Category Archives: Top Lists

Privacy On Public Clouds – Five Issues You Must Know About

Privacy On Public Clouds – Five Issues You Must Know About

Privacy On Public Clouds – Five Issues You Must Know About

Cloud computing is everywhere and presents a compelling value proposition for its end users. However issues like privacy and security still are grey areas when it comes to public clouds. Here presented are five issues one must be aware of: 

1. You own the data and hence the responsibility CSP

Many cloud users do not know the answer to this question – Who owns my personal information once I upload it on the Cloud Service Provider’s (CSP) server? Most public cloud service providers recognize that the user retains ownership of data once it is uploaded. (e.g. https://www.facebook.com/legal/terms) This also means that you have decided to trust the CSP with handling of your data. The CSP may have some responsibility for handling the information safely but not all. You may choose a different service provider or choose not to put particular data on cloud altogether. But the buck stops at you are responsible for the data you put up there.

2. CSPs collect much more data

Typically at the time of joining you provide certain details including personally identifiable information (PIIs) to CSP. But you will be surprised to know that they know a lot more about you. The additional information is derived from your regular usage of their services. This includes when you log in, for how long you are connected, devices you use, location from where you connect, applications you use etc. Various mechanisms are employed to collect these details. Common methods use browser web storage, application data caches, cookies, pixel tags and anonymous identifiers.

3. You have only limited control over data

It is common for CSPs to provide few privacy options to end users. But there is a catch. Firstly you do not get to control every data, only a subset of privileges is offered. Secondly these options help you customize how rest of the world sees your information. Your CSP still has full access to the data, and they use it for a variety of purposes (e.g. http://www.google.co.in/intl/en/policies/privacy/). You cannot stop them from doing that because it is covered in the contract.

However, you still have some absolute powers in the form of local browser security settings. You can set the desired security levels and in effect block cookies or other scripts from executing. But there is a cost associated with this. The moment you say block cookies, many features may stop working. CSPs clearly state that in their terms and conditions. So if you want to get full features from the cloud this is not a practical option.

4. Encryption is your true friend

What if you have already signed up with cloud service provider? You still have a friend in terms of encryption. You can encrypt all your sensitive data before storing it on the cloud. This adds an additional security layer, control of which lies entirely with you. It may not be to the CSPs liking but highly recommended as this will fetch you greater control over safety of your data.

5. Law of the land may not apply

Unfortunately, privacy laws all over the world are still evolving and there is no global standard. While you may be governed by the state laws you live in, the same may not apply to your data. Your CSP and eventually the server where your data resides, may come under a different jurisdiction. So think again if you are counting on local laws to come to your rescue in case of a breach.

By Manoj Tiwari

Cloud 2014 – What Are The Experts Anticipating?

Cloud 2014 – What Are The Experts Anticipating?

Cloud 2014- What Are The Experts Anticipating?

2014-cloud-predictions

It isn’t far now; the celebrations of next year are just around the corner. Many are looking back over the year and studying what has already come to pass, while others are pondering on what’s to come. Many trends have been offered as possibilities surrounding Cloud Computing. However, what I am tremendously interested in comprises of budgets, security measures and consumer outcomes. Considering that this time last year there were high debates as to how big the Cloud would actually get, to what extents it would be used and how much it would be worth by the end of the year.

Now that the Cloud is bigger than ever, what are the analysts saying about the Cloud; what do they predict for 2014?

Securing the Data

Long time analyst James Staten puts a strikingly long collection of expectations to come including that of security in the Cloud. Staten suggests that due to the vast numbers of devices being used away from the workplace and the troubles we have seen over this past year with securing those devices that security will shift away from attempting to secure each device to focus more on securing the data that is circulating throughout them all.

Budgeting – How Much Will Be Spent on the Cloud?

