Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Guest Post - Cloud Computing in 2015

Patricia B. Seybold originally wrote this exclusive prediction for the CohesiveFT ebook “Cloud Memoirs: Views from Below, Inside, and Above"  She is the CEO & Sr. Consultant at the Patricia Seybold Group and the author of Customers.com, Customer Revolution, and Outside Innovation.

Customers want to be able to access and manage their own information and activities from anywhere, and they want that information to be securely backed up and redundant. The most cost-effective way to satisfy customers' requirements will be to take advantage of low-cost cloud computing services. To ensure the integrity of customers' data and communications, large organizations will provide their own application security, data security, and virtual private networking. Smaller firms will rely on VPN and cloud security experts.

Your Customers’ Data NEEDS to be in the Cloud
Remember, your firm doesn’t own your customers’ information. Your firm’s customers own their own information. They have simply entrusted it to your organization. And, unless you make it easy for them to access, synchronize, and manage their stuff, you’re going to lose those customers!

Up until now, enterprise IT architects who have been designing their companies’ cloud strategies have decided to leave customer data for last, feeling that, because of its importance and sensitivity, customer data will be the last information to migrate to the cloud. But, if your enterprise architects don’t take your customers’ needs into account as you plan and execute your firm’s migration to private, public, and hybrid clouds, the chances are good that you’ll wind up with a “customers last” strategy—one that will keep you from being competitive. If so, there's a good chance that one or more of your competitors will leverage cloud computing and mobile apps to offer your customers easy, secure access to all the information those customers need to keep on top of things, to get things done quickly and easily, and to keep everyone on the same page.

If your IT architects ignore the need to plan your “customer cloud” strategy, customer-facing applications will continue to be developed and deployed by different groups within your organization. Some of these applications will run on proprietary home-grown systems; some will be deployed via the Internet; others will be apps downloaded on customers’ mobile devices. Your organization will wind up with an unmanageable, brittle, and fragmented set of mobile apps, customer portals, and intelligent networks and systems that do not represent your brand well. Customers will not have an integrated view that lets them manage their relationships with your firm and keep track of the products they’ve purchased from you or that you are managing for them. Customers certainly won’t have confidence that their data is consistent and up-to-date.

Therefore you should lead your cloud strategy with customer data and applications hosted in secure private clouds and accessed by secure private networks. You’ll be able to be more responsive to customers’ needs to have their own information at their fingertips from their mobile phones and tablets.

You’ll be able to provide customers with a rich environment for managing and interacting with the assets they’ve purchased from you. It will be easier to keep customers’ mobile devices, your customer portals, and their intelligent products in synch.

Your Customer Cloud Needs to Be Highly Secure
Of course, when dealing with your firm, your customers will also expect and require more privacy and security from you than they do from Facebook or Google. They expect you to keep their personal and transactional data away from hackers who may be intent on stealing their identity or on compromising their data. They count on you to protect their corporate information from industrial espionage. They also expect you to keep both their personal and corporate information free from spying by government entities. When customers are dealing with you, they expect you to protect their privacy and to protect the integrity of their corporate information. To deliver the levels of privacy, security and data integrity your customers require to manage their activities, you’ll need highly secure cloud computing environments and highly secure and encrypted networks to enable your customers to access their information in your customer cloud(s).

These security requirements go beyond the need for physical security of the hosting centers used to house all the cloud computing infrastructure. You will also need to go beyond intrusion detection and anti-hacking measures to protect your cloud computing infrastructure and cloud computing platforms. Customers will expect you to secure and protect their data and network communications at the highest levels—at the application layer, across multiple clouds. And, since many customers' activities also cross organizational boundaries, we'll need security in our application-to-application interactions across multiple clouds as well.

What Will CustomerS Require from Your Cloud by 2015?

By 2015, You’ll Need a Secure Customer Cloud and Secure Virtual Private Networks to Be Competitive
Because customers will expect and demand you to manage and synchronize "their" information, they will want you to keep it secure and not able to be viewed or accessed by anyone they haven't authorized to do so.
Encrypt and Secure Customers’ Data. You’ll need to use the same data security practices in the Cloud that you've used in securing customer data inside your firewall. Your cloud computing environment needs to be password protected, SSL-secured, and your customers' data should be encrypted.
Provide Secure Network Access. Whether your customers are accessing your cloud-hosted applications from their mobile devices and/or from their office systems or from a coffee shop, they should have the benefit of secure access to their own data. Your customer cloud strategy needs to include provisions for both identity management and access management as well as to be secure from unwanted monitoring. You don’t want someone parked outside your customer’s home to be able to eavesdrop on that customer’s supposedly secure interactions with your firm.

Manage Your Own Security Perimeter across Clouds. It doesn't matter to customers whether you are using IBM’s or HP's cloud services or Amazon's or Google's—or all of them. Customers will expect your company to ensure that a) their information is backed up and replicated in multiple clouds managed by different cloud providers and b) that you have secured the virtual perimeter around their information and the applications they use to interact with their information across all of those clouds.

