Category Archives: Cloud computing

CIOs & The Life Sciences Industry Part 3: Factors Overlooked When Changing Your Cloud

The topic of Cloud Computing currently ranks in the top-five of IT articles published for IT professionals. Daily we hear about the benefits of this new world, the range of exciting new services now available, and of course how to make the transition.

Even with the valuable insights provided by these articles, there is one critical aspect given too little attention or even overlooked entirely.  Specifically, how to plan for a breakup.

If one accepts the old dictum that change is the only universal constant, then ask yourself why most people do not plan as carefully for unwinding a cloud / SaaS arrangement as we do in setting one up. The details of ending an arrangement can be tricky and not immediately self-evident.

These issues are beyond standard legal provisions for exit clauses, terms/conditions, and related matters. It deals with practicality and preparedness.

Take this as an example, imagine you use a SaaS system to implement secure e-mail for corresponding with people outside your organization. Even in the world of TLS, many still have a need for such services which provide mailbox-to-mailbox encryption for both e-mails and attachments.

Should you decide to terminate this service, you might be in for some unexpected challenges. If your service provider does not provide bulk decrypt and export tools, you could be in for a painful process.

In a previous role, I ran into this exact situation. We had to write custom scripts to go through each mailbox e-mail-by-email to unencrypt and export; it was slow and costly.

Even without terminating the service, data exporting tools can be useful as a course of normal business. Consider the situation when your organization is involved in litigation. As part of the legal Discovery process, you might have to produce e-mails for individuals covering specific subjects and dates. Should the list be significant or the filters complex, you can again run into unexpected workloads.

Another example is data offloading. Many services, AWS included, offer excellent tools for migration / uploading large volumes into their cloud services. In some cases, particularly with large datasets, such approaches are the only feasible or timely solution.

But what happens when you elect to move those datasets to another Cloud Provider? Don’t assume the comprehensive set of options you have for bringing data into your provider’s cloud is symmetric. You might just find a long slow process to make a change.

In both examples, specific industry or regulatory requirements such as security, data location, and privacy can compound the challenge.

IT professionals have a lot of experience with managing proprietary solutions and data. The key is leveraging that knowledge when considering Cloud-Based solutions. Personally, I have found two methods for reducing these risks.

The first is to run some tabletop simulations on what happens in various scenarios, to develop and expand your punch list over time. Scenarios to consider might include migration, legal requests, disaster recovery or other matters specific to your industry.

My second approach is to network: it is a knowledge and experience multiplier that’s second to none. Check with colleagues; get their advice and listen to their own experiences.

Of course, you don’t know what you don’t know, but thinking of the end, as well as the beginning, should put you in a better spot.

If you would like to set up a conversation with Clint, please reach out.

By Clint Gilliam, Virtual CIO, GreenPages Technology Solutions

Preparing for the AWS-SA Exam with GreenPages’ Chris Williams

GreenPages Enterprise Consultant and Cloud Architect, Chris Williams, is currently preparing for his AWS-SA professional certification. Check out his 9 article series on the AWS Solutions Architect exam. Start with the intro here: http://mistwire.com/2016/10/aws-certified-solutions-architect-pro-study-notes/

Remaining eight articles here:

http://mistwire.com/2016/10/aws-certified-solutions-architect-pro-study-notes/

http://mistwire.com/2016/10/aws-certified-solutions-architect-pro-study-notes-domain-1/

http://mistwire.com/2016/10/aws-certified-solutions-architect-pro-study-notes-domain-2/

http://mistwire.com/2016/10/aws-certified-solutions-architect-pro-study-notes-domain-3/

http://mistwire.com/2016/10/aws-certified-solutions-architect-pro-study-notes-domain-4/

http://mistwire.com/2016/11/aws-certified-solutions-architect-pro-study-notes-domain-5/

http://mistwire.com/2016/11/aws-certified-solutions-architect-pro-study-notes-domain-6/

http://mistwire.com/2016/11/aws-certified-solutions-architect-pro-study-notes-domain-7/

http://mistwire.com/2016/11/aws-certified-solutions-architect-pro-study-notes-domain-8/

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The Evolution of Private Cloud Computing

Private Cloud Computing Implementing a cloud solution for a business is a very complex process, one that requires a lot of thought and consideration. This is mainly due to the fact that there are different kinds of cloud services, which generally can be divided into two: public cloud and private cloud. The public cloud is […]

The post The Evolution of Private Cloud Computing appeared first on Parallels Blog.

