reduction. Indeed, although cloud-based email offerings can be compelling, it isn't the only way of doing things. In fact, when you consider the often quite significant issues regarding trust of a third-party cloud provider, cloud-based email can lose its shine. Allowing a third party to have unfettered access to all your incoming mail has major security implications, and requires complete trust and reliance on the organization providing the service.
Advances in appliance-based technology now mean that non-cloud based email security applications are as effective at reducing spam and malware with similar efficiencies to cloud-based services, but without the risk of handing all email data to a third party.
Keeping It Simple
Security of the cloud does not need to cause concern, nor should it be a barrier to using cloud services. Businesses simply need to ensure they have fully understood the risks their particular organization faces through using cloud-based services, and ensure that their security will enable them to use cloud services with confidence.
Collaboration and openness (both key cloud computing premises) are great attributes for many types of technology, and security nowadays must shift to focus on enablement rather than prevention. But collaboration and sharing is one thing when it's just you and your home PC and you are taking individual responsibility for the potential consequences of your actions. The same is not true for a company IT system where this way of working and engaging with customers and suppliers, though often commercially advantageous, carries far greater risks and therefore needs a level of corporate governance.
While it's easy to assume, when looking to adopt cloud-based services, that a third party may be a safer pair of hands, the reality is that there are no guarantees, and even if there is someone else to blame, the potential damage to your business could be catastrophic The only way to ensure your data is not compromised by the cloud is to control what is going to and from it in the first place, and make sure your control over what goes to and from the cloud is watertight.
|rlebherz 11/20/09 03:42:00 PM EST|
Interesting article. I think the Cloud services and cloud infrastructure lines are a bit blurred, but I agree with most of what you are saying.
Dont underestimate the SLA's role in accountability. For companies that have dynamic requirements and no down time can be afforded, make sure you have very tight SLAs. For example, OpSource provides a 100% SLA in the cloud and 100%SLA around production application environments. Now 100% is ideally perfect, it comes down to accountability, you put you faith in us, we should do what we say we will do. And if something happens, you should be paid back. We also have 24x7 phone support where you can actually talk to a real person and you get account managers when you sign up who can help you work through business related issues. Imaging that, people in charge of the relationship and accountability.
Also, A New Approach To Cloud Security Is Already Her! From a Cloud Infrastructure and operations perspective
If you want to move everything need for delivering your production environments into the cloud check out OpSource.net
If you want to move your infrastructure into the clouds, check out OpSourcecloud.net
Also, RLE01 will get you 20% off.
SYS-CON Events announced today that FierceDevOps will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. FierceDevOps keeps software developers and IT operations personnel updated on the latest news and trends around the rapidly evolving role of the traditional IT worker.
Mar. 27, 2015 02:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,225
WHOA.com has announced the newest addition to its data center footprint with the expansion into Equinix's newest state-of-the-art facility: DC-11 Washington, DC IBX+. Located in Ashburn, VA, this data center expands Whoa.com's presence to meet rapidly expanding customer demand for secure cloud solutions. Equinix, Inc. operates International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data centers in 32 markets across 15 countries in the Americas, EMEA, and Asia-Pacific. Equinix is committed to operating faciliti...
Mar. 27, 2015 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 887
The Open Compute Project is a collective effort by Facebook and a number of players in the datacenter industry to bring lessons learned from the social media giant's giant IT deployment to the rest of the world. Datacenters account for 3% of global electricity consumption – about the same as all of Switzerland or the Czech Republic -- according to people I met at the recent Open Compute Summit in San Jose. With increasing mobility at the edge of the cloud and vast new dataflows being pre...
Mar. 27, 2015 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,692
GENBAND has announced that SageNet is leveraging the Nuvia platform to deliver Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) to its large base of retail and enterprise customers. Nuvia’s cloud-based solution provides SageNet’s customers with a full suite of business communications and collaboration tools. Two large national SageNet retail customers have recently signed up to deploy the Nuvia platform and the company will continue to sell the service to new and existing customers. Nuvia’s capabili...
Mar. 27, 2015 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,299
"We help companies that are using a lot of Software as a Service. We help companies manage and gain visibility into what people are using inside the company and decide to secure them or use standards to lock down or to embrace the adoption of SaaS inside the company," explained Scott Kriz, Co-founder and CEO of Bitium, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Mar. 26, 2015 11:00 PM EDT Reads: 4,463
DevOps means different things to different people. Qubell defines DevOps as the ability for the developer teams to do what they need to do to have this level of self-service. At DevOps Summit, Stan Klimoff, CTO of Qubell, demos the enterprise DevOps platform.
Mar. 26, 2015 11:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,805
The WebRTC Summit 2014 New York, to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 16th International Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit.
