Welcome!

Cloud Security Authors: Gil Allouche, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Ram Sonagara, SmartBear Blog

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, Cloud Security, @BigDataExpo, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Article

Cloud Computing: Rethinking Control of IT

Executives are still dead set on building Private Clouds. The true reason for this stubbornness is the battle over control.

In my role as a globetrotting Cloud consultant, I continue to be amazed at how many executives, both in IT and in the lines of business, still favor Private Clouds over Public. These managers are perfectly happy to pour money into newfangled data centers (sorry, “Private Clouds”), even though Amazon Web Services (AWS) and its brethren are reinventing the entire world of IT. Their reason? Sometimes they believe Private Clouds will save them money over the Public Cloud option. No such luck: Private Clouds are dreadfully expensive to build, staff, and manage, while Public Cloud services continue to fall in price. Others point to security as the problem. No again. OK, maybe Private Clouds will give us sufficient elasticity? Probably not. Go through all the arguments, however, and they’re still dead set on building that Private Cloud. What gives? The true reason for this stubbornness, of course, is the battle over control.

Thinking Like a Control Freak
IT executives in particular have always been control freaks. Our IT environments have been filled with fragile, flaky gear for so long that we figure the only way to run the IT shop is to control everything, grudgingly doling out bits of functionality and information to business users, but only when they ask nicely.

But this old mainframe reality has been fading for years now. The move to client/server to n-tier to the Internet and now to the Cloud are all exercises in increasingly distributed computing, with special emphasis on the distributed. As in distributed control.

The technology powers that be in the enterprise have been fighting this trend kicking and screaming, of course. But they’ve been fighting a losing battle. We saw the tide turn in the first-generation SOA days of the 2000s, when the IT establishment invested tried to implement SOA by buying ESBs, centralized pieces of middleware that purported to run the organization. But too many enterprises ended up with multiple ESBs and other pieces of middleware, since of course every manager in every department silo needs their own, because they all crave control. So the doomed SOA effort became a futile exercise in middleware-for-your-middleware, as the desired agility benefit sank beneath waves of rats-nest complexity.

What’s really going on here? Why do executives crave control so badly? Two reasons: risk mitigation and differentiation. If that piece of technology is outside your control, then perhaps bad things will happen: security breaches, regulatory compliance violations, or performance issues, to name the scariest. The problem is, maintaining control doesn’t necessary reduce such risks. But if you’re responsible for managing the risks, then the natural reaction is to crave control.

Managers also believe that whatever it is they’re doing in their silo is special and different in some way. So there’s no way they can leverage that shared piece of middleware or shared SOA-based Services or multitenant Cloud. If they did, they wouldn’t be special any more. Having a differentiated offering is essential to any viable market strategy, after all. So clearly my technology has to be different from your technology!

Chaos vs. Control
The Cloud, as you might expect, shakes up both these considerations, because the Cloud separates responsibility from control in ways that we’ve never seen before. Every manager knows that these two priorities often go hand in hand, and under normal circumstances, we prefer them to go together, because the last thing we want is responsibility without control: the recipe for becoming the scapegoat, after all. With the Cloud, however, we can maintain control while delegating responsibility to the Cloud Service Provider (CSP). The CSP is responsible for ensuring the operational environment is working properly, including the automated management and user-driven provisioning and configuration that differentiate Cloud Computing from virtualized hosting. However, the CSP has delegated control over each customer environment to that customer.

By turning around this control vs. responsibility equation, we’ve placed the CSP into the scapegoat position. As long as we have an iron-clad Service-Level Agreement with our CSP, we can trust them to take responsibility for our operational environments, and if anything goes wrong, we can hold them responsible. But the control over those environments remains with us, the customer. Once enterprise executives realize this new world order, they will run as fast as they can away from building Private Clouds. After all, if you can maintain control while delegating responsibility, why would you ever want responsibility? Responsibility gets people fired, after all.

