Category Archives: Security

More Cloud Adoption Unlocks More Value – Reveals Latest Survey

More Cloud Adoption Unlocks More Value – Reveals Latest Survey

Will cloud live up to its hype” is a question which has become irrelevant now. Looking back now, I’d say the opportunity is much, much bigger than the hype. Perhaps for some companies, the move to the Cloud has been one of the most rewarding experiences in IT investing. A latest survey reveals that early adopters of the Cloud continue to dive deeper and increase their cloud adoption because of the value they’re reaping through increased adoption.

The survey was conducted by Rightscale in the first quarter of 2013 and included 625 companies, categorized respondents into four different cloud maturity levels: Cloud watchers, beginners, explorers and focused. A diverse set of respondents were chosen from development, IT and business roles across a wide range of company sizes and industries, including financial services, media and publishing, education, digital agencies, and software companies.

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Out of those surveyed, 17% of the respondents are beginning to adopt cloud, developing cloud strategies and plans but haven’t yet implemented cloud projects. What’s interesting is that a large number of respondents (26%) have started to execute their very first proof-of-concepts cloud projects. An equal number of companies (26%) have matured their cloud adoption and are increasing their investments in new cloud projects. Next comes companies who have implemented their first cloud projects (23%). Only 8% of the respondents are still on the sidelines, and it’s now only a matter of time before these companies also start investing in the Cloud.

The survey reveals a significant percentage of companies who have invested in various cloud offerings and with the traditional barriers of bandwidth and storage crumbling, as well as the availability of viable solutions which address the cloud data security issues, cloud adoption is only bound to increase.

The survey provides meaningful insights into how an organization’s level of cloud maturity impacts both the benefits they are able to realize and the challenges they perceive. The results also reveal a clear cloud imperative – more cloud adoption unlocks more cloud value. The data also shows that investments in cloud adoption will continue to drive increased value for the businesses.

The survey also draws a comparison between cloud adoption rates of large (>1000 employees) enterprises, 77% of which sizeable cloud investment versus smaller companies, 73% of which have adopted cloud. Another interesting data point revealed in the survey is the preference by larger companies to diversify their cloud portfolio. 47% of the large enterprises said they have adopted a hybrid cloud strategy, making use of both public and private cloud for their enterprise application portfolio.

The survey verifies that cloud computing has reached the tipping point. With early adopters reaping the benefits of the cloud and continuing to invest more, it has created a network-value effect, driving further adoption.

By Salman Ul Haq

Cloud Chivalry – Provider Pride

Cloud Chivalry – Provider Pride

As cloud deployments gain popularity, increasing attention is paid to provider security strength. The cloud security alliance, for example, releases a yearly list of top threats, covering everything from malicious use, data loss, and service hijacking. Heightened public awareness of the cloud has led to oddly intuitive feelings of insecurity – if data resides off-site, it must surely be less secure.

Though it’s hard to imagine cloud providers with shield raised against whatever virtual attack might breach a client’s peace, there’s an increasing need for solid cloud security – cloud chivalry, even – which defends otherwise helpless company data from attack. Public and private providers have responded; in many cases, cloud deployments are now more secure than local servers.

Here are three simple ways spot knight-like providers.

Secure Priorities

All cloud deployments require trust. Companies entrust their provider with critical data and expect a measure of care in return. Because cloud computing is still a maturing technology, standard wording does not exist for security in most service-level agreements, meaning company IT professionals need to evaluate providers on a case-by-case basis.

The first sign of a trustworthy provider is their willingness to talk about security concerns. Not only should responsibilities be spelled out in an agreement – with clear expectations for both provider and customer – but there should be evidence of careful thought in security design. Cloud computing offers fertile ground for startup providers and tempting fruit for tech giants; secure providers are those who commit fully to the cloud, rather than attempt to tack on services bit by bit. Look for the total package.

Optimal Protection

Once you’ve identified a tentative provider, consider specifics. While the physical security of an off-site storage location is important, including 24/7 monitoring and controls to prevent data loss or damage – it’s important that storage architecture goes beyond the basics. This means taking measures to isolate workloads in shared tenancy, in turn preventing accidental cross-contamination on a physical server. Providers should be aware of not only potential threats from beyond a storage facility but understand the interconnected nature of their compute offering: what affects a single customer affects many.

