Category Archives: Contributors

Making Enterprise IT Affordable for Small Businesses with the Cloud

Making Enterprise IT Affordable for Small Businesses with the Cloud

Making Enterprise IT Affordable

Recent advancements in cloud technology have made enterprise IT services, like DNS management, a reality for even small businesses.

Customers have started to expect the same levels of online performance from small businesses as they do from enterprises. Everything from application to network performance, even DNS resolution times are all being held to the same standard as tech giants, like Google. If you can’t meet these standards, then the Twittersphere will explode, your brand could be damaged, and you could be losing revenue… all because you can’t be Google.

cloud-apps

Everyone wants to point the finger at the millennials. The demand generation who expects every business, no matter the size or scale, to have a responsive website, mobile app, social media presence, and everything must load within two seconds or less, or else you’ll have to deal with a scathing Yelp review.

But you’d be wrong to assume it’s their fault. Nearly every generation has become accustomed these demands, to the point where they have become standards for all online businesses. While some demands may seem outlandish, we are only going to focus on the critical ones that apply to all industries and businesses.

If you are a modern business, then you need to make sure your content is readily accessible and loads quickly regardless of a customer’s location or device.

How are small businesses supposed to maintain stride with these performance metrics? Most companies don’t have the resources, connections, or know-how to engineer the same performance as enterprise organizations. Let alone the time to stay on top of Internet trends, vulnerabilities, and regulations.

The Answer is ITOS

The ITOS (Internet Traffic Optimization Services) industry strives to bridge the gap by using cloud technology to help companies of all sizes achieve the same performance goals as enterprises. ITOS uses cloud-hosted management platforms to give small businesses the same global infrastructure as a tech giant, without the tech giant price tag.

Recent studies have shown that migrating to the cloud can and will save your organization money, no matter how large or small your network needs are.

These networks use Anycast technology, which is hosted in the cloud, self-healing, and highly redundant. Anycast networks are able to authoritatively represent a domain’s name servers at multiple points of presence. That means your domain’s DNS information is hosted at dozens of locations around the world, on multiple name servers at any given time. This dramatically reduces the time it takes for clients to resolve your domain because your DNS information is hosted locally. It’s simple physics, the closer you are to your end-users, the faster your site will load.

Now mom and pop’s can take advantage of multi-million dollar networks with infrastructure at dozens of different critical peering hubs around the world.

But speed is only one of many benefits that small businesses gain when implementing an ITOS solution. DNS management has dramatically evolved through the migration to cloud-hosted networks, but more importantly through the availability of big data. The cloud has made big data faster, affordable, and is able to be updated in real-time. Now, you can use big data analytics to influence routing decisions in real time. You can gather critical insights about your end-users’ routing patterns and behaviors and make intelligent routing decisions customized on a per user basis.

If you want to learn more about how to implement an ITOS solution to improve your businesses’ online performance, you can download this eBook for free here.

By Steven Job

Why a White Label Cloud for Emerging Economies

Why a White Label Cloud for Emerging Economies

White Label Cloud 

Given our starting point, one of the inquiries we field every now and then is: ‘why did we opt to go SaaS?’ By not going the B2C route (like Dropbox and OneDrive), we laid out what we believe to be our roadmap to success. With an eye for emerging economies, I’ll take you through the process of why we chose the SaaS route.

What is White Label?

In the mobile carrier cloud space, one word you will hear tossed around quite a bit is ‘white label’. What white label means for us is that mobile carriers can choose to brand our cloud service as their own. The term has roots in the music industry (for those wondering), and basically it’s an umbrella term for products you can brand as your own.

For reference, here’s our cloud offered as Vestel’s Vestel Cloud. By design, you will not find one hint of Cloudike on the website because the cloud has been branded and marketed as if it were Vestel’s own.

When we thought about how we wanted to proceed, we saw telecoms as our best shot at building a sustainable business. For us, these were the points that helped us favour a B2B2C model rather a B2C:

  • For a B2C product in emerging markets, new market entry is a very difficult feat: Everything from local partners to marketing has to be done from the ground up – even finding someone on the ground to manage all these things is a hurdle.
  • Mobile carriers have an existing customer base: This means we can bypass any need to spend tremendous capital on marketing, ads, and other methods to acquire users.
  • ARPU in emerging markets is not particularly high: E-commerce still a relatively new concept for many in the emerging market and given lower incomes, consumers are not racing to spend money online. With mobile carriers however, spending on cloud services could instead be bundled with their mobile phone billing; a process most consumers are already familiar with.

