Category Archives: Cloud Computing

The Dangers Of The American Cloud Industry

The Dangers of the American Cloud Industry

With all the hype that Cloud Computing is getting, more and more companies and individuals are jumping on the Cloud band wagon and enjoying the benefits. But despite its global reach, the greater majority of Cloud Computing infrastructure and service providers are still American companies. This means that they are subject to U.S. laws and regulations including the latest amendments done to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

Many of the world’s business entities as well as individual internet users use some sort of Cloud technology, Cloud storage being the more common service being availed of. This includes Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox and other players in this area. But it has now come to light that all data and documents being uploaded to Cloud systems owned by U.S. entities, based in the U.S. or falls under Washington’s jurisdiction can be accessed and analyzed by U.S. security agencies without warrant or prior notice. The amendments for FISA were introduced in 2008 where it quietly slipped by because the world’s data was inherently private at that time so people were not concerned. Those amendments were then renewed in December 2012. FISA gives U.S. agencies free access to any information stored by non-US citizens on US-based companies.

This actually means that the U.S. government has been actively spying and mining foreign data on U.S. Clouds since 2008 and nobody was the wiser. It was only fairly recently that experts have become concerned because more and more data is being uploaded to the Cloud, which remains to be a largely American enterprise. Now countries like the UK and even the EU are looking at alternatives until non-US Cloud service providers step up to the plate, perhaps even build their own “national” Clouds.

At any rate, developments such as this are not good for giants like Amazon and Microsoft who are looking to make as many customers offload data and services on to their cloud. This is not a good development for Cloud Computing as a whole.

By Abdul Salam

The Three Modern Solutions For Cyber Security In The Cloud

The Three Modern Solutions For Cyber Security In The Cloud

Various governments have adopted various approaches to their cloud policies. The Australian authorities, for example, have defined clearly who is liable for loss of data in a foreign server in data compromises that involve independent clients: the local company providing the storage service. There is more than meets the eye, however, in the background. The hybrid infrastructure has involuntarily taken over the overt preference for the private cloud. For many companies, especially in the Land Down Under, the private infrastructure is more secure than the public, but the fact of the matter is that there is no avoiding the fact that most organizations are making a beeline for the hybrid system.

Taking this as the future of business in the cloud, it follows that the major thorn in the side will remain security. Here is a delineation of the three major cyber security approaches Chief Information Officers (CIOs) will inevitably adopt, based on the native features of the private infrastructure and the shared features of the public cloud.

The three approaches include:

  1. The Internal versus external server.
  2. Relegating security features to each infrastructure.
  3. A combined security approach for both infrastructures.

The Internal Vs. External Server

The point of departure for most operators of hybrid systems is how to separate overlapping roles of both the private and external cloud. Identity and account parameters are mainly to blame for these overlapping loopholes. They affect both internal and external environments in various ways. For one, a central server may be accessible by several administrators within a company, each admin with another account on the public sphere. Thus, whenever phishing schemes take the onslaught, the most vulnerable avenues of attack are the secondary accounts of the various administrators, who will be blinded to provide the key to the central or internal server. This is why companies need to zero down the central admin to a single or few individuals, while restricting any co-relations between those who have accounts elsewhere and the main corporate infrastructure.

The other option, and even a necessity, is to think outside the box. It is no longer viable to approach a private cloud that has Software as a Service (SaaS) appendage, which makes it really hybrid, in a conventional manner. Indeed, unlike before, cyber security threats no longer emanate from external users, alone, but have begun to rise from within the internal corporate cocoon. Internal users are no longer as trustworthy as they have always been. This is why companies need two focus two eyes on the security issue, one internal, the other external, rather than the latter alone.

Each Infrastructure and Its Security

Relegating the security role to each infrastructure is another approach that a combined cloud eager to shun cyber insecurity can adopt. Unlike the traditional outlook, it is now possible to accord the hybrid infrastructure its real clout: it saves data incineration because of the geographical distribution of servers. If an Australian or Canadian company has kept its data offshore and its home server suffers a cyber attack, it will at least have backup abroad.

There are two options here: first, one can use the features of the internal cloud to secure the corporate data. The best way to do this is to provide a VPN virtual path, which creates an independent conduit between the internal and external infrastructures. This means that, even if not all services will be accessible on the public system, at least all traffic will be moving through the corporate checks and balances.