Chromebooks Are The Next Best Thin Client

When Google introduced the Chromebook, many people thought that it was not a good idea to build laptops specifically for browser use. The lack of traditional storage, incompatibility with Windows applications, and need for a continuous Internet connection were some of the limitations of this product. However, Chromebooks have surprised everyone with their rising sales. […]

The post Chromebooks Are The Next Best Thin Client appeared first on Parallels Blog.

EU-US privacy debate continues as EDPS says try again

EuropeOn-going efforts to provide clarity and guidance on transatlantic data transmission are unlikely to be seen soon as the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has outlined concerns over the robustness of the Safe Harbour successor, EU-US Privacy Shield.

European Data Protection Supervisor, Giovanni Buttarelli, outlined his concerns on whether the proposed agreement will provide adequate protection against indiscriminate surveillance as well as obligations on oversight, transparency, redress and data protection rights.

“I appreciate the efforts made to develop a solution to replace Safe Harbour but the Privacy Shield as it stands is not robust enough to withstand future legal scrutiny before the Court,” said Buttarelli. “Significant improvements are needed should the European Commission wish to adopt an adequacy decision, to respect the essence of key data protection principles with particular regard to necessity, proportionality and redress mechanisms. Moreover, it’s time to develop a longer term solution in the transatlantic dialogue.”

This is in fact the second time in a matter of months an official body has expressed concerns over the EU-US Privacy Shield, as the Article 29 Working Group voiced its concerns over the mass surveillance and oversight shortcomings that it believes are found in the pact. Back in April, WP29 commented Privacy Shield had made progress but still hadn’t covered the cracks which had Safe Harbour kicked out last year.

“The WP29 notes the major improvements the Privacy Shield offers compared to the invalidated Safe Harbour decision. Given the concerns expressed and the clarifications asked, the WP29 urges the Commission to resolve these concerns, identify appropriate solutions and provide the requested clarifications in order to improve the draft adequacy decision and ensure the protection offered by the Privacy Shield is indeed essentially equivalent to that of the EU,” said the WP29 group in its official opinion at the time.

The new Privacy Shield agreement does in fact encourage European businesses and organizations to be more considered and conservative when sharing data with US entities, however critics of the new agreement have highlighted there are still too many exceptions where the US and its intelligence agencies can move around the agreement.

While the opinion of the WP29 is respected throughout the industry, it was not a concrete sign that anything within the Privacy agreement will change. This is the same for the EDPS. There are no guarantees the agreement will be changed following Buttarelli making his opinion public, though it may be a good indicator as to what need to be done to ensure the pact stands up to scrutiny under the spotlight from the European Court of Justice. This is certainly the case for David Mount, Director of Security Solutions at Micro Focus.

“Buttarelli talks of a need for significant improvements before the agreement can be viable, which raises a key point around the self-certification aspects of Safe Harbour as it once was,” said Mount. “In the past, businesses could self-certify as compliant with Safe Harbour by simply ticking a box. But this does not create a transparent and trusting climate – in fact it does the very opposite, as is the case in any self-regulated environment.

Twitter comments“Any new agreement must be more robust, as per Buttarelli’s comments, and addressing the key issue of self-certification would be a significant step. It will be interesting to see how the EU Commission responds to the EDPS and how negotiations will continue to address the varying issues of self-certification and trust.”

Support for the agreement has been mixed as some European corners have voiced concerns, and some US opinions have been relatively positive, though this may be considered unsurprising. MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht and Edward Snowden were two who demonstrated a critical stance (see accompanying picture), while Microsoft become one of the first major US tech companies to confirm its support of the EU-US Privacy Shield.

Back in April, John Frank, Vice President EU Government Affairs at Microsoft said “we recognize that privacy rights need to have effective remedies. We have reviewed the Privacy Shield documentation in detail, and we believe wholeheartedly that it represents an effective framework and should be approved.”

Although Microsoft has demonstrated a desire to bring the issue to an end, it has also found itself on the wrong side of data requests from the US government, proving it’s no push over. The company has been involved in a drawn out lawsuit, as Microsoft has refused the US government access to data which is has stored in its Dublin data centre, telling the government it “must respect the sovereignty of other countries”.

