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The Top 5 Security Risks of Cloud Computing

Evaluate potential providers based on their responses to these key concerns.

More and more, small businesses are moving to cloud computing, signing up with private providers that make sophisticated applications more affordable as well as setting up their own accounts with public social media sites like Facebook. The trend is confirmed by Microsoft in its global SMB Cloud Adoption Study 2011, which found that 49 percent of small businesses expect to sign up for at least one cloud service in the next three years.

Private and public clouds function in the same way: Applications are hosted on a server and accessed over the Internet. Whether you’re using a Software as a Service (SaaS) version of customer relationship management (CRM) software, creating offsite backups of your company data, or setting up a social media marketing page, you’re trusting a third-party company with information about your business and, most likely, your customers.

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Cisco and OpenStack

A few months back, Cisco announced our official support for the OpenStack open-source project. Led by Cisco’s office of the Cloud CTO (Lew Tucker), Cisco continues to expand our engagement in this community.

Our initial engagement was a “Network as a Service” (NaaS) submission, looking at ways to create a logical abstraction to automate pools (or containers) of network resources and allow developers to create systems that meet their application needs.

Last week we co-sponsored the OpenStack Design Conference in Santa Clara (all presentations). We also created this  resource page to highlight configurations for developers or systems integrators looking to setup OpenStack on the Cisco UCS platform. Recaps of the Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 events and activities.

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Conversations about Cloud – “What is Cloud Computing?”

Sometimes we spend so much time involved in the inner-workings of something (“inside the sausage factory”) that it’s valuable to occasionally come up for air to get a fresh perspective on things. I had one of those moments this week during a conversation with a Sr. Engineer at one of our customers. After a long whiteboard session about networking within their Data Center, he asked me if it was useful (YES!) and then he said he wasn’t sure how that had anything to do with Cloud Computing.  The rest of the conversation went something like this:

ME: That was great because you highlights many design considerations for building massively scalable data center networks. [SCALABLE]

HIM: Glad it was helpful, but please don’t tell me this is Cloud Computing. This is just the evolution of Data Centers because now VMs and Applications can be mobile.

ME: OK, what do you think Cloud Computing is?

HIM: Cloud Computing is the stuff on the Internet, you know, like Amazon AWS or Google. All the on-demand, self-service, *aaS stuff that marketing people talk about.

ME: OK, fair enough. Does your company (Enterprise -- Financial Services) use any Cloud Computing?

HIM: Are you serious, we have rules about where our data goes, how it’s accounted for and how it’s audited. You can’t do that in Cloud Computing. (NOTE: Not completely true -- Cisco is doing some important work in that space.) Read More »

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Parting Clouds and Being Real About Virtualization

April 27, 2011 at 10:00 am PST

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few years – and perhaps even then – you have undoubtedly heard someone touting the merits of virtualization and cloud computing.  Chief among the advantages are reduced costs and the capability to do more with fewer resources.

Although the terms are often used simultaneously, cloud and virtualization aren’t the same.  Click below for a brief discussion of each.

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“Not every startup can afford to buy redundant vBlocks”

This past weekend, the social media channels were ablaze with discussions about the Cloud Computing events of last week. Many of the discussions centered around the idea that customers of public cloud services had over-estimated what would actually be delivered, especially in the areas of High Availability and Disaster Recovery. Some people argued that it was the providers fault, while others argued that the customers should have known better and designed their applications accordingly.

Initial deployment costs often came up during discussions, especially as it related to start-ups and growing businesses that required (or preferred) the pay-as-you-go consumption model to one that was more CapEx focused. Sometime during the discussion, I received a tweet that said “Not every startup can afford to buy redundant vBlocks”.

I’m not sure if this was directed at me, Cisco or VCE. Either way, it was probably directed at the most visible integrated offering from technology companies that have chosen to supply best-of-breed infrastructure for public (and private) cloud builders, not “be the cloud” for companies.

My initial reaction was, “huh, when did the discussion move back to small companies buying their own infrastructure?”. This isn’t the late 1990s, where every start-up in Silicon Valley bought huge quantities of servers, storage and networks, which required them to raise large amounts of capital to fund the infrastructure before they could even begin growing their business. We understand that VCs give start-ups less these days because they don’t want to pay for the business risk + infrastructure assets. Too many start-ups fail or don’t have a viable business model, so move the infrastructure costs to the commodity public clouds. Read More »

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