Welcome!

Cloud Expo Authors: Sandi Mappic, Esmeralda Swartz, Carmen Gonzalez, Elizabeth White, Lori MacVittie

Blog Feed Post

Cloud Computing, the NSA, and Why Businesses Should Care

Listen: as cloud computing consultants, we drink the cloud computing koolaid. We’ve implemented cloud-based software for businesses of all sizes, across just about every industry. We’ve seen it revolutionize how businesses work.

We’ve also seen security become a very real and increasingly serious concern.

Don’t worry, it’s safe!

When we first began showing cloud-based software to clients, the idea of storing your data remotely was a new concept. Like clockwork, clients were all concerned about security. Is my data safe? What happens if the software company folds? Can we be hacked?

cloud securityLike good cloud computing consultants everywhere, we’d listen, smile, shake our heads, and explain why clients needn’t worry, how storing your data on 3rd party servers was safer than storing it locally, how Google had armed guards.

And that was all true. In many ways, top-of-class cloud-based software tools do deliver top-notch security.

But in other ways, those early clients had prescient concerns. The shift to cloud computing has – in subtle and not-so-subtle ways – followed a fundamental shift in data and how we think of property writ large.

Lets rewind….

Software-as-a-pain-in-the-ass (SAPAS)

Before Salesforce, before Google, there were local servers and hard drives. If businesses used software (and that’s a big “if”), they had it installed locally, on-site, on their own computers or servers. Barbaric, I know.

This had major disadvantages: accessing your programs if you weren’t at the office was a pain. Syncing data between workstations was a nightmare. Collaborating in real time without overwriting was impossible.

Then there were the bills. Typically, companies paid third-party consultants like us huge retainers to maintain servers, push updates, and install patches. The value-add of those consultants was technical – they operated as IT janitors, doing the dirty work that no one else wanted or knew how to. Inexplicably, this is still a viable business model.

But for many businesses, cloud computing changed all that.

Enter the cloud

With cloud computing, businesses didn’t have to worry about maintaining anything. Sign up for an account and you’re done: the vendor does all the dirty work, no middle-man necessary. Just you, your data, and your sweet, innocent software.

Other advantages followed. Because vendors no longer relied on resellers for sales, the market was flooded with new software options – and increased competition meant better, cheaper products. And because the cloud affords technical advantages (such as integrations), the feature-set deepened. What could possibly go wrong?

The fight for your data

As many, many observers predicted, data privacy and security is today a major concern for businesses. This fact is highlighted by recent revelations about the NSA’s writing backdoors into consumer software, and Target losing credit card data on tens of millions of its customers.

Used to be, we didn’t care much about that stuff. It won’t happen to you.

business hackerBut the reality is, something major has happened. Most businesses don’t have technical control of at least some – if not all – of their data anymore. Their banking data, their client data, their sales data, their documents and records – for millions of businesses, that stuff is stored on anonymous data servers and leased back.

Now, I’m not saying that’s an inherently bad thing. And it’s still true, for most businesses, that their data is safer (in some ways) now than it was when it was recorded on some dusty Exchange server in the closet.

But it’s also true that vendors, businesses, and consultants all need to do a better job of being honest about the state of software security. Too many vendors say “we use bank-grade encryption” and leave it at that. Too many clients aren’t asking the right questions. And too many consultants just don’t care.

A better way

By definition, cloud computing means a loss of some control. A relinquishing of technical reigns in return for better products. That’s just a fact.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t demand more.

Vendors should have transparent security outlines, where it’s 100% clear where your data is, what they’re doing with it, how it’s protected, and what they plan to do when something goes wrong.

Businesses should demand more. When vendors or consultants don’t address security, they should force the issue – and don’t accept anyone rolling their eyes.

Consultants should care more. They should know about SSL vs TSL; the difference between hashing and encryption; the strengths and limitations of multi-factor authentication.

This stuff is stressful to think about, but it’s super important. We’ve never had a client or a vendor suffer a data breach, but we also know it’s a lottery – and it’s up to us (and you) to mitigate risks.

VM Associates is a New York City cloud computing consulting firm. We help companies transition into newer, better, smarter software. Contact us to talk about your business, the cloud, and how we might help.

The post Cloud Computing, the NSA, and Why Businesses Should Care appeared first on VM Associates.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Chris Bliss

Chris Bliss works at VM Associates, an end-user consultancy for businesses looking to move to the cloud from pre-existing legacy systems.

