Why Cloud Computing Could Be A Major Investing Theme Over the Next Decade

My Post - 2019-09-11T104529.633.pngCloud computing is changing the way businesses view their entire information technology (IT) infrastructures.

Cloud computing is being adopted by big and small companies at a very rapid pace and its growth is projected to continue well into the next decade — and beyond.

Cloud computing stocks are a segment of the application software sector and they stand to have an increasingly important impact on people’s lives. They will also be one of the main beneficiaries of emerging technologies like Autonomous Vehicles (both cars and drones), Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (AR/VR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), 5G Networks, the internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain Security, and Robotics. That’s why investors looking to build long-term wealth should consider cloud computing stocks.

What is the cloud and how is it like the internet?

To better understand just what the cloud is, let’s compare it to the world wide web. After all, the cloud is a natural extension of the internet. The internet is a nebulous entity connected to your PC (smart phone, tablet, laptop, personal voice assistant, or whatever). You perform a query by typing a search phrase into a browser (or asking that obelisk on the coffee table a question) and presto, you get an answer. But, from where does that response originate? Let’s pull back the curtain and see how the cloud plays into this seemingly magical process.

Internet search results come from interconnected networks around the globe. So, in its simplest definition, the internet really is just a bunch of intentionally connected devices. This is where the cloud comes in. It too is simply a connection between a network and an end user. The difference is that the connection is just between the cloud provider and a client. Where the internet is a crowd, the cloud is just a pair. The mechanism used to make this connection and share information is still the internet.

The cloud is a service, not a thing

The cloud is essentially a bunch of huge private data centers that “lease” computer resources to clients. Some of those clients are businesses and some are regular folks like you and me. The resources included in the lease depend on what you’re trying to accomplish and are defined as services. They fall into one of three primary offerings:

  • Infrastructure as a Service — IaaS
  • Platform as a Service — PaaS
  • Software as a Service — SaaS

The most complicated cloud offering is Infrastructure as a Service, or IaaS. IaaS is the offsite outsourced delivery of all things computer related. In simplest terms, IaaS providers offer clients an entire IT department. The important feature is that it is delivered virtually over the internet. The IaaS provider replicates every aspect of the client’s network — its entire physical infrastructure. So, for example, if a given client’s IT infrastructure consists of hundreds of servers, they would all be located at the IaaS provider’s location. On the client end of the connection is a visual representation of how the network is configured and what it’s doing. So, what an IT professional sees on a desktop monitor is exactly what would be presented if all of that “infrastructure” was in the same office where he or she was sitting. – Read more

Pros and Cons: Is Cloud Storage Right for You?

My Post - 2019-09-11T094847.210.pngEnsuring that your organization’s data is stored securely is imperative. Therefore, deciding whether to store data on-prem or in the cloud is a critical choice. 

Cloud storage services have gained popularity over the years due to their increased scalability. While the cloud has gained traction in the storage space, there are advantages and disadvantages to cloud storage, and having an awareness of the positive and negative aspects of this option will allow you to make the best, most informed decision for your business. Let’s get into the pros and cons of cloud storage and find out if it’s right for you and your organization.

Advantages of Cloud Storage

Cost-Effective

Organizations that make use of cloud-based services are more likely to save on operating costs than those that continue to use external hard drives or in-house hosting solutions. Internal power and resources are not needed separately to store the data with the cloud. Additionally, costs are cut in part because cloud storage providers will manage upgrades and troubleshoot any issues that arise, meaning that there is no need to employ IT administrators to handle data storage logistics on-prem.

Accessibility

Through the cloud, users have the ability to access all files, photos, folders, and videos from any location in the world, provided that they have the proper credentials and an internet connection. When logging into your cloud account, all of your data will be there when you need it, providing additional convenience not available through local storage. The cloud also offers simplicity, as users can easily drag and drop their files into the cloud with little difficulty.

Disaster Recovery

A comprehensive backup plan is crucial for any business that needs to protect its data, (which should include all businesses). Experiencing data loss can seriously damage an organization’s credibility and financial standing. Cloud storage is a great option to prevent and combat such losses, as it creates a backup of the files stored. These files are stored at a remote location, protecting them further, and they can be accessed and retrieved at any time. Therefore, in the event that something happens to the files on a computer, you are enabled to access the cloud and retrieve any data that may have been lost or damaged.