Shifting responsibility to the CSP also helps to resolve the regulatory compliance roadblock that so many executives point to as the reason to select Private over Public Cloud. A combination of a properly responsible CSP combined with a sufficiently detailed SLA can go a long way toward indemnifying organizations against compliance breach risks. Remember, regulations rarely if ever specify how you must comply, only that you must. It’s up to you (and your lawyers) to decide on the how. As long as you’re diligent, conscientious, and follow established best practice, you’ve mitigated the bulk of your noncompliance risk. The CSPs are chomping at the bit to take this responsibility, so the smart risk mitigation strategy is shifting toward the Public Cloud.

The Price of Differentiation
The second threat to centralized control of IT is the business driver toward differentiation. Whatever our department or business is doing is special and different, and thus our infrastructure as well as our application environment must be unique as well. This principle is always true up to a point, which is why executives love to cling to it like a floating log in a vast sea of change. But just where that point falls continues to shift, and has shifted further than many people realize.

No enterprise would dream of calling a computer chip company and asking them to fabricate a custom processor for general business needs. What about a server? Unlikely, but perhaps. What about your core business applications, like finance, human resources, or customer relationship management (CRM)? Somewhat more likely. How about applications that provide capabilities that differentiate you in the marketplace? OK, now we’re talking.

In other words, virtually no enterprise has any rational motivation to specify custom infrastructure. Today’s Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) will do, especially considering how many configuration choices are available today: processor speed, operating system (as long as you want Windows or a flavor of Linux), memory, storage, and network are all user configurable and provisionable. Furthermore, there’s no reason to customize your dev, test, or deployment environments, so might as well use a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering.

But what about the applications? For non-strategic apps like CRM, might as well use Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) like Salesforce. No executives in their right mind would say that their customer relationship needs are so unique that they should code their own CRM system. So, what about those strategic apps, the ones that offer our differentiated capabilities or information to our customers? If an existing SaaS app won’t do, well, that’s what PaaS and IaaS are for: building and hosting our custom apps for us, respectively.

Still not convinced? Consider the competitive risk: the risk of spending too much money on unnecessary capabilities. While your competition is leveraging the Cloud, focusing their efforts on their true strategic differentiation in the market and saving buckets of dough everywhere else, you’re busy pouring cash into building yet another widget that might as well be the same widget you can get much more cheaply in the Cloud. If doing something unique and different doesn’t help the bottom line, then you’re simply wasting money. The asteroid is almost here. Which would you rather be, a dinosaur or a mammal?

The ZapThink Take
Outsourcing commodity capabilities to the low-cost provider while focusing your strategic value-add on customized offerings is an oft-repeated pattern in the world of business, but it hasn’t really taken hold in the world of IT until the rise of Cloud Computing. The reason it’s taken so long for the techies is because we’ve never been able to separate control and responsibility in the past as well as we can today. Before the Cloud, if we wanted to outsource one, then the other went along for the ride. Any enterprise that outsourced their entire IT operation went down this road. Sure, your technology becomes somebody else’s responsibility, but you end up giving up control as well.

Perhaps the greatest challenge with maintaining such control with the Cloud is that it raises the stakes on governance, leading to what we call next-generation governance in our ZapThink 2020 Poster as well as my new book, The Agile Architecture Revolution. The Cloud’s automated self-service represents powerful tools in the hands of people across our organization. Without a proactive, automated approach to governance, we risk running off the rails. Such issues are endemic in today’s technology environments: from Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) challenges to SOA governance to rogue Clouds, we must learn how to maintain control while maintaining the agility benefit such powerful technology dangles in front of us. But until we learn to delegate responsibility for the underlying technology to Public Cloud Providers, we’ll never be able to maintain control cost-effectively while maintaining our competitiveness.

Image source: Diego David Garcia

More Stories By Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise. As president of Intellyx, Mr. Bloomberg brings his years of thought leadership in the areas of Cloud Computing, Enterprise Architecture, and Service-Oriented Architecture to a global clientele of business executives, architects, software vendors, and Cloud service providers looking to achieve technology-enabled business agility across their organizations and for their customers. His latest book, The Agile Architecture Revolution (John Wiley & Sons, 2013), sets the stage for Mr. Bloomberg’s groundbreaking Agile Architecture vision.

Mr. Bloomberg is perhaps best known for his twelve years at ZapThink, where he created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) SOA course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, the leading SOA advisory and analysis firm, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011. He now runs the successor to the LZA program, the Bloomberg Agile Architecture Course, around the world.

