Optimizing Cloud Connectivity TCO vs Latency

My Post - 2019-10-17T143552.886.pngHybrid IT has quickly become the de facto standard as we embrace a combination of on-premises, cloud and colocation to serve our diverse workloads.

This proliferation of hybrid IT has caused one consistent problem – network connectivity. According to 451 Research,“With end customers and employees ever more dispersed geographically, the use of mobile devices growing and large amounts of data coming in from internet-connected devices the network is under even more pressure.”

One Size Need Not Fit All

Most organizations operate a wide range of applications with diverse bandwidth, performance and cloud connectivity requirements. Latency tolerance is different for each of these applications. Enterprises may be more accepting of higher latency for SaaS applications like Office 365 or Salesforce but require better performance for customer facing applications and data intensive, latency sensitive workloads such as those that serve financial exchanges. Ultra-low latency a critical capability for capital markets and high-frequency trading systems may generate significant revenues, and demand the lowest physical latency design possible.

Assessing cloud connectivity is important but solving the cost-performance equation is not one-size-fits-all. What may have worked to connect your headquarters to your cloud provider won’t scale to meet your growing business demands. If a growing user community or customer base requires expansion and local presence in new markets, you’ll be looking to availability zones and edge computing strategies to shorten the route (and the time) users take to access the applications and data they need. This expanding reach creates a preference for colocation and interconnection providers with a strong interconnection portfolio and diverse connectivity ecosystem. To ensure connectivity provisioning doesn’t constrain business agility, software-defined interconnection has emerged as another key enabler for consideration in the selection of your data center provider.

The Growing List of Cloud Connectivity Options

Fortunately, the number of colocation cloud connectivity options has grown so you can choose the one best suited to an application’s need.

Option 1: Direct connect from your data center services to a cloud service provider via a cloud exchange

This option provides a significant technical advantage – the ability to reduce latency to nearly zero, as the traffic stays within the data center, eliminating any additional path. The disadvantage here is that your data center operator will charge a premium for power and space. And because cloud service providers have had multiple on-ramps fail in specific data centers, it also doesn’t solve for multiple availability zones to mitigate any single point of failure.

Option 2: Cloud on-ramp providers native in data centers

Using a cloud on-ramp provider like Megaport, Zayo, CenturyLink or Packetfabric provides advantages in dual entrance into the facility, and multiple network options to provide multiple availability zones that are local, regional, and national in nature. The disadvantage here is an additional latency metric between the data center operator and the cloud on-ramp. Often these additional latency numbers are 1 to 1.3 milliseconds roundtrip. However, the vast majority of customers are willing to leverage this approach to save 20 to 50% off their power and space bill.

Option 3: Software-programmable Interconnection

Option three’s strength is in its ability to deliver point, click, provision connections on demand. This option requires a data center services provider that delivers an elastic, software-defined network fabric, such as Cyxtera’s Extensible Data Center platform, CXD. This allows you to provision and consume data center, network, and even edge compute resources through a GUI with on-demand provisioning. The other advantages of this approach are a consumption-based model with pay-as-you-go terms that help keep costs down further by avoiding over-provisioning. – Read more

IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and hosted appliances: Making sense of the cloud and what it offers

My Post - 2019-10-17T123719.470.pngSaas comes in two flavors: “real” and “fake.” This article clarifies how to differentiate them.

How Security Can Lead in Cloud-Dependent Business Innovation

My Post - 2019-10-10T183240.747.pngOrganizations that have a security-first mindset are better prepared and better able to respond to security threats

In the mid-to-late 1970s, the PC represented a major shift in the technological balance of power. It allowed small businesses to analyze business data without the need for a mainframe infrastructure, and use those insights to compete with larger businesses that were burdened with a higher cost structure and limited ability to be agile.

Fast-forward to the present day and the dynamics are similar. Except instead of the PC, it is the cloud that is the great technology equalizer. Democratizing fast, rapid-scaling compute power allows any startup to create world-changing innovations with fewer resources and in far less time. But these services are not just for startups; organizations of all sizes are consuming cloud services to capitalize on the promises of speed to innovation, getting closer to customers and creating valuable insights that can translate into competitive advantage. Conversely, these services also allow the competition to respond faster and reduce the time gap of advantage to commodity.

In our last piece, we discussed how shadow IT remains a threat to businesses that are facing the competitive pressures of speed and innovation, and are enabled by the very easy provisioning of powerful cloud services to help. In this piece, we’ll explore how security leaders can not only win in this seemingly impossible environment but also thrive as critical partners in executing a successful modern business.