Many are agreeing that what is currently being spent on the cloud will increase by a whopping 25% over the next year to surpass well over $100 billion. Other payout predictions include an increase by 30% on big data tech to reach over $14 billion, as well as a 5% swell in IT spending as a whole to get well over $2 trillion.

Also, with the drastic increase in use of platform as a service, PaaS, much will be put into enhancing these to best suit their clients; moving away from what is standard today and becoming increasingly more specific for each unique need.

What’s in it for Consumers?

Based on what analyst Alex Gorbansky predicts, consumers will have great power over the Cloud and what it offers due to the vast growth in number of sellers. Though there may be pressure to settle with one company over another, it is important to remember that there are so many choices out there and our choices are expanding weekly, do not settle. While it may be difficult to distinguish between the many, Gorbansky suggests that ease of use and depths of storage will set them apart.

Now that the experts have spoken and after all you have seen over the past year with Cloud growth, security troubles here and there, and everything going mobile, what do you predict?

By Glenn Blake

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Cloud Computing 2014: Five Cloud Trends To Look For

Cloud Computing 2014: Five Cloud Trends To Look For

Cloud Computing 2014: Five Cloud Trends To Look For

All tech giants are aiming at cloud computing as the cloud landscape is all set to dominate the technological world. As mentioned on NY Times, the biggest tech giants including IBM, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google are expected to invest $1 billion annually in cloud computing in the upcoming years. cloud-looking-ahead

all the companies are developing knowledge through their cloud services of how to run truly huge Internet-based computing systems — systems that may soon be nearly impossible for other companies to match

It is evident that 2014 will see some of the biggest players in the IT industry trying to develop high-end cloud computing applications. The consumers can expect an increase in platform independent services in the near future. Some of the expected trends in 2014 are discussed in brief.

1. Development in web-powered apps sector: Some of the most noticeable features of cloud computing involves the scalability and efficiency it offers. In 2014, we can expect development of new web-powered apps with platform independence as their key feature. According to the chief executive of SoftLayer, cloud-computing company, IBM will put more than 40 infrastructure services including mobile applications development and big data analysis as their cloud computing offerings.

2. Hybrid cloud will be the key: The future belongs to hybrid clouds with the security of private cloud and scalability of public cloud services. Hybrid cloud will offer affordable infrastructure to small-scale enterprises and custom solutions for big data analytics.

3. Development in security policies: There is no doubt about the seamless accessibility, convenience, and flexibility offered by cloud. However, it poses a serious threat to the security of information and its use by the service providers. In 2014, there will be a development in security measures and policies.

4. Platform will be a driving force: As mentioned on Forbes, “companies will not only look for broader cloud business process suites as described above, but they will also expect these applications to look and perform similarly, and interact with one another seamlessly.” Companies will look out for cloud-based applications that can unify their information and apps through a single data model.

5. Industrial Internet might take off: Industrial Internet will reach the real-time industrial processes and reduce the inefficiencies with smart data. Industries will be able to use real-time data for improving their processes and use the information to take action. Cloud computing will play a key role in creating intelligent machines with a central controllability.

By Walter Bailey

The Lighter Side Of The Cloud – Top 10

The Lighter Side Of The Cloud – Top 10

We have compiled our Top 10 comics of 2013 from our weekly comic series called.”The Lighter Side Of The Cloud”. The comics have been selected by both readers as well as members of the CloudTweaks team.

#1

PRISM

# 2

TheCloudConclusion

#3

IT-Dept

#4

cloud_150 (1)

#5

Disaster-recovery-cartoon

#6

Holiday

#7

cloud humor

#8

Friday-Comic

#9

cloud_166

#10

Big-Data-Santa

By David Fletcher

 *Please Note: All David Fletcher comic images on this site are owned by CloudTweaks.com. If you would like to reuse them on your social media network, please feel free to do so as long as there is a clearly defined link to the original comic source. If you would like to use them in a Newsletter, Print, Powerpoint or Website. Please contact us regarding the licensing details and policies.