@CloudExpo Stories
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, will discuss how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money! Speaker Bio: ...
Compute virtualization has been transformational, yet security policy implementation and enforcement has lagged behind in agility and automation. There are a number of key considerations when implementing policy in private and hybrid clouds. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Holland Barry, VP of Technology at Catbird, will discuss the impact of this new paradigm and what organizations can do today to safely move to software-defined network and compute architectures, including: How normal ope...
Samsung VP Jacopo Lenzi, who headed the company's recent SmartThings acquisition under the auspices of Samsung's Open Innovaction Center (OIC), answered a few questions we had about the deal. This interview was in conjunction with our interview with SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson. IoT Journal: SmartThings was developed in an open, standards-agnostic platform, and will now be part of Samsung's Open Innovation Center. Can you elaborate on your commitment to keep the platform open? Jacopo Lenzi: S...
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic • Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff hap...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SOA Software, an API management leader, will exhibit at 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. SOA Software is a leading provider of API Management and SOA Governance products that equip business to deliver APIs and SOA together to drive their company to meet its business strategy quickly and effectively. SOA Software’s technology helps businesses to accel...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Utimaco will exhibit at 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. Utimaco is a leading manufacturer of hardware based security solutions that provide the root of trust to keep cryptographic keys safe, secure critical digital infrastructures and protect high value data assets. Only Utimaco delivers a general-purpose hardware security module (HSM) as a customiz...
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.
SYS-CON Events announced today that ElasticBox is holding a Hackathon at DevOps Summit, November 6 from 12 pm -4 pm at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. You can enter as an individual or team of up to 10 developers. A New Star Is Born Every Month! All completed ElasticBoxes will then be sent to a judging panel - 12 winners will be featured on the ElasticBox website in 2015. All entrants will receive five full enterprise licenses for one year + ElasticBox headphones + Elasti...
Once the decision has been made to move part or all of a workload to the cloud, a methodology for selecting that workload needs to be established. How do you move to the cloud? What does the discovery, assessment and planning look like? What workloads make sense? Which cloud model makes sense for each workload? What are the considerations for how to select the right cloud model? And how does that fit in with the overall IT tranformation? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, John Hatem, head of V...
Cloud services are the newest tool in the arsenal of IT products in the market today. These cloud services integrate process and tools. In order to use these products effectively, organizations must have a good understanding of themselves and their business requirements. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Brian Lewis, Principal Architect at Verizon Cloud, will outline key areas of organizational focus, and how to formalize an actionable plan when migrating applications and internal services to...
SAP is delivering break-through innovation combined with fantastic user experience powered by the market-leading in-memory technology, SAP HANA. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP, will discuss how SAP and partners provide cloud and hybrid cloud solutions as well as real-time Big Data offerings that help companies of all sizes and industries run better. SAP launched an application challenge to award the most innovative SAP HANA and SAP ...
Ixia develops amazing products so its customers can connect the world. Ixia helps its customers provide an always-on user experience through fast, secure delivery of dynamic connected technologies and services. Through actionable insights that accelerate and secure application and service delivery, Ixia's customers benefit from faster time to market, optimized application performance and higher-quality deployments.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Calm.io has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of DevOps Summit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Calm.io is a cloud orchestration platform for AWS, vCenter, OpenStack, or bare metal, that runs your CL tools puppet, Chef, shell, git, Jenkins, nagios, and will soon support New Relic and Docker. It can run hosted, or on premise and provides VM automation / expiry, self-service portals,...
In her General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Anne Plese, Senior Consultant, Cloud Product Marketing, at Verizon Enterprise, will focus on finding the right mix of renting vs. buying Oracle capacity to scale to meet business demands, and offer validated Oracle database TCO models for Oracle development and testing environments. Anne Plese is a marketing and technology enthusiast/realist with over 19+ years in high tech. At Verizon Enterprise, she focuses on driving growth for the Verizon Cloud pla...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the recurring revenue expert, has been named "Bronze 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. Aria Systems helps leading businesses connect their customers with the products and services they love. Industry leaders like Pitney Bowes, Experian, AAA NCNU, VMware, HootSuite and many others choose Aria to power their recurring revenue bu...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce t...
As Platform as a Service (PaaS) matures as a category, developers should have the ability to use the programming language of their choice to build applications and have access to a wide array of services. Bluemix is IBM's open cloud development platform that enables users to easily build cloud-based, creative mobile and web applications without having to spend large amounts of time and resources on configuring infrastructure and multiple software licenses. In this track, you will learn about the...
Blue Box has closed a $10 million Series B financing. The round was led by a strategic investor and included participation from prior investors including Voyager Capital and Founders Collective, as well as the Blue Box executive team. This round follows a $4.3 million Series A closed in December of 2012 and led by Voyager Capital. In May of this year, the company announced general availability of its private cloud as a service offering, Blue Box Cloud. Since that release, the company has dem...
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 network...
SimpleECM is the only platform to offer a powerful combination of enterprise content management (ECM) services, capture solutions, and third-party business services providing simplified integrations and workflow development for solution providers. SimpleECM is opening the market to businesses of all sizes by reinventing the delivery of ECM services. Our APIs make the development of ECM services simple with the use of familiar technologies for a frictionless integration directly into web applicat...