Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Liz McMillan, Jason Bloomberg, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Larry Alton

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo

@CloudExpo: Blog Feed Post

Minnesota and Private Cloud

There goes today's blog

I had a blog partially written for today when @GeorgeVHulme tweeted this: "WAHOO! Minnesota goes Private Cloud!". And that changed my thoughts and direction completely. Here’s the article George linked to State of Minnesota Signs Historic Cloud Computing Agreement With Microsoft. The fact that it was private cloud and with Microsoft got me to read the article. And it’s actually a pretty impressive story for both the state and for Microsoft.

image In essence, this takes “private cloud” to a different place than I would have envisioned. They’re outsourcing. Yes, there’s a line in the sand, beyond which the state has complete control, but they have essentially given Microsoft their infrastructure (the collaboration and email piece of it anyway) and are holding Microsoft accountable for security and software maintenance. That’s a pretty solid plan if the admins at the state can manage the applications as they need/desire. There are gray areas that would need to be covered, like what types of threats are user/application threats that Microsoft isn’t responsible for, what’s the escalation path, etc. But those are no doubt covered in the contract, which we don’t have access to.

Microsoft is giving over dedicated space (notice that the article does not say dedicated hardware anywhere in it), and even has committed a datacenter that the cloud will run out of. The price tag must have been pretty high, but Microsoft Exchange admin, IM (ala Microsoft Communicator) admin, and Microsoft Sharepoint admin – the hardware and software maintenance, routing, upgrades, etc part – is expensive too. The state knows what that portion of its budget will cost and can focus on running the apps that the state and its citizens require to get the job done.

I admit to being a bit intrigued. Not just by the concept, but by the actual architectural implementation. Assuming that the access is via some form of SSL VPN, is it to be expected then that when another portion of the state is signed out to a cloud vendor, another VPN connection will be required? That would seem to be… Awkward. But they do reference a dedicated line, so it is possible that there is no “gateway” to the services, but that would seem irresponsible from a security perspective on both parts, so I doubt it. Though lock-down by IP might be possible, that’s spoofable, so again, I doubt it.

image This arrangement has half of the issues that traditional outsourcing does, but I would argue the worst of the issues are taken care of. In a traditional outsourcing arrangement, the fact that your contract decreases in value as time goes on (assuming your vendor is successful anyway) means that your staffing levels are slowly watered down by other duties, and by the end of the contract you are likely frustrated. This is compounded by the fact that your IT needs grow in the two to five year period of an outsourcing contract.

But in this case, the labor intensive part of the agreement resides with state employees. Upgrading hardware and software is labor intensive but “bursty” to put it in IT terms. You do it, and then it’s done until next time you need it. On the other hand, maintenance of users, modifying software configurations to meet your needs, and managing that software is a constant job that will likely increase over time.

This may be the answer outsourcing has been looking for. To me, having Microsoft employees apply their own security patches sounds like right-sizing. Of course there will be speed bumps, but even that has a pressure release valve. If a server drops for no explainable reason, state IT staff will point to Microsoft, but be quietly glad that they have someone to point at.

Depending upon the agreed-upon price, states with much larger budget woes than Minnesota should probably be considering such an arrangement. Instead of a hazy partial budget that is padded in case Exchange use grows at a faster-than-expected pace, they can have a number that is required to keep the lights on for critical state systems. It cleans up budgeting and allows the state to make critical choices in hard times without as much guesswork. Capital expenditures drop, ostensibly staffing needs will go down, but that greatly depends upon the number of servers this system replaces and what their server:admin ratio is.

And I’m really intrigued by the implication that Microsoft, just by virtue of taking over this function, increases the security of Minnesota’s data. I know that Microsoft has been getting better over the last decade at security, but that is still an intriguing concept to me. Hope my boss (who lives in Minnesota) doesn’t notice it…

By way of disclosure, we are a Microsoft Partner, not that being one had anything to do with this blog, just making sure you know.