Administrative Access

It’s also important to consider access. While cloud chivalry includes a certain amount of trust extended to third-party providers, these providers need clear-cut access polices. Company IT pros should always have access to their data, and provider admins should only need data access for specific circumstances. No access should ever go unrecorded, and companies should always be kept in the data-use loop.

Cloud security is simpler than much media hype makes it seem. Providers are crucial in the defense of data, and it’s getting easier to separate knaves from knights.

By Doug Bonderud,

Doug Bonderud is a freelance writer, cloud proponent, business technology analyst and a contributor on the Dataprise Cloud Services website.

Steps To Secure Data In The Cloud

Steps To Secure Data In The Cloud

Steps to Secure Data In the Cloud

Cloud computing and storage security is often one of the main stumbling blocks cited by those who’d like to reap the benefits of moving to the cloud, but believe they cannot. Data security is extremely important, but for many enterprises and markets, there can be no compromise in security. For those businesses, the idea of compromising security, even just a bit, in return for the vast benefits of going to the cloud were not possible.

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Data security in the cloud is not impossible. Many industries that were previously unable to use cloud services for data storage are now able to do so thanks to new, real-world ways of securing data. There are real, practical methods for securing data in the cloud. When taking these steps, two things must be kept in mind:

  • Protecting data in real-world environments
  • Compliance requirements

Protecting data in the cloud involves many of the same requirements the data administrator will have when protecting data in a closed network. Sticking to CIA (Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability) as the root protection method is still the best way to keep data secured. Analyzing and mitigating the most common security threats to your data requires considerations of the location of the data as well as its regulation within the scope of compliance.

Location of Data

Meeting compliance requirements for whatever standards regulate your business or industry is a serious obligation. For cloud storage, the biggest problem here is the location of the data. In most public cloud systems, your data’s geographic location may be random and is often unknown. It’s not unusual for single entry in the database to actually have multiple homes in the cloud, which can complicate the use of public cloud – or even make it impossible in some cases. Private clouds, however, often do not have this issue with locations of data being fixed (within certain parameters) or at least identifiable.

Regulation of Data

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As an example of protecting data while meeting compliance requirements, personally-identifiable information is often regulated quite differently from one jurisdiction to another – even country to country. In the U.S., any personally- identifiable information stored within the country borders must be available to law enforcement under the USA Patriot Act. In Canada and several European countries, however, that data must be kept away from foreign jurisdictions at all times, making it illegal to store some personally-identifiable information of Canadian, French, or other citizens on U.S.-based servers. Further, all of these jurisdictions have differing requirements for storage security.

Steps Towards Securing Data In the Cloud

To move to the cloud, database professionals will first need to identify what types of compliance requirements they may have. Some data may have to remain in-house while other might be a good candidate for cloud services. If you have contracts that cover some of your data in regards to privacy policies, storage for clientele, etc., you will also need to review those contracts to be sure that the data can be stored off- site without breaching agreements.

Solutions for this may include finding services that guarantee storage of data only within a specific jurisdiction. For example, Amazon Web Services has “regions” for cloud storage and those who opt to keep their data within a specific geographic region (the U.S., North America, specific areas of the U.S. or Canada, etc.) may find that this keeps them in compliance. It comes with risks, however as witnessed by the area-wide outages some Amazon customers have had in the past.

Data Protection Points

Once data is flagged to be moved into the cloud, protection becomes critical. For cloud storage, there are generally three locations that the data will be at any given time:

1. At its fixed data storage locations

2. At the virtual machine doing the processing

3. In transit from the fixed storage to the virtual machine

Because of this less-central setup, administrators need to consider security of the data not only in storage, but also while in transit and in use. This requires three things:

1. Access control lists to secure who gets access to what data and when – already SOP for most databases stored centrally, but now to include some off- site administrative personnel from the storage provider.

2. Encryption during transit to ensure that the data is secure during transit to and from the processing machine and the database’s storage location. In this case, the data should be treated as if it were being accessed by remote personnel even if the processing machine is on-site.

