Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Stackify Blog, Pat Romanski, Gopala Krishna Behara, Sridhar Chalasani

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Microsoft Cloud, Cloud Security, @DXWorldExpo, @ThingsExpo

@CloudExpo: Article

What Cloud Startups Need to Know About Hunting Elephants

Large companies have several sets of requirements for solution providers that differ from smaller companies

"Cloud computing" is more than just a buzzword - it has transformed the tech industry. Having been in the business of building enterprise infrastructure for over 15 years, I've had the opportunity to witness how cloud has altered the landscape, including most recently at my company, Nexgate. It has not only ushered in a radical wave of innovation, but has also created new business models. The easily accessible and inexpensive nature of its on-demand structure has both paved the way for the rapid launch of new technologies and enabled the growth of businesses.

Yet, as with any technology, it also has its limits and risks, especially for cloud startups. If not configured well, cloud doesn't necessarily fit hand-in-hand with the needs of large enterprises. While the benefits of gaining a big customer are certainly obvious, the demands of doing so are not talked about nearly as frequently, despite that both are important. Hunting elephants is a dangerous game if you're a mouse.

Large companies have several sets of requirements for solution providers that differ from smaller companies, which aren't as concerned about security and scalability. Whereas the size of smaller companies doesn't require a focus on mitigating the risk of a high profile security breach or managing complex systems on a mass scale, for larger companies, these concerns are very real. Hence, it's not enough to just have a great product to engage on an enterprise level - large companies have dedicated security teams and requirements that you as a vendor need to work with to close the deal.

Having a disaster recovery plan in place is one of the first steps to becoming enterprise ready. Any sizeable organization is going to want assurance that in the event of a crisis, any lapse in the service you provide is going to be as brief and as painless as possible. And, furthermore, that enterprise is going to want proof to back up that assurance. That proof is called a disaster recovery plan. A disaster recovery plan specifies how your company intends to mitigate the risk of an incident resulting in downtime, as well as the processes in place for remediating and recovering from one. Given organizations' increasing dependency on information technology to run their operations, the more critical your product is to the day-to-day functioning of an enterprise, the more you must demonstrate this competency.

Creating and maintaining a disaster recovery plan is no simple task. Each employee should be trained in his or her role and responsibility in the event of a crisis or outage, and the plan should be documented and tested to ensure continuity of procedures and availability of essential resources in the event of a disaster. Your plan should specify easily executable and repeatable procedures for recovering and repairing any damaged IT resources and restoring them to operation as rapidly as possible. Be sure to include a summary of the critical assets and services, their recovery objectives, and recovery priorities, in addition to the contact information for disaster support agencies and a secondary data center service provider or other temporary means of providing service.

Security policy and practices are another prerequisite for navigating a large corporate environment. Without demonstrating the security of your product, you've effectively lost your seat at the table with enterprise companies. In today's tech-saturated world, an information security breach, hack, or hijack can cost thousands of dollars - not to mention inestimable damage to brands and consumer trust. This means an even greater burden of proof lies on vendors (and their cloud providers) as far as security is concerned to prevent such an event from happening. For example, if you're storing data on behalf of customers, are they encrypted in your database? Do you have strong access policies? Are your employees trained and certified when it comes to securing both corporate and personal accounts? If you're a web-based app, do you use a web app firewall (WAP)? Do you have IP and firewall restrictions in place from a cloud security service like Dome9? And what level of security does your cloud provider (e.g., Amazon Web Services) provide? The answers to these questions can help you structure your security policy and practices in alignment with enterprise needs.

To augment these policies and practices, you should also implement security review and testing. Policy and procedures are critical, but without confirmation and review of their execution, they only live in theory. For this reason, implementing internal and external reviews to ensure that your company, your employees, and your partners are all following your policy is critical. Ultimately, you should be able to show that you've created a process that's being applied day-to-day, which is sufficient enough to hold off socially engineered attacks and risks from phishing and malware, among other threats to your security. Allowing for third-party penetration testing is a great strategy to demonstrate your security capacity in this way. The more you can verify the process and results of that testing, the more you can prove to an enterprise that your product is effective and safe for use on a large scale.

Working with enterprise certainly has massive upsides, but with those benefits inherently comes a higher level of skepticism, scrutiny, and caution. Expect to have to prove that you can support sophisticated systems on a large scale, not only in terms of operation but also when it comes to appropriate processes, documentation, and security. The more you can anticipate enterprise needs and have the necessary procedures in place right out of the gate, the greater the level of confidence larger organizations will have in your company, and the better you can serve your customers.

