Posts Tagged ‘hybrid cloud’

Hybrid Cloud Risks That IT Managers Can’t Take Their Eyes Off

It’s been more than a decade since cloud computing brought business close to the idea of affordable computing, storage, and application resources. Soon enough, the cloud universe underwent a bifurcation, driven namely by the public and private cloud. As companies began to understand the pros and cons of both approaches to cloud computing, another term became the buzzword. It’s a hybrid cloud – an arrangement where enterprises create a good balance of public and private cloud.

 

 

 

Risks Associated With Hybrid Cloud

Whereas the hybrid cloud approach helps companies achieve the perfect balance of application availability, security, and the resultant employee productivity, it also presents certain management challenges. Most of these challenges/risks are directly or indirectly related to the KPIs of cloud-based applications, from a productivity, accessibility, and security standpoint. Here’s a guide to help you understand and manage these risks.

 

Too Many Decision Makers

When an enterprise makes a conscious choice to go for a hybrid arrangement of public, private, and on-premise systems, one of the biggest risks is of having too many decision makers influencing the choice of cloud tools. Particularly when high ranking end user and business team leaders push for the choice of certain cloud tools without letting IT analyze it on different aspects, chaos ensues.

When an enterprise is stuck with many cloud solutions that don’t exactly integrate with each other, there’s hardly a single team or person responsible for the hodgepodge that exists in the name of hybrid cloud. The performance management and overall coordination of such a cloud ecosystem often become too difficult to manage for the enterprise.

 

Cloud Security - In the Cloud

 

Underestimating the Data Stewardship Responsibilities

Here’s a fact – the level of control of data governance, security, and privacy that an enterprise’s IT team can exercise for an on-premise solution can’t be matched by that in a cloud-based solution. While working out the right mix of on-premise, public cloud, and private cloud solutions, enterprises must not lose sight of the level of control they need over their data. Even the leading cloud services vendors don’t take 100% responsibility for your enterprise data; there’s a lot that you need to be accountable for. And unless your hybrid cloud setup addresses this reality, there’s trouble brewing close by.

 

Improper Choices of Cloud Management Tool

To manage everything about your hybrid cloud infrastructure, you’ll need a sophisticated cloud management solution. Now, in a hybrid cloud environment, there is a lot of communication between public cloud and private cloud infrastructures. So, the tool your company purchases must be able to manage this communication while managing the security considerations alongside.

There are other issues too. If the public and private cloud vendors are different, the complexity increases. The solution – you either use your in-house IT or a vendor to do the interfacing or choose a tool that inherently supports a wide range of APIs from different cloud service vendors. For obvious reasons, a wrong choice of cloud management tool could mean a lot of problems in the long run. To manage this, some companies even go for cloud management tools for public and private cloud, from the same vendor. However, such a lock-in is inherently risky.

 

 

Mismanagement of Identity Management Solutions

Identification management tools are crucial components of enterprise IT security. When a company transitions to a hybrid cloud, invariably the identity management solution has to be extended from the private cloud to the public cloud components.

Because of this, there are some critical questions to be addressed related to identifying management.

Does the company choose different identity management tools for its private and public cloud components?

Does the company keep the same identity management tool?

If so, what are the risks of the public cloud vendor’s employees being able to use usernames and passwords to access information from the private component?

However, this is more of a risk assessment issue than anything else. As long as an enterprise remains conscious about this choice, the risks are manageable.

 

Lack of Understanding of Trust Requirements

All applications used in your business, along with all the peripheral tools used, have their corresponding trust requirements. These trust requirements are governed by the legal, regulatory, and contractual agreements your company has with your clients.

Enterprises can conveniently meet all these trust requirements by using private cloud solutions, wherein they have sufficient control over the nitty gritty of the technology. For applications that don’t require complex trust requirement compliance, it’s normal enough for companies to manage things via public cloud solutions.

However, too many companies fail to estimate the current and future trust requirements of applications, and bear the brunt later on, when these requirements become obvious. By correctly mapping applications to the right cloud computing methodology, enterprises can prevent expensive and embarrassing trust requirement compliance issues. It also helps them identify the applications that need sophisticated access control and authentication management. Hence, this becomes a matter of avoiding security breaches, as well as avoiding unnecessary recurring costs for enterprises.