Mar. 26, 2015 10:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,197
Even though it’s now Microservices Journal, long-time fans of SOA World Magazine can take comfort in the fact that the URL – soa.sys-con.com – remains unchanged. And that’s no mistake, as microservices are really nothing more than a new and improved take on the Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) best practices we struggled to hammer out over the last decade. Skeptics, however, might say that this change is nothing more than an exercise in buzzword-hopping. SOA is passé, and now that people are ...
Mar. 26, 2015 10:15 PM EDT Reads: 888
Cloud computing started a technology revolution; now DevOps is driving that revolution forward. By enabling new approaches to service delivery, cloud and DevOps together are delivering even greater speed, agility, and efficiency. No wonder leading innovators are adopting DevOps and cloud together! In his session at DevOps Summit, Andi Mann, Vice President of Strategic Solutions at CA Technologies, explored the synergies in these two approaches, with practical tips, techniques, research data, wa...
Mar. 26, 2015 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 4,834
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cisco, the worldwide leader in IT that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cisco makes amazing things happen by connecting the unconnected. Cisco has shaped the future of the Internet by becoming the worldwide leader in transforming how people connect, communicate and collaborat...
Mar. 26, 2015 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 5,014
WSM International is launching a DevOps services division that offers assessment, consulting and implementation to large enterprises and organizations with complex infrastructures. This is the first independent services company to create a dedicated practice to help organizations looking to transition to the DevOps model. The concept of DevOps is to blend information technology (IT) software development with operations to optimize the computing infrastructure according to the specific needs of ...
Mar. 26, 2015 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,343
The term culture has had a polarizing effect among DevOps supporters. Some propose that culture change is critical for success with DevOps, but are remiss to define culture. Some talk about a DevOps culture but then reference activities that could lead to culture change and there are those that talk about culture change as a set of behaviors that need to be adopted by those in IT. There is no question that businesses successful in adopting a DevOps mindset have seen departmental culture change, ...
Mar. 26, 2015 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,887
15th Cloud Expo, which took place Nov. 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, expanded the conference content of @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit to include two developer events. IBM held a Bluemix Developer Playground on November 5 and ElasticBox held a Hackathon on November 6. Both events took place on the expo floor. The Bluemix Developer Playground, for developers of all levels, highlighted the ease of use of Bluemix, its services and functionalit...
Mar. 26, 2015 06:30 PM EDT Reads: 4,593
SYS-CON Events announced today that robomq.io will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. robomq.io is an interoperable and composable platform that connects any device to any application. It helps systems integrators and the solution providers build new and innovative products and service for industries requiring monitoring or intelligence from devices and sensors.
Mar. 26, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,222
Temasys has announced senior management additions to its team. Joining are David Holloway as Vice President of Commercial and Nadine Yap as Vice President of Product. Over the past 12 months Temasys has doubled in size as it adds new customers and expands the development of its Skylink platform. Skylink leads the charge to move WebRTC, traditionally seen as a desktop, browser based technology, to become a ubiquitous web communications technology on web and mobile, as well as Internet of Things...
Mar. 26, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,642
"Our premise is Docker is not enough. That's not a bad thing - we actually love Docker. At ActiveState all our products are based on open source technology and Docker is an up-and-coming piece of open source technology," explained Bart Copeland, President & CEO of ActiveState Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Mar. 26, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 4,594
Chef announced that James Casey has been appointed Vice President of Engineering. Casey has more than a decade of experience managing engineering and operations for CERN and is a three-year Chef veteran. Casey brings deep expertise in DevOps practices, as well as an innate understanding of the needs of Chef customers and the community. Casey will oversee the quality and cadence of product development for Chef's engineering and operations teams, and will report to Chef CEO Barry Crist.
Mar. 26, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 965
Today, IT is not just a cost center. IT is an enabler and driver of business. With the emergence of the hybrid cloud paradigm, IT now has increasingly more capabilities to create new strategic opportunities for a business. Hybrid cloud allows an organization to utilize multi-tenant public clouds, dedicated private clouds, bare metal hosting, and the associated support and services for the right use cases through an on-demand, XaaS model. This model of IT creates tremendous opportunities for busi...
Mar. 26, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,879
DevOps tasked with driving success in the cloud need a solution to efficiently leverage multiple clouds while avoiding cloud lock-in. Flexiant today announces the commercial availability of Flexiant Concerto. With Flexiant Concerto, DevOps have cloud freedom to automate the build, deployment and operations of applications consistently across multiple clouds. Concerto is available through four disruptive pricing models aimed to deliver multi-cloud at a price point everyone can afford.
Mar. 26, 2015 04:52 PM EDT Reads: 589
Business as usual for IT is evolving into a “Make or Buy” decision on a service-by-service conversation with input from the LOBs. How does your organization move forward with cloud? In his general session at 16th Cloud Expo, Paul Maravei, Regional Sales Manager, Hybrid Cloud and Managed Services at Cisco, discusses how Cisco and its partners offer a market-leading portfolio and ecosystem of cloud infrastructure and application services that allow you to uniquely and securely combine cloud busi...
Mar. 26, 2015 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,025