|By Kevin Jackson||
|September 15, 2011 02:00 PM EDT||
(This is part 3 of the series entitled "Implementation of Cloud Computing Solutions in Federal Agencies". First published on Forbes.com, this series provides the content of a whitepaper I recently authored. A copy of the complete whitepaper will be available at NJVC.com starting September 7, 2011.)
While the benefits and value of the federal cloud computing policy can be debated, the world’s transition to cloud computing as an integral component of any IT infrastructure cannot be denied. The prudent government executive should, therefore, heed the lessons learned from the many private industry corporations that already have miles behind them on this journey.
When identifying a potential cloud computing project, one should always count on a multi-year transition. Organizations should always use a consistent cloud opportunity identification process to reduce the risk of project failure by leveraging data from successful cloud implementations. Clients need to determine set metrics (economic, operational and service) with direct linkage to specific mission requirement(s). Use of a gate-driven cloud adoption process designed to terminate failed projects early in the project lifecycle and deliver measurable capabilities within a quick timeframe (weeks—not years) is highly recommended.
A risk mitigation plan also must be formalized that addresses each of the following concerns:2
- Loss of Governance. When moving to a cloud environment, clients relinquish control to the CP on a number of security-related issues. A gap in security defenses may also exist as service level agreements may not adequately address CP-related security requirements.
- Portability. Issues related to provider lock in are outlined in the Challenges section of this white paper on page 5.
- Isolation Failure. Multi-tenancy and collaboration are at the core of cloud computing. Resource isolation failure addresses mechanisms separating storage, memory, routing and reputation among different clients on the same cloud (e.g., guest-hopping attacks). However, it must be noted that attacks on these mechanisms are not as pervasive and much more difficult to attempt versus attacks on traditional operating systems.
- Compliance Risks. Investments in certifications (e.g., industry standard or regulatory requirements) may be compromised or lost when moving to the cloud.
- Management Interface Compromise. Security is an issue with client management interfaces with the public cloud provider. The reason? These services are provided via the internet and permit access to a larger set of resources than traditional operating systems. Security risk can dramatically increase when this is combined with remote access and web browser vulnerabilities.
- Data Protection. It may be difficult for clients to effectively check the data-handling practices of their CPs to ensure critical and sensitive data is handled lawfully and ethically. This problem can be aggravated in cases of multiple transfers of data (e.g., between federated clouds). However, it must be noted that some CPs share information on their data-handling practices with clients and others offer certification summaries on their data processing and data security activities and their various security controls (e.g., Statement on Auditing Standards 70 Certification.
- Insecure or Incomplete Data Deletion. As with most operating systems, when a request to remove a cloud resource is made, a true erase of data may not happen. Adequate or timely data deletion also may not be feasible (or undesirable from a client perspective) because extra copies of data are stored but not readily available or the disk to be destroyed also houses other data from other clients. When multi-tenancies and the reuse of hardware resources are added to the mix, this risk can increase.
- Malicious Insider. Cloud architectures necessitate the creation of certain staff positions (e.g., CP system administrators and managed security service providers) that can be extremely high risk in terms of internal security threats.
Creating a Cloud Computing Roadmap for Federal Agencies First Steps
According to, GovCloud: Cloud Computing for the Business of Government, when a government agency is ready to undertake the implementation of a cloud-based solution, it must determine which IT services, business functions and processes to deploy in the cloud environment. A five-year roadmap should be created that includes the desired order to move each of the services to the cloud for each year during that time period.3 Requirements for each service to be deployed in the cloud should be developed and a cost/benefits analysis performed to establish the rationale why each targeted service should move to the cloud.
Implementation of a Low-Risk Test Case
A low-risk test case should be implemented prior to undertaking a wholesale transfer of services to the cloud.4 This is harder than it may sound as some IT services that may seem simple to deploy to the cloud are not so easy. Four questions should be asked (and answered) to decide which IT services are best suited to live in the cloud5:
- Can compliance requirements be balanced with other IT prioirities?
- Is this an IT function or service the agency has mastered?
- Can the agency use a standardized service?
- Is the test case easily implementable?