Why the Emerging Market?

From a market standpoint, we found that mobile carriers in the US and Western Europe had adopted cloud services already and that companies were fighting tooth and nail for opportunities.

On the other hand, we examined emerging markets and saw the increasing rates of mobile and internet connectivity. Both of which were very promising.

If you take a look at this report by the Asia Cloud Computing Association in 2016, nearly every emerging economy has some variation of a government assistance program that aims at increasing web infrastructure and connectivity. Given research that points towards connected users naturally inclining towards cloud services, we knew it was only a matter of time before these markets reach potential.

Take into consideration that one of the few entities in emerging markets that can afford data centres to install cloud are mobile carriers. If you can put two and two together, you can see our thought process three years ago.

Our Results

So when you factor in the new market entry requirements plus the infrastructure hurdle, the logical direction for us was a cloud platform for mobile carriers.

However, unlike B2C or even SMB B2B, signing a mobile carrier to a service is a far more difficult endeavour. As you can imagine, entities with 100,000+ customers are not going to be easy to sway.

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Even as we have refined our pitch to mobile carriers on how to best roll out our service, signing a client is still a ~8 month process. Even with references from other telecoms and major OEMs, there are still many hoops we have to jump through before we have everything ready to go for mobile carrier customers. This includes everything from software security tests, implementation timeline, and of course the contract negotiations themselves.

That said, we take the wait time as a cost of doing business. Given our product and where we like to operate, we have no doubt that our way is the most secure and success-bound path.

Status Now

I think if there’s one thing we’ve been sure of, it’s the fact that our built three years ago, was the right one. We’ve found the mobile carriers who’ve found a need for cloud in emerging markets and we’ve discovered that trends such as the adoption for cloud, has proven true as evident by our business pipeline.

While we still believe our product has many innovative upgrades to come, we feel that SaaS in emerging markets model thus far has been the right one.

By Max Azarov

Update: Timeline of the Massive DDoS DYN Attacks

Update: Timeline of the Massive DDoS DYN Attacks

DYN DDOS Timeline

This morning at 7am ET a DDoS attack was launched at Dyn (the site is still down at the minute), an Internet infrastructure company whose headquarters are in New Hampshire. So far the attack has come in 2 waves, the first at 11.10 UTC and the second at around 16.00 UTC. So far details have been vague, though there are a number of theories starting to surface in the aftermath of the attack. The attack took down numerous websites including Twitter, Amazon, Spotify and Reddit for a period – you can find the full list of affected sites here. PSN and Xbox live apps have also been affected!

scan-iot

The timeline of events according to the DYN updates is as follows:

11:10 UTC- We began monitoring and mitigating a DDoS attack against our Dyn Managed DNS infrastructure. Some customers may experience increased DNS query latency and delayed zone propagation during this time.

12:45 UTC – This attack is mainly impacting US East and is impacting Managed DNS customers in this region. Our Engineers are continuing to work on mitigating this issue.

13:36 UTC – Services have been restored to normal as of 13:20 UTC.

16:06 UTC – As of 15:52 UTC, we have begun monitoring and mitigating a DDoS attack against our Dyn Managed DNS infrastructure. Our Engineers are continuing to work on mitigating this issue.

16:48 UTC – This DDoS attack may also be impacting Dyn Managed DNS advanced services with possible delays in monitoring. Our Engineers are continuing to work on mitigating this issue.

17:53 UTC – Our engineers continue to investigate and mitigate several attacks aimed against the Dyn Managed DNS infrastructure.

18:23 UTC – Dyn Managed DNS advanced service monitoring is currently experiencing issues. Customers may notice incorrect probe alerts on their advanced DNS services. Our engineers continue to monitor and investigate the issue.

18:52 UTC – At this time, the advanced service monitoring issue has been resolved. Our engineers are still investigating and mitigating the attacks on our infrastructure.

20:37 UTC – Our engineers continue to investigate and mitigate several attacks aimed against the Dyn Managed DNS infrastructure.

Cloud Disaster Recovery

The attack has come only a few hours after Doug Madory, DYN researcher, presented a talk (you can watch it here) on DDoS attacks in Dallas at a meeting of the North American Network Operators Group (NANOG). Krebs on Security has also drawn links between reports of extortion threats posted on this thread, with the threats clearly referencing DDoS attacks – “If you will not pay in time, DDoS attack will start, your web-services will go down permanently. After that, price to stop will be increased to 5 BTC with further increment of 5 BTC for every day of attack.”