The company has also filed a lawsuit against the US government and its associated agencies, arguing the right that customers should have the right to know when the state accesses their emails or records, as well as creating the Data Trustee model. The Data Trustee model is seemingly an effort to rebuild trust in the US business, as it hands control of its data over to a European company, in this case Deutsche Telekom, who have to give consent for a Microsoft employee to access the data.

“Businesses have already started looking to alternatives for legitimate data transfers out of the EU in case the Privacy Shield option, once formally adopted, should be taken away,” said Deema Freij, Global Privacy Officer at Intralinks. “For example, Binding Corporate Rules and EU Model Clauses are still seen as strong alternatives. Businesses have been switching to EU Model Clauses to transfer personal data to the US, which they can continue to do on an ongoing basis.

“The responsibility for businesses is only going to increase when the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into full effect in May 2018. The next two years will be a huge test for organisations across the world as they begin to realise that data sharing practices will continue to fall under close scrutiny as the concept of data privacy evolves further.”

The EU-US Privacy Shield has made progress in addressing the concerns voiced by European citizens, companies and legislative bodies in recent months, though it is unlikely to be the final answer. In three months, two separate, independent and widely respected opinions have highlighted the short-comings of the agreement, which doesn’t inspire a huge level of confidence. How the Privacy Shield creators react to the opinion is yet to be seen, though it could be one of the deciding factors on how long the transatlantic data transmission argument continues.

APMG launches end user cloud computing foundation certification scheme

Skills and trainingCloud industry expert Bernard Golden has created a vendor-independent course to help people and businesses make the transition to cloud-based services.

Golden developed the course for APMG International which has launched a new end user cloud computing certification scheme. The aim is to give the workforce the cloud skills needed to support the migration to cloud-based computing.

The course, Cloud Computing Foundation Certification, is designed to give an impartial and objective overview as an introduction to cloud computing. This is necessary, according to Golden, before any organisations can move to the cloud successfully.

The certification was developed in response to the mounting need for businesses to understand and prepare for the move to cloud. The course is aimed at all enterprise IT employees, from finance to operations, and sets out to outline the fundamentals of cloud computing. It will then move on to explain the benefits, challenges and pros and cons of rival delivery models.

The most important aspect, according to the author, is to create a cloud computing action plan for course participants. The ultimate proof of the course will be the successful adoption of cloud computing, according to Golden, APMG’s Chief Examiner.

“With cloud computing fast becoming the de facto platform for enterprise computing, the failure to understand its fundamentals poses a real danger,” said Golden. Failure will affect both the productivity of businesses and the employment prospects of the staff within them, he warned.

Though the benefits of moving an organisation’s data to the cloud – from potential cost savings to increased flexibility – are well documented, the execution is not, according to Golden. It is this gap in understanding that he intends to address, he said.

“The fact is that the majority of deployments aren’t as simple as just flicking a switch – you need to fully comprehend the security, technical and regulatory implications to make cloud a success, which is why training and certification are critical,” said Golden.

Many cloud computing training courses tend to be heavily weighted in favour of one vendor, which ultimately provides a skewed view, Golden claimed.

“This course has been designed to provide a vendor neutral knowledge base to provide an objective education about the topic,” said Golden, who promised there would be no ‘abstract knowledge without practical application’. Students will learn concepts and tools that can be applied immediately in the working environment, said Golden.

“For cloud projects to succeed they need to gain acceptance within businesses,” said Richard Pharro, CEO of APMG.

IBM Acquires Compose

IBM has recently announced that it has acquired Compose, a startup company that began in 2010, in order to continue expansion of its cloud services. Previously known as MongoHQ, it was the first database as a service which allows application developers to easily deploy and scale data store using with backups, monitoring, performance tuning as well as full suite of management tools.

As said in an announcement, “Today we are excited to announce that Compose is joining IBM. As founders, it was the biggest and most important decision we’ve ever had to make – much more difficult than we ever would have guessed back when we only dreamed of having a successful company. While we are profitable and growing fast, we think now is the right time to team up with a larger company.”

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An IBM spokesperson has relayed that users will not be affected under this deal as Compose will continue business as usual. IBM is always looking for cloud companies to acquire in order to expand its cloud services and compete with companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Amazon.

Derek Schoettle, general manager of IBM Cloud Data Services and former CEO of Cloudant, has commented, “Compose’s breadth of database offerings will expand IBM’s Bluemix platform for the many app developers seeking production-ready databases built on open source. Compose furthers IBM’s commitment to ensuring developers have access to the right tools for the job by offering the broadest set of DBaaS services and the flexibility of hybrid cloud deployment.”