The other way is to let the strong features of the public network, such as, the server distribution and updated software take over for dealing with the latest threats. Thus, whenever data moves across the private firewall, it will be in secure hands, so to say, on the periphery. Besides, allowing the external software dispensation of the cloud take over gives users greater access to resources than they would find in an enclosed network.

A Combined Approach

The final way is to move from both the thresholds of the on-premise and external infrastructures and combine them. This ensures that whenever one system fails, because of latency problems, vulnerability, laxity of IT security mechanisms or lack of updated software, the other will take charge. The great thing about a hybrid security mechanism is that it is something with relocation advantages. It is possible to move from a single security provider to another or even use several at once. There lies the power of Software as a Service.

Thus, cyber security is moving toward the future, which is an inevitable combination of private and public cloud offerings. As internal security breaches exacerbate, companies are approving external offerings more than ever before. Thus, it is time to choose the most appropriate arrangement, whether completely hybrid or hybrid but with security coming from the private environment, in order to keep afloat.

By John Omwamba

Easily Manage Your Clouds With ECmanaged

Easily Manage Your Clouds With ECmanaged

Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.”

                                 – Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), famed American writer and poet.

Even for the simplest of products or services, a better version will always find a market. In fact, the phrase above that’s considered a metaphor about the power of innovation, is frequently taken literally, with more than 4,400 patents issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office for new mousetraps, with thousands more unsuccessful applicants, making them the most frequently invented device in US history.

And in the rarefied world of multi-cloud management, ECmanaged has certainly “built a better mousetrap.”

First, let’s talk about the importance of cloud management tools. Today’s cloud customers face the problem of plenty where there are many providers in the market with complementary competencies, but no single solution that meets all their requirements. Consequently, they typically subscribe to multiple services from multiple providers. However, managing them in a centralized manner is no easy task.

This is where cloud management tools come in. However, even among them, as Oscar Wilde wrote in Animal Farm, some “are more equal than others.” The reason I identify ECmanaged as such is because it has managed to hit the sweet spot between functionality and usability. In other words, not only is the product laden with features that exceed those of its competitors, it’s ridiculously easy to understand, customize and use.

Some of its key differentiators are:

  • It’s a subscription-based SaaS that uses only real usage-based billing
  • It meets all managements requirements throughout the entire cloud lifecycle, from deployment to maintenance
  • It allows full portability and mobility of cloud platforms making them vendor-agnostic
  • It’s functionality goes much beyond the limited set of management tasks like monitoring, alerting, auto scaling, deploying or reporting that’s offered by its competitors
  • It providesrobust disaster recovery and automated incident resolution where 80% of incidents are typically solved within 5 minutes without any human intervention
  • It requires no special training to be imparted before use. Also, several popular tasks that typically take many steps with competitive cloud management tools can be done in a few clicks

ECmanaged has garnered acclaim from not only its growing roster of clients, but also the technology industry as a whole. Only a few days back it was nominated as Best Cloud Solution by Eurocloud Spain and will participate in the European Award contest in October.

As a special promotional offer, the company is offering a free 30-day trial where, and I consider this very important, no credit card information is solicited. There are several providers out there who make promotional offers that are initially free to use, but charge your credit card without warning as soon as the grace period expires. By going against the grain, ECmanaged has demonstrated integrity.

By Sourya Biswas

Sponsored Post By ECmanaged

The Lighter Side Of The Cloud – Falling Behind

The Lighter Side Of The Cloud – Falling Behind



iPod

By David Fletcher

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The Lurking Threat of Bring-Your-Own-Cloud (BYOC)

The Lurking Threat of Bring-Your-Own-Cloud (BYOC)

The Lurking Threat of Bring-Your-Own-Cloud (BYOC)

A few generations back, when the Internet was still an unknown commodity and inter-office mail came around in manila envelopes graffitied with the crossed-out signatures of every recipient that envelope had ever met, network security was largely an in-house affair with data tapes and mainframes playing a central role. One of the challenges for the IT wizards of that era was that no matter how sophisticated they made the system, employees would save time by writing their password on a piece of paper and taping it to the underside of the keyboard. It was discreet, convenient and hassle-free.

In this age, while Technology Officers and IT departments of companies and organizations everywhere struggle with new technological developments such as cloud storage and virtualization, their employees continue to find easy, convenient ways to their work done. In many cases they take matters into their own hands, enjoying the relative ease and accessibility of tools such as the free cloud sites DropBox, Google Docs and Apple’s iCloud, to move and store documents and files. And who can blame them? These apps are free, easy to use, and in the case of iCloud, pretty much come bursting out of the screen, demanding to be used.