 

Inadequate Diligence in Vendors’ Disaster Recovery Practices

In a hybrid cloud ecosystem, there are different vendors and their different databases in play. Questions to be asked:

Whether or not there is complete failover between data centers?

Do all vendors own the different data centers involved?

Among all the different disaster recovery and failover SLAs you establish with vendors, are most of them logically in sync with each other?

Note: After all the research and diligence, your company needs to be reasonably convinced that business continuity will be ensured in the case of a service disruption.

 

Concluding Remarks

‘Best of all worlds’ is what every enterprise wants. From a cloud computing perspective, this translates into what’s popularly called a hybrid cloud. Indeed, from a control and cost perspective, it offers the best of all worlds. However, this often also means the coming together of individual infrastructure risks, as well as the ones caused by their integration. Some of these risks are covered in this guide; keep them in mind while planning the hybrid transformation for your enterprise.

 

 

 

Author: Rahul Sharma

5 Tips on Optimizing Your Hybrid Cloud

optimizing cloud

According to Microsoft, benefits of private cloud are widely recognized by senior executives, since 41% of them are already drawing up plans to shift to private cloud in 2015. The Synergy Research Group further substantiates this point through a survey they recently conducted, which revealed a private cloud growth rate of 45%.

Although the private cloud is a strong favorite, most organizations hang on to selected public cloud resources even after shifting to the private cloud. The least sensitive data is maintained and distributed through the public cloud while sensitive company resources are limited to private organizational virtual machines. This set up, popularly referred to as hybrid cloud, is exceedingly growing and is expected to record a growth rate of 50% by the end of 2015, consequently surpassing both the public and private cloud growth rate. This rate is largely due to increased awareness of private cloud benefits among public cloud users.

With the hybrid cloud growing to become the next big thing, it’s critically important for organizations to comprehend strategies of how best to leverage it. Here are 5 major tips on optimizing it to efficaciously boost your operations and subsequently give you the best results:

Comprehend Your Needs

This is the fundamental and most critical step in building an effective hybrid cloud system. It may sound like a relatively simple process, but a comprehensive needs assessment process requires diligence and attention to detail. Begin by analyzing the most basic elements regarding your hybrid cloud- what do you need from it? Which framework do you intend to use between your public and private cloud? Which resources (data, application etc.) will you run on each of the cloud’s servers? Answering these questions will assist you in comprehending your needs and subsequently drawing up relevant strategies to build a stable and efficient hybrid cloud.

Another vital element you should evaluate is whether you are building your own cloud, or leasing it from managed service providers. Of course the latter option is more preferable, especially to small and medium businesses, because it’s significantly cheaper and convenient.

Carefully Assess Vendors

The public and private cloud vendors you choose will largely determine the ultimate performance and success of your hybrid cloud. You should therefore keenly assess them individually to pick the best fit.

Of course, just like regular contractor recruitment, you should choose an extensively experienced vendor, who’s worked with similar companies in the past. To determine individual vendors’ experiences, evaluate their statistics on past and current customers. Additionally, consult other similar organizations to get referrals from them on vendors they’ve worked with.

After narrowing in on the vendors based on their experience, assess their respective services according to their suitability to your needs. Pay keen attention to their infrastructure, reliability, security and availability. A good hybrid cloud system is built on stable and secure servers, supported by readily available resources provided by reliable vendors. As you evaluate the security strategies, ensure your chosen vendor not only relies on a stable threat detection and prevention framework, but also provides response services in case of an attack.

Engage Other Users

Even the most experienced and extensively trained professionals learn a couple of things from newbies. That’s why analysts consistently encourage cloud architects and IT administrators to engage other IT professionals from similar companies. Although this could be a little bit complicated especially if you approach your competitors, talking to them will help you understand different hybrid cloud strategies and their resultant effect in the companies’ IT frameworks.

As you engage your counterparts, pay close attention to their cloud features and corresponding pricing (Click here for FileCloud Pricing) plans. In addition to that, inquire and learn about the reliability of their cloud architecture and security challenges they have faced. It’s also important to get reviews of different vendors and their corresponding resources.

Expand Gradually

Although you may be very ambitious regarding your projected cloud architecture and performance, it’s advisable to advance slowly but carefully. Jumping in swiftly with both feet could make you overlook critical elements and bugs which could ultimately cost you your entire business. Every cloud component should be carefully considered and slowly assimilated to the rest of the cloud without negatively affecting the cloud’s performance.