5 Best Practices For Implementing Cloud Collaboration In 2014

5 Best Practices For Implementing Cloud Collaboration In 2014

5 Best Practices for Implementing Cloud Collaboration in 2014

Over the past decade, the momentum for enterprise collaboration has shifted from the building of massive intranet solutions, usually developed and maintained by internal IT organizations, toward more flexible and cost-effective cloud-based collaboration platforms. In a survey of 2,438 IT executives and technology decision makers in the US, Canada, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, Forrester found that 56% have moved or plan to move some of their enterprise collaboration systems to the cloud. With the cost efficiencies of the cloud, combined with the speed and capability of these web-based collaboration platforms, the amount of data moving to the cloud — and the number of online solutions offering enterprise-class capabilities — has grown exponentially.

Of course, the movement of data and key business workloads into the cloud does not reduce, necessarily, the requirements a business has for the handling of key intellectual property, or of particular industry and regulatory compliance and governance guidelines. A platform developed for the consumer marketplace does not equal enterprise collaboration, and therefore you need to select your platform carefully and ask the right questions to ensure that your requirements are being met.

With more than 12 years spent in the enterprise collaboration space, I’ve worked with customers of all sizes — from startups to multi-nationals, and across many different industries. In that time, I’ve found some common threads between deployments, and recommend the following best practices for any organization looking to implement a cloud collaboration strategy:

1. Get your stakeholders onboard.

No matter what the size of your organization, collaboration will eventually fail within the organization that does not have strong support from the executive management team. Various teams may find it helpful, but to achieve broad support and truly reap the benefits of any collaboration platform, it must be seen as important to the leadership — otherwise it will remain a departmental activity, with limited enterprise benefit. Nationwide Insurance is a great example of this, with the executive team, including the CEO, regularly participating in conversations with the technical representatives through their online platform, providing insights from the leadership team while also showing that they value the platform.

2. Solve one problem at a time.

One of the quickest paths to collaboration failure is attempting to do too much, too quickly. Collaboration works best when it is clearly aligned with business function in a phased, pilot program approach. This allows the new technology to be integrated with end user behaviors and practices, and then refined and improved before rolling it out to new teams, or to new business functions. For example, an organization might pilot the platform between sales representatives and operations as a way to improve dialog around customer relationship management (CRM) activities. In short, collaboration works best when teams have a shared understanding of what they are trying to achieve. Once a team has mastered that business function, the platform can then be expanded to other uses.

3. Understand the issues with moving from freemium to paid.

The freemium model has become an essential method for new companies and products to gain quick adoption. Many of the leading collaboration platforms on the market were able to achieve their leading positions because of free, easy-to-get-started options. Many organizations find themselves building out cloud collaboration solutions because so many of their end users have already adopted the freemium version of their platform. However, the shift from freemium to paid may not be as smooth as you would hope. There may be changes to the UI, new features that require additional training, more administrative controls that could restrict previously unrestricted activities, or migration issues that may not be able to move all content from the free system to the new enterprise version. Be clear on what features and restrictions come with the change, and prepare your end users for this transition as best you can.

4. Develop a training and onboarding strategy.

No matter how simple the user interface, your end users will need some kind of training as part of the onboarding process to your new cloud collaboration platform. Be clear on the goals of the platform (solving one problem at a time) and the gaps (differences with prior on premises platforms, as well as differences with freemium versions) and how end users can gain the most out of using the new platform. It’s also important to outline governance policies and procedures for the handling of sensitive data and key intellectual property. One strategy that has proven itself successful again and again is the creation of internal user groups with platform advocates or evangelists, who are “power users” who can provide the first line of support for questions on platform capability and governance best practices. Use the collaboration platform to encourage employees to help each other, and you’ll more quickly realize the benefits of the platform.