Mr. Bloomberg is a frequent conference speaker and prolific writer. He has published over 500 articles, spoken at over 300 conferences, Webinars, and other events, and has been quoted in the press over 1,400 times as the leading expert on agile approaches to architecture in the enterprise.

Mr. Bloomberg’s previous book, Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (John Wiley & Sons, 2006, coauthored with Ron Schmelzer), is recognized as the leading business book on Service Orientation. He also co-authored the books XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996).

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting).

@ThingsExpo Stories
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
Is your aging software platform suffering from technical debt while the market changes and demands new solutions at a faster clip? It’s a bold move, but you might consider walking away from your core platform and starting fresh. ReadyTalk did exactly that. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, will discuss why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and over a decade of audio conferencing product development to start an innovati...
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings in the last year, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their back-end AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT – especially in the connected home and office. Amazon is extending its reach by building on its dominant Cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strategy, recently announced Replenishment Services, the Echo/Alexa voice recognition control platform, the 6-7 strategic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
It’s 2016: buildings are smart, connected and the IoT is fundamentally altering how control and operating systems work and speak to each other. Platforms across the enterprise are networked via inexpensive sensors to collect massive amounts of data for analytics, information management, and insights that can be used to continuously improve operations. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Chemel, Co-Founder and CTO of Digital Lumens, will explore: The benefits sensor-networked systems bring to ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
There will be new vendors providing applications, middleware, and connected devices to support the thriving IoT ecosystem. This essentially means that electronic device manufacturers will also be in the software business. Many will be new to building embedded software or robust software. This creates an increased importance on software quality, particularly within the Industrial Internet of Things where business-critical applications are becoming dependent on products controlled by software. Qua...
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 19th Cloud Expo and 6th @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Interne...
Large scale deployments present unique planning challenges, system commissioning hurdles between IT and OT and demand careful system hand-off orchestration. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Smith, Senior Director and a founding member of Incenergy, will discuss some of the key tactics to ensure delivery success based on his experience of the last two years deploying Industrial IoT systems across four continents.
CenturyLink has announced that application server solutions from GENBAND are now available as part of CenturyLink’s Networx contracts. The General Services Administration (GSA)’s Networx program includes the largest telecommunications contract vehicles ever awarded by the federal government. CenturyLink recently secured an extension through spring 2020 of its offerings available to federal government agencies via GSA’s Networx Universal and Enterprise contracts. GENBAND’s EXPERiUS™ Application...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develo...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MangoApps provides modern company intranets and team collaboration software, allowing workers to stay connected and productive from anywhere in the world and from any device.
The IETF draft standard for M2M certificates is a security solution specifically designed for the demanding needs of IoT/M2M applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Romansky, VP of Strategic Technology at TrustPoint Innovation, explained how M2M certificates can efficiently enable confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity on highly constrained devices.
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
In today's uber-connected, consumer-centric, cloud-enabled, insights-driven, multi-device, global world, the focus of solutions has shifted from the product that is sold to the person who is buying the product or service. Enterprises have rebranded their business around the consumers of their products. The buyer is the person and the focus is not on the offering. The person is connected through multiple devices, wearables, at home, on the road, and in multiple locations, sometimes simultaneously...
“delaPlex Software provides software outsourcing services. We have a hybrid model where we have onshore developers and project managers that we can place anywhere in the U.S. or in Europe,” explained Manish Sachdeva, CEO at delaPlex Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We've discovered that after shows 80% if leads that people get, 80% of the conversations end up on the show floor, meaning people forget about it, people forget who they talk to, people forget that there are actual business opportunities to be had here so we try to help out and keep the conversations going," explained Jeff Mesnik, Founder and President of ContentMX, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
From wearable activity trackers to fantasy e-sports, data and technology are transforming the way athletes train for the game and fans engage with their teams. In his session at @ThingsExpo, will present key data findings from leading sports organizations San Francisco 49ers, Orlando Magic NBA team. By utilizing data analytics these sports orgs have recognized new revenue streams, doubled its fan base and streamlined costs at its stadiums. John Paul is the CEO and Founder of VenueNext. Prior ...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.