How to Use Application Intelligence to Solve Cloud Computing Problems

While virtualized data centers can help with cost-effectiveness and efficiency, it's been estimated that only 16 percent of all servers are virtualized. Further, many CIOs say that they have not moved to the virtualized or cloud computing model because of the security concerns associated with virtualization and cloud computing. Here, Knowledge Center contributor David Buckwald discusses the threats facing virtualized environments and some best practices for beefing up security around cloud computing networks.

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Cloud computing is on the rise. Over 90 percent of recently surveyed companies expect to be using cloud computing in the next three years. Still, securing access to the cloud poses significant challenges for IT departments. Mission-critical, cloud-based business applications such as Salesforce.com, SharePoint and SAP are often prime targets for continuous, persistent criminal attack from sophisticated, profit-driven and even politically motivated hackers.

Today's workers also go far beyond traditional applications in their cloud-based computing. They routinely transfer information via personal e-mail accounts such as Yahoo or Gmail, use peer to peer applications such as LimeWire and BitTorrent, download files from Web 2.0 social networking sites such as Facebook and stream rich media from YouTube.

While these cloud-based Web applications can offer business benefits in certain scenarios, they have the potential to rob companies of bandwidth, productivity and confidential data-and subsequently put them at risk of regulatory noncompliance.

Finally, traditional approaches to network security become less effective in the public cloud. WiFi-enabled laptops, third-generation/fourth-generation cellular smartphones, dynamic port selection and traffic encryption have undermined traditional, perimeter-based network controls over application access. Moreover, it is critical to prioritize and manage bandwidth for all of these applications to ensure network throughput and business productivity.