Maximizing Effectiveness in the Cloud

At its most basic, the cloud is a nebulous infrastructure owned and operated by an outside party that accepts and runs workloads created by customers. When thinking about the cloud in this way, the basic question concerning cloud computing becomes, “Can I run all of my applications in the cloud?” If you answer “no” to that question, then ask yourself, “What divisions of my data can safely be run in the cloud?” When assessing how to include cloud computing in your architecture, one way to maximize your effectiveness in the cloud is to see how you can effectively complement your existing architectures.

The current cloud tools strive to manage provisioning and a level of mobility management, with security and audit capabilities on the horizon, in addition to the ability to move the same virtual machine in and out of the cloud. This is where virtualization, a new data center which includes a range of challenges for traditional data center management tools, comes into play. Identity, mobility and data separation are a few obvious sues for virtualization.

1.       Identity

Server identity becomes crucial when you can make 20 identical copies of an existing server and then distribute them around the environment with just a click of a mouse. In this way, the traditional identity based on physicality doesn’t measure up.

2.       Mobility

While physical servers are stationary, VMs are designed to be mobile, and tracking and tracing them throughout their life cycles is an important part of maintaining and proving control and compliance.

3.       Data separation

Resources are shared between host servers and the virtual servers running on them, thus portions of the host’s hardware (like the processor and memory) are allocated to each virtual server. There have not been any breaches of isolation between virtual servers yet, but this may not last.

These challenges are highlighted by cloud governance. While these three issues are currently managed and controlled by someone outside of the IT department, additional challenges that are specific to the cloud now exist. Some of them include life cycle management, access control, integrity and cloud-created VMS.

1.       Life cycle management

How is a workload’s life cycle managed once it has been transferred to the cloud?

2.       Access control

Who was given access to the application and its data while it was in the cloud?

3.       Integrity

Did its integrity remain while it was in the cloud, or was it altered?

4.       Cloud-created VMS

Clouds generate their own workloads and subsequently transfer them into the data center. These so-called “virtual appliances” are being downloaded into data centers each day and identity, integrity and configuration need to be managed and controlled there.

Cloud computing has the potential to increase the flexibility and responsiveness of your IT organization and there are things you can do to be pragmatic about the evolution of cloud computing. They include understanding what is needed in the cloud, gaining experience with “internal clouds” and testing external clouds.

1.       Understanding that is needed to play in the cloud

The term “internal clouds” has resulted from the use of virtualization in the data center. It is important to discuss with auditors how virtualization is impacting their requirements and new requirements and new policies may subsequently be added to your internal audit checklists.

2.       Gaining experience with “internal clouds”

It is important to be able to efficiently implement and enforce the policies with the right automation and control systems. It becomes easier to practice that in the cloud once you have established what you need internally.

3.       Testing external clouds

The use of low-priority workloads help provide a better understanding of what is needed for life cycle management as well as establish what role external cloud infrastructures may play in your overall business architecture.

Essentially, you must be able to manage, control and audit your own internal virtual environment in order to be able to do so with an external cloud environment. Please visit nubifer.com to learn more on maximizing officing effectiveness in the cloud.

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