|By Jon Shende||
|August 31, 2010 07:45 AM EDT||
[Adopted from my BLOG December 2009]
Lately in the IT community all the hype is on Cloud Computing. We have small start-ups offering several variations of Cloud services as well as some of the established big players (Google, Amazon, IBM, Novell (aimed at cloud service providers),Sun) stepping up their offerings of cloud services.
But what exactly is Cloud Computing? Is it Virtualization? Is it services that we accessed via a web browser over the years, something totally new, or is it all of these,but just rebranded?
The term Cloud Computing started gaining traction when Google and IBM launched a university initiative to address internet scale computing back in 2007.
These services has been evolving since the 90s and its previous incarnations can be said to be Grid and Utility computing and the Software as a Service offerings we saw around a decade ago.
Cloud Computing Journal - the Web's most widely Web resource on Cloud Computing
In a nutshell we can draw an analogy which can be stated as this: think of a utility service you use, say for example electricity. You get your meter read every few weeks and you receive a bill for energy consumed between readings.
The same underlying premise can be applied to a cloud service, an end user can subscribe for any of the offered cloud services and based on service usage from the provider be billed for consumption of that particular service or series of services for its specified time-frame.
Once can safely state that Cloud Computing as an on-demand, self-service, pay-as you go utility, evolved from a combination of grid computing, virtualization, and automation.
Experts estimate that this industry will grow to a 42 billion dollar industry by 2012, however the implementation and usage of cloud computing models and services is not without issues.
Most business managers will most likely consider the Capex and Opex aspects, especially in this economy. How much money an IT department can save yet still maintain operational efficiencies and security is a primary focus; by implementing one or more cloud computing services, an enterprise can obtain the scale and flexibility it needs and potentially save time as well with the concepts of dynamic provisioning of needed services.
One Cloud Computing claim is to lower costs, increase business agility and help increase the velocity at which applications can be deployed, however a good question to consider is can one expect its implementation to be disruptive and to what length?
In order to engage cloud computing services, business models will have to be adjusted or downright changed, in order to effectively and efficiently managing the utility aspect of computing power used in everyday operations and the manner in which management will be able to utilize resources.
As with any implementation, standards and regulation needs to be formulated and implemented in order to ensure that both vendor and the tenant are in compliance and within governance of an agreed format of policies.
As of now there are no formal standards directed solely toward cloud computing however NIST has proposed a potential framework standard called Standards Acceleration to Jumpstart Adoption of Cloud Computing (SAJAAC). With this, every effort should be made to ensure the confidentiality, availability and integrity of data held within a cloud computing environment going forward.
The National Institute for Science and Technology (NIST) defines cloud computing as "a pay-per-use model for enabling available, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction." 
Cloud Computing Models: Cloud models can be one of the following three:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) e.g. Tier 3, Amazon EC2,while the subscriber does not control the cloud infrastructure they do have control over select portions of network e.g. firewalls, operating system, deployed applications and storage.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS) this goes back to the early 70's when it was referred to as Framework as a Service. What is does is simply to provide different combinations of services to a subscriber supporting an application development life-cycle e.g. Google's App Engine which will let a subscriber run web applications on Google's infrastructure or Azure. In essence the subscriber will use programming(.Net Java python) and tools supplied by the service provider with no underlying responsibility for the cloud deployed network, severs, operating system and storage etc.
- Software as a Service (SaaS) e.g. Facebook, Salesforce.com, applications running on a cloud infrastructure that can be accessed via a web browser interface.
Bear in mind that there can be dependencies and a relationship between the models as Infrastructure as a Service can be stated as the foundation of Cloud Computing services, upon which Platform as a Service and then Software as a Service is built upon.
these services can be implemented by the end user in four different manners :
1) Private Cloud aka a corporate cloud refers to proprietary computing architecture providing hosted services to a limited number of people which resides behind a corporate firewall, in other words a single tenant.
By using private clouds enterprises/tenants will receive the same economies of scale and bi-directional scaling as that of the public cloud user.
However being a single enterprise or division within that enterprise will ensure the additional benefit of more control and security for data held within the private cloud, as on-premise data centers can be converted into private clouds by implementing virtualization technologies from companies such as Microsoft, Citrix, VMware, Novell and Sun.