3. Encryption at storage, in order to ensure access by cloud services provider personnel is limited to data movement only to avoid giving them access to potentially sensitive information. This provides another level of security that may also give better compliance for many types of very sensitive data such as personally-identifiable information and financial information storage.

Conclusion

By taking steps to classify and securely transmit and store information, the database administrator and management are likely to find that they are in compliance with most of the requirements they have. Carefully securing contracts that hold location compliance requirements in mind and encrypting it when it is stored on servers you do not control, you also protect yourself from liabilities that could come from others’ gaining access through legitimate methods but without your authorization – namely the staff at the contracted storage facilities for your cloud services.

By Michael Dorf,

Michael Dorf is a seasoned software architect and instructor with a M.S. in Software Engineering and a dozen years of industry experience. He is a co- founder of LearnComputer (learncomputer.com), an IT/Open Source training school based in San Francisco Bay Area. Our one-day Big Data Overview course is designed for IT managers who need a fast track to Big Data solutions available on the market today.

Cloud Governance Should Be Prioritized

Cloud Governance Should Be Prioritized

When businesses move existing applications and resources to the cloud, they always do it in phases, moving the most stable applications first in order to minimize down time. The transition is a slow process which enables users to have enough time to adapt to the new system. Because of this, cloud governance is also staggered per application or phase. The problem here is that people will get used to the staggered way governance is being implemented with many people overseeing governance for each different application. The correct method is a centralized approach to managing cloud services including monitoring of usage, security, uptime, and compliance of SLA’s.

Cloud infrastructure is particularly complex, and therefore needs to be abstracted in order for the resources to be used productively. This dictates the importance of a management or governance system between the people and the different systems consuming resources. This will also be a key element into finding out exactly how much benefit is being brought by the cloud-based monitoring system.

If your business is moving to the cloud, you should consider the following questions:

1. What should you be preparing for right now?

2. Are you looking at the overall picture? Implementation as well as completed migration of the essentials.

3. How well will everything fit together, and will you be in control of every aspect of the system?

4. Will you be able to check every type of monitoring data that you require or may require in the future?

5. And most importantly, will you be able to control the distribution of resources in a way that all of it is used efficiently and positively impact productivity?

You must develop a strategy that accommodates a growing resource pool and always assume that there will be more users and more resources added in the future. In short, be flexible. The problem is that most companies do not think this way. They are often acting in reaction to the present problems which will eventually push them towards more control and governance with very little importance given to productivity, and hence less value. What I mean is they will arrive at a system that may not provide resource allocation on the fly and will require sign off from several high-positions before the resource can be allocated. Too much control, less productivity, and ultimately diverges from one of the concepts of cloud computing, which is flexibility and resource allocation on the fly.

By Abdul Salam

Cloud Computing: Revolving The Business Industry And The Working Environment

Cloud Computing: Revolving The Business Industry And The Working Environment

Cloud Computing: Revolving the Business Industry and the Working Environment

Cloud Computing refers to a form of computing that works by sharing computing resources with no involvement of personal devices or local Servers to use and manage applications. The idea of virtual resources gives businesses an opportunity to grow quickly and achieve their goals much quicker than would otherwise be possible with traditional computing models.

Cloud Computing takes I.T administration and management to a whole new level. Let us have a look at a few points below:

Business Industry cloud

Cloud Computing and The Changing Business Environments

Cloud Computing to I.T industries may be compared to outsourcing services to the manufacturing companies. Cloud Computing involves leveraging your software, infrastructure and platforms to Cloud vendors that provide these computing resources virtually. People can tap resources as services without having to worry about any additional setup or hardware costs.

Companies of all sizes have to constantly worry about reducing operating costs, and they expect that I.T can bring more value at a lower cost. Cloud Computing can potentially help restructure the I.T budget by eliminating upfront I.T costs, enabling pay-per-use and transfer of key applications and services on the architecture. The Cloud Computing model is an inevitable situation in the connected world. The cost advantages, as well as the flexibility in the operation and implementation of informatics solutions make Cloud Computing an ideal solution for most companies and users.