They do however, distance themselves from making any actual claims of extortion, “Let me be clear: I have no data to indicate that the attack on Dyn is related to extortion, to Mirai or to any of the companies or individuals Madory referenced in his talk this week in Dallas

However, this isn’t the only theory circulating at the moment. Dillon Townsel from IBM security has tweeted:

Heavy.com has reported that hacking group PoodleCorp are being blamed for the attack by Product-reviews.net because of the cryptic tweet that they posted 2 days ago, “October 21st #PoodleCorp will be putting @Battlefield in the oven

PoodleCorp famously took down the Pokemon Go servers in July. Homeland Security and the FBI are investigating the attack and are yet to deem who was responsible.

Today’s attack is very different to the DDoS style that Anonymous rose to fame with. Instead of attacking and taking out an individual website for short periods of time, hackers took down a massive piece of the internet backbone for an entire morning, not once but twice with new reports of a potential 3rd wave. At the moment there have been no claims of ownership for the attack nor has there been any concrete evidence of who perpetrated the attack.

Dyn are well known for publishing detailed reports on attacks of this nature so we can only hope they will do the same for their own servers.

Until then you can follow any updates that Dyn are releasing here.

DDoS Attack – Update 10/24/2016

As of 22.17 UTC on October 21st Dyn declared the massive IoT attack, which had crippled large parts of the internet, to be over. However, details surrounding the attack are still emerging.

In the midst of the chaos, WikiLeaks tweeted this,  “Mr. Assange is still alive and WikiLeaks is still publishing. We ask supporters to stop taking down the US internet. You proved your point.

ddos-graph

– suggesting that they knew who the perpetrators were. Perhaps even that they requested that attack, although this is pure speculation at this point.

A senior U.S. intelligence official spoke to NBC News, he commented that the current assessment is that this is a case of “internet vandalism”. At this point, they do not believe that it was any kind of state-sponsored or directed attack.

Hangzhou Xiongmai Technology, who specialise in DVRs and internet-connected cameras, said on Sunday that its products security vulnerabilities inadvertently played a role in the cyberattack, citing weak default passwords in its products as the cause.

Security researchers have discovered that malware known as Mirai was used to take advantage of these weaknesses by infecting the devices and using them to launch huge distributed denial-of service attacks. Mirai works by infecting and taking over IoT devices to create a massive connected network, which then overloads sites with requests and takes the website offline.

At this point we do not know when the identity of the hackers will become clear. Watch this page for more updates as they become available.

By Josh Hamilton

Cashless Society Part 2: Pros and Cons

Cashless Society Part 2: Pros and Cons

The Cashless Society

Having looking at our movement towards a cashless society in Part 1, I thought we should turn our attention to the consequences of a truly cashless society. Could it be a force for good? Or could it lead to banks and governments abusing the power that comes along with it?

The phasing out of cash in the economy would make implementation of certain fiscal policies, such as negative interest rates, far easier and more effective. Kenneth Rogoff, author of “The Curse of Cash”, cites negative interest rates as an important tool for central banks to restore macroeconomic stability; the incentive to borrow and spend help stimulate the economy. By holding all currency in regulated accounts the government can tax savings in the name of monetary policy.

Kenneth RogoffOne of the more widely used arguments in favour of a cashless economy is that of security. France’s finance minister has recently stated that he plans to “fight against the use of cash and anonymity in the French economy” in order to help fight terrorism and other threats. With the ability to track every transaction that takes place, intelligence services could cut down on crime by monitoring purchases and money transfers. However, Rogoff acknowledges the limitations of this policy, in that the removal of paper money will only be effective “provided the government is vigilant about playing whac-a-mole as alternative transaction media come into being“. Although, it is naïve to think that crime could be quashed so easily. If interest rates fall too far below zero, it is quite possible that citizens would find an alternative to cash (drug traffickers certainly would). Money has been reinvented time and again throughout history, as shells, cigarettes and cryptographic code. Going cashless has also been touted as being more secure from theft, with Apple and Google claiming their payment system is more secure than regular banking, as well as being more convenient than cash.