Disadvantages of Cloud Storage

Speed of Backups

With the cloud, internet bandwidth and storage max ingest speeds can be more limited than a local network or disk. Additionally, there is more communication latency involved. Usually, this is not an issue when backing up file servers and workstations because larger backups can typically run in the background for an extended period of time without any negative effects. Slow backups can be combated through the use of incremental backups, which reduce backup sizes, and thereby backup times. However, you should be aware that specialized applications such as Microsoft SQL Server and Exchange can be affected by longer backup times. – Read more

6 cloud cost management tips

My Post - 2019-09-10T181149.953.pngLooking to avoid monthly cloud sticker shock?

A cloud cost management strategy that makes use of containers, capacity pre-purchases and more will help you contain runaway cloud spending.

Operating your business in the cloud is fundamentally different than operating on premises. And when operations differ, so too do strategies for containing costs.

Financially speaking, a datacenter requires a large capital expenditure for the building, additional capital expenditures for the servers and software licenses, and smaller but significant operating expenditures for powering the servers and cooling systems, and for maintenance and management.

In the cloud, there are no capital expenditures. Instead, there are significant operating expenditures, billed for server virtual machine instances, storage, network traffic, software licenses, and other niggling details.

From a cost management perspective, there are significant benefits in shifting computing load to the cloud — but there are also significant risks.

When someone wants a new server rack in your data center, there are purchase orders to approve and justifications to ponder, and the process is fully managed. It requires permission. It also takes 6 months at many companies. Once the rack has been installed, nobody pays attention to how heavily it is or isn’t used, unless its load is so heavy that it doesn’t perform well. Yes, that’s inefficient cost-wise — hence the push for VMs and containers (such as Docker) in your data center to increase server utilization. – Read more

Secrets of SaaS

My Post - 2019-09-10T175154.282.pngSoftware as a Service is driving disruption – it allows for innovation to develop at the speed which both the market and customers expect.

8 ways the cloud is more complex than you think

My Post - 2019-09-10T174358.388.pngThe cloud may spark automated push-button fantasies, but the reality of shifting to cloud services is quite a bit more complicated.

For a growing number of organizations, it’s not a question of whether they should move applications and development platforms to the cloud, but when.

The cloud has become so well entrenched in corporate IT that it’s increasingly difficult to imagine business without it. Still, the move to cloud services is not without its share of hardships, some of which can be totally unexpected.

A recent report by professional services and consulting firm Accenture notes that two-thirds of large enterprises are not realizing the full benefits of their cloud migration journeys, with the complexity of business and operational change among the key barriers.

Of the 200 senior IT professionals from large businesses surveyed, 55 percent cited business complexity and organizational change as a barrier to realizing the benefits of the cloud. Only security and compliance risk was cited more frequently. – Read more

How the future of cloud computing is impacting businesses

My Post - 2019-09-10T170627.977.png“The cloud” is enabling substantial change in how we store, access, and process data in nearly every aspect of our lives.

To illustrate that change, let’s first focus on life B.C. or before cloud. Before the cloud, information was stored on computers or local devices. If you needed that information, you had to be connected to that storage device or computer. Likewise, you needed a computer — often an expensive one — with enough power to process the information.

This B.C. world was static, risky, and inefficient.

It was static because it did not enable any true mobility. Data was stored in the same way traditional books are stored in libraries. If you wanted to read another book, you had to be in a specific location.

This world was also risky, as the loss of the computer or storage device meant the information was also gone. Like the library, if the building burnt down, the books would be destroyed.

The inefficiency stems from the need to have many separate devices able to store and process the information. These devices were costly, power hungry, and made obsolete on a regular basis.

Life within the cloud provides solutions to those problems. Gathering up all this diffused information and moving it to the cloud means that the data is available anywhere. The risk of data loss is mitigated because information is distributed among many data centers rather than at one location.

