Clouds Not Ideal for Critical or Sensitive Information
Clouds not ideal for critical or sensitive information
Ultimately, the cloud as it exists today is just not ready for any application of real importance, which suggests that it's a place for applications of little importance. In fact, if you read the Amazon user agreement, it describes just that: a service that should not be used for anything critical or sensitive.
One of the more established cloud models out there is Amazon. This is based on selling unused capacity on Amazon's own infrastructure. The business may be revenue-generating but it is not separate. To its credit, Amazon recognizes the security, management and compliance issues, as well as the fact that its own resource needs need to come first. Neither security nor uptime is guaranteed in the service agreement. Further, Amazon can suspend the service whenever it wants, without liability to its customers. For non-critical, low-usage applications, this might fair but it is not the right environment in which to run anything more important.
A practical approach to clouds
Cloud computing is a vision that has the potential to increase the overall flexibility and responsiveness of your IT organization. But despite the current hype, the technology is just not where it needs to be yet. Presently, there are three pragmatic things you can do to prepare for clouds on the horizon:
1. Understand what is really needed to play in the cloud
The use of virtualization in the data center is creating the term "internal clouds." With the same basic technology, corporate data centers can keep everything under their control. You should discuss with your auditors how virtualization is impacting their requirements. From there, add new requirements and new policies to your internal audit checklists.
2. Gain experience with "internal clouds"
Make sure you can efficiently implement and enforce the policies (as well as meet the new audit requirements) with the right automation and control systems. Once you know what you need internally, it becomes simpler to practice that in the cloud.
3. Test external clouds
Using low-priority workloads will provide a better understanding of what is needed in terms of life cycle management, and it also helps establish what role external cloud infrastructures could end up playing in your overall business architecture.
Given these pragmatic considerations, right now you should begin transferring your IT organization from "some virtual server use" to building out "internal clouds," being aware and mitigating the mysteries within the technology. To conclude, it is clear that if you can't manage, control and audit your own internal virtual environment, there is no chance you can do the same with an external cloud environment.
Jay Litkey is President and CEO of Embotics. A serial entrepreneur with extensive experience launching, financing and growing software companies, Jay has been a pioneer in emerging, high-growth markets that include virtualization, enterprise systems management automation, and Internet video content distribution. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.