Yet there are a number of concerns that have been raised about the transition to digital money. Advances in tech have allowed credit and debit card purchases to be tracked and evaluated to gauge the validity of a purchase. This has so far been used to prevent fraud and theft, to protect consumers. However, there is a risk of abuse here, for example in 2010 Visa and Mastercard gave in to government pressure, not even physical legislation, and barred all online-betting payments from their systems. They made it virtually impossible for these gambling sites to operate regardless of their jurisdiction or legality. Scott A. Shay, chairman of Signature Bank, suggested in an article on CNBC that “the day might come when the health records of an overweight individual would lead to a situation in which they find that any sugary drink purchase they make through a credit or debit card is declined”. Although this may seem like a stretch, a government with access to this sort of power could quite easily control individual spending.

A cashless society would also increase the difficulties for homeless people to re-integrate into society. Having no fixed address already makes holding a bank account incredibly difficult, a cash free society simply increases the societal barriers that those on the fringes of society have to navigate. There is also the psychological issue, that electronic payment encourages frivolous spending. A student interviewed at the University of Gothenberg commented that she was much more likely to think twice about spending a 500 krona note compared to with a debit or credit card.

The other side of the coin (pardon the pun), is that this power could be used for good, for example placing restrictions on recovering alcoholics from purchasing alcohol. The route which this technology will take is, as is often the case, determined by the government and societal attitude to the situation. There is room for abuse in the technology, more than most, but the benefits are well documented and used sensibly could help prevent terrorism and crime, reduce tax evasion, and help to curb unhealthy spending habits. Ultimately, a cashless society will be what we make of it.

By Josh Hamilton

Politics 2.0: The Age of Cyber-Political Warfare

Politics 2.0: The Age of Cyber-Political Warfare

Cyber-Political Warfare

Do you remember the last time hackers and cybercriminals determined the outcome of a presidential race? Of course not, because it’s never happened. It could happen now. Without even thinking about it, we’ve slipped into a new era. I would dub this the Age of Cyber-Political Warfare. This playing-field is thick with espionage, and it’s dominated by people who have little to no political clout. Instead, they have technical know-how.

It’s common knowledge that the internet is rife with identity theft. Social profiles, email, ecommerce sites, and mobile devices all provide excellent avenues for cyber-thieves. Oftentimes, it doesn’t take hacking skills to get information. The Snapchat employees who had their information stolen were victims of an email phishing scam. All the thief had to do was pretend to be Snapchat’s CEO and ask a single employee for payroll data.

hacks

In the case of Hillary Clinton, it wasn’t hard for a cybercriminal to reveal her email activities. Data security firm Kroll points out that the revelation didn’t even technically involve hacking. Rather, it’s a high-profile case of a compromised account. The compromiser, ‘Guccifer’ Marcel Lehel Lazar, used Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) to find out personal information about Sydney Blumenthal, who is a Clinton confidant. He used Open Source information to figure out Blumenthal’s email password. From there, he discovered Clinton was using a private server to email Blumenthal. Then, Guccifer published Clinton’s private email info online.

Guccifer was sentenced to four years in prison. Is that enough to deter an onlooker from copying his crimes? Apparently not, because Guccifer 2.0 has surfaced to release more stolen information. According to the original Guccifer, this kind of digital detective work is “easy… easy for me, for everybody.” Everybody can hunt down information that could potentially determine the result of a political election. This puts a brand new kind of power in the hands of the many. Anyone smart enough to follow trails of data online can be a player in the Age of Cyber-Political Warfare.

The biggest player here is Russia. The White House is certain that Russia’s state-sponsored hackers compromised Democratic National Committee email accounts, with the intent of influencing the election. Secureworks reports that the hackers used a phishing scam. They made it look like members of the Clinton campaign and the DNC were logging into Gmail accounts. The login page was fake, and through it the hackers gained login data. Reportedly, Russian hacking group Fancy Bear used Bitly to setup the malicious URLs, which read ‘accounts-google.com’ instead of accounts.google.com. Now Bitly isn’t just a customer experience platform and IBM partner. It’s an unwitting tool in the hands of malicious hackers.

Obama promised a proportional response to the hacks. What would cyberwar with Russia look like? If a ‘proportional response’ is coming, we’ll see the release of inside information about Vladimir Putin or other high-ranking Russian officials. But how this would influence Russian politics, no one can be sure. Russia could merely cite our desire to get revenge and brush any sort of leaks off as petty attempts to disparage Russian officials.

