Welcome!

Cloud Security Authors: Derek Weeks, Mark Ross-Smith, Carmen Gonzalez, Aruna Ravichandran, Jim Hansen

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
Big Data, cloud, analytics, contextual information, wearable tech, sensors, mobility, and WebRTC: together, these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Erik Perotti, Senior Manager of New Ventures on Plantronics’ Innovation team, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it m...
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, discussed how leveraging the Industrial Internet and...
"Tintri was started in 2008 with the express purpose of building a storage appliance that is ideal for virtualized environments. We support a lot of different hypervisor platforms from VMware to OpenStack to Hyper-V," explained Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
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...
Fact is, enterprises have significant legacy voice infrastructure that’s costly to replace with pure IP solutions. How can we bring this analog infrastructure into our shiny new cloud applications? There are proven methods to bind both legacy voice applications and traditional PSTN audio into cloud-based applications and services at a carrier scale. Some of the most successful implementations leverage WebRTC, WebSockets, SIP and other open source technologies. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Da...
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
In his General Session at 16th Cloud Expo, David Shacochis, host of The Hybrid IT Files podcast and Vice President at CenturyLink, investigated three key trends of the “gigabit economy" though the story of a Fortune 500 communications company in transformation. Narrating how multi-modal hybrid IT, service automation, and agile delivery all intersect, he will cover the role of storytelling and empathy in achieving strategic alignment between the enterprise and its information technology.
IoT is at the core or many Digital Transformation initiatives with the goal of re-inventing a company's business model. We all agree that collecting relevant IoT data will result in massive amounts of data needing to be stored. However, with the rapid development of IoT devices and ongoing business model transformation, we are not able to predict the volume and growth of IoT data. And with the lack of IoT history, traditional methods of IT and infrastructure planning based on the past do not app...
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, discussed the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to focus o...
The Internet of Things can drive efficiency for airlines and airports. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Sudip Majumder, senior director of development at Oracle, discussed the technical details of the connected airline baggage and related social media solutions. These IoT applications will enhance travelers' journey experience and drive efficiency for the airlines and the airports.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
"LinearHub provides smart video conferencing, which is the Roundee service, and we archive all the video conferences and we also provide the transcript," stated Sunghyuk Kim, CEO of LinearHub, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Things are changing so quickly in IoT that it would take a wizard to predict which ecosystem will gain the most traction. In order for IoT to reach its potential, smart devices must be able to work together. Today, there are a slew of interoperability standards being promoted by big names to make this happen: HomeKit, Brillo and Alljoyn. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Adam Justice, vice president and general manager of Grid Connect, will review what happens when smart devices don’t work togethe...
"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...
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, 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 opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
Discover top technologies and tools all under one roof at April 24–28, 2017, at the Westin San Diego in San Diego, CA. Explore the Mobile Dev + Test and IoT Dev + Test Expo and enjoy all of these unique opportunities: The latest solutions, technologies, and tools in mobile or IoT software development and testing. Meet one-on-one with representatives from some of today's most innovative organizations
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in Embedded and IoT solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and E...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.