If you are introducing new endpoint devices for instance, attach them individually after carefully screening for malware and security vulnerabilities. This will help you in sealing all the endpoint security loopholes which are widely capitalized on by hackers.

To ease the burden, small and medium businesses are encouraged to rely on their managed service providers in guiding them through the process. They advise cloud users on their respective expansion strategies, and further provide services like employee training when setting up new cloud resources.

Categorize Your Cloud Resources

Having access to both public and private cloud resources doesn’t necessarily mean that they can be randomly interchanged. Your applications should be categorized accordingly before being distributed to the cloud servers they are optimized for. Sensitive, confidential data and resources should be hosted by private cloud servers and the rest distributed to the public cloud. Employee and credit card information for instance, should be managed by the private cloud while product information could be hosted by the public cloud, from where it’s dispensed to consumers.

In addition to managing risks, this strategy boosts efficient resource handling to improve overall organizational operations.

Finally, remember to occasionally review your entire hybrid network to spot and correct bugs, security vulnerabilities and system lags. This, coupled with a diligent team of IT administrators and reliable service providers, will effectively optimize your hybrid cloud system, and consequently boost your company’s performance and service delivery.

 Author: Davis Porter
Image courtesy: hywards, freedigitalphotos.net

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Why Hybrid is The Hottest Cloud Trend

hot trend hybrid

If recent developments and trends in the cloud world are anything to go by, the hybrid is largely predicted to be the “ultimate trend” in 2015. It’s gradually surpassing both the public and private clouds- and experts project that it will account for more than 40% of the overall $118 billion cloud market by the end of 2015.

Currently, 74% or organizations (including enterprises and federal agencies) recognize its benefits, and are consequently strategizing on moving to the hybrid. This is expected to steer the hybrid cloud into a 50% growth rate in 2015, which is significantly higher than public cloud (25%) growth rates. These statistics were drawn up after a survey by Technology Business Research, which further attributed the improved growth rate to increasing investments in cloud infrastructure and hybrid cloud benefits.

Technology Business Research states that although hybrid cloud technology is steadily gaining momentum in 2015, it’s still in the early stages of its maturity cycle. It’s expected to develop further, possibly exponentially, after enterprises stop experimenting, and start running critical applications it.

So, what is making the hybrid cloud so popular?

 

The Private Cloud Factor

As CIOs adopt the cloud, private cloud is experiencing accelerated growth, subsequently boosting the hybrid cloud. According to a survey conducted by Microsoft, 41% of CIOs in enterprises and government organizations are strategizing on shifting some of their resources to the private cloud by 2015 and 2016. Most of them are already on the public cloud and since they cannot entirely move all their resources, they’ll form stable hybrid framework composed of the two- private and public.

Through a hybrid cloud framework, the private cloud grants them

  • Increased security: A report by the Government Information Group suggests that CIOs have been keenly following recent news on attacks on major public cloud service providers like DropBox, Amazon and GoGrid. They consequently prefer storing sensitive data and applications on the private cloud, which is less threatened, and synchronously use the public cloud for other less critical applications.
  • High Infrastructural Performance: 93% of organizations are already drawing up plans to boost their cloud performance- and the private cloud, through a hybrid framework, allows them to implement this effectually. Unlike the public cloud where infrastructure is directly controlled by third party service providers, the private cloud allows its users to extensively assess their infrastructure and ultimately tune it up according to their preferred performance enhancement plans.
  • Extensive Control: While the public cloud is entirely controlled and dictated by third party service providers, the private cloud grants these privileges to its users. They can control all the relevant entities and consequently dictate the entire cloud architecture, processes, access and flow of data. Overall, this facilitates executives in steering their cloud resources according to their organization objectives and goals.

Cost Efficiency

Most cloud users begin at the public level because it’s cheap. In fact, it’s widely preferred by small and medium businesses because of the low subscription fees and zero maintenance costs. Unfortunately, due to its limited benefits, particularly in security and compliance, most enterprises are forced to increase their cloud spending and go private. And that’s where a hybrid cloud comes in.

Instead of relying entirely on the private cloud, cloud architects come up with stable and economic hybrid frameworks that encompass the two. Consequently, businesses can run critical applications on the private cloud and make savings by moving the trifling resources to the public cloud. Product development, for instance, could be implemented through the private cloud while product reviews by customers are made through the public cloud.

