Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Zakia Bouachraoui

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, Cloud Security

@CloudExpo: Article

A Cloud Security Conversation with the SMB

Why the cloud makes sense for companies with limited resources and modest budgets

I just got off the phone with a friend of mine. His name is AJ and he was particularly grouchy. He had just spent the last 12 work hours scouring month-old machine logs so that he could compile a quarter-end audit that met his company’s compliance requirement. AJ is the Director of IT for what would be considered an SMB. It’s a modest home warranty related company that deals with homeowner end users, finance and loan offices, mortgage companies and manufacturers. It does roughly 15-20 million in business each year and employs about 60 direct employees and maybe 100 contracted agents. AJ has a staff of three other IT professionals, but given the workload, could easily double that headcount.

AJ is very proud of his jack-of-all-IT-trades status. He is proficient at writing code as he is virtually installing access on contractor home devices or planning strategic IT footprint expansion. And it's this proficiency that has been making him grumpy. Because he can work some sort of magic with just about any application, the bosses have him wear many different hats. In fact, one of his online IT forum handles is “The Maddest Hatter.” But it is this reliance on his tribal knowledge and multidisciplinary acumen that keep the C-Levels saying “that sounds like it’s right up AJ’s alley.” AJ’s biggest problem is that there are only 24 hours in a day and he can only prioritize so many projects that are interspersed with hair-on-fire emergencies.

Now when I called AJ, it was not to sell him anything, but to see if he wanted to play a round of golf this weekend. However, the conversation soon turned dark, as he said that he would probably be in the office all weekend catching up on the work he would have been doing if not for the pesky audits.  I asked him if that were a regular happenstance, working through the weekend. He said it happened once or twice a month. If it wasn’t compliance, it was server repair, or backup tapes, or investigating why the website submission page transmits gobbledigook (his word, not mine).

“So what about your security policies?” I snuck in the question.

“What about them? Raul and Savino (his techs) usually take care of it-the provsioning, password stuff, whatever. I just step in when the feds come knocking and ask about compliance. Man PCI is just burying me.” (note...most of his company's users pay for service online using credit card--see last week's blog about PCI)

I sighed. “So you don’t know who’s accessing your network, if they’re friendlies. What they are looking at?”

“I know what you’re trying to do…you’re trying to sell me SIEM and Log Management. You know I’ve got it covered.”

“Do you? How secure are those home agents computers? Are they monitored by anything more than virus software? Do you know what sites they’re visiting, how open their networks are before they sign in an access your network? Heck are they using unsecured smartphones?”

“I know. I know. But I thought this call was about golf.”

“Just trying to help a buddy out.

I know from experience that too many SMBs do not enforce data security policies. Like AJ, they are spread too thin or don’t have the necessary budget to afford a holistic solution. Without these security controls they run the risk of losing data, stagnate employee (and agent) productivity, and open themselves up to a myriad of breaches, sabotages and carelessness. Any of which could bring their modest enterprise to a screeching halt.

For company’s like AJ’s, security-as-a-service is making more and more sense. It provides best of breed capabilities for a fraction of the cost. I told AJ that for what he pays currently in support and maintenance, I could provide an enterprise-class holistic solution-one that provides all the tools, plus 24/7 monitoring vigilance. And this is not to displace any person or process currently in house. They might have the expertise, but typically don’t have the bandwidth or the budget or the buy-in. Too many company’s like AJ’s do the bare minimum to maintain compliance, but that certainly leaves them vulnerable. In fact, the all the automated and outsourced functionalities can provide the breathing room to address not only business need and revenue generating priorities, but to allow a transformation from an infrastructure-based organization to a information-based one. AJ knows this and often crosses swords with the C-levels in that they need to upgrade security protocols because it is a matter of when (not if) a major security issue will occur and cost them not only dollars, but reputation as well.

Cloud-based security is not just a benefit for SMBs.  The residual benefit of cloud security is that IT no longer has to be in the Identity Management business, but still reap all the benefits and efficiencies. No more time dedicated to resetting passwords or setting up role based access every time someone is hired, fired or moved. It doesn’t have to be in the log monitoring business, but still is effectively and securely protected from intrusion and attack with 24/7/365 monitoring. IT department is no longer a compiler of data, but a conduit of information and evaluator of compliance audits and reports that meet the various industry standards and government requirements.

The good news is AJ is slotting cloud security migration for his 2013 budget. So I just may let him win the next time we hit the links…but don’t tell him that!

More Stories By Kevin Nikkhoo

With more than 32 years of experience in information technology, and an extensive and successful entrepreneurial background, Kevin Nikkhoo is the CEO of the dynamic security-as-a-service startup Cloud Access. CloudAccess is at the forefront of the latest evolution of IT asset protection--the cloud.

Kevin holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from McGill University, Master of Computer Engineering at California State University, Los Angeles, and an MBA from the University of Southern California with emphasis in entrepreneurial studies.

Microservices Articles
Lori MacVittie is a subject matter expert on emerging technology responsible for outbound evangelism across F5's entire product suite. MacVittie has extensive development and technical architecture experience in both high-tech and enterprise organizations, in addition to network and systems administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning technology editor at Network Computing Magazine where she evaluated and tested application-focused technologies including app secu...
Using new techniques of information modeling, indexing, and processing, new cloud-based systems can support cloud-based workloads previously not possible for high-throughput insurance, banking, and case-based applications. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, John Newton, CTO, Founder and Chairman of Alfresco, described how to scale cloud-based content management repositories to store, manage, and retrieve billions of documents and related information with fast and linear scalability. He addresse...
Adding public cloud resources to an existing application can be a daunting process. The tools that you currently use to manage the software and hardware outside the cloud aren’t always the best tools to efficiently grow into the cloud. All of the major configuration management tools have cloud orchestration plugins that can be leveraged, but there are also cloud-native tools that can dramatically improve the efficiency of managing your application lifecycle. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, ...
The now mainstream platform changes stemming from the first Internet boom brought many changes but didn’t really change the basic relationship between servers and the applications running on them. In fact, that was sort of the point. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Gordon Haff, senior cloud strategy marketing and evangelism manager at Red Hat, will discuss how today’s workloads require a new model and a new platform for development and execution. The platform must handle a wide range of rec...
Containers and Kubernetes allow for code portability across on-premise VMs, bare metal, or multiple cloud provider environments. Yet, despite this portability promise, developers may include configuration and application definitions that constrain or even eliminate application portability. In this session we'll describe best practices for "configuration as code" in a Kubernetes environment. We will demonstrate how a properly constructed containerized app can be deployed to both Amazon and Azure ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DatacenterDynamics has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. DatacenterDynamics is a brand of DCD Group, a global B2B media and publishing company that develops products to help senior professionals in the world's most ICT dependent organizations make risk-based infrastructure and capacity decisions.
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true ...
In his keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Sheng Liang, co-founder and CEO of Rancher Labs, discussed the technological advances and new business opportunities created by the rapid adoption of containers. With the success of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and various open source technologies used to build private clouds, cloud computing has become an essential component of IT strategy. However, users continue to face challenges in implementing clouds, as older technologies evolve and newer ones like Docker c...
CloudEXPO New York 2018, colocated with DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
DevOpsSummit New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term.