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Cloud Is All About Security

An exclusive Q&A with Terry Woloszyn, Founder & CEO, Leeward Security Ltd.

"Open source has always provided a number of benefits, including easing adoption costs, propagating a better understanding of the technology, and allowing for faster evolution and commercialization of products and services based on it," noted Terry Woloszyn, Founder & CEO, Leeward Security Ltd., in this exclusive Q&A with Cloud Expo Conference Chair Jeremy Geelan. "This is clearly evident with the OpenStack and CloudStack," Woloszyn continued, "and others that have been quickly commercialized as offerings such as Rackspace."

Cloud Computing Journal: The move to cloud isn't about saving money, it is about saving time. - Agree or disagree?

Terry Woloszyn: It's actually both. Depending on the type of cloud - SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS, and whether it is private or public - the metrics that are used to determine the savings vary in weighting and importance. For example, the total cost of ownership in selecting, installing, configuring, managing, and ultimately replacing enterprise applications is quite large when compared to utilizing a public cloud SaaS equivalent. In this case, it's about saving time and money. On the other hand, utilizing a private cloud infrastructure as a host platform for enterprise applications is much more about saving time in provisioning, as the money difference is small, realized only in hardware utilization and platform management cost savings.

There are other metrics that factor into a selection decision as well, such as security, redundancy, disaster recovery, scalability, and more. It all comes down to the individual requirements of the selector when determining what "it's all about saving."

Cloud Computing Journal: How should organizations tackle their regulatory and compliance concerns in the cloud? Who should they be asking/trusting for advice?

Woloszyn: Unfortunately, regulatory compliance is a moving target. Depending on the jurisdiction, there may not even be a way to become compliant, as legislation at different levels of government may actually conflict, resulting in a bun fight between them that only the courts can settle, and may take years to do so.

Furthermore, cloud exacerbates the problem by spreading the compliance requirements across a plurality of jurisdictions, which results in more conflicting legislation. Great examples have emerged wherein data privacy compliance dictated by one jurisdiction outside of the US is impossible to achieve, thanks to PATRIOT, to be complied with if a US cloud is utilized. It may even be impossible to comply if the network traffic itself simply transits US territory. Again, legislators and regulators are only starting to realize that they no longer can legislate within their borders - that there is a global economic and technology reality that they must account for if their constituents are to remain competitive in the global markets.

As a result, trying to achieve 100% compliance may be impractical, as it is virtually impossible to understand where every bit is located and where they travel during the usage of the cloud, and what compliance requirements are incumbent on the users and providers as a result. One approach to resolve this is similar to ring security employed by systems today, with the core representing the local jurisdiction regulatory and compliance requirements, and the risks and costs for non-compliance. Each subsequent ring around the core represents regulatory and compliance requirements of lessening importance, along with corresponding risks and costs for non-compliance. The final ring represents no regulatory or compliance requirements, and no risks. By creating this type of framework and taxonomy, with the assistance of technologists, cloud providers, and legal counsel, it allows the adopter to quickly make assessments for existing and future cloud adoption, and easily allows for impact analysis of ever-changing technology, regulatory, and compliance requirements.

Cloud Computing Journal: What does the emergence of Open Source clouds mean for the cloud ecosystem? How does the existence of OpenStack, CloudStack, OpenNebula, Eucalyptus and so on affect your own company?

Woloszyn: Open Source has always provided a number of benefits, including easing adoption costs, propagating a better understanding of the technology, and allowing for faster evolution and commercialization of products and services based on it. This is clearly evident with the OpenStack, CloudStack, and others that have been quickly commercialized as offerings such as Rackspace. It makes for more consistency, faster adoption, and more robust offerings as everyone works towards the same results in the open source community, rather than the competitive development model of the 1980s and 1990s that only resulted in a handful of expensive, proprietary, half-solutions.

Cloud Computing Journal: With SMBs, the two primary challenges they face moving to the cloud are always stated as being cost and trust: where is the industry on satisfying SMBs on both points simultaneously - further along than in 2011-12, or...?

Woloszyn: Certainly from a cost perspective, cloud has become very affordable as a technology. However, the skills and labor costs associated with cloud adoption and management are still relatively high, making it a barrier for SMB adoption. As cloud becomes more ubiquitous, the skills become more accessible and affordable. As a result, like any technology, it is the large, early adopters that start, and it slowly cascades down through SMB, and eventually down to SOHO and individuals.

As for trust, SMBs actually seem to trust more than the enterprise adopters. This is because more cloud vendors have succeeded in promoting security and trust of their brand through standards compliance, certification, and customer recognition. SMBs are aware that the cloud vendors are likely more secure an offering, for example, than the SMB themselves could provide.

Cloud Computing Journal: 2013 seems to be turning into a breakthrough year for Big Data. How much does the success of cloud computing have to do with that?

Woloszyn: Big Data, like other enterprise-scale technologies, would only be within reach of large enterprises without the support of cloud. Cloud has a democratization effect on new technology adoption, and allows for economies of scale that would otherwise be unaffordable by most organizations. This makes Big Data accessible by a much larger group of adopters, by virtue of cloud support.

Cloud Computing Journal: What about the role of social: aside from the acronym itself SMAC (for Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud) are you seeing and/or anticipating major traction in this area?

Woloszyn: There was a time when having a website was a requirement for organizations to be considered "real" and viable. Organizations without a website were viewed as either too small, or not viable, or not even trustworthy. Today, a website is mandatory for all organizations to do business. The same pattern is being followed for Social. Organizations now see an emerging requirement for social participation in order to be recognized as "real." The convergence of mobile and social and cloud has accelerated the growth of social as the primary and preferred interaction channels between the consumers and business, and between businesses themselves. Without a social presence, organizations today will simply not survive against those that actively exploit social media in their sales, marketing and other business functions.

Cloud Computing Journal: To finish, just as real estate is always said to be about "location, location, location", what one word, repeated three times, would you say Cloud Computing is all about?

Woloszyn: Cloud is all about "Security, Security, Security," where Cloud provides the security in cost savings, the security in access and availability, and the better security against present and future threats.

More Stories By Pat Romanski

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