One thing is clear: to be a politician now, you have to be, at minimum, cognizant of cyber threats. While American politics is stuck in the binary of red vs. blue, the fluid and fast world of the web is a much more complex place. It’s a place where people wheel-and-deal on a multinational level. It’s a powerful place to reach people and to access their data. Politicians want to use the internet as a tool, but by doing so they’re placing their data and their information at risk. In the Age of Cyber-Political Warfare, that data will continue to be a weapon for invisible and powerful opponents.

By Daniel Matthews

The Next Wave of Cloud Computing: Artificial Intelligence?

The Next Wave of Cloud Computing: Artificial Intelligence?

Cloud Computing and Artificial Intelligence

Over the past few years, cloud computing has been evolving at a rapid rate. It is becoming the norm in today’s software solutions. Forrester believes that that cloud computing will be a $191 billion market by 2020. According to the 2016 State of Cloud Survey conducted by RightScale, 96% of its respondents are using the cloud, with more enterprise workloads shifting towards public and private clouds. Adoption in both hybrid cloud and DevOps have gone up as well.

cloud-report

The AI-Cloud Landscape

So where could the cloud computing market be headed next? Could the next wave of cloud computing involve artificial intelligence? It certainly appears that way. In a market that is primarily dominated by four major companies – Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and IBM – AI could possibly disrupt the current dynamic.

In the past few years, there has been a surge of investment in AI capabilities in cloud platforms. The big four (Google, Microsoft, Amazon and IBM) are making huge strides in the AI world. Microsoft is currently offering more than twenty cognitive services such as language comprehension and analyzing images. Last year, Amazon’s cloud division added an AI service which lets people add analytical and predictive capabilities to their applications.

The current AI-cloud landscape can essentially be categorized into two groups: AI cloud services and cloud machine learning platforms.

AI Cloud Services

Example of AI cloud services involve technologies such as Microsoft Cognitive Services, Google Cloud Vision, and IBM Watson. In this type of model, organizations incorporate AI capabilities in applications without having to invest in expensive AI infrastructures.

Cloud Machine Learning Platforms

On the flip slide, there are cloud machine learning platforms. Machine learning is a method of data analysis which automates analytical model building. It enables for computers to find patterns automatically as well as areas of importance. Azure Machine Learning and AWS Machine Learning are examples of cloud machine learning platforms.

IBM and Google Making Waves

640px-IBM_Watson

Recently IBM and Google having been making news in the AI realm and it reflects a shift within the tech industry towards deep learning. Just last month, IBM unveiled Project DataWorks, which is supposedly an industry first. It is a cloud-based data and analytics platform which can integrate different types of data and enable AI-powered decision making. The platform provides an environment for collaboration between business users and data professionals. Using technologies like Pixiedust and Brunel, users can create data visualizations with very minimal coding, allowing everyone in the business to gain insights at first look.

Earlier this month at an event in San Francisco, Google unveiled a family of cloud computing services which would allow any developer or business to use machine learning technologies that fuel some of Google’s most powerful services. This move is an attempt by Google to get a bigger foothold in the cloud computing market.

AI-First Cloud

According to Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google, computing is evolving from a mobile-first to an AI-first world. So what would a next-generation AI-first cloud like? Simply put, it would be one built around AI capabilities. In the upcoming years, we could possibly see AI being key in improving cloud services such as computing and storage. The next wave of cloud computing platforms could also see integrations between AI and the existing catalog of cloud services, such as Paas or SaaS.

It remains to be seen whether AI can disrupt the current cloud computing market, but it will definitely influence and inspire a new wave of cloud computing platforms.

By Joya Scarlata

Where Are Your Users Learning About The Birds And The Bees Of Cloud?

Where Are Your Users Learning About The Birds And The Bees Of Cloud?

Clouding Around

Where did you learn about the birds and bees – from your adolescent peers? How did that work out for accuracy? Today it’s from peers and the Internet. The same is true for your users and the cloud with the same sometimes disastrous consequences. You’re the CIO, shouldn’t they be learning cloud from you? Stop lamenting like Rodney Dangerfield how IT gets no respect. Step up and reach out.

Cloud use is spreading rapidly but most of your users have a vague or misguided concept of what cloud really is and its promises and pitfalls. Want proof? Often quoted are Gartner’s Top Ten Cloud Myths. But that is just scratching the service. A little digging reveals lots of misconceptions about SaaS, like here and here. Even your peers on the management committee hold foggy notions of how it works but are reluctant to admit it. Instead, they echo some of the buzzwords, quote an article they read in the WSJ, etc. Let’s face it. Your firm is already pregnant with cloud. Why not take a page from what your peers do and get ahead of the curve.

