Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Jyoti Bansal, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Industrial IoT, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, Cloud Security, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Article

How Cloud Security Balances Risk Versus Reward

Moving beyond the concept of security as a cost center

I spend a great deal of my day thinking about security. How it affects the enterprise; how to best position and protect assets. How it shapes risk management and how it delivers potential benefits through smoother operations, enhanced trust and loss prevention.

At its core, security is about risk versus reward. It’s no great secret that many executives look at security as a cost center. Compounded by the requirements of compliance, the expansion of technology, and the nature of the modern enterprise, no one doubts the need to secure the enterprise…but to what degree? Securing your IT environment is not free, but there are best practices and technology options designed to mitigate costs while still providing a strong, manageable and proactive defense. While many companies still would rather spend capital on commodity assets, many CIOs recognize that information security is an important business driver. Many more still are looking to the cloud for security solutions to further reduce resource reliance.

In the end, it is a question each company must answer on its own. I can talk until I am blue in the face about the bogeymen of hacking, slipshod employees opening suspect emails, the exposure of a company’s most precious data, but the needs of the company—how it interacts with customers, the access it provides third parties, employee productivity processes, compliance requirements and all the other moving parts of an active organization--must create and prioritize the roadmap based on understood vulnerabilities and available resources.

However, therein lies the problem…understood vulnerabilities. This decision is based on assumptions, resource limitations and previous experience. But security issues are a moving target...it's more about knowing what you don't know. Obviously a bank or medical management facility is at more risk than a local dog grooming company, but that doesn’t mean it is any less vulnerable. In fact, the modest company might be at greater risk because even a small breach of customer data can devastate a company. A large company may be able to absorb (although painful) the fines, lawsuits and the loss of proprietary assets, but the impact on a small or mid-sized company is magnified. The damage to the trust factor alone could put them out of business.

This is not meant to be some sort of scare tactic, but the reality of doing business in the 21st century means every company must take some level of action to protect itself beyond filtering emails. However understanding investments in CapEx, resource and personnel expenditures, hardware and software management, this might be untenable for every company. This is where the CIO earns his keep. How much time and capital is necessary to invest versus the real threats to the network/assets (is a barking dog enough to chase away robbers, or do you need bolt locks, motion sensors, round-the-clock-sentries, gun turrets, etc…)

This is why cloud security (security managed from the cloud) provides the necessary balance in the risk versus reward quotient. Not only does it support a unified platform (PaaS or REACT), but eliminates many of the costs that throw the equation out of balance. A smaller company no longer has to decide to invest in virus sweepers OR access management, identity credentialing OR intrusion detection. A larger organization can reallocate important resources towards key revenue drivers and core competencies. A unified/centralized approach from the cloud provides all the capabilities with no additional capital expenditures. In the fact that it centralizes all the activity under a centralized pane of glass not only makes an organization response ready, but also automates a great deal of what compliance regulators are demanding.

What about the risk? Are organizations exposing or ceding control of their data in order to save a few bucks? Is a Pandora’s Box opening because functionality and reporting is virtualized? Of course not. Yet, with all business initiatives, there are risks. However, by applying such best practices as 24/7/365 monitoring, event correlation across multiple silos, and fostering interactive communication between functions closes the vulnerability gap significantly. But to harness all those capabilities a company would need to invest in SIEM, Access Management, Log Management, IDM and other security solutions. Before the cloud, this combined initiative was only an option available to Fortune 500 enterprises. Even applying some cloud-based tools, each of the referenced solutions typically works in parallel. What is needed is the ability to centralize and have each of the solutions leverage one another.

Now cloud security solutions and applications are two different animals when it comes to the all important data ownership and information liability. Security manages the data wherever it is stored-cloud or some locked server room in the basement of a fortified campus. It is the fence, not the animals held within. If there is a break in the fence, or the rancher hires irresponsible cowboys, then the herd is at risk. But if the foreman is vigilant about riding the perimeter and managing his employees, then there should be as many cows in the barn as there were the day before.

This is not to say data is unassailable every time the sales guy accesses the product demo site to present to a prospect via online third party collaboration software, but if the tools are in place, properly automated and integrated and the policies (access rules, credentialing, web authorization, monitoring etc…) are sound, risk goes down and reward goes up.

On Wall Street there is a “measurement” called the Sharpe Index. Essentially it characterizes how well the return of an asset compensates the investor for the risk taken. Part of the complex equation analyzes the variables to get to a positive return. Applied to finance the axiom typically means the greater the risk, the greater the return. When applied to security, and more pointedly, cloud-based security, the variables line up so that there doesn’t have to be a high trade off of risk and return Considering the lower investment, the faster deployment, the reduction of personnel and computing resources against an expanded enterprise toolset, improved capabilities, continuous and centralized alerts, security-as-a-service support and enhanced visibility across the organization, the path to realize rewards and ROI point to the cloud.

Bottom line, cloud-based security functionality is as trustworthy, as powerful and as comprehensive as any on-premise deployment. Because it is infinitely more affordable, flexible and manageable, it allows you to increase the layers of security around your enterprise for a fraction of the hard and soft costs. It allows you to concentrate on priorities, policies and core competencies to ensure your perimeters are safe and the cattle can always come in from the fields. Each company is unique in terms of its needs and security comfort level and its concept in determining risk versus reward. Yet biggest risk, in terms of security, is standing still.