The security risks contained in this technology are strong, and we believe that the impact of security incidents on this architecture will grow.

However, Cloud Computing is a trend in businesses that provides (and has been proven) to pocket significant savings and operational flexibility to businesses, whilst providing access to innovative Cloud–based built around security and efficiency.

How Can Cloud Computing Be Used?

Cloud Computing resources can enable clients to utilize the facility with enormous success and possibilities. It can be specifically useful for the following purposes:

  • It has found extensive use in new business start ups. It enables them to focus on the development while keeping their operational costs to a minimum by taking I.T to the Clouds.
  • It can help businesses grow in different dimensions. The Cloud will enable them to utilize the processing resources that were previously unavailable for the business.
  • Cloud fosters collaboration among your organization. Especially in the manufacturing sector. It enables the use of concurrent engineering in your organization.
  • It enables your employees to access data anywhere, and this increases the productivity of your organization.
  • I.T is extensively used by educational institutes in order to provide resources for research and development. Cloud enables integration of hundreds of users to collaborate and learn as a unity.
  • I.T also helps to uplift businesses that are running poor technology. Cloud Computing provides the opportunity to build businesses on its resources at extremely low costs. The economic factor is the most crucial one as it has compelled industries to utilize the technique.

Implementations

1) Cloud Computing has been utilized by many of the government and non-government organizations throughout the world. The following list demonstrates the potential of Cloud Computing to grow significantly in the future:

2) The official website of the US Government will be migrating to the Cloud.

3) New York Times will be using the Cloud (Apache’s Hadoop and Amazon’s EC3).

4) The Chinese Railway system is migrating to the Cloud and is solving a complex set of problems along the way.

5) Higher Education institutions utilize Cloud Computing to provide networking resources to the students and teachers via Cloud computing.

6) Universities today host online libraries and are operating on open-source Cloud Computing.

7) The manufacturing sector utilizes Private Cloud Computing for their in-house operations and process optimizations.

8) Hospitals, electricity suppliers, and many other institutions are now going to the Cloud and getting rid of the extensive costs related to maintenance and operation of in-house computing resources.

The Future of Cloud Computing

The future of Cloud Computing is certainly bright, and it has a promising future. Although it would take a while to develop a standardized format and evolve a full-grown industry in itself, Cloud Service Providers have begun the march towards a unified system of distributed computing on a large scale.

Companies would have to make the shift tap into the unlimited source of I.T advancement and growth for their organizations, and leverage superior and endless computing power over the Cloud.

By Pere Hospital,

Pere Hospital (CISSP & OSCP) is the CTO and co-founder of Cloudways Ltd. He has over two decades of experience in IT Security, Risk Analysis and Virtualization Technologies. You can follow Pere on Twitter at @phospital, or learn more about Cloudways at www.Cloudways.com

CIA Demolish Cloud Security Concerns: All Systems Go

CIA Demolish Cloud Security Concerns: All Systems Go

CIA Demolish Cloud Security Concerns: All Systems Go

It’s been one of the last mountains to climb for cloud computing. With the technology’s steady implementation over the last few years, as it has exponentially grown in size and popularity, it seems that one by one each drawback or wide commercial concern has been unceremoniously knocked down. As a result, more and more companies have headed cloudwards. Despite this though, many cloud skeptics still pace the floor and stroke their chins raising worries and issues chiefly regarding security; after all, storing your entire company in something that is not defined by a physical object is quite the leap to take. It seems though, the CIA has decided to change all that.

The news that the Central Intelligence Agency have opted for an incredibly weighty cloud contract with AWS is initially quite the shocker. One does not typically envisage the CIA utilizing the kind of services you or I might use, and upon hearing that they’ve done so, we may start to consider who their Broadband provider is, or if they get their shopping home delivered from Walmart. Still, idle day dreaming aside, whilst the information is worthy of a fervently raised eyebrow to say the least, when we start to think about what this might mean for cloud computing on a global scale, it becomes a lot more compelling.

The question is if the CIA, a department with an enormous amount of power, based on an enormous amount of knowledge, knowledge stored in data, data which is now kept in the cloud; if this operational method is secure enough for an intelligence giant, shouldn’t it be secure enough for all of ussecurity?