A misconception may exist that just because an application or service being deployed to the cloud isn’t mission critical, the process will be simple and straightforward. This is not always true. If the agency is new to the cloud and wishes to establish a private cloud it will take time to determine the appropriate split of responsibilities between the service provider and the agency’s IT team.6 Compliance and liability issues can also be tricky, as defining compliance conditions and establishing liability for intellectual property protection with cloud vendors reach well beyond the IT world—and, as such, with so many moving parts may take time to properly address and resolved.7 NIST has launched the U.S. Government Cloud Computing Business Case Working Group to assist agencies with the development of cloud-compatible user cases. Email, geospatial data exchange and services management are among the first user cases currently in development.
The authors of GovCloud: Cloud Computing for the Business of Government also offer seven recommendations that must be considered during the development and implementation of an agency’s cloud roadmap:
- Own the information, even if you own nothing else. An agency must claim its right to own the information even if it doesn’t own the infrastructure, application or service associated with that information. Any agency is liable for its information—regardless of where it lives—and some education will likely be needed about this fact among its IT team. While it may be unrealistic to prevent departments from provisioning their own cloud application, the agency must institute policies and procedures to ensure it can monitor how information deployed to the cloud is managed. As it is often hard to envision future uses of information, it also is recommended that agencies make sure cloud-dwelling data can be brought back into the enterprise if needed.
- Don’t take terminology for granted. It is vital to ensure that important terminology is defined in the same way by the agency and the cloud service provider—room for different interpretation always exists. A review of information governance policies must take place to identify the areas of highest risk so authoritative definitions for vocabulary in these areas can be developed and adopted.
- Hope for standards, but prepare to integrate. In short, the cloud is young and isn’t established enough to have developed standard specifications for platform interoperability and data exchange. Strategic groundwork for future data integration needs to be laid in the early stages of any movement to the cloud. Agencies must insist that their cloud service providers provide clear documentation on the data formats and schemas used for information storage in their systems.
- Control cloud platform proliferation. Agencies should minimize the number of different cloud platforms that require support to limit information fragmentation and decrease the chance of a future huge integration effort. To the greatest extent possible, an agency’s IT team should help departments look for shared requirements in standardized business functions. The team can identify cloud platforms that meet these needs and consolidate the agency’s services on them, when possible. Not only will the ability to share information increase, this will result in greater leverage when negotiating contract terms and pricing.
- Make the information “cloud ready.” Agencies that organize their data sets well enough for use across multiple platforms will be best positioned to take advantage of cloud services, and will be better able to deploy enterprise information to the cloud more easily.IT teams need to get into the habit of encrypting data into one common format (probably XML)—a process even more important if data moves through externally operated resources to the cloud.
- Master solution integration. The shift to the cloud requires IT professionals to change their focus from owning and operating enterprise systems to becoming master information service integrators. In addition to linking legacy databases to SaaS, IT teams need to connect their private and public clouds to create a seamless technology environment that works like a single cloud custom-made for their specific enterprises.
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
Sep. 29, 2016 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 4,437
Complete Internet of Things (IoT) embedded device security is not just about the device but involves the entire product’s identity, data and control integrity, and services traversing the cloud. A device can no longer be looked at as an island; it is a part of a system. In fact, given the cross-domain interactions enabled by IoT it could be a part of many systems. Also, depending on where the device is deployed, for example, in the office building versus a factory floor or oil field, security ha...
Sep. 29, 2016 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 624
One of biggest questions about Big Data is “How do we harness all that information for business use quickly and effectively?” Geographic Information Systems (GIS) or spatial technology is about more than making maps, but adding critical context and meaning to data of all types, coming from all different channels – even sensors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, William (Bill) Meehan, director of utility solutions for Esri, will take a closer look at the current state of spatial technology and ar...
Sep. 29, 2016 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 388
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interface Masters Technologies, a leader in Network Visibility and Uptime Solutions, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Interface Masters Technologies is a leading vendor in the network monitoring and high speed networking markets. Based in the heart of Silicon Valley, Interface Masters' expertise lies in Gigabit, 10 Gigabit and 40 Gigabit Eth...