Your head of HR works hard at building and executing an education program for the company’s staff. It’s designed to encompass the many different facets of management and leadership to facilitate employees’ progress. It also points out all the policies and laws that need compliance. Attendance and regular testing is mandatory and for good reason. To grow, your firm needs knowledgeable leadership and a strong culture. To stay out of trouble, employees need to understand the firm’s and society’s norms and boundaries.

cloud_19

Your CFO does the same. Folks are regularly exposed and held accountable to the business metrics and methodologies used to manage and steer the enterprise. The how and why you do what you do is critical for staff to understand, if the firm is going to reach its goals. Likewise, there are a lot of regulations where compliance is essential. They range from those covering all businesses, like SOX or FCPA, to those that are industry specific, like HIPAA or Dodd-Frank.

It’s a good bet that your operations, marketing, and other functions in the company do the same: provide development and tools for success while also pointing out the guard-rails between which actions can be taken in accord with company culture and society norms.

What are you doing for IT leadership? Let’s guess. Odds are you focus on the guardrails. You teach them good passwords, how to avoid phishing emails, perform safe browsing, use corporate data on their mobile devices, etc. All worthy topics but that’s not the half of it. As the fundamentals of your business become increasingly digital they are spending buckets of money on cloud computing. Who is teaching them about cloud? Who is helping the company’s staff make good decisions and avoid bear traps in cloud?

Safe bet it is not you. SaaS vendors go right around you directly to them. Their peers and buddies during meetings and conferences buzz about the latest cloud-based tool – and it’s even free to try! You turn around and surprise, everyone is on Salesforce.com and they are asking you to link it to your old Oracle order management system.

Why not get ahead of the curve and emulate your peers. Teach your users about cloud. Give them the basics, dispel the myths and paint relevant case studies to your industry and environment. Give them the big picture, too. Cloud is pretty prominent in the press these days: all the way from how everyone can use it to how it is transforming whole industries.

NetSuite is bought by Oracle. Salesforce.com elects to use AWS. Workday announces they will use IBM’s cloud for development. Is any of this relevant for your enterprise? Why not write a short note to all users or a post on your internal social media giving your point of view? Are you too busy to write something? Send a link to an article of blog post you particularly liked.

Make yourself the “go to” guy when different parts of the company contemplate using cloud. Do it for the company and do it for you. The CIO and IT’s role are changing and you need to negotiate a difficult path. Some even predict the CIO position will disappear. Nothing is certain but wouldn’t it be better if your users viewed you as a valuable and essential member of the team?

(Originally published Oct 13th, 2016. You can periodically read John’s syndicated articles here on CloudTweaks. Contact us for more information on these programs)

By John Pientka

Three Reasons Cloud Adoption Can Close The Federal Government’s Tech Gap

Three Reasons Cloud Adoption Can Close The Federal Government’s Tech Gap

Federal Government Cloud Adoption

No one has ever accused the U.S. government of being technologically savvy. Aging software, systems and processes, internal politics, restricted budgets and a cultural resistance to change have set the federal sector years behind its private sector counterparts. Data and information security concerns have also been a major contributing factor inhibiting the adoption of new technologies such as the cloud. Keeping data on-premise has long-been considered to be the more secure option; however, ever-increasing incidents of hacking, data breaches and even cyber terrorism within government entities from the IRS to most recently, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), indicate that change is needed, and fast.

Slowly, but surely, a technology revolution is taking place within the public sector. Due in large part to the introduction of the Obama administration’s “Cloud First” policy in late 2010, the establishment of the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), a standardized approach for conducting security assessments, authorizations and monitoring for cloud technologies, as well as innovations in cloud offerings themselves, cloud adoption among federal agencies is taking off. The General Services Administration (GSA), Department of the Interior (DOI), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), NASA, and even the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and NSA are just a few of the many agencies who have embraced cloud solutions in recent months and years. Further, with IDC’s recent Federal Cloud Forecast projecting sustained growth through 2018, the public sector is nearing its tipping point in cloud adoption.

Should this trend continue as expected, below are three reasons that cloud adoption can be the answer to close the federal government’s technology gap.

Availability of Clear Guidelines for Cloud Adoption

In the past, government agencies lacked a clear roadmap for evaluating and selecting authorized cloud providers, making it difficult for the technology to break through in the federal sector. According to the FedRAMP website, this resulted in, “a redundant, inconsistent, time-consuming, costly and inefficient risk management approach to cloud adoption.”