Disaster Management

A complete system failure or breach in an organization which depends on a single cloud channel could possibly cripple all the operations and result in business collapse. 60% of enterprises which undergo such disasters usually fall out within the subsequent 6 months. Fortunately, businesses are reducing these statistics by implementing reliable cloud strategies of not only protecting themselves, but also efficiently responding and managing such disasters.

Through the hybrid cloud, enterprises are replicating resources between internal and external servers- making each server a real time back-up of the other. Therefore, enterprises can smoothly migrate their operations to any of the servers in case one fails or is breached- thus maintaining normal organization operations.

Flexibility

Although single channel cloud systems are considered to be scalable, they are not as flexible and convenient as the hybrid cloud. Imagine a company temporarily temporary product which requires heightened system performance and new resources. Of course it would be forced to upgrade its cloud system and incorporate new resources to support the entire process. This requires additional investments, particularly for private cloud users, who may have to optimize even their hardware to the requisite performance levels.

With a hybrid cloud framework, you can conveniently scale up some of the resources on the public cloud while maintaining the critical data on the private cloud. This flexibility allows enterprises to undertake different projects and subsequently optimize their operations by efficiently switching between scalable cloud resources. Sensitive data is restricted to the private cloud while less sensitive processes are carried out through the public cloud apps.

With these drivers, enterprises are exceedingly leveraging hybrid cloud to boost their processes and ultimately foster growth. As long as IT architects continue implementing functional private-public frameworks, businesses will keep adopting the hybrid cloud to take advantage of the public cloud while keeping a bulk of their processes within the private cloud.

Author: Davis Porter

Image: Stuart Miles, Freedigitalphotos.net

 
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Common Mistakes In Choosing and Building a Hybrid Cloud

 top hybrid mistakes

The cloud is increasingly making a big impact in today’s enterprises and government organizations. Although the public cloud is fairly popular especially among beginners, the trend largely inclined towards private and hybrid cloud- particularly among experienced cloud users. With the help of IT architects, CIOs are implementing effective hybrid cloud technologies as the main information processing, storage and distribution backbones within organizations- hence taking advantage of the availability of the public cloud while simultaneously benefiting from increased security and exclusiveness which come with the private cloud.

According to Gartner, businesses are rapidly realizing the benefits of a hybrid cloud, which include but not limited to; improved development cycles, reduced operational costs, increased productivity and comprehensive, real-time analytics. Consequently, its adoption is expected to proceed growing exponentially, to a staggering 50% by the year 2017. Microsoft on the other hand, suggests that 41% of senior IT executives in small, medium and large corporations are already experimenting and plan to shift to the private cloud by the end of 2015. Although they widely acknowledge the benefits of the private cloud, most of them will not entirely shift all their resources- and will rather rely on an optimized hybrid cloud system that features the two major cloud channels.

To smoothly achieve this and subsequently run an effective hybrid cloud system that’s free of errors, you need to implement a cloud shifting strategy void of mistakes. Here are some of the top common mistakes you should avoid:

Failing to Verify Where Data Is Hosted

The cloud basically refers to virtual servers that are accessible remotely from anywhere in the world- but that, of course, doesn’t literally mean that physical servers are completely eliminated. Public cloud service providers mostly position their servers in large data warehouses, accessible through the web. But most cloud users, unfortunately, are only interested in the cloud resources, and consequently fail to verify the physical locations where their data is hosted. It may seem trivial, but it has significant consequences since all countries have different jurisdictions and policies on data.

In the United States for instance, the Senate voted against NSA reform and the Patriot Act, which would have granted the government authority to access all digital data hosted within the United States. That means that although some of your hybrid cloud data may be held within your private in-house servers, the rest may be at risk of being exposed to third governmental parties. You should therefore comprehensively double check all your service providers to verify the positions of the servers and the resultant legislation that apply.

Over-provisioning

Sure, it’s good, and in fact highly encouraged, to be ambitious in business. But too much ambition could potentially be poisonous. There are many reports of businesses, which sadly, overstretched their budgets as they set up their hybrid cloud infrastructure. By being too ambitious, they end up over-provisioning infrastructure and subsequently under-utilizing their resources.