By 2015, Customers Will Want Control Over the Jurisdiction in Which Your Customer Cloud(s) Reside
The nice thing about digital services in the cloud is that they can be hosted anywhere in the world. But that's also a problem if the country in which the data actually physically resides has laws that restrict what information can be hosted there. For example, copyrights are national. If I buy a digital book with an American copyright, or download an Australian movie, or stream music from Korea, where am I legally allowed to store and access that information?

Each country and region also has different laws about what customer information can be moved across country boundaries. Even if that information is hosted in the cloud, the digital bits are still stored on a computer disk in one or more physical locations. German customers’ information needs to stay in Germany. It can’t cross borders, so you still need to be able to prove that the physical data storage is in Germany. What if my German customer information winds up on a server in India? That's a big problem!

Ensure that Customers' Regulated Data Does Not Cross Borders. Customers will be relying on your company to abide by national and international data privacy regulations. You need to be able to demonstrate to customers that their data is physically resident only in the jurisdictions in which they choose for it to reside.

Government security policies also have cross-border implications. The U.S. Patriot Act apparently gives the US government the ability to access private information from any American company anywhere in the world if terrorist activity is suspected. So, if you are a U.S.-based company and you have German or Brazilian customers, their information may be subject to search by the US government. In order to be competitive in a global market, US companies need to be able to assure their non-US customers that their information is not subject to search by US authorities simply because the company with which they do business is headquartered in the U.S.

By 2015, Customers Will Want to Manage Their Activities in Your/Their Customer Clouds
Customers may not explicitly ask you to provide them with "customer clouds." But if you take an inventory of what your customers actually want and need to do in and around "their" stuff, you quickly realize that you'll need a customer cloud strategy and implementation in order to satisfy all of these customer requirements:

1. Make It Easy for Customers to Manage Their Stuff (in the Cloud). Today’s customers expect to be able to see and manage their relationships and preferences. They also expect to have access to relevant information about everything they’ve bought either directly from you and/ or from one of your channel partners. If they need to re-order, replenish, repair, get help with, buy supplies, and/or get better performance or learn how to do something new, they expect you to provide them with a set of tools that let them get things done. Customers want to keep track of their assets and their projects. They want to be able to do this from anywhere.
2. Keep Customers' Stuff Up-to-Date, Backed Up, and In Synch. Although we want to have everything at our fingertips, most of us do not have the time and inclination to do data entry. As customers, we don’t want to have to enter everything. We want you, the company from whom we bought our assets, and/or the service provider or custodian to whom we’ve entrusted the care of our assets, to “automagically” pre-populate our stuff and to keep our stuff up-to-date for us as things change. (Show me my current bank balance and the value of my investment portfolio, show me the current configuration of the hardware and software in my networks, show me what courses I’ve completed and what credits I’ve earned to-date, show me the current working components in my power plant, show me the current version of this file, and maintain all the previous versions in case I need to roll back).
If we, as end-users, have made changes that you can’t detect or know about, we’re willing to provide those updates (but not necessarily immediately; only when we happen to look at things and realize that something’s not quite up-to-date). Best of all possible worlds, we’d like it if you could automatically keep everything up-to-date for us without our having to DO anything. And, if we’re entrusting our assets to your care (or even the records about our assets), we want you to provide automatic back up so we don’t have to worry about losing them.

You'll Need to Have Implemented Your Customer Cloud Strategy by 2015
The customer requirements we've described are not new. These are the behaviors that customers are already exhibiting as they interact with the mobile devices and with the Web. But, if you don't step back and realize that you'll need a comprehensive customer cloud architecture to actually meet your customers' expectations within the next two years, you'll be so far behind the next generation of competitors who assume cloud computing as the standard deployment model that you'll never be able to catch up.

This contributed piece first appeared in the CohesiveFT ebook “Cloud Memoirs: Views from Below, Inside, and Above" For all the downloadable versions, visit http://www.cohesiveft.com/ebook

Friday, November 21, 2014

Weekly news roundup for Cloud and Networking: November 17 - 21

Cloud and Networking news for the week of November 17th
CohesiveFT in the news:
  • We're a finalists in the DCD EMEA Awards for our "Building Multi-Cloud Overlay Networks with Public Clouds" entry. The winners will be announced on December 11 in London.
  • Chris Swan's talk from the London PaaS User Group (LOPUG), "Docker and the end of the distro" is now available 
Catch up with the CohesiveFT team:
  • Nov 25 Chris Swan speaking at Cloud Law in London
  • Dec 3 Patrick Kerpan on CloudSummits panel "Adding New Value to IaaS Offerings" 
  • Dec 9 Patrick Kerpan presenting at Google Developer Group Chicago on Google Cloud
  • Jan 7, 2015 - CloudCamp Chicago "guts of the cloud"

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

There are databases and then there are Databases: data migration to the cloud and how security will become even more important

by CEO Patrick Kerpan 

When we first started using AWS public cloud and other virtualized environments in 2006, we weren’t sure what kind of data and workloads our enterprise customers would migrate to the cloud. Some early industry watchers predicted the entire IT operation would move in one leap, others thought only non-critical, internal operating systems would migrate.  