2) Public Cloud is the cloud that is provided for lease external to an entity's physical location e.g. Amazon's EC2.
This deployment facilitates rapid scaling via virtualization technologies (which enables cloud user resources an ability to rapidly start up and shut down,) and can be utilized by multiple tenants however; within this deployment users have no access to dedicated resources.
This results in users giving up a certain amount of control over the process, which in turn can raise security and compliance issues.
3) Hybrid Cloud is a mixture of the public and private. This can be appealing for a company that chose to store non confidential data externally say using Simple Storage Service (S3) whilst keeping private data in-house.
4) Managed Cloud -In this offering the physical infrastructure in operation is owned by the subscriber and can be housed within the physical premises of the subscriber.
However the service provider will control portions of management and security of the service utility.
Some Deployment Concerns
As with the deployment of any IT system there will be challenges and cause for concern. Certain scenarios will have to be anticipated and use cases as well as processes to mitigate these concerns need to be clarified. Some examples of concerns are as follows:
1) Software licenses: software is typically subscribed as those that are proprietary licensed or those that are free and open source licensed. Software licenses govern usage or redistribution of software which are in most cases copyright protected.
Something to consider is how software that you want to deploy into a cloud is licensed.
Is the software you want to deploy licensed on a per server basis or not and how will easy or difficult will deploying your software of choice into a cloud be?
Will proprietary software solutions need to be confined to dedicated hosting environments? Most likely yes, at least for now or until you can get a vendor who can securely provide the software you need on a pay as you go basis.
Because of how software licensing is structured early cloud users have been found to use more open source software.
2) Single point of failure: a mission critical application is deployed via a single vendor; issues at the vendor's site may severely impact the availability of resources for the tenant.
The vendor may claim to have multiple, remote backup locations completely powered However when it comes to ensuring that, in addition, redundant cloud administration and infrastructure software are in place, the vendor may fall short.
3) Portability: a cause for concern is that each vendor may utilize different applications APIs and formats for data. This in turn may limit application and data portability to other environments, as they are likely to be using proprietary APIs thus causing a "Lock In" situation where it will be easy to sign a contract and use a vendor service however transferring out to another vendor could have major issues.
Of course as the cloud computing environment evolves this may soon be remedied.
4) Security: the elephant in the cloud room. The most common fear with using a cloud deployment is a loss of control and security of data.
Granted this is still a system built on hard and software platforms and as such is still susceptible to the traditional security attacks (DOS, DDOS etc.), conversely a point for consideration should be that any security measure will be more cost effective when implemented on a larger scale.
Any good IT manager has voiced concerns over whether employees/administrators at the cloud provider can be trusted to not look at data or even modify it or, whether other customers sharing the cloud can hack data or access it without leaving an audit trail.
From this a tenant can ask about methods the vendor is employing to protect data such as high physical security as well as what types of monitoring, intrusion detection and firewall equipment are in place at their centers.
Even worse is whether competitors could find out sensitive information such as customer orders, pricing and cost information, and negatively impact business. And of course what about privacy concerns and government regulations?
Other issues of concern can be:
- What levels of protection in place to protect one customer from accessing another customer's data or application within a shared cloud space?
- Who will be liable for security breaches and how will the law regarding this in any one jurisdiction ensure compliance?
- How well will a vendor system integrate with a tenant's security systems?
5) Scalability: Every user/potential user of the cloud constantly hear of the substantial savings they will realize by utilizing cloud-based resources.
In order to take full advantage of the scalability of the cloud there should be a means of ensuring that there is some form of dynamic measurement and resource management for applications held within a cloud.
Scalability within the cloud can be had by composing the service from other scalable services as can be seen with Google App Engine.
6) Auditing: With the cloud one has to consider how compliance with ISO standards, Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA ,PCI-DSS etc. will impact certain data from being deployed. This more so when considering the attractiveness of data to unauthorized entities and the methods they could use to gain access to that data.
Any IT manager will also tell you that without proper planning the cost of an audit can be higher than expected.
As of this writing, I am not aware of any formulated standards for auditing within the cloud, however I must state that for a business, auditing within the cloud may be an attractive option as, this can be done live with no down time or interruption to business processes.
7) Compliance: There are no standards in place as of yet, but the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST )and others are working toward that end.