Realistically, most companies are now technology companies. Think about shoe manufacturers selling personalized shoes over the web, fashion boxes crafted monthly based on a few stated preferences, networked medical devices, camera-enabled doorbells, smart refrigerators and even internet-connected exercise bikes. All of these things generate value for customers but depend on increasingly complex technologies, a web of service providers and the collection and use of massive amounts of data. In this environment, gone are the days that security teams only had to monitor the single database storing cardholder data. They are now responsible for an entire value chain that may or may not be completely in their direct care. This new reality mandates that security leaders take a different approach.

Those That Lead the Way Write the Rules

It wasn’t long ago that information security as a profession was so small and with so little influence that most major companies didn’t even have anyone with that skill set on staff, despite massive technology advancement and investment. But as CIOs wielded their influence, the best of them figured out that being an agent of company innovation was the best path for both organizational and career success. With that influence came the ability to define how technology would be implemented and, in some cases, how security would play its limited part.

As a seasoned security consultant, what I now advocate for is that security executives who want to win step up to lead the organization in achieving its goals. Instead of playing from the side or the back writing governance rules and blocking innovations, lead from the front. That means proactively creating the plans for migration to the cloud, implementing DevOps and getting innovative technologies to the market, while simultaneously creating the guardrails to ensure good process, good governance and operational excellence—that all contribute to good security. When Security leads, both Security and the business can win.

What does leading the way look like? Here are a few suggestions to help along the journey:

Setting Standards

Cloud architectures, design thinking and DevOps have taken innovation cycles from years to weeks, sometimes even to days. But cyber teams have been known to feel a bit uncomfortable with new architectures that can threaten the status quo and, conceptually at least, increase risk. Since Security can lead the organization to do this in a safe way, such initiatives need not be seen as threats.

Just one example can be found in creating formal written security standards for cloud services, but in a way that makes these services accessible to the business. Nowadays, it’s common for teams to use what are known as security scripts to build new virtual servers when extra computing capacity is needed. Building scripts to pre-determined, pre-hardened standards means new virtual servers can be stood up and available for use both swiftly and safely, even dynamically in response to varying processing loads.

In the DevOps model, the development team becomes the first line of defense; the Security team must enable them by teaching secure development techniques and practices that tie back to corporate requirements. That’s attained by enabling developers to work in a continuous deployment environment, but with the know-how of secure development practices and the guardrails of built in-code analysis tools that look for vulnerabilities. Additionally, building compliance into software design really helps to create the kind of environment that security leaders have long wanted. In the process, developers and even product leaders can become an extension of the security team. It’s a win-win. – Read more

Banks and buy-side to allocate half of tech budgets to cloud services

My Post - 2019-10-10T181135.496.pngSurvey from Refinitiv has found that spending on cloud services will increase in 2020 as firms see immediate cost savings from projects.

Buy- and sell-side institutions will allocate almost half of IT budgets to spending on cloud services and technology in 2020, according to a survey of data and technology chiefs and market data heads across the industry.

A poll of 300 senior financial technologists globally, conducted by Refinitiv, found that budgets for public cloud services for data purposes will increase to 48% of total technology spending, up 41% from this year and 34% in 2018.

According to the research, 76% of respondents said the plans to increase investment in cloud services are due to the immediate cost savings, particularly for hedge funds, of which 91% said that cloud projects had performed better than expected.

“The global financial community is increasingly bullish on the potential of the cloud to maintain profitability, deliver an innovation dividend, enhance business resilience and ensure future scalability,” Marion Leslie, global head of enterprise front-office propositions at Refinitiv, commented.  “We’re entering a more mature phase for cloud adoption in the financial sector, as the industry has completed many successful projects that justify increased investment.” – Read more

What’s the top security risk during cloud migration?

My Post - 2019-10-10T175445.813.pngWe’ve gathered some expert opinions about the top cloud security risks that organizations should think about when migrating to the cloud.

Organizations are migrating to the cloud in droves, some more cautiously than others, mindful of the security risks inherent in both cloud computing itself and the migration process. Information about the highest risks of cloud migration, however, can seem contradictory.

The 2019 Cloud Security Report from Cybersecurity Insiders noted that while 93% of cyber security professionals surveyed were concerned about public cloud security, 84% were confident in their own organization’s security posture. These numbers suggest that organizations are more worried about the security of their cloud service providers (CSPs) than about the cloud security risks they can control themselves.

However, a recent report from Cloud Security Alliance, Top Threats to Cloud Computing: Egregious Eleven, points out that unlike in previous years, organizations now seem less concerned with security risks that fall within the purview of their cloud service providers, such as denial of service. “Instead,” the report says, “we’re seeing more of a need to address security issues that are situated higher up the technology stack that are the result of senior management decisions.”

