Friday, 22 July 2011 08:35

Geopolitical Inputs Into Cloud Computing Decision

Rate this item
(1 Vote)

Cloud computing has been all the rage since the middle of 2007, when the word came to define a concept of storing data online, on off-site servers, and accessing it remotely. Companies are tripping over themselves to come up with more and more services to store online and of course, to monetize that process either through service fees or advertisement revenue. The latest race is between Google, Amazon, and Apple to store consumers’ audio and other files online with built in audio and video players for streaming playback over the air to cell phones, computers, and other computing platforms. This race was set off by Amazon beating the others to the first mover’s advantage which might not stand the test of time against Google’s broader user base with promised larger storage or against Apple’s soon to be made public deals with entertainment companies on greater access to content.

For the corporate users large companies such as IBM are moving into the monthly service online storage segments of off-site backup and a myriad of other related online fee-for-service models that they previously ignored. Based on research from Wave Length Market Analytics and Winn Technology Group, Five Key Themes in Enterprise Cloud Computing Migration, 58% of medium and large enterprises are already using or planning to use the Cloud. Clearly this method of configuring corporate infrastructure is becoming more of a norm than just supplementation of existing local systems.

What are the underlining assumptions that IT managers and business owners make when they roll over parts of their work-flow to the Cloud? Are these assumptions even considered during the decision making process or are they so innate that they are not even verbalized or discussed?

Global Threats Become Local
Everyone has heard from the news media that China is an active player and some would say a leader in Cyber-espionage. North Korea uses its hacker units, specially trained in universities to be later incorporated as part of their armed services, to attempt to equalize its dire disadvantage against South Korea – USA coalition to improve its bargaining position by having the capability to inflict billions of dollars worth of damage. Just less than 2 weeks ago the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation, a South Korean bank with 5,000 branches, was attacked leaving thousands of customers unable to access their money for 3 days. Such examples are becoming an everyday occurrence. So now I would expect a question. Why are you bringing all this up? We read the news. How does this relate to my Cloud Computing decision? Let’s follow the thread further. At the beginning of the century, most of the hacking was being done on a private level, by private hackers with relatively limited potential impact. Furthermore, potential targets were less exposed and fewer than there are now.

Hacking has become industrial, political, and finally, militarized. Developing nations such as Iran, China, and Russia are using this tool to reduce their technology development time and cost by attempting to steal information. The US government admits that not only is it fighting to keep its technology secrets, but that its defense contractors have been bleeding secret information through network breaches for years.

Pentagon has recently announced that it will treat Cyber attacks as acts of war, thereby putting adversaries on notice that hacking on national level could warrant a traditional military response. Could US go to war over a Cyber attack? What the US government is saying is that if it can prove that an attack actually came from a specific country and then it can prove that it was originated by that country’s government, and if the damage is of the type that it would warrant killing people in mass for, than yes, we can go to war. As you can see, the perils of this approach are many and this is more of a warning at this time than a really credible defensive posture. The point to take away is that businesses and individuals can not be protected by our national defense systems from severe and widespread destruction.

Google Is Not Immune
At this point of time more than 3 million businesses run Google Apps, a cloud equivalent to Microsoft Office. Many people assume that a giant company at the core of US economy could not be vulnerable. The truth is that nothing and no company is untouchable. If the Iranian nuclear program which sits behind layers of secrecy, security, and at its final layer with off-net devices, can be brought down to a multi-year halt as a result of a “super-hack” attack, then it is inferred that Google and other core services Cloud providers can be attacked, disrupted, and your data stolen.  In recent days Lockheed Martin, L3 Communications, and Northrup Grumman, have all been subject to organized espionage sourced penetration attacks. Google reveled yesterday that another attack that originated in China, recently compromised passwords of government officials and other users.

New World Order
The reality now is that we, consumers, IT managers, and business owners, can no longer rely on our national defenses to protect our internal “with in our own borders” commerce and data. The front line has shifted to your own planning, forethought, diligence, and preparedness. We, the commerce participants, have become the front-line warriors.The sooner we internalize this reality and take concrete, readily available to us steps to mitigate operational risk, the less difficult it will be for us to maximize the powerful potential of new Cloud services and products in a sustainable long-term way.

Planning Cloud’s Role in Your IT System
As far as individual businesses are concerned, severe destruction is not necessary. It would be enough for the hosting company that hosts your server to be taken down or your local Telco that provides your Internet access to have an outage and there goes that Cloud solution.

Why Do We Want the Cloud
There are many advantages to working in the Cloud.

  • Freedom of Movement – Management has the option to have employee base be geographically distributed allowing for better utilization of labor and more responsive workforce to the needs of the clients.
  • No Need To Maintain Equipment and Data – One of the biggest selling points of the Cloud is that the cost, the effort, and the risk of design and upkeep of internal systems is significantly reduced.
  • Specialization – Cloud computing allows specific services providers to develop and maintain their service, thereby allowing the users to focus on their own business.
  • Low Cost of Service – Because most of the services that are delivered through an online subscription service are designed for a large pool of customers, the monthly costs are usually very affordable to business users, turning the the service into a value.

The Proposed Approach
Now that we have described both sides of the Cloud computing model, we need to develop a viable methodology that will be both cost effective and efficient in planning the integration of online services into each business’ work-flow and information system. In our daily practice, we are asked all the time: What do you think of the Cloud? Of course, we answer: “It Depends.” The truth is that it depends on many factors. We, typically, recommend making a comprehensive IT analysis plan that will make the specifics of the Cloud decision much clearer.

