Click here to close now.


Containers Expo Blog Authors: Dana Gardner, JP Morgenthal, Mehdi Daoudi, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski

Blog Feed Post

Cloud Computing, the NSA, and Why Businesses Should Care

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

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

Don’t worry, it’s safe!

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

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

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

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

Lets rewind….

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

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

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

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

But for many businesses, cloud computing changed all that.

Enter the cloud

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

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

The fight for your data

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

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

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

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

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

A better way

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Chris Bliss

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

@ThingsExpo Stories
Countless business models have spawned from the IaaS industry – resell Web hosting, blogs, public cloud, and on and on. With the overwhelming amount of tools available to us, it's sometimes easy to overlook that many of them are just new skins of resources we've had for a long time. In his general session at 17th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, an IBM Company, broke down what we have to work with, discussed the benefits and pitfalls and how we can best use them to design hosted applications.
Most of the IoT Gateway scenarios involve collecting data from machines/processing and pushing data upstream to cloud for further analytics. The gateway hardware varies from Raspberry Pi to Industrial PCs. The document states the process of allowing deploying polyglot data pipelining software with the clear notion of supporting immutability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Shashank Jain, a development architect for SAP Labs, discussed the objective, which is to automate the IoT deployment process from development to production scenarios using Docker containers.
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, demonstrated examples of com...
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningful and actionable insights. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Paul Turner, Chief Marketing Officer at...
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessions, I wanted to share some of my observations on emerging trends. As cyber security serves as a fou...
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now all corporate assets – people, objects, and spaces – can share information about themselves and thei...
The cloud. Like a comic book superhero, there seems to be no problem it can’t fix or cost it can’t slash. Yet making the transition is not always easy and production environments are still largely on premise. Taking some practical and sensible steps to reduce risk can also help provide a basis for a successful cloud transition. A plethora of surveys from the likes of IDG and Gartner show that more than 70 percent of enterprises have deployed at least one or more cloud application or workload. Yet a closer inspection at the data reveals less than half of these cloud projects involve production...
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true change and transformation possible.
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" in this scenario: microservice A (releases daily) depends on a couple of additions to backend B (re...
Container technology is shaping the future of DevOps and it’s also changing the way organizations think about application development. With the rise of mobile applications in the enterprise, businesses are abandoning year-long development cycles and embracing technologies that enable rapid development and continuous deployment of apps. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kurt Collins, Developer Evangelist at, examined how Docker has evolved into a highly effective tool for application delivery by allowing increasingly popular Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (mBaaS) platforms to quickly crea...
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound effect on the world, and what should we expect to see over the next couple of years.
PubNub has announced the release of BLOCKS, a set of customizable microservices that give developers a simple way to add code and deploy features for realtime apps.PubNub BLOCKS executes business logic directly on the data streaming through PubNub’s network without splitting it off to an intermediary server controlled by the customer. This revolutionary approach streamlines app development, reduces endpoint-to-endpoint latency, and allows apps to better leverage the enormous scalability of PubNub’s Data Stream Network.
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, wil...