Sep. 29, 2016 09:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,692
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
Sep. 29, 2016 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,161
Creating replica copies to tolerate a certain number of failures is easy, but very expensive at cloud-scale. Conventional RAID has lower overhead, but it is limited in the number of failures it can tolerate. And the management is like herding cats (overseeing capacity, rebuilds, migrations, and degraded performance). Download Slide Deck: ▸ Here In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing for the HGST Cloud Infrastructure Business Unit, discusse...
Sep. 29, 2016 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,457
To leverage Continuous Delivery, enterprises must consider impacts that span functional silos, as well as applications that touch older, slower moving components. Managing the many dependencies can cause slowdowns. See how to achieve continuous delivery in the enterprise.
Sep. 29, 2016 08:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,139
An IoT product’s log files speak volumes about what’s happening with your products in the field, pinpointing current and potential issues, and enabling you to predict failures and save millions of dollars in inventory. But until recently, no one knew how to listen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dan Gettens, Chief Research Officer at OnProcess, will discuss recent research by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and OnProcess Technology, where MIT created a new, breakthrough analytics model f...
Sep. 29, 2016 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,089
There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Big Data at Cloud Expo - to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - has announced its Call for Papers is open. Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is...
Sep. 29, 2016 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,710
Internet of @ThingsExpo has announced today that Chris Matthieu has been named tech chair of Internet of @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 6thInternet of @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Sep. 29, 2016 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,688
Most of us already know that adopting new cloud applications can boost a business’s productivity by enabling organizations to be more agile and ready to change course in our fast-moving and connected digital world. But the rapid adoption of cloud apps and services also brings with it profound security threats, including visibility and control challenges that aren’t present in traditional on-premises environments. At the same time, the cloud – because of its interconnected, flexible and adaptable...
Sep. 29, 2016 07:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,733
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long dev...
Sep. 29, 2016 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,489
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform and how we integrate our thinking to solve complicated problems. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm ...
Sep. 29, 2016 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,414
Digitization is driving a fundamental change in society that is transforming the way businesses work with their customers, their supply chains and their people. Digital transformation leverages DevOps best practices, such as Agile Parallel Development, Continuous Delivery and Agile Operations to capitalize on opportunities and create competitive differentiation in the application economy. However, information security has been notably absent from the DevOps movement. Speed doesn’t have to negat...
Sep. 29, 2016 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,283
As organizations shift towards IT-as-a-service models, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and now cloud environments grows with it. Commvault can ensure protection, access and E-Discovery of your data – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud, or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enterprise. In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Randy De Meno, Chief Technologist - Windows Products and Microsoft Part...
Sep. 29, 2016 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,944
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
Sep. 29, 2016 06:45 AM EDT Reads: 3,209
Fact is, enterprises have significant legacy voice infrastructure that’s costly to replace with pure IP solutions. How can we bring this analog infrastructure into our shiny new cloud applications? There are proven methods to bind both legacy voice applications and traditional PSTN audio into cloud-based applications and services at a carrier scale. Some of the most successful implementations leverage WebRTC, WebSockets, SIP and other open source technologies. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Da...
Sep. 29, 2016 06:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,675
Leading cloud-centric IT organizations are establishing core capabilities to improve productivity, control costs and provide a highly responsive end-user experience. Key steps along this journey include creating an end-user cloud services catalog, automating workflows and provisioning, and implementing IT showback and chargeback. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Jamensky, executive vice president of Products at Embotics, will walk attendees through an in-depth case study of enterprise I...
Sep. 29, 2016 06:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,476
Your business relies on your applications and your employees to stay in business. Whether you develop apps or manage business critical apps that help fuel your business, what happens when users experience sluggish performance? You and all technical teams across the organization – application, network, operations, among others, as well as, those outside the organization, like ISPs and third-party providers – are called in to solve the problem.
Sep. 29, 2016 06:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,684
SYS-CON Events announced today that Niagara Networks will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Niagara Networks offers the highest port-density systems, and the most complete Next-Generation Network Visibility systems including Network Packet Brokers, Bypass Switches, and Network TAPs.
Sep. 29, 2016 06:00 AM EDT Reads: 526