  1. Flowchart the Entire Business Process
    1. The details of the flowchart must include all the hardware elements of the IT equipment
    2. The details of the flowchart must include all the software and online services that are part of the process
    3. The details of the flowchart must include all the data, its location, and its use
      1. The use must be specified by specific user groups
  2. Calculate the direct and the indirect costs of each of the above elements
    1. Direct costs are costs of equipment and software/online service
    2. Indirect costs are costs associated with each item, but incurred through overhead such as IT staff salary and time
  3. Question every aspect of the entire system equally as to the risk of downtime and data loss. Do not assume that online service providers backup your data, nor that they will not just disappear one day.
    1. This is the key to planning correctly for Cloud Computing. It is imperative to built into the entire process flow backup and redundancy capability.
    2. Add to the flowchart redundancy steps for all components that have valuable data and systems
    3. Calculate costs of all redundancy steps
  4. Now that the entire process is visible, calculate scenarios of using Cloud computing with redundancy versus using local equipment/software with redundancy.
    1. It is important to build into the model fail-over options for remote/Cloud solutions. Sometime these feature can become expensive and need to be fully explored and priced in.
    2. It is also critical to verify that whatever backup solutions are selected, can be actually restored, selectively restored for partial crashes, and that backup versioning extends for several  months back.

Only after a detailed understanding of the appropriate mix of local and hosted solutions along with their costs is developed, can an intelligent decision be made as to how to utilize the wonderful capabilities of the Cloud. It has been my longstanding concern that the ease of use and the growing availability of online services has fueled the next Internet bubble. A mad rush to such services has occurred without proper analysis of the risks and costs of securing against those risks.

Future national conflicts are being waged today in the rear, in the enterprise arena. Business decision makers are not aware of that and the government is not capable of defending the economy against this new warfare. We are fully capable to protect ourselves because we have all the tools and knowledge necessary. What is required is a plan.

Read 8806 times
Get a Quote
Click below to get Live Support Now

Feb, 04 2013

  How to Choose the Right IT Cloud Vendor for Your Business  

Dec, 21 2012

  Should Small Businesses use Cloud Computing?  

Oct, 23 2012

  IT Support Services Best Practice  

Oct, 05 2012

  IT Consulting Tip: Why Your Business Should Take Security Seriously  

Aug, 16 2012

  IT Consulting Tip: Want to Avoid Identity Theft? Choose Your Password Wisely  

Aug, 07 2012

  Should you Choose an IT Consulting Company Based on Price Alone?  

Jul, 27 2012

  Top 3 Ways to Back-up Your Data  

Jun, 11 2012

  Why Chrome OS Will Dominate the Market  

May, 30 2012

  New Advances in Cloud Computing  

Apr, 02 2012

  How to Select an Appropriate IT Provider  

Mar, 27 2012

  BSOD Resolution Strategies  

Mar, 19 2012

  Accidental IT Worker - Does Your Office Have One?  

Mar, 15 2012

  Switching from IPv4 to IPv6  

Oct, 31 2011

  Benefits of Using IT Support Company on a Flat Rate  

Sep, 09 2011

  Finding Computer Support Company for Nursing Facility  

Sep, 07 2011

  vSphere 5 Is VMware's Jump into Data Storage Virtualization  

Aug, 17 2011

  Bomgar Analysis and Review at TTIG  

Jul, 22 2011

  What Do You Know About Your Backup?  

Jul, 22 2011

  Geopolitical Inputs Into Cloud Computing Decision  

Mar, 08 2011

  A Popular Hosting Company, Codero, is Attacked With a DDoS From China  

Feb, 13 2011

  Stuxnet. A War Among Nations – Why Should IT Managers Care?  

Aug, 11 2010

  AT&T and Verizon Design New Payment System to Compete with Credit Cards  

Jul, 11 2010

  Will The Perfect Citizen Protect?  

Jul, 04 2010

  Copper T1 Is One Way To Go, Microwave Wireless Is Another!  

Jun, 24 2010

  Don't Jump for the iPhone 4 Until You Look At Droid X  

Jun, 20 2010

  Google Apps Market Place  

Jun, 09 2010

  Microsoft and Adobe Release Critical Security Patches  

Feb, 08 2010

  Annoying explorer.exe taking up CPU fix  

Feb, 07 2010

  Biggest Mistakes Companies Make in Selecting an IT Provider or IT Company  

Jan, 26 2010

  Google Chrome Is Fast and Now Has Bookmark Sync and Extensions  

Jan, 26 2010

  Cyber Warfare Is Here - What Does That Mean For You?  

Jan, 25 2010

  Web Remote Workplace Doesn't Work with Internet Explorer - IE 8  

Dec, 09 2009

  Funny Windows 7 and Chrome Interaction  

Nov, 24 2009

  IE6 and IE7 vulnerable to latest flaw; IE8 immune  

Jul, 23 2009

  Denial of Service Attacks  

Oct, 23 2009

  New Microsoft Vulnerability Blacklisted by Firefox  

Oct, 19 2009

  New Vulnerabilities That Concern YOU!  

Aug, 01 2009

  Adobe Product Fixes Available Now  

Jul, 27 2009

  Critical Exploit Found in Adobe Products  

Jul, 08 2009

  Cyber Security And Your Family  


Backup Solutions

The TTIG managed backup solution is a safety net on steroids, providing daily motoring and confirmation of the integrity and safety of all data under management. Step into controlled environment of TTIG Disaster Recovery and Data Redundancy Planning.

+ Learn More

Security Solutions

In today's world of data vulnerability, we provide your organization with the best security practices, continuous risk assessments and even managed security monitoring when necessary. Our approach is comprehensive, our solutions increase security. Control Your Data!

+ Read More

Managed IT Services

We centralize our IT Management Process to ensure complete situational awareness through continuous client communication, network monitoring, alerting, and preventative network maintenance. Managed services allow for reduction of downtime through a highly proactive

+ Read More