While tech companies love to sell the latest and greatest devices to keep up with the demands of applications, this will change. Instead of having many high-powered, expensive devices to store and process information, there will instead be longer-lasting, lower-powered devices that need only display the information. Upgrades in the cloud will bring new capabilities without changing out the user’s device. – Read more

How to mitigate the privacy risk to cloud-stored data

My Post - 2019-09-10T173626.957.pngLarge-scale cloud deployment brings huge advantages, if the risks are correctly managed.

The cloud offers a multitude of advantages, however as with any large-scale deployment, it can also provide unforeseen challenges.

The concept of the cloud being “someone else’s data centre” has long irked security pros– it reinforces the notion that security responsibility is someone else’s problem.

It is true, cloud systems, networks and applications are not physically located within a company’s environment. Cloud infrastructure providers manage how the environment is set up and monitored, as well as what is put into it and how data is protected.

But ongoing security responsibility and risk mitigation certainly falls squarely with the customer and what is most important is how risk is managed to provide alignment with the existing security framework.

Cloud security privacy risks

GDPR and its ‘sister’ policies in the US (as seen with Arizona, Colorado and California) have meant organizations are being faced with new requirements for protecting data in the cloud.

While it used to be as simple as deploying Data Loss Prevention (DLP) in a data center, nowadays, due to data center fragmentation, this is no longer viable. There are now services, systems and infrastructure that are no longer owned by the organization, but still require visibility and control.

Managing cloud services and infrastructures that share or exchange information can also become difficult to manage. For example, who owns the SLAs? Is there a single pane of glass that monitors everything?

DevOps has forced corporations to go as far as implementing micro-segmentation and adjusting processes around firewall rule change management. Additionally, serverless computing has provided organisations with a means by which they can cut costs and speed productivity by allowing developers to run code without having to worry about platforms and infrastructure.

Yet, without a firm handle on virtual private clouds and workload deployments, things can quickly spin out of control and data can begin leaking from one environment just as a comfortable level of security is achieved in another. – Read more

Understanding hybrid cloud security across your enterprise

My Post - 2019-09-10T165345.429.pngHybrid cloud security is vital as enterprises continue to develop their hybrid cloud services, since more sensitive information has the potential to become exposed.

Discover how enterprises are approaching their hybrid cloud security protocols as their hybrid clouds develop and expand. Is perimeter security enough today? Businesses continue to embrace the power and flexibility.

Hybrid cloud security is vital as enterprises continue to develop their hybrid cloud services, since more sensitive information has the potential to become exposed. Discover how enterprises are approaching their hybrid cloud security protocols as their hybrid clouds develop and expand.

Is perimeter security enough today?

Businesses continue to embrace the power and flexibility of the hybrid cloud. Ensuring these networks are secure is paramount. Used to securing siloed data, and managing secure logins for applications, CTOs and their teams have had to embrace a brave new world. In this new security environment, sensitive information can be outside of their enterprise’s firewalls. Here, a robust hybrid cloud security policy is critical.

In a hybrid cloud security environment, there are particular threats that CIOs and CTOs must be aware of: The hybrid cloud doesn’t necessarily bring with it a new set of security issues to mitigate and defend against.

Data breaches, ransomware, phishing attacks and BEC scams are a present danger to traditional networks. Moving to a cloud environment may potentially amplify the attacks. It is, however, a mistake to think that the hybrid cloud necessarily brings new and unique threats. Security should be treated as all-encompassing no matter what kind of cloud services are in use.

Also, enterprises often believe that once a hybrid cloud is set-up, the responsibility for the hybrid cloud security shifts to the vendor or service provider.

Research in the report ‘Cloud and hybrid environments: The state of security’ from Algosec concluded, 58% of respondents use the cloud provider’s native security controls to secure their cloud deployments.

With 44% saying they also use third-party firewalls deployed in their cloud environment. These environments were specifically Cisco Adaptive Security Virtual Appliance, Palo Alto Networks VM Series, Check Point vSEC, Fortinet FortiGate-VM and Juniper vSRX). This created a mixed estate of traditional and virtualized firewalls, and cloud security controls. – Read more

How managed cloud service providers bring benefits

My Post - 2019-09-10T172735.044.pngThe emergence and success of the cloud over the last decade is unquestioned.

It is nearly impossible to read any current IT publication that does not cover the growth, innovation and emerging use cases that are enabled by cloud.