Follow me on Twitter icon_facebook

AddThis Feed Button Bookmark and Share

Related Articles and Blogs

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Don MacVittie

Don MacVittie is founder of Ingrained Technology, A technical advocacy and software development consultancy. He has experience in application development, architecture, infrastructure, technical writing,DevOps, and IT management. MacVittie holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Northern Michigan University, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

@CloudExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that DXWorldExpo has been named “Global Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation is the key issue driving the global enterprise IT business. Digital Transformation is most prominent among Global 2000 enterprises and government institutions.
One of the biggest challenges with adopting a DevOps mentality is: new applications are easily adapted to cloud-native, microservice-based, or containerized architectures - they can be built for them - but old applications need complex refactoring. On the other hand, these new technologies can require relearning or adapting new, oftentimes more complex, methodologies and tools to be ready for production. In his general session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, Solutions Marketi...
Cloud-based disaster recovery is critical to any production environment and is a high priority for many enterprise organizations today. Nearly 40% of organizations have had to execute their BCDR plan due to a service disruption in the past two years. Zerto on IBM Cloud offer VMware and Microsoft customers simple, automated recovery of on-premise VMware and Microsoft workloads to IBM Cloud data centers.
Elon Musk is among the notable industry figures who worries about the power of AI to destroy rather than help society. Mark Zuckerberg, on the other hand, embraces all that is going on. AI is most powerful when deployed across the vast networks being built for Internets of Things in the manufacturing, transportation and logistics, retail, healthcare, government and other sectors. Is AI transforming IoT for the good or the bad? Do we need to worry about its potential destructive power? Or will we...
Many organizations adopt DevOps to reduce cycle times and deliver software faster; some take on DevOps to drive higher quality and better end-user experience; others look to DevOps for a clearer line-of-sight to customers to drive better business impacts. In truth, these three foundations go together. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 21st Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, industry experts will discuss how leading organizations build application success from all...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Daiya Industry will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Daiya Industry specializes in orthotic support systems and assistive devices with pneumatic artificial muscles in order to contribute to an extended healthy life expectancy. For more information, please visit https://www.daiyak...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SIGMA Corporation will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. uLaser flow inspection device from the Japanese top share to Global Standard! Then, make the best use of data to flip to next page. For more information, visit http://www.sigma-k.co.jp/en/.
The last two years has seen discussions about cloud computing evolve from the public / private / hybrid split to the reality that most enterprises will be creating a complex, multi-cloud strategy. Companies are wary of committing all of their resources to a single cloud, and instead are choosing to spread the risk – and the benefits – of cloud computing across multiple providers and internal infrastructures, as they follow their business needs. Will this approach be successful? How large is the ...
Your clients expect transactions to never fail, cloud access to be fast and always on, and their data to be protected - no exceptions. Hear about how Secure Service Container (SSC), an IBM-exclusive open technology, enables secure building and hosting of next-generation applications, both cloud and on-premises. SSC protects the full stack from external and insider threats, allows automatic encryption of data in-flight and at-rest, and is tamper-resistant during installation and runtime – with no...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that B2Cloud will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. B2Cloud specializes in IoT devices for preventive and predictive maintenance in any kind of equipment retrieving data like Energy consumption, working time, temperature, humidity, pressure, etc.
SYS-CON Events announced today that NetApp has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. NetApp is the data authority for hybrid cloud. NetApp provides a full range of hybrid cloud data services that simplify management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate digital transformation. Together with their partners, NetApp em...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interface Corporation will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Interface Corporation is a company developing, manufacturing and marketing high quality and wide variety of industrial computers and interface modules such as PCIs and PCI express. For more information, visit http://www.i...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Mobile Create USA will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Mobile Create USA Inc. is an MVNO-based business model that uses portable communication devices and cellular-based infrastructure in the development, sales, operation and mobile communications systems incorporating GPS capabi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Nihon Micron will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Nihon Micron Co., Ltd. strives for technological innovation to establish high-density, high-precision processing technology for providing printed circuit board and metal mount RFID tags used for communication devices. For more inf...
SYS-CON Events announced today that N3N will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. N3N’s solutions increase the effectiveness of operations and control centers, increase the value of IoT investments, and facilitate real-time operational decision making. N3N enables operations teams with a four dimensional digital “big board” that consolidates real-time live video feeds alongside IoT sensor data a...
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, will discuss how data centers of the future will be managed, how th...
Enterprises are moving to the cloud faster than most of us in security expected. CIOs are going from 0 to 100 in cloud adoption and leaving security teams in the dust. Once cloud is part of an enterprise stack, it’s unclear who has responsibility for the protection of applications, services, and data. When cloud breaches occur, whether active compromise or a publicly accessible database, the blame must fall on both service providers and users. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben Johnson, C...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Suzuki Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Suzuki Inc. is a semiconductor-related business, including sales of consuming parts, parts repair, and maintenance for semiconductor manufacturing machines, etc. It is also a health care business providing experimental research for...