5. Have a backup plan.

As with any other production system, it is important to have a backup plan for your offline and online systems so that, in the case of an emergency or system failure, you can recover your data. For cloud services, understand the disaster recovery (access to your content) and business continuity (how long the system is down) aspects of your service, and make sure they adhere to your corporate governance policies. As part of your end user training, include offline access and backup instructions, as appropriate.

The advent of cloud collaboration platforms has dramatically reduced the technical and financial barriers to enterprise collaboration, but these solutions are rarely as simple as click-and-go. Unlike consumer-based technologies, enterprise-class platforms must still provide the security and administrative capabilities necessary for organizations to meet their unique compliance and governance requirements. The key to success, as these best practices describe, is to be thoughtful and thorough in your approach. That’s the primary difference between consumer and business collaboration — business alignment.

christian_buckley

By Christian Buckley

Christian is a SharePoint MVP, internationally recognized author and speaker, and a Forbes Top 25 SharePoint Influencer. As the chief evangelist at Metalogix, he drives product awareness and community development. To learn more about Metalogix products visit: http://www.metalogix.com/Products.aspx

7 Essential Facts About SharePoint And ECM

7 Essential Facts About SharePoint And ECM

7 Essential Facts About SharePoint And ECM

Pioneer enterprise content management systems like SharePoint can help in take up your business to the next level, but only if you use them correctly Here are seven things you need to know about this leading web application platform featuring the Office suite, collaborative workforce software and more:

Sharepoint-ECM

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Cloud Computing is Transforming ECM

Cloud computing is becoming a major concern for modern business people. Mid-sized businesses have been particularly quick to pick up on this trend and take advantage of everything cloud computing technology has to offer, particularly those looking to expand their operations and become more flexible. Small businesses, as well as big businesses and corporations, have been a bit slower to adopt this technology overall. SharePoint offers a seamless solution for businesses and organizations of all sizes.

sharepoint-1

Microsoft SharePoint Puts Safety First

There are still some concerns over the safety and security of content that is stored in and accessed through the cloud, but working with a Microsoft platform offers the kind of security and peace of mind that business leaders need. The fact is that cloud computing in SharePoint opens up new doors to cost effectively handle demanding workloads with a flexible workforce structure and limited physical space.

Regulatory Compliance Grows in Complexity

As all these new trends continue to emerge, regulatory compliance has quietly kept growing in complexity. In order to keep up with the constantly changing face of local, state, federal and industrywide regulations, businesses in many fields must have ECM solutions that address the issues of regulatory compliance and manage risks. SharePoint offers things like archiving, eDiscovery and search features that ensure regulatory compliance, ease the undesirable process of litigation and keep businesses prepared for new regulations still on the horizon.

SharePoint Consulting is the Key

The thought of keeping up with all these trends and complying with complex and evolving regulations is enough to make your head spin, but with the right enterprise content management solutions, it’s possible to do it all. Many experts agree that businesses struggling to keep up with these issues and trends should invest in the services of a dedicated consulting firm with experience in these vital areas. By assessing current ECM strategies, designing effective ECM programs and ensuring they are effectively implemented, knowledgeable content management consultants can help take your enterprise to the next level rather than being left in the dust.

Social Media Also Enters the Mix

The market is also demanding more social media functions within its enterprise content management systems and solutions. Social media can play an integral role in the success of a business’ ECM strategies, including customer service, marketing and sales efforts. Fortunately, Microsoft SharePoint 2013 offers a variety of social content functions and collaborative workplace features that rely on the same concepts as the most familiar social media platforms.

The Market Demands Mobility

Experts are taking notice of the new demands of the market with regard to enterprise content management, and mobility is certainly a top trend, according to leading sources. Businesspeople and their customers are growing more and more accustomed to being able to access documents and data from any location, at any time of day or night, but not all businesses are prepared to meet this demand. This is why consultants and analysts recommend that businesses of all shapes and sizes invest in ECM solutions that address these demands for mobility. SharePoint supports the use of mobile devices in a way that enables more effective access to content in an easily viewable and usable format on virtually any mobile computing device.

