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SharePoint in the Cloud

Two major concerns that show up frequently are migration of existing custom deployments and data security

By Pavan Pant, Director of Product Management

As customers continue their march to the cloud we have heard from a large number who want to use SharePoint Server in the cloud. Two major concerns that show up frequently are migration of existing custom deployments and data security.

These organizations have spent years customizing their SharePoint deployments so they work just right in their environment, and moving to the cloud is a daunting proposition. Consider a scenario where a customer has deployed SharePoint and each department has its own intranet and individual sites for employees – the proliferation of these sites across organizations and the customization required has created a situation where customers typically stay away from using the cloud for their existing SharePoint deployments and start from scratch in the cloud.

We’ve also heard from customers who already have Sharepoint deployed in their data centers with sensitive content (e.g., PII information) and would love to take advantage of the elasticity the cloud has to offer but have security concerns about using the cloud. In a shared multi-tenant environment customer data needs to be protected from unauthorized access at all times, and must be off limits to cloud providers. This essentially means that customers need full disk and network encryption to protect their data while it is at rest and in motion.

CloudSwitch allows you to take your existing SharePoint deployments and run them the cloud without requiring any changes to your application or networking. In addition, all your data remains secure – we provide full network and disk encryption (including encryption of the boot partition) in the cloud to ensure that your content remains secure while in transit to the cloud and in the cloud itself.  Most importantly, the disk encryption keys remain in your control as opposed to being stored and managed with the cloud provider.

One of our customers is a large health insurance company that has sensitive patient data and other information in their SharePoint content management system. Their primary goal was to offload their ongoing management of the SharePoint servers in their data center and use Amazon’s public cloud. This would allow them not only to lower their costs but also to take advantage of the elasticity offered by the public cloud. The configuration in their data center is a two-tier SharePoint deployment – one server runs SQL while the other runs both the SharePoint Content Server and the Front-End IIS server.

 

 

SharePoint in the Cloud

With CloudSwitch’s software in place in their internal VMware environment, this customer was able to migrate their existing SharePoint deployment to the cloud securely, simply and without any changes whatsoever (IP address, MAC address, network configurations, etc.). Their end users can access and use the SharePoint sites for content management exactly as they did in the data center.  SharePoint administrators are able to add servers to the farm, cluster the SQL server and burst in the cloud as needed just as they would in the data center but with all their security needs being met.  Also, with the “infinite” scalability of the cloud, they no longer need to worry about the time it takes to buy and install new storage. They can allocate new resources to their cloud SharePoint deployment in minutes.

In addition to all this, the customer can also continue using their Active Directory installation in the data center to control authentication and authorization to the SharePoint portal – again, all of this without installing any agents or software on servers in the customer’s data center or any agents for the customer’s servers in the cloud.

Leveraging the Cloud
I recently attended a cloud computing panel where one of the panelists was lamenting how SharePoint was never architected with the cloud in mind because cloud providers like Amazon impose networking and storage constraints (e.g., dynamic IP address and ephemeral storage) that SharePoint does not handle well.  Some of the main reasons to deploy SharePoint in a multi-tenant environment are to consolidate resources and take advantage of the scale the cloud offers – by having multiple users in a single deployment that can take advantage of storage as you grow.  Many enterprises have been shying away from using SharePoint in the cloud because of concerns around security, storage management and networking implications. That applies only if you think about the cloud as an opaque system where only the cloud provider can control networking, security and configuration. With CloudSwitch, all of the control is shifted back to the enterprise and the users can run their existing processes and applications. We do all the heavy lifting for you so you can move your SharePoint deployments to the cloud and get started today!

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More Stories By Ellen Rubin

Ellen Rubin is the CEO and co-founder of ClearSky Data, an enterprise storage company that recently raised $27 million in a Series B investment round. She is an experienced entrepreneur with a record in leading strategy, market positioning and go-to- market efforts for fast-growing companies. Most recently, she was co-founder of CloudSwitch, a cloud enablement software company, acquired by Verizon in 2011. Prior to founding CloudSwitch, Ellen was the vice president of marketing at Netezza, where as a member of the early management team, she helped grow the company to more than $130 million in revenues and a successful IPO in 2007. Ellen holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Harvard University.

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