8) Other Data Access: what happens to my data if the vendor revokes my access or there is a system malfunction? This is a common question that anyone thinking of using the cloud should ask. Remember the data loss for T-mobile customers using the services of Microsoft subsidiary - Danger? "Microsoft said any data that users had on their devices and is no longer there has almost certainly been permanently lost" Here there was no revocation of access but an alleged system glitch.
A personal example occurred a few days ago when I tried to access a Gmail account I kept just for research and online backup.
The system message intimated that I had violated the "Terms of Agreement". What?! The Gmail account was hardly ever used to send email and the Google docs account was used as a second online backup for some of my documents and files. If this was not a secondary backup or not a backup at all, I would have lost access all my uploaded documents and files, with no recourse for resolution but filling out a form and hoping for contact from the support center.
In order to address and mitigate these issues the tenant should ensure that workarounds and backup plans are worked into their Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with the vendor.
Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
A service level agreement a part of a service contract where the level of service is formally defined. In practice, the term is sometimes used to refer to the contracted delivery time (of the service) or performance.  Whilst there may not be much flexibility with a vendor in defining an SLA, I am confident that the laws of supply and demand will shift this more toward the tenant in the near future.
Cloud computing vendors are getting into this business to affect their bottom line and shareholder value if publicly traded. At the end of the day their focus will be on making a profit on services offered.
In light of this most tenants may feel as though they are getting into an arrangement where it appears as though vendors create the SLAs for their own protection against litigation, with minimal assurances to a tenant.
That being said, this does not mean that an IT manager cannot make the SLA work as a tool to chose an appropriate service provider. An IT manager's main concern will be the security of data and of course, the traditional interpretation of the CIA triad (Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability) may not be applicable within their cloud service.
To start an IT manager can focus on the following when hammering out their SLA with a vendor:
1) Data Protection: where there is a clear definition as to who will have access to the data and the levels of protection in effect for their data.
Some questions that can be asked are:
- How will data be encrypted?
- How will compliance be addressed?
- What are the levels of access control?
- Will there be sub-contractors or third party providers processing the data?
- Where are backups stored?
- How is the data center secured?
- What happens to the data if service providers are switched?
- What processes are in place to mitigate legal inquiries about a customer's data?
- How often are audits done and what types of auditing tools are in place?
- What happens to my data if there is an investigation taking place on another tenant sharing services and how will you ensure my access to my data in the event of equipment seizure by federal entities?
- How is data deletion handled?
2) Continuity: one has to consider what happens in the event of an outage or another related event that causes data to become unavailable.
Some questions to consider here are
- How will the vendor define a services outage?
- Will there be scheduled vendor downtime for maintenance etc.?
- Will there be an alternative vendor hot site or vendor site prepped to take on load of access in the event of a vendor outage?
- Are there tools in motion which will determine the severity of a vendor outage?
- How will the tenant be compensated in the event of a vendor an outage?
- Define levels of redundancy in place to minimize vendor outages?
3) Costs: on cost to consider are:
- How is the vendor's fee structured and is taxes and external fees accounted for in a vendor quote?
- Will there be or are there current licensing fees above and beyond stated vendor service fees?
- Will there be any hidden or add on costs for vendor support?
- How does the vendor structure their charges? Is it based upon usage, traffic or storage limit
- Does the vendor offer price protection?
It is expected that Cloud Computing will the wave of the future in terms of computing, it is only logical that the cloud's economies of scale and flexibility will impact how technology evolves and how users of technologies implement these technologies.
However in terms of security the massive availability of resources and data within a cloud does present a very attractive target for attackers.
That being said, we can assume that cloud-based defences may be more robust, scalable and cost-effective, in an effort to mitigate security concerns regarding multiple tenants, encryption, trust and compliance.
Part of a cloud service is the API. However when it comes to integration between vendors this may pose a problem for tenants, given the fact that cloud APIs are not yet standardized. This means that each vendor has a specific APIs for managing its services that will lock customers to their vendors due to vendor proprietary technology.
The work around here would be to look for vendors that use standard APIs wherever possible. This is a viable option as standard APIs are already implemented for access to storage as well as deploying and scaling applications.
In terms of auditing and forensics, dedicated, pay-per-use forensic images of virtual machines can be obtained by an auditor without having to take infrastructure offline. This of course results in less down-time for auditing as well as it can provide cost-effective storage for logs without deterring system performance.