There’s Always Something New

There are always new ways to modify SharePoint to give your business a competitive edge by boosting productivity and fostering innovation through collaboration. In addition to the latest updates to the software, experts also develop innovative techniques for modifying the platform in order to serve the needs of their clients. This is why it is recommended to invest in SharePoint consulting. Consultants can help businesses migrate to SharePoint, update to the latest version of SharePoint and transfer content from several different sources to the SharePoint platform, all while ensuring regulatory compliance and cost effectiveness.

jim-kaneBy Jim Kane,

Jim is the SharePoint and Collaboration Practice Lead for Paragon Solutions. Paragon Solutions is an advisory consulting and systems integration firm specializing in various industries.For more information on Paragon’s SharePoint and ECM solutions, contact marketing@consultparagon.com.

5 Cloud Security Predictions For 2014

5 Cloud Security Predictions For 2014

5 Cloud Security Predictions For 2014

Data security is always a hot topic among IT industry pundits, but I believe 2013 will go down as the year security crawled out of the basement and into the cultural zeitgeist.gazzang_image

Edward Snowden and the NSA spying revelations may have been the biggest tech story of the year. And mass data breaches at Twitter, Facebook, Adobe and The New York Times (just to name a few) were PR nightmares that raised the profile of data security — particularly in the cloud — as a recurring topic of conversation in the boardroom.

No doubt today’s breaking news will define many of tomorrow’s innovative technologies. We’re watching these developments closely at Gazzang and continuing to evolve and enhance our solutions to meet the growing needs of enterprises in the cloud and with big data.

As we close the book on 2013, I’d like to share a few cloud security-related predictions for 2014:

  •  SaaS vendors will offer encryption keys revocable by end users. SaaS providers understand they have an obligation to protect sensitive data on behalf of their clients. I believe more cloud vendors will provide encryption, and allow their clients to control access to the encrypted data by giving them ultimate control of the keys. This includes the ability to revoke the key and render data unreadable by the SaaS vendor.
  • Vulnerability of APIs will be exposed. APIs are increasingly popular for application integration because they enable apps (and soon Internet-connected objects) to request data from each other. Yet exposing core business data and processes via APIs makes them more susceptible to hackers — increasing the risk for intrusion attacks, data theft or DOS attacks.
  • European companies migrate data from US-based cloud and SaaS providers in response to NSA Prism scandal. US-based cloud service providers including Google, Amazon and Microsoft account for approximately 85 percent of global markets. However, a recent Cloud Security Alliance survey of 500 respondents found that 56 percent of non-US residents were less likely to use US-based cloud providers in light of recent revelations about government access to customer information. In response, the EU’s European Cloud Partnership is drafting a charter to promote an EU-based digital cloud service.
  • As NSA concerns fade, data privacy concerns skyrocket. Most people and organizations will realize they’re not being targeted by the NSA; however, the residual effect of the spying scandal is that data privacy will become a scorching hot topic in 2014. A recent poll shows 86 percent of U.S. Internet users have taken steps online to remove or mask their digital footprints using a variety of methods, and more than 70 percent of E.U. citizens want to have more control over how their data is used online.
  • Major trustees of consumer data, such as Google, Yahoo and Facebook begin to offer consumer-based key management services, where the provider hosts the encryption and the end-user manages the keys to their personal data. Consumer cloud storage providers tend to design systems that emphasize recoverability over security. However, as organizations like the NSA continue to snoop on citizens, cloud services face increasing pressure to up the ante in privacy protections and data security, allowing users to hold their own encryption keys and prevent access to sensitive data that might otherwise fall subject to government subpoena.

Larry_WarnockBy Larry Warnock, President & CEO/Gazzang

Larry is responsible for Gazzang’s leadership, operations and strategic direction. He brings more than 27 years of operational expertise working with startups and established technology companies to his role at Gazzang, particularly in the enterprise software, security and data center tools markets.