In addition to risking a budget overstretch, this mistake beats the logic of adopting the cloud- one of the primary objectives of the hybrid is orchestrating infrastructural growth according to developing organization’s needs. Therefore, you should factor in subsequent growth as you consider adopting the hybrid cloud. Stretch your budget according to the chronological infrastructural upgrades and ensure that they are implemented as your needs increase. This grants your organization a chance to grow and adopt new infrastructure only when it’s completely necessary.

Entirely Relying on Service Providers’ Metrics

Among the resources most service providers grant their users are analytical systems comprising of different metrics including CPU usage, Data flow, RAM usage and Data Storage statistics. Unfortunately, a great number of public and hybrid cloud users entirely rely on these metrics only, and manage their operations exclusively according to them.

These metrics however, are only developed after comprehensive analysis of the average needs of all the cloud users. They are therefore sufficient and ideal for a majority of cloud users but severely inadequate in suiting individual organization needs. As a hybrid cloud user, you should implement your own tailored analytics to monitor and deliver relevant metrics on the most critical elements of your system. Of course the best platform to implement such is the private cloud, since the public cloud is usually covered by standard service providers’ metrics.

Securing the Cloud with Unsophisticated Passwords

Reports by the Identity Theft and Research Center attribute most of the 783 reported data breeches in 2014 to hackers. Hackers are having a field time targeting and attacking cloud servers not because of poor security architectures, but due to unsophisticated passwords.

Many organizations are only obsessed with actual security frameworks- encryption algorithms, sophisticated threat detection systems- forgetting the most fundamental thing of protecting their hybrid cloud systems with secure, complicated, impenetrable passwords. Instead of securing your system with simple, standard passwords like “12345” or “Name of Organization+Year”, use a sophisticated combination of characters which would never be cracked. For instance, you could use something as random as “*^%Fqm67HU%”. Although it could be difficult mastering the password in the beginning, you’ll ultimately wade off hackers from your system and protect your organization from severe disasters as a result of data breeches.

To avoid these and many other potential mistakes, ensure you engage a team of experienced cloud architects as you shift to the hybrid cloud. You could alternatively engage private cloud software providers to assist you in drafting a stable error-free hybrid cloud framework that efficiently encompasses both private and public channels. Finally, your CIOs should conduct periodic maintenance checks and audits to monitor the entire system and identify any potential issues and risks.

 Author: Davis Porter

image courtesy: Chris Sharp, freedigitalphotos.net

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Why Government Institutions are Increasingly Switching To Private and Hybrid Cloud

government hybrid cloud
The year 2010 proved to be revolutionary to government CIOs since it oversaw the passing of the US Cloud First Policy, which significantly affected federal agencies’ IT frameworks. It was principally aimed at increasing flexibility and reducing IT costs by leveraging government-optimized cloud solutions. Since then, government CIOs have been comprehensively reevaluating their IT infrastructures and budget to include the cloud and subsequently improve agency operations and service delivery.

Due to limited capabilities and increased risk within the public cloud, most government institutions have since integrated the private cloud within their computing architectures to form stable and efficient hybrid cloud systems. A survey conducted by Meritalk on more than 150 government IT professionals found that although private cloud is the most preferable option, agencies still leverage the public cloud particularly for public-focused operations- consequently, over 30% of them have merged the two into hybrid cloud to concomitantly optimize agency and public-focused operations.

With about 56% of federal institutions currently drawing up plans to move to the cloud, the hybrid still remains the favorite due to the following reasons:

Security

Annual reports prepared and produced by the Identity Theft and Research Centre suggest that cloud data centers are consistently targeted and intermittently attacked by malware and hackers, making them the most threatened data centers. With the recent data breach trends further substantiating this point, federal CIOs have grown exceedingly afraid of the public cloud. Through another Meritalk survey, 75% of them reported that they were hesitant of moving to the cloud to due data security concerns. Additionally, 30% of them were restricted from migrating their data centers to the cloud by the US data security compliance requirements on sensitive governmental data.

The most efficacious solution to overcome these issues is the hybrid cloud- While some applications run on public cloud environments, the most sensitive ones are restricted within secure private cloud data centers. Compared to the former, the latter solution is definitely more secure because of controlled access and user-defined data protection strategies. The hybrid cloud therefore allows government institutions to reap the benefits of the public cloud while enjoying data security privileges of the private cloud.