All of which will increase the return on investment as well as decrease operational costs normally involved with in house systems processing the same data as in the cloud.
Of course Cloud Computing is still in its infancy and whilst some proposals may look good in theory, only time will tell how we proceed and evolve with this system of computing.
 Cloud Connect
 Cloud Security Alliance
Cloud Computing journal
European Network and Information Security Agency.
After a couple of false starts, cloud-based desktop solutions are picking up steam, driven by trends such as BYOD and pervasive high-speed connectivity. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Seth Bostock, CEO of IndependenceIT, cuts through the hype and the acronyms, and discusses the emergence of full-featured cloud workspaces that do for the desktop what cloud infrastructure did for the server. He’ll discuss VDI vs DaaS, implementation strategies and evaluation criteria.
Jul. 25, 2014 03:17 PM EDT Reads: 906
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, will explore the synergies in these two approaches, with practical tips, techniques, research data, war stories, case studies, and recommendations.
Jul. 25, 2014 02:46 PM EDT Reads: 911
Cloud Computing is evolving into a Big Three of Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure. Cloud 360: Multi-Cloud Bootcamp, being held Nov 4–5, 2014, in conjunction with 15th Cloud Expo in Santa Clara, CA, delivers a real-world demonstration of how to deploy and configure a scalable and available web application on all three platforms. The Cloud 360 Bootcamp, led by Janakiram MSV, an analyst with Gigaom Research, is the first bootcamp that introduces the core concepts of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) based on the workings of the Big Three platforms – Amazon EC2, Google Compute Engine, and Azure VMs. Bootcamp attendees will get to see the big picture and also receive the knowledge needed to make the best cloud decisions for their business applications and entire enterprise IT organization.
Jul. 25, 2014 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,576
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
Jul. 25, 2014 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,675
The Internet of Things is a natural complement to the cloud and related technologies such as Big Data, analytics, and mobility. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Joe Weinman will lay out four generic strategies – digital disciplines – to exploit emerging digital technologies for strategic advantage. Joe Weinman has held executive leadership positions at Bell Labs, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, and Telx, in areas such as corporate strategy, business development, product management, operations, and R&D.
Jul. 21, 2014 11:17 AM EDT Reads: 1,852
SYS-CON Events announced today that DevOps.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's “DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo,” which will take place on June 10–12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. DevOps.com is where the world meets DevOps. It is the largest collection of original content relating to DevOps on the web today Featuring up-to-the-minute news, feature stories, blogs, bylined articles and more, DevOps.com is where the thought leaders of the DevOps movement make their ideas known.
Jul. 20, 2014 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,655
There are 182 billion emails sent every day, generating a lot of data about how recipients and ISPs respond. Many marketers take a more-is-better approach to stats, preferring to have the ability to slice and dice their email lists based numerous arbitrary stats. However, fundamentally what really matters is whether or not sending an email to a particular recipient will generate value. Data Scientists can design high-level insights such as engagement prediction models and content clusters that allow marketers to cut through the noise and design their campaigns around strong, predictive signals, rather than arbitrary statistics. SendGrid sends up to half a billion emails a day for customers such as Pinterest and GitHub. All this email adds up to more text than produced in the entire twitterverse. We track events like clicks, opens and deliveries to help improve deliverability for our customers – adding up to over 50 billion useful events every month. While SendGrid data covers only abo...
Jul. 20, 2014 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,312
SYS-CON Events announced today that the Web Host Industry Review has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Since 2000, The Web Host Industry Review has made a name for itself as the foremost authority of the Web hosting industry providing reliable, insightful and comprehensive news, reviews and resources to the hosting community. TheWHIR Blogs provides a community of expert industry perspectives. The Web Host Industry Review Magazine also offers a business-minded, issue-driven perspective of interest to executives and decision-makers. WHIR TV offers on demand web hosting video interviews and web hosting video features of the key persons and events of the web hosting industry. WHIR Events brings together like-minded hosting industry professionals and decision-makers in local communities. TheWHIR is an iNET Interactive property.
Jul. 20, 2014 09:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,836
SYS-CON Events announced today that O'Reilly Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.