And for most, the word “cloud” is synonymous with Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google, writes Danny Allan, vice-president: product strategy at Veeam.

This makes sense, as they are by far the most recognised and successful providers in the hyperscale public cloud. And yet, these three leaders in the industry are not destined for complete market domination. There not only remains a place for the Managed Cloud Service Provider (MSCP), but there are multiple reasons why they are essential and often the better choice for a significant majority of the IT market.

Public cloud infrastructure requires specific expertise

Many organisations will often start with the false premise that they can simply pick up the on-premises infrastructure and move it over to the hyper-scale public cloud. While this has often been the promise and the general infrastructure is similar, the reality is that many basic elements such as control planes, networking and security are different enough that challenges very quickly emerge.

Choosing a MCSP helps in one of two ways: the hosted service environment can closely mirror the on-premises environment, or a managed service can effectively broker the public cloud and introduce the cloud expertise necessary to integrate two different environments.

In an ecosystem where time-to-offering is an essential competitive advantage, this value cannot be under-estimated. In fact, it is very likely that the MCSP community will evolve into a front line brokering of the hyper-scale public clouds, while facilitating and managing the transition and hybrid environment

Cloud economics need to be effectively managed

“The cloud is not a charity,” is one of my favorite statements. The ability for cloud to drive profit is based on the ability to layer in margin. While the public cloud can be very effective for elastic workloads with a high degree of variability, placing workloads in a remote location or for taking advantage of a pre-configured service, they can be significantly less cost effective for static workloads with predictable infrastructure needs.

As the various public clouds all vie for market dominance and customers choose which workloads are best suited to the public cloud benefits, MCSPs offer the ability to abstract the workload from the public cloud, while closely monitoring the cost characteristics and shifting the data and service based on the customer ROI.

This is a distinct and definite value add that most customers are unable to measure and recognise.

Many services offer a superior end user experience in a decentralised model – Read more

How to prevent the top 11 threats in cloud computing

My Post - 2019-09-06T164713.217.pngThe latest risks involved in cloud computing point to problems related to configuration and authentication rather than the traditional focus on malware and vulnerabilities, according to a new Cloud Security Alliance report.

Using the cloud to host your business’s data, applications, and other assets offers several benefits in terms of management, access, and scalability. But the cloud also presents certain security risks. Traditionally, those risks have centered on areas such as denial of service, data loss, malware, and system vulnerabilities. A report released Tuesday by the Cloud Security Alliance argues that the latest threats in cloud security have now shifted to decisions made around cloud strategy and implementation.

Based on a survey of 241 industry experts on security issues in the cloud industry, the CSA’s report Top Threats to Cloud Computing:The Egregious 11 focused on 11 notable threats, risks, and vulnerabilities in cloud environments. For each threat described, the report highlights the business impact, specific examples, and recommendations in the form of key takeaways.

1. Data breaches

A data breach can be any cybersecurity incident or attack in which sensitive or confidential information is viewed, stolen, or used by an unauthorized individual.

Business Impact

  • Data breaches can damage a company’s reputation and foster mistrust from customers and partners.
  • A breach can lead to the loss of intellectual property (IP) to competitors, impacting the release of a new product.
  • Regulatory implications many result in financial loss.
  • Impact to a company’s brand could affect its market value.
  • Legal and contractual liabilities may arise.
  • Financial expenses may occur as a result of incident response and forensics.

Key Takeaways and Recommendations

  • Defining the business value of data and the impact of its loss is essential for organizations that own or process data.
  • Protecting data is evolving into a question of who has access to it.
  • Data accessible via the Internet is the most vulnerable asset for misconfiguration or exploitation.
  • Encryption techniques can protect data but can also hamper system performance and make applications less user-friendly.
  • A robust and well-tested incident response plan that considers the cloud provider and data privacy laws can help data breach victims recover.

2. Misconfiguration and inadequate change control

Misconfiguration occurs when computing assets are set up incorrectly, leaving them vulnerable to malicious activity. Some examples of misconfiguration include: Unsecured data storage elements or containers, excessive permissions, unchanged default credentials and configuration settings, standard security controls left disabled, unpatched systems and logging or monitoring left disabled, and unrestricted access to ports and services. – Read more