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Newness and Challenges of Cloud Debated on Day Two of Cloud Connect

On Wednesday at the Cloud Connect conference, I heard two statements presented that I didn’t quite agree with. The first was that “cloud is nothing new.” I’ve heard this statement before, and I think people who make it are mostly trying to make the point that client/server architectures have existed before. That much is true, but there is clearly something new about cloud computing, and I believe that something is the amount of disintermediation that has taken place. Many details behind cloud resources are hidden behind simple interfaces, making those resources usable for average end-users and cryptic for IT professionals.

This combination leads to many challenges around maintaining a controlled corporate environment, most notably in the area of security. Wednesday’s session on cloud security led with two pieces of advice that may be at odds with companies who are looking for technical security solutions: Define your company’s risk tolerance and understand where your data assets are located. These themes were also explored in CompTIA’s security and Big Data studies, in which our research showed that companies are somewhat lacking in carrying out both of these steps.

The focus on business processes for security ties into the second statement I heard and didn’t quite agree with; “Cloud hurdles are organizational, not technical.” With this statement, the point is that many technical problems have been solved and companies need to address their policies and culture around technology. Organizational issues may in fact be the larger problem, but that’s not to say that sizable technical hurdles don’t still exist.

In the present, these hurdles take the shape of re-architecting IT solutions. David Linthicum, SVP at Cloud Technology Partners, gave a tutorial on building cloud architectures that is based on his work with clients and the technical challenges they face in transitioning to the cloud. Common mistakes among customers include failure to understand scalability, deal with tenant management and treat security as a systemic issue.

In the future, there will be technical hurdles as companies build towards VMware’s vision of the software-defined data center. While many companies currently have a core virtualization stack, they will need to add software-defined networking, security and storage. Beyond that, a full solution will require management tools for operations and business processes. This is a complex scenario, and many companies will need to increase their technical capabilities to tackle the problem.

Click here to read coverage of day one of Cloud Connect. Check back tomorrow for final thoughts following the last full day of the conference.

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