We first thought that no Database would ever migrate to cloud. Yet, we realized there might be a difference in database versus Database. A Database, a stand-alone, massive collection of compute and storage, would not make sense to move first into cloud. But on the other hand, a database that only supports an application would actually make sense to be cloud-based. 

So what is the difference between a Database and a database? Specific databases can scale up and down with their applications and are easier to manage via cloud. Early customers used web apps, capacity expansion, and failover with public cloud. These cloud use cases usually involved some databases just to function, but it was never a huge Database with critical customer information, accounting data, or production.

As more and more customers are using production systems in public, private and hybrid clouds we now see Databases. Things like big data, clusters of compute resource, and cloud-only businesses are creating the need for larger, more critical data in cloud.

The only caution: security. As more mission-critical systems and operations move, cloud users must be able to attest to their own security. Usually, providers offer firewalls, edge protection, isolation, and hypervisor rules. But, who really owns those security features? Cloud providers. Service providers often write in their SLAs that the ultimate responsibility for security lies with the cloud users.  

How can cloud users guarantee their databases and Databases are secure in cloud environments?  Network security measures, including software defined networking (SDN) and overlay networks, can insulate databases or Databases from unwelcome eyes. SDN allows cloud users to separate security controls away from the hardware level.  

The difference between traditional networking and SDN is control.  The software defines the network as a whole, not each device. The software definitions allow for external access to the innards of switches and routers that formerly were closed and proprietary. With SDN controls, database / Database owners can control their own network firewall, data encryption, and crypto keys. SDN adds layers of security in on top of cloud providers’ offerings, hence overlay networking. 


On Dec 3, see Patrick Kerpan speak on the CloudSummits panel "Adding New Value to IaaS Offerings" in San Diego. Learn more and register here

Friday, November 14, 2014

Weekly news roundup for Cloud and Networking: November 10 - 14

Cloud and Networking news for the week of November 10th
  • From this week's AWS re:Invent conference, GigaOm wraps up "Top 5 Lessons learned at ReInvent" and for a full list of announcements at re:Invent, the AWS blog has them all.
  • Forrester's 2015 cloud predictions via ZDnet: Docker rises, storage pricing war claims lives
  • Datacenter Knowledge: A Rackspace survey says Nearly Everybody Will be Using DevOps by End of 2015
  • Gigaom: CIOs are getting out of the Data Center business >> "CIO’s and their contemporaries are generally making a move away from data centers. Specifically, moving away from managing their own, dedicated corporate data centers."

CohesiveFT in the news:
  •  Our new VNS3:ms product is featured in the SDNZone article "CohesiveFT Rolls Out New Management Tool for Virtual Environments"
  • Patrick Kerpan is quoted in the article "16 Tips for Moving Your Workloads to the Cloud" on Enterprise CIO Forum.
  • We're a finalists in the DCD EMEA Awards for our "Building Multi-Cloud Overlay Networks with Public Clouds" entry. The winners will be announced on December 11 in London.
  • Chris Swan's webinar, "Software Defined Networking - What's New?" is now available to replay on BrightTALK
    Catch up with the CohesiveFT team:
    • Nov 25 Chris Swan speaking at Cloud Law in London
    • Dec 3 Patrick Kerpan on CloudSummits panel "Adding New Value to IaaS Offerings" 
    • Jan 7, 2015 - CloudCamp Chicago "guts of the cloud"

    Monday, November 10, 2014

    Announcing VNS3:ms, the Network Management Console for Complex Networks

    Manage the cloud sprawl with VNS3:ms Network Console

    VNS3:ms is a single dashboard where you can manage and monitor all of your VNS3 networks and VPN connections.

    Before, VNS3 users and network managers alike had to individually check on security status features. Some status and security records, like keeping an updated snapshot for every single Manager, could be a tedious process. The time and effort it took prevented some from following security best practices.

    Now, VNS3:ms (think "management system" but shortened) is the one-stop shop to check up on the vital stats of your networks. From the VNS3:ms console, you can see who has access and role authorization, all the runtime statuses of VNS3 Managers, and how many VNS3 licenses your group is using. Plus, things like automatic snapshot generation and password recovery is fully in your control.  

    We're very excited to offer additional features to the usual VNS3 software-only virtual network functions. Using VNS3:ms with all of your existing VNS3 Managers lets you view and manage them with a central log for:

    • All Topologies
    • All Managers
    • Cloud VLAN Objects
    • Snapshot Management
    • Multi-Cloud Credential Management
    • Manager Password Recovery
    • User Authentication and Role Management

    Just like VNS3, the new VNS3:ms is available in most public, private, and hybrid clouds: Amazon EC2 and VPC, IBM Softlayer, Google Compute Platform, Microsoft Azure, HP Helion, Verizon Cloud, Interoute, OpenStack, Eucalyptus, VMware, KVM, Xen, and more.

    For more about VNS3:ms, check out the product page at CohesiveFT.com/products/vns3ms

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