This is all great for the home user or the small-business owner, for whom such reliable and ubiquitous services add another dimension of versatility and convenience. But it has much darker implications for larger organizations, for which security and compliance have always been major issues of concern. CTOs and CSOs have their hands full trying to keep this particular Pandora ’s Box under control.

This situation is a major source of concern for people such as Nimmy ReichenbergNimmy-Reichenberg, Vice President, Marketing and Business Development for AlgoSec, a network security policy management company headquartered in Boston. He says Chief Security Officers should no longer be worried about the proliferation of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) into the workforce, rather they should be concerned with the inevitable data breaches that will occur as a result from employees bringing their own cloud computing software into the office, known as Bring Your Own Cloud (BYOC).

A recent survey commissioned by AlgoSec revealed that less than 20 percent of respondents said that the majority of their organization’s security controls are in the cloud and that the larger the organization, the less likely it was to have cloud-based security. This, Reichenberg states, is likely because larger organizations are both are more sensitive when it comes to protecting their data, and also have dedicated staff to manage security technology, which makes them less likely to have security controls in the cloud; whereas for smaller  companies, the lower management overhead and pay as you go/grow model are more attractive.

In other words, security continues to stay on premises. And this has major implications for companies, and for cloud service suppliers who wish to sell to them.

Of course, the end user/employee who is eager to save time and effort by storing a draft confidential document on DropBox where s/he can pick it up later at the home office, will protest that all of these free BYOC services have clear and strong security policies. Reichenberg agrees, but adds, “we must differentiate between consumer-grade and enterprise-grade security. Many of the consumer oriented cloud services may claim to be secure, but most do not include enterprise-based security controls required to adequately protect corporate data and meet compliance mandates.” He continues, “Employees are oblivious to security by nature, and it is up to corporate IT and information security to define and enforce a policy that balances between employee productivity and security.”

The risks exist across many dimensions. Malware, which can implant itself through the simple click of a mouse on a disguised phishing link, can put sensitive corporate information stored on BYOC at risk, and some recent well-publicized breaches at services such as Twitter and Evernote show that no-one is immune from hackers’ prying fingers. But in addition to malware, Reichenberg states companies can face compliance challenges when it comes to information stored on services (such as data retention e-discovery etc.). “For example,” he says, “how do I ensure employees who leave the company no longer have access to internal company information if it is stored on BYOC?”

This paints a picture of a horse-race, with IT, free cloud providers, end users and bad guys all sprinting towards the finish line where data, or access to data, waits for the fleetest of foot. Reichenberg recommends that those who govern their organization’s security take immediate steps to:

1. Define and communicate a policy of what is acceptable when it comes to BYOC

2. Enforce this policy using tools such as Next Generation Firewalls.

3. Evaluate enterprise-grade alternatives to some of the popular consumer-grade cloud services.

As organizations evaluate the merits of going to the cloud, or of using a hybrid system with some data stored on-site and other data in the cloud, they must remain vigilant that the new-age version of the taped-under-the-keyboard password may reside within their employees’ own genuine desire to get their work done using the easiest tool within reach.

By Steve Prentice

Finding Meaning In Everything Inside Big Data Via New Chip Technology

Finding Meaning In Everything Inside Big Data Via New Chip Technology

Finding Meaning In Everything Inside Big Data via New Chip Technology

There is much to say about technologies that seek to emancipate the Internet from electronics and release it into the world of people. Indeed, big data has always meant many things all at once, some incomprehensible to many computer users. While one may be using data to operate an airplane, another is churning out information for manufacturing purposes. In short, too much information passes through a typical processor to handle in a day. This is why chip-making giants intend to come up with processors that can compute all sorts of data in one system and reap meaning out of it. While one chip is configuring how to save power for a heating unit user, the other within the machine will be translating cipher than has just come in from a Chinese car manufacturing firm.

More Terabytes of Data

According to a leading chip manufacturing company, the world will be churning out big data that is proportionally 10 times more than it is now, in 2016. This is courtesy of the ubiquitous cloud network that interconnects servers, computers and networks, each with its data to produce. The threat that the processor-making companies want to shun before that information apocalypse sets in is to create meaning out of what we can comfortably refer to as ‘deceivingly nonsensical data’. Why? Everything one finds in the cloud that is impossible to take in at once can only be meaningless.

big-data-planning

Creating Meaning

One only needs to take data from biometrics, manufacturing, information systems, industries, public cams and websites, among others, into one pool to know that big data can be really a headache to decipher. Out of this mishmash, only 10 percent of the content could possibly be structured data. The rest will be raw and it is up to smart technology to decipher it for the user.