So if you’re planning to migrate any of your business operations to the cloud, what should you be most concerned about? Should you focus on the security of the software, platform, and infrastructure offered by your CSP? Or should you do more to secure your own applications and processes? What poses the greatest cloud security risk: data exposure, misconfiguration, compliance, policy and strategy, or something else entirely?

We’ve rounded up some expert opinions about the top security risks that organizations migrating to the cloud should keep in mind.

Focus on access, compliance, and monitoring

I would say the top three are:

  • Proper setup and protection of user identities while accessing the cloud
  • Ensuring your cloud computing is compliant with applicable regulations and policies
  • Establishing proper logging, monitoring, and analysis of security events in the cloud

—Chenxi Wang, founder and general partner, Rain Capital

Does your C-suite understand cloud security risks?

DevOps has become part of C-suite and board-level discussions, attesting to the growing critical value of web applications and digital transformation as part of the broader business strategy. However, if the frequency of breaches and the growing concerns of CISOs are any indication, executives aggressively pushing for cloud solutions often have a mistaken understanding of the nature of the security risks that cloud adoption and careless DevOps programs can introduce into their organization.

—Lior Cohen, senior director of products and solutions, cloud security at Fortinet

Read more

Look before you leap: Mitigating risk in cloud data deployments

My Post - 2019-10-08T181235.888.pngA guide to using AI in reducing the risk in migrating to the cloud

Challenges in cloud computing services – and how to overcome them

My Post - 2019-10-08T180836.530.pngWe are in the digital era. Due to technological evolution, the business landscape has changed completely.

Most businesses have now migrated to cloud computing as a way to back up their data.

According to a report by SolarWinds, 95% of IT professionals have cited cloud computing as one of the five most important IT strategies in business today. Cloud computing services offer a lot of benefits to businesses. It enhances efficiency, versatility, scalability, and offers a competitive edge from other companies.

With an array of benefits to boast of, cloud computing has its challenges. However, do not fret! These challenges have solutions. In this article, we will explore these hurdles and how to overcome them.

Security and Privacy

Security is arguably the biggest challenge in cloud computing. Cloud security refers to a set of technologies or policies to protect data. Remember, violating privacy can cause havoc to end-users.

That is why businesses can overcome this challenge by adopting a tight security protection protocol. This involves training IT staff on security issues and how to handle them. For instance, they can enroll them in aws cloud practitioner practice exam.

Using security tools such as Bitglass can significantly reduce security threats. Another efficient method is adapting a corporate culture that upholds data security.

Cost

The cost aspect presents a significant challenge in the adoption and operation of cloud computing services, especially for small businesses. However, the operation costs of cloud services vary.

But, modifying cloud computing services to match customers’ requirements can sometimes prove to be expensive. It increases core business expenditure and eats into profits.

To solve this challenge, you should prepare a cost estimate budget right from the start. You will need to involve experts who will help you with cloud cost management. An additional measure is creating a centralized team to oversee budget details.  It is prudent to keep a portion of the budget for unseen circumstances.

Reliability and Availability

While most cloud providers continue to improve their uptimes, service disruption is still a enroll problem. Small scale cloud service providers are more prone to downtime. This problem persists today even with well-developed backups and platform advancements.

Cloud computing service providers have resorted to creating multiple redundancy levels in their systems. Also, they are developing disaster recovery setups and back up plans to mitigate outages. You should seek the services of established cloud computing service providers. – Read more

How Does Cloud Storage Work?

My Post - 2019-10-08T173230.532.pngStoring data online is now common practice for both individuals and businesses. It helps them to keep data records in the cloud and access it from anywhere.

Using cloud storage is an alternative to keeping your files on a local hard drive, external hard drive, or mobile device/flash drive.

People even do not ask themselves what is cloud storage like and how it differs from a local data storage, although there are certain differences. We have cloud storage explained in the below paragraphs that will explain how cloud storage works and give examples of the types of cloud storage.

What Is Cloud Storage?

Cloud storage is any combination of hardware and software. It enables you to store information on a remote computing infrastructure that operates as an individual data storage location on the internet.

Unlike automated backup systems that store your essential files in the cloud, using cloud storage does not require to backup all your system or critical files. You can decide which files to copy, move, or create in the cloud.

What is cloud data, then? Cloud data is any file you store on the internet and to which you have access afterward. A cloud data storage usually allows uploading of any type of file: office documents, video, audio, database records, and others. Thus, a cloud computing storage is a remote data server you use to keep your file safe and accessible on the go.

How Cloud Storage Works?

Cloud data storage platforms resemble the structure of computing networks that you are using at your home or office.

There are three major models of cloud computing networks. These are the private cloud storage, public cloud storage, and hybrid cloud storage (see the diagram below). Each of them provides the same functionality to store data online or make computations in the cloud. However, each of them is built using different cybersecurity approaches and utilizes different means for access.