3 Keys To Keep Enterprise Clouds Secure

3 Keys To Keep Enterprise Clouds Secure

3 Keys To Keep Enterprise Clouds Secure

Outsourcing has won out over ownership, and the rush to the cloud continues to gather pace. Where security is concerned there are two major trends that threaten to expose your company to unnecessary risk. There’s a lack of planning and due diligence when choosing cloud providers, and there’s a murky grey area when it comes to responsibility. They can both be mitigated by building security planning into your system from the start, instead of trying to retro-fit.

enterprise-cloudThere are standards that can be applied to inform your planning, and help you to assess the maturity of your security model. The Cloud Controls Matrix (CCM) by the Cloud Security Alliance seeks to uncover a set of fundamental security principles that you can use to assess your prospective cloud providers, or, if you’re a cloud vendor, to guide your development and enable you to tick all those vital security boxes for customers.

Evaluating cloud provider security

When shopping for a cloud partner there’s a lot to consider and you should use something like the CCM to drill down into the details. Looking at the bigger picture, you need to address a lot of potential security risks.

Before you start to build out a security plan, probably drawing on your existing governance, risk and compliance processes, take time to analyze your data and identify all of your assets. Data classification and discovery is often overlooked and good security is about protecting everything, not just whatever is in your line of sight.

Ask any prospective cloud provider to produce detailed documentation on their setup. A complete set of terms should be hammered out in your Service Level Agreement (SLA) that covers every potential eventuality down the line. This will protect you and establish levels of responsibility. You should be clear on data encryption in transit and storage, compliance and legal exposure, levels of authentication, and what happens in the event of service breakdown.

It’s important to understand exactly what control you are ceding to an external party. Try to avoid the vendor lock-in that typically accompanies proprietary software, there are plenty of good applications and services out there that meet industry standards and deliver the functionality you need. You can also leverage more value from your existing tools and systems by investigating their security capabilities; you may find that you aren’t maximizing the potential of what you already have.

Consider how the system will be managed and how security incidents are handled. Is there a mechanism in place to detect and report security breaches? Without it, you simply don’t know how secure your system is.

Changing roles, who’s responsible for this?

Separate internal security teams are a thing of the past, those responsibilities are typically being infused within infrastructure and network administration roles. There’s a danger when this occurs that too much responsibility is being heaped onto already overburdened shoulders. Is the necessary expertise there? Are roles and responsibilities clearly defined? Do your internal employees have the mechanisms of control in place?

There could be an easy answer to this. If you’re prepared to outsource your data or application delivery and management, then why treat security any differently?  A dedicated external team with the correct expertise can own your security model and ensure that it meets high standards across the board, from compliance and governance, to privacy policy, auditing, data protection, and beyond.

Whether you need to adhere to ISO 27001/27002 or NIST compliance standards, you can bet that a dedicated external cloud security team working with these frameworks daily is going to have a better handle on them than internal staff with divided responsibilities. An external audit can document gaps in your system and give you a realistic snapshot of your risk. Before you can control and mitigate risks, you need to understand what they are.

Building a solid foundation

The shift to the cloud is not a one-off process, it’s a fluid evolution, and so establishing a model for your plan which can inform everything that comes later is important. You’re not looking to find that one perfect solution, you’re trying to adopt an approach and a set of standards that will ensure security beyond the horizon. Achieving a high level of security with your private or public cloud services and applications is easier and cheaper if you start right.

Make sure that boat is seaworthy before you launch, because finding and plugging leaks when you’re out in the middle of the ocean is asking for trouble.

Michelle-Drolet

By Michelle Drolet,

Michelle is the founder of Towerwall (www.towerwall.com) a data security services provider in Framingham, MA with clients such as PerkinElmer, Smith & Wesson, Middlesex Savings Bank, Brown University and SMBs. You may reach her at michelled@towerwall.com.

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