This is what creating meaning will be all about once the all-capable processors come into the market. One possibility is to transmute a machine’s artificial intelligence, such as that of the online translator, into systems that can tell what the big data mishmash means. Analytics, luckily enough, is a technique already in use in most search companies. This may also come to the rescue in attaching a comprehensible language to every piece of information that Tom, Dick and Harry sends to the cloud.

Advantages?

If technology comes to pass as parrot-sharp at creating meaning out of data mumbo jumbo, users will have a set of benefits therewith. One of these is that companies will reduce the time they spend configuring unstructured material into usable information. The other will be to keep the user up-to-date with any new solutions that affect them. It might be that a supercomputer has just reviewed hundreds of thousands of terabytes of raw data on energy efficiency and come up with a single technology that can affect the user on the ground. Though much of infrastructure information will remain useless, at least there will be some little bit out of this that will be directly beneficial.

Finally, it will be possible to use comprehensive big data in formats savvy for the most accessible gadget, the cell phone. As innovations at the processor level increase, so will be more structured data become available for the small screen.

At least many sideline occasions highlight the need for making big data accessible. The leading conferences in 2013 on the theme have been directly giving attention to the topic. As such functions increase the knowledge surrounding the technology, and the chip-making companies improve on their innovativeness, the world will by 2016 directly benefit from hitherto inexplicable strings of data.

By John Omwamba

Moving Exchange Server To The Cloud: Points To Consider

Moving Exchange Server To The Cloud: Points To Consider

Moving Exchange Server to the Cloud: Points to Consider

Cloud computing – it is a business model that many organizations are using, or thinking about using. If moving functions, such as Exchange server, to the cloud, a business must consider the advantages and disadvantages before undertaking any major infrastructure change.exchange-server-microsoft

Some reasons why a business would consider doing this include:

Better security: Having Exchange server in the cloud means fewer machines where virus protection software needs to be installed, upgraded, and tested. This lets an IT department apply updates and fixes more often, and gives them more time to focus on monitoring and troubleshooting issues when they occur. For a business overall, this means better and more current security for Exchange server itself as well as for highly confidential and sensitive information it transmits.

Increased flexibility: With fewer machines to manage, an IT department has more time to investigate new or improved solutions to apply in the cloud computing infrastructure. More flexibility not only leads to greater productivity, but to increased employee satisfaction as well.

Reduced expenditures: Though it may take time initially to implement Exchange server in the cloud, in the long-term, an organization will save time in many areas. For instance, fewer machines means reduced capital costs, and less resource time spent on monitoring and resolving problems means more time spent on revenue-generating projects..

There are other points that a business should consider before implementing such a change, which includes the following:

Planning: On paper, moving Exchange server to the cloud sounds worthwhile, but would it actually work within the current business model? Can the current infrastructure support such a move?

Migration and transition issues: Moving Exchange server is a large undertaking, one that needs a full understanding of migration requirements, the ability to research potential issues, and resource availability to resolve issues that will creep up. Is the transition to the cloud worth the time, effort, and cost it requires?

Upfront costs: While moving Exchange server to the cloud can save on expenses in the long run, a business needs to know if they can handle the short-term costs. These include: researching possible solution structures, assigning resources for planning and performing the migration, troubleshooting issues, updating physical machines, and more.

There are reasons both for and against moving Exchange server to a cloud computing model. But before any implementations are started, make sure that due diligence is performed, either to minimize disruptions, or to realize that the transition is not in practical for the business at this time.

By Walter Bailey

Cloud Infographic: Turning Big Data Overload Into Big Sales

Cloud Infographic: Turning Big Data Overload Into Big Sales

Cloud Infographic: Turning Big Data Overload Into Big Sales

The amount of data in our world increases massively day-by-day. Big data is about capturing, storing and analyzing large pools of data from customers/consumers, suppliers, partners, operations, employees etc. According to a McKinsey  report, US companies from almost all industry sectors have, on average, hundreds of terabytes of data stored per company. The amount of data is growing as companies gather more and more information with each transaction and interaction with their customers. Continue reading the full article.

Attached is an excellent infographic courtesy of PROs titled “The Big V’s Of Big Data”

Big-Data-Infographic

Infographic Source: Pros

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