Jul. 19, 2014 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,822
SYS-CON Events announced today that Verizon has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Verizon Enterprise Solutions creates global connections that generate growth, drive business innovation and move society forward. With industry-specific solutions and a full range of global wholesale offerings provided over the company's secure mobility, cloud, strategic networking and advanced communications platforms, Verizon Enterprise Solutions helps open new opportunities around the world for innovation, investment and business transformation. Visit verizonenterprise.com to learn more.
Jul. 18, 2014 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,818
SYS-CON Events announced today that TMCnet has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Technology Marketing Corporation (TMC) is the world's leading business to business and integrated marketing media company, servicing niche markets within the communications and technology industries.
Jul. 15, 2014 04:21 PM EDT Reads: 1,281
"In my session I spoke about enterprise cloud analytics and how we can leverage analytics as a service," explained Ajay Budhraja, CTO at the Department of Justice, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 14th International Cloud Expo®, held June 10-12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City. Cloud Expo® 2014 Silicon Valley, November 4–6, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading Cloud industry players in the world.
Jul. 15, 2014 10:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,878
“We are starting to see people move beyond the commodity cloud and enterprises need to start focusing on additional value added services in order to really drive their adoption," explained Jason Mondanaro, Director of Product Management at MetraTech, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 14th International Cloud Expo®, held June 10-12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City. Cloud Expo® 2014 Silicon Valley, November 4–6, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading Cloud industry players in the world.
Jul. 15, 2014 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,856
"We are automated capacity control software, which basically looks at all the supply and demand and running a virtual cloud environment and does a deep analysis of that and says where should things go," explained Andrew Hillier, Co-founder & CTO of CiRBA, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 14th International Cloud Expo®, held June 10-12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City. Cloud Expo® 2014 Silicon Valley, November 4–6, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading Cloud industry players in the world.
Jul. 15, 2014 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,043
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mac Devine, Distinguished Engineer at IBM, will discuss bringing these three elements together via Systems of Discover.
Jul. 15, 2014 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,135
- Direction for Software Developers in the Cloud
- CiRBA Executives Speaking at Key Upcoming Industry Events
- WebRTC Summit Silicon Valley Call for Papers Now Open
- Top Five Best Practices for Your Application PaaS Audience
- DevOps Summit Silicon Valley Call for Papers Now Open
- WSTA Named “Association Sponsor” of Cloud Expo Silicon Valley
- WSO2 Guest Speakers at WSO2Con Europe 2014 Will Examine Technology Developments and Best Practices Enabling the Connected Business
- Call for Papers for Cloud Expo 2014 Silicon Valley Opens
- Internet of @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers Now Open
- Cloud Expo Power Panel | Hybrid Clouds: Best Path to IT Transformation?
- Cloud as a Growth Engine for Business
- Docker + Stackato: The Perfect Workload Portability Solution
- Direction for Software Developers in the Cloud
- CiRBA Executives Speaking at Key Upcoming Industry Events
- Global Financial Firms Can Effectively Address Technology Risk Guidelines
- Eight Ways Cloud-Empowered HCM Solutions Are Driving Business Success
- FOSE Expo to Feature Cutting-Edge Solutions from Top Government Technology Vendors
- Enterprise Cloud Analytics and Business Intelligence
- AMAG, HP, ImageWare Systems, March Networks and StrikeForce Discuss Security Solutions in SecuritySolutionsWatch.com Interviews
- WebRTC Summit Silicon Valley Call for Papers Now Open
- Top Five Best Practices for Your Application PaaS Audience
- DevOps Summit Silicon Valley Call for Papers Now Open
- Strengthen Your Business Reputation with Every Application Interaction
- Intelligent Systems in Transportation
- The Top 150 Players in Cloud Computing
- What is Cloud Computing?
- Six Benefits of Cloud Computing
- The Top 250 Players in the Cloud Computing Ecosystem
- Twenty-One Experts Define Cloud Computing
- What's the Difference Between Cloud Computing and SaaS?
- A Brief History of Cloud Computing: Is the Cloud There Yet?
- The Future of Cloud Computing
- Cloud Computing Expo 2009 West: Call for Papers Now Closed
- Virtualization Conference Keynote Webcast Live on SYS-CON.TV
- Cloud People: A Who's Who of Cloud Computing
- Ulitzer Names the World's 30 Most Influential Cloud Computing Bloggers