Indeed, security is going to have been a chief concern for the CIA when they were deciding how to store their data, and it’s pretty safe to assume they are not going to have taken the plunge without a heady bout of painstakingly meticulous research, that presumably gave them the confidence to say yes, and no doubt terrified the poor assistant making the sale.

Of course, the cloud brings other advantages that the CIA will no doubt be wanting to take advantage of; with their data stored where any operative or employee can get at it, that means the entire organization is suddenly more portable. It means they can keep a track of exactly what’s going on and why no matter where they happen to be; out in the field, in the office, or somewhere between the two as secret agents often are. Gus Hunt himself pointed out how the true worth of any information can be measured only by the corresponding information it’s connected to. “Since you can’t connect dots you don’t have, it drives us into a mode of, we fundamentally try to collect everything and hang on to it forever” he said, and what this means is, the CIA need to hold on to reams and reams of data for extended periods of time; in the commercial world, it’s big data they’re after.

So, the summary. Where does this news really lead? We’ve been talking about the explosion of the cloud for a long time, and whilst it sometimes feels like it’d be more closely associated with someone dropping a steadily increasing amount of those little things that went bang when you threw them on the floor then an explosion as such, this might usher in a reversal of that sentiment altogether. With many holding fire on making the leap due to security precautions, will this be the final endorsement of the cloud’s potential that those companies still waiting need? We will have to wait and see.

By Rob Vicars

This article was written by Rob Vicars on behalf of Giacom. For Hosted Exchange solutions that deliver a complete carry-through to the cloud, Giacom are the answer! 

Note: CloudTweaks publishes news and opinion articles from several different contributors. All views and opinions in these articles belong entirely to our contributors as outlined in our disclaimer.

Old Hosting Providers Moving To Become Cloud Providers With The Help Of OpenStack

Old Hosting Providers Moving to Become Cloud Providers with the Help of Openstack

Before cloud computing went mainstream, the internet was dominated by large web hosting providers. Anyone that wanted to make a website needed to sign up with a hosting provider for either a free basic account with limited capabilities or a subscribed one with customizable features. This was back when the internet was young, which is to say just a few years ago, but already a very long time in terms of technological development. In this regard, we can liken technology years to dog years, which count faster than actual years. But the domination of traditional hosting providers is drawing to a close, not that they are closing down or anything, they are just shedding their old infrastructure in favor of cloud infrastructure.

They can do this by using Openstack, a software designed to handle everything within an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provision, to control their resources for proper distribution. The open source initiative was launched by NASA and Rackspace Hosting back in July 2010 which now has multiple supporters and dedicated developers. Gone will be the days that websites go down due to extreme traffic because the server is not able to adapt to the nature of the web traffic, unable to produce more computing power when required. Openstack is a collaborative project between many industry giants like AMD, Intel, IBM, VMware, and HP to name but a few. The project itself is composed of many interrelated technologies and projects that control large concentrations of processing power, storage or other network resources within a data center which can all be managed through a web interface usable by both users and administrators. There are different levels of controls and functionality depending on the account type.

All deployment of Openstack will be made interoperable so that different hosting providers can be linked and a customer from one provider may use the cloud infrastructure of another provider when needed. The primary users of Openstack will probably be those large telecommunication companies who have their own datacenters already and may want to offer hosted services and cloud services using their brand names. This actually helps to spread cloud computing across the globe as a lot of businesses have contracts with these large TelCos and may trust them in terms of service. So if, cloud services are offered, their customers may be willing to subscribe or at least try it out.

By Abdul Salam

Cloud Infographic: The Facts Of Cloud ERP

Cloud Infographic: The Facts Of Cloud ERP

Cloud Infographic: The Facts Of Cloud ERP

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Here is an infographic provided by the group at Gazzang

ERP Cloud

Infographic Source: Gazzang

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Infographic: The Evolving Internet of Things

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Cloud Security Risks: The Top 8 According To ENISA

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Internet Of Things – Industrial Robots And Virtual Monitoring

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Protecting Your Web Applications In A Hybrid Cloud Environment

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7 Common Cloud Security Missteps

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