Cost Efficiency

Cost efficiency is arguably the biggest trending word in most government organizations today. The government is permanently under pressure from US citizens to reduce operational costs and account for every dollar spent within federal agencies. In reaction to this, the government enacted the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative to reduce IT expenditure by merging data centers through sustainable and effective cloud solutions- ultimately cutting costs on manpower, hardware, software and underutilized real estate.

Of course for most government institutions, migrating entirely to the public cloud would be detrimental to their operations. Therefore, to reduce costs and maintain optimal agency processes, they have connected dedicated or private cloud resources to public components- Ultimately reducing IT costs by 17%.

Scalability

Government institutions are not static- they keep changing to adopt to demanding and dynamic societal needs. Some agencies develop exponentially until they are split into several factions with defined responsibilities. Others shrink and gradually become redundant until they are dissolved. To adopt to such fluid environments, standard in-house IT resources would definitely require drastic infrastructural changes.

With the hybrid cloud, agencies can effortlessly adjust their public cloud resources to accommodate changes while they maintain sensitive information within their private infrastructures. In case of agency splitting for instance, cloud resources are divided accordingly between the resultant factions while private in-house information is shared.

Service Delivery

The principal objective in federal agencies has always been public service. While some do this indirectly, most of them serve the public directly through citizen interaction. Service delivery for such institutions has been a major problem due to a large disparity between the number of agents and citizens. Over the previous years, many technological inventions have been implemented to overcome this problem by improving speed and efficiency, ultimately boosting service delivery.

Of all the IT solutions implemented, nothing has proven to be as phenomenal as the private plus public hybrid cloud. While services are being contemporaneously delivered to different citizens through public cloud, sensitive agency information and processes are supported by private cloud. This has virtually reduced agent to citizen ratio and consequently boosted service delivery.

Asset Utilization

For optimal service delivery, government institutions always have to effectively utilize close to 100% of their IT resources. A simple bug or hardware failure could cause a major setback, subsequently backlogging most of an agency’s operations. A complete system failure is even more detrimental since it could potentially cripple service delivery and trigger immense socio-economic losses. Case in point are the healthcare.gov breaches which occurred in 2013 and 2014, partly crippling the US federal healthcare data systems and consequently deterring efficient service delivery.

For many years, such system failures were hardly manageable since fallback plans mainly consisted of analogue systems of paperwork. With the hybrid cloud however, optimal asset utilization allows federal institutions to switch between different cloud resources according to their availability, efficacy and suitability in handling different processes. If an in-house software fails for instance, one can simply temporarily shift to public cloud resources to proceed with the processes as maintenance and repair is done on the affected resources. Hybrid cloud systems are therefore widely considered in the implementation of strategic data loss disaster management frameworks.

Due to these significant benefits, the governmental cloud curve is considered to be steepest on the private and hybrid cloud as more institutions rush to adopt it over the next few years. Although many are considering trying out the public cloud first before linking it to their private servers, the growth of hybrid cloud among government and large corporations will see it hit 50% by 2017.

FileCloud is a leading private cloud solution that can substitute public cloud or augment public cloud to create a hybrid solution. Here is an example where FileCloud helped Indian Government to launch their first private cloud solution .

Author: Davis Porter
 

Image courtesy: Stuart Miles, Freedigitalphotos.net

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Top Cloud Architecture Predictions For 2015

2015 cloud trends

Apart from the major security attacks on iCloud, Target, Home Depot and most recently Sony Pictures, the year 2014 lived up to the predicted cloud architecture trends that were very promising:

  • The number of organizations experimenting with infrastructure-as-a-service grew to 94%
  • With about 54% of the market, Amazon web services continued dominating the market with extensive cloud architecture resources, while other service providers battled for second place.
  • The number of cloud users who regarded implementing stable and impenetrable cloud security infrastructure as a challenge significantly reduced. Consequently, despite the major attacks, confidence in cloud security architecture grew.
  • 76% of organizations which heavily rely on the cloud embraced DevOps, while 68% were focused on Self-Service IT.
  • Overall, there was a feeling that the improved cloud architecture and resources significantly contributed to greater benefits in 2014 compared to previous years.

Evidently, the year 2014 lay a promising foundation for the year 2015.  This new chapter comes with a lot of predictions centered on improved service delivery, increased market competition and upgraded IT technologies. A lot is expected from cloud service providers as they leverage improved technologies to boost their services and subsequently attract more users. Cloud users on the other hand, will be seeking custom-tailored services, supported by stable endpoint platforms, front end platforms and networks.

