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Stratospheric imperatives

Gerald Wee | April 28, 2011
Cloud computing in one form or another is expected to take the world by storm, and like it or not, organisations must prepare themselves for the inevitable.

“Many governments don’t like the idea of storing sensitive information in an offshore facility and with a pure Cloud architecture, you have no control over where data is stored,” he said.

“Another issue is whether you can get all your data back if you break off from the Cloud service provider.”

“There is no guarantee that nothing is left behind as they will not let you go into their data centre,” Tan added. “It is hard to be accountable if you don’t have such control.”

So such organisations will sacrifice the financial benefit of Cloud computing to go with a private Cloud architecture and reduce the risk.

However, technology is increasingly becoming available, for a private Cloud to behave more like a public Cloud by supplementing its resources with public resources or even selling their services as part of a grid.

“It is more complex, but technology is available,” said Tan, citing Singapore’s National Library Board utilising a public Dropbox facility for its ebook services. “However, the public and private Cloud distinction will still continue even as the trend of integration increases.”

Secure the Hatches
One of the most, if not the most, critical considerations regardless of architecture is security, an issue not helped by the dramatically changing threat landscape where cyber-criminals use a combination of attacks to disrupt networks and compromise sensitive information.

According to estimates by Symantec, over US$1 trillion in information was stolen in 2009, with the following year seeing 92.9 billion spam mails a day, representing some 89.1 percent of all email.

“With more devices, more data, more applications and more users, the complexity of maintaining security is increasing,” said Leonard Sim, Manager, Client & Partner Services–Asia, Symantec.cloud.

However, a major challenge facing organisations are the level of protection required coupled with the costs for infrastructure and staffing.

“An in-house solution means significant management overhead including procurement, performance tuning, capacity planning, and the like,” said Sim. “Having a Cloud security system takes care of 90 percent of unwanted email, and you save resources.”
However, he notes that security Cloud providers must have a good service level agreement (SLA), and must meet all security needs, not just email.

Cloud Career Path
With such a megatrend towards Cloud computing, IT professionals need to get themselves and their organisations prepared.
In his presentation, Teng Fang Yih, Editor of Computerworld Singapore and Computerworld Malaysia, provided an aggregation of advice gleaned from successful IT practitioners. “Before making a move, get educated on the principles and definitions of Cloud computing,” Teng said. “Make sure you know your application inventory well—which applications are driving your business, and which applications need standalone environments.”

 

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