The post IBM Acquires Compose appeared first on Cloud News Daily.

Microsoft Plans to Buy Security Firm Adallom

Microsoft is set to be paying 320 million dollars in cash for Adallom, a startup with software for monitoring the use of cloud-based services. A source has claimed all 90 employees, including the 30 in the US, will function an independent unit of Microsoft and will manage material related to cybersecurity for Microsoft.

While Microsoft has refused to comment on the supposed deal, the Wall Street Journal claims, “According to the people familiar with the matter, Adallom, which employs 90 people world-wide, will continue to operate from Israel, building up Microsoft’s cybersecurity-focused operations in the country.” The first to report the deal were Israeli media outlets Calcalist and Globes, with reports later coming from the Wall Street Journal.

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Microsoft has continued making the cloud a priority throughout the whole company, and building an intelligent cloud platform is one of three areas of investment for the company. Cloud security is vital to the company as they switch to more internet based occupations, hence the move to purchase Adallom. Usage and revenue from application Office 365 has increased during the first quarter of 2015, and Microsoft want to protect this trend.

This is just one of Microsoft’s myriad of partnerships and acquisitions this year. Microsoft has previously attained a provider of machine learning technologies for e-discovery and information governance. The company’s software uses advanced text analytics to perform multidimensional analyses of data collections, intelligently sorting documents into themes, grouping near-duplicates, and isolating unique data. In addition,  Microsoft has purchased N-trig and Aorato.

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Reliance Communications Launches CloudX

Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Communications launched a next-generation cloud services delivery network in five cities across the country of India. Reliance Communications has positioned Cloud Xchange, abbreviated Cloud X, nodes in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. They plan to launch 120 more nodes in areas across the world by the end of 2015.

Reliance Group Chairman Anil Dhirubhai Ambani has shared, “We will achieve full deployment of our Next-Generation content and Cloud Delivery Network by the end of this year, with–what is a first in India–five fully-operational Cloud Xchange points. Cloud Xchange nodes can help government departments access 240 times the amount of compute power currently available in government data centers, and over six times the high-speed storage currently available in India.”

This next generation service offers on-demand low-cost cloud services. Users will be able to organize cloud servers and applications and manage lifecycle of these resources online, according to Reliance Communications.

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Reliance Communications and Global Cloud X CEO Bill Barney has stated, “Cloud X is changing the paradigm of cloud computing. The network must now undergo a profound transformation, from a static entity to a dynamic, intelligent, application aware fabric that can support multiple traffic requirements, diverse geographies and flexible pricing models.”

Manoj Menon, Senior Partner & Managing Director of analyst firm Frost & Sullivan, has added, “Cloud computing has already made an impact on the everyday life of many Indians. It is driving business model innovation and helping businesses. Going forward, the impact will be even more pervasive—with innovative solutions around safe cities, smart homes, connected cars and better healthcare.”

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ComputeNext Launches CloudEd

ComputeNext, a Bellevue-based cloud company, has recently announced the launch of its new Channel Training & Education Program, “CloudED.” The new program will serve to aid cloud resellers migrate customers to cloud-based solutions. The program, created by ComputeNext’s director of channel development Dan Moore, provides marketplace-specific video tutorials necessary for channel professionals as well as general cloud certification provided by partner CompTIA, which will be free of charge. The certifications include certificates for data recovery, IT security and unified communications as well as executive certificates in both cloud computing in beginner and advanced levels.

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ComputeBext claims the program “covers basic and advanced rationales for the cloud computing thought process, as well as hands-on tutorial training on the ComputeNext Marketplace itself.” The program was designed to help meet the difficulties of keeping revenues up while transitioning customers from traditional, physical IT to newer cloud services.

Moore also said there is “a huge need for education and training resources that can better equip these organizations to lead cloud conversations, understand the larger market dynamics of cloud computing, and ultimately exude a sense of trustworthiness to their clients. Unfortunately, the plethora of platform & technology vendors respective to cloud services coupled with the barrage of marketing information about ‘going to the cloud’ can be very daunting and confusing as to what your first steps should be.”

The company’s Marketplace is a platform that allows users to edit and manage cloud services from a multitude cloud hosting providers around the world.

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