THE MAGAZINE

Computing in the Cloud

By Holly Gilbert

Cloud computing is becoming ubiquitous among enterprises, according to a June 2013 study called Cloud Computing: Key Trends and Future Effects by IDG Enterprise. It notes that investment in cloud computing has gone up 10 percent in the past year, with IT departments spending an average of 44 percent of their budget on cloud computing. Sixty-one percent of organizations now house at least some of their IT infrastructure in the cloud.

But not all clouds are the same, and executives must decide which type of platform best suits their company. Security, cost, and operating speed are top priorities in these decisions. There are public clouds, private clouds, and hybrids. Public-cloud platforms are available to anyone willing to pay for the service. The vendors own the data centers and most often control and provide the security settings. In a private cloud, companies actually own and manage the data storage and security settings themselves.

In the IDG survey, 28 percent of respondents said their company’s IT environment is in the private cloud, and 14 percent said their infrastructure resides in the public cloud. In 18 months, a total of 36 percent will have moved their virtual computing to the private side, while 20 percent will use public platforms.

Companies have different reasons for choosing a particular cloud model. “The sensitivity of compliance, security management, as well as cultural implications and total cost of ownership is driving each organization to evaluate their risk tolerance with unique business needs to execute their optimal cloud strategy,” says Bob Melk, IDG’s chief operating officer, in the report announcement.

One vendor attempting to solve some of the issues of public-cloud computing is CloudSigma. The Swiss company recently came out with the latest version of its public-cloud-computing platform, CloudSigma 2.0. The product offers capabilities like direct private patching and Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS). The company’s cofounder and CEO Robert Jenkins tells Security Management that, from a security standpoint, the latest version of the product makes it more difficult for attackers to breach an operating system’s defenses. Settings are actually the level below the operating system, he notes. “So even if one server is compromised, and [the attackers] try to change the firewall within the server, it wouldn’t make a difference because we’re applying the firewall settings below the virtual machine actually at a cloud level.”
 

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