To expound on this in detail, here are the top cloud architecture predictions for 2015:

Containers Will Gain Momentum

Containers-as-a-service is the primary infrastructure-as-a-service which will steer the cloud rush into new heights over the next year. Proven to be more effectual than typical hardware virtualization, developers are exceedingly leveraging it to boost the efficiency of cloud applications by increasing resource efficacy.

Organizations which are still utilizing hardware virtualization face a critical cloud infrastructure problem that containers were made to solve- Their cloud applications consume immense resources in CPU utilization, disk space and memory, since they require an entire operating system to support a single application. This consequently creates conflicts between applications running on the same machine. Containers, which are a form of operating system virtualization, eliminate this problem by dedicating resources according to the scope of the respective applications. This ultimately eliminates all conflicts with other applications hosted on the same machine.

Currently, platform-as-a-service infrastructures including CloudFoundry, dotCloud, Openshift, Heroku, and many more are utilizing containers. With trend also cropping up into private cloud infrastructures like Cloudstack and Openstack, the numbers are expected to grow exponentially in 2015.

Hybrid and Private Cloud Growth Would Surpass Public Cloud

According to Technology Business Research, public cloud adoption will experience significant growth in 2015, projected to have a growth rate of 25%. Although these numbers make 2015 one of the principal cloud infrastructural implementation and growth years, they are small compared to the predictions of private and hybrid cloud.

2015 is expected to experience an extensive private and hybrid cloud movement, where private cloud would grow by 35% and hybrid cloud infrastructure will predictably grow by whopping 50%. Organizations are likely to combine physical application infrastructure with public and private cloud to improve overall operations and service delivery, subsequently pushing the cloud market to an all-time high of $118 billion.

Cloud experts and Industry analysts are advising organizations to form private/ hybrid solutions by focusing their resources on integrating their applications with dynamic data infrastructures. To ensure all the elements communicate efficaciously to smoothly perform their functions, they should determine the standard guidelines on how the public cloud resources will combine with the respective internal system components for effective hybrid environments.

Workloads Will Be Protected By Software-Defined Security

Currently, most data centers security protocols are hardware based. The perimeters are protected by hardware-defined security systems, which if infiltrated, expose the data to a wide range of threats, including data loss. This is projected to change over the next year, with organizations embracing software-defined security systems which will be part of the cloud workloads. Cloud architects are expected to define the security systems which will accompany virtual machines, containers, storage systems and the network with software systems. Ultimately, security will be critically attached to the software, consequently protecting the entire workload by accompanying the movements of the system.

Such a security system utilizes a software mapping system which scans the entire cloud system to define the data perimeters as determined by the cloud architect. The perimeter is monitored by a central monitoring system, from where access, data distribution and surveillance is controlled. Any activities which don’t adhere to the standard security protocols like unauthorized access are flagged down and intervened.

Cloud Portability Will Boost Inter-Cloud Movement

Currently, most cloud applications and resources are cloud-fixed- they are tied to their host clouds and cannot be moved to other cloud infrastructures due to resource limitations. This is expected to change in 2015, with developers and cloud architects focusing on agnostic workflows which can be shifted to any stable cloud infrastructure. With fluid applications, organizations will easily shift between public, private and hybrid cloud infrastructure without drastic resource alterations.

Of course for this to proceed smoothly, more storage systems, networks, containers and virtual machines need to be defined in such a way that they are flexible enough to efficiently support portable applications. Increased portability also means that cloud vendors will not only vend cloud infrastructure, but also separate applications which can be run on dedicated private cloud systems.

 

Since this list has only highlighted the most critical predictions, more are expected to continue sprouting as the year wears off. Most of them are expected to have profound effect on cloud technologies, especially since organizations are keen on leveraging fresher, more efficient strategies to optimize their cloud operations and service delivery. As you learn about these evolving technologies, remember to critically assess them in terms of how they stand to affect your organizational cloud architecture. This will consequently help you make an informed decision on what to and what not to embrace.