The introduction of FedRAMP has provided agencies with much-needed guidelines and structure to accelerate the use of cloud technology in all facets of the government. Today, cloud systems are authorized in a defined (and repeatable) three-step process: security assessment, leveraging & authorization, and ongoing assessment & authorization. Among its benefits, the federal program estimates that its framework will decrease costs by 30-40 percent and will reduce both time and staff resources associated with redundant cloud assessments across agencies.

Incentives to Focus on Cyber-Security

In October 2015, U.S. federal government CIO Tony Scott professed his support for the cloud during a Google at Work webcast, saying:

I see the big cloud providers in the same way I see a bank. They have the incentive, they have skills and abilities, and they have the motivation to do a much better job of security than any one company or any one organization can probably do.”

He’s right, and his comments represent a stark departure from the general consensus in the public sector just a few short years ago. Applying the same security measures and best practices to legacy, on-premise solutions requires both time and significant spend—both of which the government lacks. The competitive nature of the cloud business in recent years has challenged providers to adopt agile security practices, resulting in solutions that are secure, reliable and execute seamlessly. From email management systems to data storage services, continued cloud adoption at the federal-level will enable agencies to achieve long-term benefits that will eventually be impossible to achieve with on-premise systems, including advanced cybersecurity capabilities, guaranteed business continuity, as well as enhanced performance management functionality.

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Bring Greater Efficiency in IT Spending

In February 2015, the International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers (IAITAM) released a report criticizing the U.S. government on its IT spending. The report suggested that while the federal government spends over six times more on IT per employee than its private sector counterpart, it also wastes 50 percent of its more than $70 billion IT budget due to a lack of standardization and controls. Combined, these factors have created a breeding ground for IT failures and exploits from threats inside and outside government walls. This is further indication that the existing status quo is inefficient and is putting the government (and U.S. citizens) at risk.

Over time, leveraging the “pay-as-you-go” model of the cloud, federal sector can decrease its IT spending, creating new efficiencies. Software and application management for example, which requires abundant resources to oversee in on-premise deployments, is virtually eliminated with a cloud-based solution. From business continuity and software maintenance to eventually, compliance and IT risk-related activities, the onus, falls on the cloud provider, not the customer. Thus, federal IT workers are freed up to focus on more mission-critical initiatives, rather than spinning wheels on inefficient technology, programs and processes.

While it will take some time before the cloud truly takes off in the federal sector, it’s hard to ignore the benefits that both the private sector and forward-thinking government agencies have seen with the technology to date. The time is now to make a change for good. If the U.S. wants to be viewed as one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world, it’s prudent that the government itself practice what it preaches, doing what’s needed to establish the country as a leader, rather than a follower, in this rapidly-evolving digital age.

By Vibhav Agarwal

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The Questions of Privacy In The Internet of Things Revolution

The Questions of Privacy In The Internet of Things Revolution

Privacy in the Internet of Things Revolution The Internet of Things (IoT) has been promising a lot to consumers for a few years and now we’re really starting to see some of the big ideas come to fruition, which means an ever-growing conversation around data security and privacy. Big data comes with big responsibilities and…

The Future Of Cybersecurity

The Future Of Cybersecurity

The Future of Cybersecurity In 2013, President Obama issued an Executive Order to protect critical infrastructure by establishing baseline security standards. One year later, the government announced the cybersecurity framework, a voluntary how-to guide to strengthen cybersecurity and meanwhile, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to approve the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), moving it one…

Three Factors For Choosing Your Long-term Cloud Strategy

Three Factors For Choosing Your Long-term Cloud Strategy

Choosing Your Long-term Cloud Strategy A few weeks ago I visited the global headquarters of a large multi-national company to discuss cloud strategy with the CIO. I arrived 30 minutes early and took a tour of the area where the marketing team showcased their award winning brands. I was impressed by the digital marketing strategy…

Do Small Businesses Need Cloud Storage Service?

Do Small Businesses Need Cloud Storage Service?

Cloud Storage Services Not using cloud storage for your business yet? Cloud storage provides small businesses like yours with several advantages. Start using one now and look forward to the following benefits: Easy back-up of files According to Practicalecommerce, it provides small businesses with a way to back up their documents and files. No need…

Will Your Internet of Things Device Testify Against You?

Will Your Internet of Things Device Testify Against You?