New edge computing models are now emerging. It is where you store data, not in a centralized data center but edge devices such as the Internet of Things hardware.

All of the abovementioned cloud models store your data on the Internet, behind a firewall and after encrypting your data while transferring and storing locally in a cloud data center. This makes cloud data storages even more secure than corporate networks. Cloud data centers implement the best cybersecurity practices and the latest technologies to protect data.

Features To Look For When Using Cloud Storage

There are numerous benefits of using cloud data storage instead of local hard drives or corporate servers. You have your data stored in a secure place and have access to it from anywhere and anytime. However, cloud storage is also scalable. You can have as much data storage space available to you. On the other hand, you can scale down your cloud storage volume when you need less storage space. That is why cloud storage services are booming. Moreover, investment in data centers is skyrocketing in recent years.

Nonetheless, not all cloud data storage providers are born equal. You need to take your time and perform some research before deciding which cloud service is reliable and secure.

Bearing in mind how cloud storage works, transmitting data from and to your local computer all the time, you need to have an encrypted and secure connection between your device(s) and the selected cloud storage at all times. – Read more

Cloud Computing Architecture: What Is Front End and Back End?

My Post - 2019-10-08T145738.009.pngThe front end of a networked system is the side that a user, client, or customer sees.

The back end is everything that happens behind the scenes that is not necessarily seen by the user.

Access to networked services may be through a front end that is a web-based interface, a website, a mobile app, or some other type of digital portals such as a monitor display on a kiosk or an ATM.

The back end is everything the user does not normally see and the things that process the information. This includes the network connectivity, the cloud hardware including servers, and the cloud-based software applications that run on the cloud servers.

Where does the computational work happen?

Frequently, the back end does most of the computational processing except for systems with edge-computing capabilities. With edge computing, some computational processing is pushed out towards the front end to be processed by the devices used to access the services.

Cloud computing is based on a client-server relationship. In cloud computing architecture, the front end is also known as the client. The back end is the cloud servers and their applications.

Any Front-End Device Anytime from Anywhere

The networked systems that function the best are those designed to accommodate as many devices as possible, even those running on different operating systems. Moreover, if the interface connects via the Internet, the system should support all the popular web browsers.

The front end includes the hardware and the software used by the person to access the cloud services. The hardware could be any device such as a digital notepad, a laptop, a desktop computer, a smartphone, or any other connected device.

The front-end device may respond to human control or operate autonomously.

With the explosive growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), billions of new front-end devices are being added to the network. The connectivity of these IoT devices will be further enabled by the deployment of the 5G wireless mobile technology that is already underway in many countries.

Front End Cloud Technology Capabilities

The advantages of cloud technology include the ability to access a wide variety of cloud-based services using many choices of front-end devices from the simple to the sophisticated. The communication protocols allow many kinds of hardware technology to work with cloud services.

Simple Device

An example of a simple device is a so-called “dumb” terminal. These are simple connectivity devices with no capability to do any computational processing on their own. All the data processing is done by cloud-based software applications.

Device to Device Communication

A front end can be a software program. Software programs communicate with cloud services by using an application programming interface (API). – Read more

The Key to Accelerating Value in the Cloud

My Post - 2019-09-24T110540.978.pngAs cloud continues to be a catalyst for business transformation, organizations are looking to these technologies to accelerate delivering results with measureable business value.

This includes everything from expanding globally, growing revenue, and optimizing costs to increasing product innovation and boosting customer acquisition and retention.

The key to creating and boosting this value, say KPMG specialists, is combining cloud with automation. Robotics process automation, cognitive automation, and artificial intelligence/machine learning, they say, are key to enabling cloud to run at the speed and scale of business and helping information technology (IT) evolve with the necessary agility, innovation, and quality needed to attain the outcomes today’s businesses expect.

“Automation, together with cloud, shortens lead times and cycle times by providing access to a set of services at the touch of a keystroke,” he says. Organizations can automate routine tasks so they can do more with less, as well as gain better accuracy. “If you have repeatable provisioning process for a standard set of services with security controls and policies embedded in the codified service patterns, you can have self-services and automated end-to-end process that can scale and produce the expected result every time it’s executed,” he says.

1. Automation of operations.

The first barrier, says Jacobson, is to codify the cloud services along with an organization’s core building blocks in place to take advantage of automation. “I call it putting the organization wrapper around the services cloud providers offer,” he says. “Do you have the right portfolio of services designed and built with the appropriate network connectivity, controls, and policies that best serve your organization? Today’s consumers of cloud services want the autonomy and flexibility to promote on-demand deployment of standardized technology stacks and flexibility integrated with their CI/CD pipelines.” – Read more