It’s inevitable. The cloud is here and it seems like there is no going back. Those that adopt the cloud begin to open up possibilities for business acceleration and growth that have the power to push them past competition. The cloud is drastically changing the world of data and applications, effectively pushing its way into affecting every industry. Is the cloud a real disruptive technology? And if businesses must adopt it, how do they ensure security as they do? Continue reading for discussion and summary of five recent videos from experts on the cloud.
Radu Prodan, Doctor of Technical Sciences and Associate Professor, begins with a brief history of notable disruptive technologies, and their comical initial lack of recognition by many experts in the field, before landing on the recent introduction of the cloud. Is it a disruptive technology? he asks.
Even if you do not watch the entire video, I recommend watching the first section if you are looking for an easy explanation of the cloud. Basically, instead of storing data across many devices, then having trouble communicating between them, delegate responsibility to a professional, a cloud provider. Then you get a single connection which you do not have to manage yourself that simplifies all of your data.
The advantages are clear: “unlimited resources” (which, yes, he did put in quotes), anytime access, pay per-use, no maintenance or operational costs, no hardware depreciation, liability, security, and privacy.
So, Prodan asks again, are clouds disruptive?
Well, first note that clouds have a dark side, he says. The cloud aggregates an enormous amount of resources which all take up a lot of energy. In fact, 3% of global energy is consumed by data centers, a number that is predicted to triple in the next decade in order to operate the cloud. What’s more, greenhouse gases released by data centers constitute 2% of the world’s total emissions which are likely to rise to 16% in the coming years due to cloud adoption. This is not environmentally sustainable. If numbers continue to increase as predicted, we could face dire consequences.
After this gloomy forecast, Prodan does finally conclude that cloud can be a disruptive technology, but only in combination with green energy production. Though really, he ends with a smirk, it is all unpredictable. You never can tell what technologies will cause definitive change in the market.
Though relatively long, this video delves into many important aspects of cloud implementation. The cloud is a critical platform for cognitive solutions, argue speakers from IBM at the CIO Leadership Exchange. “The world is changing, and the infrastructure which is enabling this change is cloud,” says featured speaker of “How a Cloud Platform Accelerates Innovation”, Martin Jetter, Senior Vice President of IBM Global Technology Services.
Cloud was originally a way to get faster access to IT, a way to get cheaper access to storage, and to compute with others, but cloud has evolved into a platform which enables innovation, and allows for an enhanced delivery model for business value. Cloud is for businesses of all sizes, but pay attention to your industry when moving to the cloud, Jetter recommends.
Important notes to consider when moving to the cloud:
- Choice with consistency – put the right workload into the right place.
- Hybrid integration – unlock data and applications to bring them together. Integrate your existing and public systems to make real use of the data.
- DevOps productivity – “clearly grounded and founded into the cloud environment”, it is critical for rapid pace and competitive advantage.
- Data and analytics – Analytics that span across the different platforms are necessary.
- Cognitive solutions – they have a grand impact on how you interact with world, business to individual.
Jetter invites Alice Keung, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Economical Insurance up to give advice based on her personal experience with cloud integration:
- You want to be relevant as a business, Alice begins. Use this mindset.
- Use automation and dynamic provisioning to maximize speed, agility, flexibility, and scalability.
- Combine your existing system with cloud. A mix of the two infrastructures is optimal as long as you integrate the two well.
- Security is critical. Take a risk-based approach through design and architecture, through implementation, all the way into ongoing management.
- Work with a trusted advisor.
- And finally, use DevOps for the best productivity.
In conclusion, ask yourself, are you disrupting or are you being disrupted?
George Crump of Storage Switzerland speaks with Douglas O’Flaherty of IBM on strategies for hybrid cloud storage. Take advantage of the cost, flexibility, and scalability of the hybrid cloud, they advise. Especially given that more storage costs more money, cloud is a commodity choice as it is much less expensive than traditional data centers.
He suggests that you should use cloud as a primary storage platform, move away from it as a secondary method. Traditional IT is using the cloud for archiving and disaster recovery, but cloud is much bigger than that. It has new services, born in cloud applications, and IoT. Hybrid cloud strategy, though, is about enabling storage to move easily back and forth between traditional and cloud environments.
O’Flaherty asks, what are some requirements you would put in place for a hybrid cloud product or strategy? To which Crump recommends:
- Open – build cloud on industry standards and multiprotocol support. It has to be able to do the new and the old.
- Multisite – take advantage of off site, multiple geographies.
- Cognitive – machine learning is necessary in addition to policy because the data is coming in so fast.
This growing volume of data just cannot be managed manually anymore. Move to cloud so that you will be able to look at the entire portfolio of your data.
At HPE Discover, Jake Ludington interviews Simon Leech of Hewlett Packard Enterprise about hybrid cloud security. Security is a major challenge moving into the cloud, but it’s not about completely obliterating any risks. It is about “reducing risk to a level that makes sense and is economically viable” for your organization, says Leech.
In order to successfully adopt cloud, you definitely need to pay attention to applications and their increasingly frequent release cycles because as you speed up, there is a higher likelihood for mistakes. However, as according to Leech, the most important action to take while moving to the cloud is to understand all of the risks, then take on a real data-centric approach. Use format preserving encryption, deploy to a hardened infrastructure, and finally, make sure to monitor the cloud regularly while meeting your compliance requirements, a similar recommendation to Alice Keung’s earlier.
Understanding your data for successful compliance:
- Classify your data so that you can understand how to protect it.
- Security by design, reduce your vulnerability footprint.
- Be able to notify local data protection authority if a breach happens.
Regardless of whether you need to be GDPR compliant, it can be an effective guideline to move towards better security, as GDPR at its core is all about security best practices.
Security compliances are some of the main inherent barriers for companies that want to go to the cloud, but other third parties have the ability to help break down those barriers, as according to Chris Steffen of Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Understand your organization’s unique needs, then plan, he mandates.
Steffen gives a few tips:
- Do not back into security, understand it long before.
- Defense in depth: develop data security, infrastructure security, and compliance.
- Share responsibility with your provider, and understand how your cloud security provider shapes security standards.
All in all, do your research, be educated and aware of your specific security risks, then plan for them from the beginning of your journey.
Though the cloud does have real security risks and is starting to leave a heavy environmental footprint, cloud enables businesses to accelerate growth and development, so those who do not adopt are at risk of falling behind. Understand your organization in order to figure out the right approach to cloud implementation, cloud security, and effective use of your data. Move to the cloud with a trusted advisor, but also make sure to educate yourself as thoroughly as possible in order to capitalize on your opportunity for success.