For additional information about making your organization enterprise ready, check out these resources:

  1. Disaster Recovery Journal Sample Plans
  2. Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) Security Guidance
  3. AWS Security Center

More Stories By Rich Sutton

Rich Sutton is co-founder and CTO at Nexgate, a cloud-based social media compliance and security solution. Along with holding multiple patents, he has more than 15 years of experience in enterprise software and application development experience. Prior to working at Nexgate, Rich led a 50+ person engineering team building Websense’s web security product portfolio and also held senior management and technical positions at Symantec, 8e6 Technologies (now Trustwave), and eFunds (now Fidelity) building everything from SaaS applications to high-throughput network appliances, client security software, and mobile applications.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@MicroservicesExpo Stories
We all know that end users experience the Internet primarily with mobile devices. From an app development perspective, we know that successfully responding to the needs of mobile customers depends on rapid DevOps – failing fast, in short, until the right solution evolves in your customers' relationship to your business. Whether you’re decomposing an SOA monolith, or developing a new application cloud natively, it’s not a question of using microservices – not doing so will be a path to eventual b...
Docker is sweeping across startups and enterprises alike, changing the way we build and ship applications. It's the most prominent and widely known software container platform, and it's particularly useful for eliminating common challenges when collaborating on code (like the "it works on my machine" phenomenon that most devs know all too well). With Docker, you can run and manage apps side-by-side - in isolated containers - resulting in better compute density. It's something that many developer...
"DivvyCloud as a company set out to help customers automate solutions to the most common cloud problems," noted Jeremy Snyder, VP of Business Development at DivvyCloud, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
The goal of Microservices is to improve software delivery speed and increase system safety as scale increases. Microservices being modular these are faster to change and enables an evolutionary architecture where systems can change, as the business needs change. Microservices can scale elastically and by being service oriented can enable APIs natively. Microservices also reduce implementation and release cycle time and enables continuous delivery. This paper provides a logical overview of the Mi...
Your homes and cars can be automated and self-serviced. Why can't your storage? From simply asking questions to analyze and troubleshoot your infrastructure, to provisioning storage with snapshots, recovery and replication, your wildest sci-fi dream has come true. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, provided a ChatOps demo where you can talk to your storage and manage it from anywhere, through Slack and similar services with...
Don’t go chasing waterfall … development, that is. According to a recent post by Madison Moore on Medium featuring insights from several software delivery industry leaders, waterfall is – while still popular – not the best way to win in the marketplace. With methodologies like Agile, DevOps and Continuous Delivery becoming ever more prominent over the past 15 years or so, waterfall is old news. Or, is it? Moore cites a recent study by Gartner: “According to Gartner’s IT Key Metrics Data report, ...
"We're developing a software that is based on the cloud environment and we are providing those services to corporations and the general public," explained Seungmin Kim, CEO/CTO of SM Systems Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In his session at Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, presented a success story of an entrepreneur who has both suffered through and benefited from offshore development across multiple businesses: The smart choice, or how to select the right offshore development partner Warning signs, or how to minimize chances of making the wrong choice Collaboration, or how to establish the most effective work processes Budget control, or how to maximize project result...
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...
Without lifecycle traceability and visibility across the tool chain, stakeholders from Planning-to-Ops have limited insight and answers to who, what, when, why and how across the DevOps lifecycle. This impacts the ability to deliver high quality software at the needed velocity to drive positive business outcomes. In his general session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Eric Robertson, General Manager at CollabNet, will discuss how customers are able to achieve a level of transparency that e...
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.
You often hear the two titles of "DevOps" and "Immutable Infrastructure" used independently. In his session at DevOps Summit, John Willis, Technical Evangelist for Docker, covered the union between the two topics and why this is important. He provided an overview of Immutable Infrastructure then showed how an Immutable Continuous Delivery pipeline can be applied as a best practice for "DevOps." He ended the session with some interesting case study examples.
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...
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...
We all know that end users experience the internet primarily with mobile devices. From an app development perspective, we know that successfully responding to the needs of mobile customers depends on rapid DevOps – failing fast, in short, until the right solution evolves in your customers' relationship to your business. Whether you’re decomposing an SOA monolith, or developing a new application cloud natively, it’s not a question of using microservices - not doing so will be a path to eventual ...
The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous ar...
"This all sounds great. But it's just not realistic." This is what a group of five senior IT executives told me during a workshop I held not long ago. We were working through an exercise on the organizational characteristics necessary to successfully execute a digital transformation, and the group was doing their ‘readout.' The executives loved everything we discussed and agreed that if such an environment existed, it would make transformation much easier. They just didn't believe it was reali...
"Opsani helps the enterprise adopt containers, help them move their infrastructure into this modern world of DevOps, accelerate the delivery of new features into production, and really get them going on the container path," explained Ross Schibler, CEO of Opsani, and Peter Nickolov, CTO of Opsani, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The “Digital Era” is forcing us to engage with new methods to build, operate and maintain applications. This transformation also implies an evolution to more and more intelligent applications to better engage with the customers, while creating significant market differentiators. In both cases, the cloud has become a key enabler to embrace this digital revolution. So, moving to the cloud is no longer the question; the new questions are HOW and WHEN. To make this equation even more complex, most ...
What's the role of an IT self-service portal when you get to continuous delivery and Infrastructure as Code? This general session showed how to create the continuous delivery culture and eight accelerators for leading the change. Don Demcsak is a DevOps and Cloud Native Modernization Principal for Dell EMC based out of New Jersey. He is a former, long time, Microsoft Most Valuable Professional, specializing in building and architecting Application Delivery Pipelines for hybrid legacy, and cloud ...