 

 Author: Davis Porter

Image courtesy: ratch0013/ freedigitalphotos.net

 

Cloud Computing: A Revolutionary Evolution

The Evolution

The term ‘Cloud Computing’ was first used in 1997 by an information system’s professor named Ramnath Chellappa; but in essence, the concept of cloud computing has been around for decades. Cloud computing as a concept, dates back to the 1950s, when mainframe computers were made available to corporations and schools. The mainframe’s mammoth hardware infrastructure acted as a centralized computing platform that multiple end users could access via ‘dumb terminals’. Mainframes were expensive and corporations couldn’t afford one for each user; the solution was using a centralized mainframe as the source of all the computing power, storage systems, and memory. Sounds familiar?

The next stage in this grand evolution occurred in the 1970s, when IBM released an operating system called VM that enabled system administrators to run multiple virtual systems, or ‘Virtual Machines’ on one physical node. This allowed multiple distinct compute environments to co-exist within a singular environment; and by extension allowed multiple users to share the overall system, but each user had access to their own memory allocation, storage, computing power, and applications. Till this day, virtualization remains a core part of cloud computing. For more information on virtualization, check out Where Virtualization and Cloud Computing Intertwine.

The cost of personal computers reduced during the 80s (launch of IBM PC in 1981) as the number of people who wanted access to more powerful applications increased, mainframe computing became less effective. Mainframe computers were now being replaced with multiple cheaper PCs; each with enough computing power to run applications and store data. Since each computer ran independently, they could not coordinate well with each other; file sharing was a challenge. The solution: Distributed computing.

What is considered by many as Cloud Computing’s first major milestone occurred in the late 90’s; when Salesforce.com pioneered the idea of remotely providing enterprise applications via a simple website. This paved the way for both mainstream and specialist software firms to deliver applications over the internet. The next pivotal moment for cloud computing would occur in 2002, when Amazon.com launched AWS (Amazon Web Services), a suite of could-based services that offered business functionality, computing resources, and remotely provisioned storage.

The growing availability and reduced cost of accessing the internet coupled with the reducing cost of computers and other internet enable devices, has led to the increased use of web based applications. With the demand for data and application access through multiple devices on the rise, the future of cloud computing seems promising; at an application, platform, and infrastructure level.

The Revolution

While the debate of whether cloud computing is an evolution or a revolution continues, experts seem to agree on one thing that the cloud is transforming today’s computing landscape. Cloud computing as we know it today can be attributed to a chain of innovations; each of which was considered revolutionary in their time. Despite the fact that the concept of cloud computing is not new, the effects it has on computing has never been seen before. The power and potential of cloud computing has never been clearer.

At the helm of its revolutionary impact is the realization that cloud computing is the ultimate democratizing force. It has facilitated a seismic shift in terms of business development by bringing vast computing resources to even the smallest of businesses. Initially, entrepreneurs who hoped of starting a business had to deal with sad reality of investing significant capital into software and hardware licenses. The cloud has caused a massive shift in the availability of computing power by making it possible for entrepreneurs to easily set themselves up with infrastructure and applications upon which to run their enterprises.

While the cloud has forever changed computing on a consumer and enterprise level, there are still issues surrounding it, thus affecting its adoption rate, particularly amongst businesses. In order to ensure both consumers and enterprises are experiencing the full potential of the cloud, cloud computing has further evolved into public clouds, hybrid clouds, and private clouds. The hybrid and private cloud models are specifically tailored for enterprise adoption.

As with the other cloud models, private clouds offer computing power and software as a service through infrastructure that resides on-premise. Not only is a private cloud more secure, but it also offers greater privacy and control; this makes it the ideal choice for enterprise adoption. The hybrid cloud integrates both public and private cloud models to perform distinct functions within a single organization. For more information on the difference between public, hybrid, and private clouds, check out:  Public vs. Private Cloud Computing Basics.

The effects cloud computing has had on file sharing and sync cannot be ignored. The cloud has enabled data to be accessible anytime and anywhere; inadvertently leading to the establishment of new trends like BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). As the general population becomes more internet-literate, consumers, especially digital natives, are using technology to integrate and manage their business and personal lives. The increasing number of digital services and devices all merge to from the cloud; an integrated resource for sharing, preserving, organizing, and orchestrating information.

Conclusion

The speedy evolution of the cloud raises expectations for immediate, universal access, and unlimited scale of technology resources as it continues to revolutionize tech industry markets by seamlessly embedding IT into business.

Author: Gabriel Lando