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.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that HTBase will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. HTBase (Gartner 2016 Cool Vendor) delivers a Composable IT infrastructure solution architected for agility and increased efficiency. It turns compute, storage, and fabric into fluid pools of resources that are easily composed and re-composed to meet each application’s needs. With HTBase, companies can quickly prov...
The rise of containers and microservices has skyrocketed the rate at which new applications are moved into production environments today. While developers have been deploying containers to speed up the development processes for some time, there still remain challenges with running microservices efficiently. Most existing IT monitoring tools don’t actually maintain visibility into the containers that make up microservices. As those container applications move into production, some IT operations t...
For organizations that have amassed large sums of software complexity, taking a microservices approach is the first step toward DevOps and continuous improvement / development. Integrating system-level analysis with microservices makes it easier to change and add functionality to applications at any time without the increase of risk. Before you start big transformation projects or a cloud migration, make sure these changes won’t take down your entire organization.
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
In recent years, containers have taken the world by storm. Companies of all sizes and industries have realized the massive benefits of containers, such as unprecedented mobility, higher hardware utilization, and increased flexibility and agility; however, many containers today are non-persistent. Containers without persistence miss out on many benefits, and in many cases simply pass the responsibility of persistence onto other infrastructure, adding additional complexity.
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm. In his Day 3 Keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, a Solutions Marketing Manager at Nutanix, will explore t...
Everyone wants to use containers, but monitoring containers is hard. New ephemeral architecture introduces new challenges in how monitoring tools need to monitor and visualize containers, so your team can make sense of everything. In his session at @DevOpsSummit, David Gildeh, co-founder and CEO of Outlyer, will go through the challenges and show there is light at the end of the tunnel if you use the right tools and understand what you need to be monitoring to successfully use containers in your...
The IT industry is undergoing a significant evolution to keep up with cloud application demand. We see this happening as a mindset shift, from traditional IT teams to more well-rounded, cloud-focused job roles. The IT industry has become so cloud-minded that Gartner predicts that by 2020, this cloud shift will impact more than $1 trillion of global IT spending. This shift, however, has left some IT professionals feeling a little anxious about what lies ahead. The good news is that cloud computin...
What if you could build a web application that could support true web-scale traffic without having to ever provision or manage a single server? Sounds magical, and it is! In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Munns, Senior Developer Advocate for Serverless Applications at Amazon Web Services, will show how to build a serverless website that scales automatically using services like AWS Lambda, Amazon API Gateway, and Amazon S3. We will review several frameworks that can help you build serverle...
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership abi...
The essence of cloud computing is that all consumable IT resources are delivered as services. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Yung Chou, Technology Evangelist at Microsoft, demonstrated the concepts and implementations of two important cloud computing deliveries: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). He discussed from business and technical viewpoints what exactly they are, why we care, how they are different and in what ways, and the strategies for IT to transi...
Thanks to Docker and the DevOps revolution, microservices have emerged as the new way to build and deploy applications — and there are plenty of great reasons to embrace the microservices trend. If you are going to adopt microservices, you also have to understand that microservice architectures have many moving parts. When it comes to incident management, this presents an important difference between microservices and monolithic architectures. More moving parts mean more complexity to monitor an...
Microservices (μServices) are a fascinating evolution of the Distributed Object Computing (DOC) paradigm. Initial design of DOC attempted to solve the problem of simplifying developing complex distributed applications by applying object-oriented design principles to disparate components operating across networked infrastructure. In this model, DOC “hid” the complexity of making this work from the developer regardless of the deployment architecture through the use of complex frameworks, such as C...
As Enterprise business moves from Monoliths to Microservices, adoption and successful implementations of Microservices become more evident. The goal of Microservices is to improve software delivery speed and increase system safety as scale increases. Documenting hurdles and problems for the use of Microservices will help consultants, architects and specialists to avoid repeating the same mistakes and learn how and when to use (or not use) Microservices at the enterprise level. The circumstance w...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud taking place June 6-8, 2017, at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long developm...
In his General Session at 16th Cloud Expo, David Shacochis, host of The Hybrid IT Files podcast and Vice President at CenturyLink, investigated three key trends of the “gigabit economy" though the story of a Fortune 500 communications company in transformation. Narrating how multi-modal hybrid IT, service automation, and agile delivery all intersect, he will cover the role of storytelling and empathy in achieving strategic alignment between the enterprise and its information technology.
Without a clear strategy for cost control and an architecture designed with cloud services in mind, costs and operational performance can quickly get out of control. To avoid multiple architectural redesigns requires extensive thought and planning. Boundary (now part of BMC) launched a new public-facing multi-tenant high resolution monitoring service on Amazon AWS two years ago, facing challenges and learning best practices in the early days of the new service.
All organizations that did not originate this moment have a pre-existing culture as well as legacy technology and processes that can be more or less amenable to DevOps implementation. That organizational culture is influenced by the personalities and management styles of Executive Management, the wider culture in which the organization is situated, and the personalities of key team members at all levels of the organization. This culture and entrenched interests usually throw a wrench in the work...
As software becomes more and more complex, we, as software developers, have been splitting up our code into smaller and smaller components. This is also true for the environment in which we run our code: going from bare metal, to VMs to the modern-day Cloud Native world of containers, schedulers and micro services. While we have figured out how to run containerized applications in the cloud using schedulers, we've yet to come up with a good solution to bridge the gap between getting your contain...