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In my previous post on virtualization, I discussed the potential to make greater use of this technology beyond just better server utilization. If you have already done a lot of virtualization projects, you would likely agree that eventually virtualization alone is not enough. Read this interesting story to see how a tech company reached this conclusion based on their multi-year experience with virtualization. The next stage, from an IT architectural perspective, is to incorporate automation, elasticity and governing to deliver on-demand and pay-per-use computing services. As you guessed it, we are talking about cloud computing here.

Much has been written to describe the business advantages, various service types (SaaS, PaaS and IaaS, to name a few common ones) and deployment models (public, private and hybrid) about cloud computing. But, where do you start to plan for cloud?

Cloud computing is not a simple collection or allocation of resources.  It will require new thinking on the way you run business – how you support your end users, how you deploy your applications and how you protect your sensitive data.  For example, traditionally, some of the most powerful security controls are network-centric (ACLs and Firewalls) and host-centric (file system permissions). With cloud computing, these controls are still needed but may not be sufficient, because your boundaries are no longer defined by your networks or your physical machines. Logical controls based on customer information and runtime data will become more critical. Such logical controls provide safeguards for you, when you share with others the same cloud and the same underlying infrastructure while your sensitive data remains securely separated in the cloud.

The Cisco Virtual Security Gateway helps you implement zone-based security policies, which include logic controls based on customer attributes and run time information such as virtual machine attributes.

Begin planning for cloud this year by examining how your business processes will be impacted when you adopt private or public cloud computing.

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