Will Your Internet of Things Device Testify Imagine this:  Your wearable device is subpoenaed to testify against you.  You were driving when you were over the legal alcohol limit and data from a smart Breathalyzer device is used against you. Some might argue that such a use case could potentially safeguard society. However, it poses…

Cloud Infographic: The Explosive Growth Of The Cloud

Cloud Infographic: The Explosive Growth Of The Cloud

The Explosive Growth Of The Cloud We’ve been covering cloud computing extensively over the past number of years on CloudTweaks and have truly enjoyed watching the adoption and growth of it. Many novices are still trying to wrap their mind around what the cloud it is and what it does, while others such as thought…

Internet Of Things – Industrial Robots And Virtual Monitoring

Internet Of Things – Industrial Robots And Virtual Monitoring

Internet Of Things – Industrial Robots And Virtual Monitoring One of the hottest topics in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is the Internet of Things (IOT). According to the report of International Telecommunication Union (2012), “the Internet of things can be perceived as a vision with technological and societal implications. It is considered as a…

Four Recurring Revenue Imperatives

Four Recurring Revenue Imperatives

Revenue Imperatives “Follow the money” is always a good piece of advice, but in today’s recurring revenue-driven market, “follow the customer” may be more powerful. Two recurring revenue imperatives highlight the importance of responding to, and cherishing customer interactions. Technology and competitive advantage influence the final two. If you’re part of the movement towards recurring…

Achieving Network Security In The IoT

Achieving Network Security In The IoT

Security In The IoT The network security market is experiencing a pressing and transformative change, especially around access control and orchestration. Although it has been mature for decades, the network security market had to transform rapidly with the advent of the BYOD trend and emergence of the cloud, which swept enterprises a few years ago.…

Technology Influencer in Chief: 5 Steps to Success for Today’s CMOs

Technology Influencer in Chief: 5 Steps to Success for Today’s CMOs

Success for Today’s CMOs Being a CMO is an exhilarating experience – it’s a lot like running a triathlon and then following it with a base jump. Not only do you play an active role in building a company and brand, but the decisions you make have direct impact on the company’s business outcomes for…

Three Tips To Simplify Governance, Risk and Compliance

Three Tips To Simplify Governance, Risk and Compliance

Governance, Risk and Compliance Businesses are under pressure to deliver against a backdrop of evolving regulations and security threats. In the face of such challenges they strive to perform better, be leaner, cut costs and be more efficient. Effective governance, risk and compliance (GRC) can help preserve the business’ corporate integrity and protect the brand,…

Three Factors For Choosing Your Long-term Cloud Strategy

Three Factors For Choosing Your Long-term Cloud Strategy

Choosing Your Long-term Cloud Strategy A few weeks ago I visited the global headquarters of a large multi-national company to discuss cloud strategy with the CIO. I arrived 30 minutes early and took a tour of the area where the marketing team showcased their award winning brands. I was impressed by the digital marketing strategy…

Connecting With Customers In The Cloud

Connecting With Customers In The Cloud

Customers in the Cloud Global enterprises in every industry are increasingly turning to cloud-based innovators like Salesforce, ServiceNow, WorkDay and Aria, to handle critical systems like billing, IT services, HCM and CRM. One need look no further than Salesforce’s and Amazon’s most recent earnings report, to see this indeed is not a passing fad, but…

The Fully Aware, Hybrid-Cloud Approach

The Fully Aware, Hybrid-Cloud Approach

Hybrid-Cloud Approach For over 20 years, organizations have been attempting to secure their networks and protect their data. However, have any of their efforts really improved security? Today we hear journalists and industry experts talk about the erosion of the perimeter. Some say it’s squishy, others say it’s spongy, and yet another claims it crunchy.…

How The CFAA Ruling Affects Individuals And Password-Sharing

How The CFAA Ruling Affects Individuals And Password-Sharing

Individuals and Password-Sharing With the 1980s came the explosion of computing. In 1980, the Commodore ushered in the advent of home computing. Time magazine declared 1982 was “The Year of the Computer.” By 1983, there were an estimated 10 million personal computers in the United States alone. As soon as computers became popular, the federal government…

Are Cloud Solutions Secure Enough Out-of-the-box?

Are Cloud Solutions Secure Enough Out-of-the-box?

Out-of-the-box Cloud Solutions Although people may argue that data is not safe in the Cloud because using cloud infrastructure requires trusting another party to look after mission critical data, cloud services actually are more secure than legacy systems. In fact, a recent study on the state of cloud security in the enterprise market revealed that…