As more and more companies migrate their IT infrastructure to the cloud the main cloud-related concerns for businesses continue to be security, data control, and reliability. There are several factors to consider with any technological advancement. Most of these cloud-related concerns are not new and, with well-planned risk management, can be avoided to ensure data is both available and protected.
An ISACA Emerging Technology White Paper notes some common risk factors and solutions businesses should consider when making the move to the cloud.
Enterprises need to be particular in choosing a provider. Reputation, history and sustainability should all be factors to consider.
The dynamic nature of cloud computing may result in confusion as to where information actually resides. When information retrieval is required, this may create delays.
Public clouds allow high-availability systems to be developed at service levels often impossible to create in private networks. The downside to this availability is the potential for commingling of information assets with other cloud customers, including competitors.
Companies should have a risk management program that is able to deal with continuously evolving risks. An experienced provider can deliver useful strategies for mitigating these risks. For example, requirements for disaster recovery should be communicated between the business and the provider. Having a detailed Service Level Agreement will help the company manage its data once it migrates to the cloud as well as outline expectations regarding the handling, usage, storage and availability of information. Companies should also consider their security and management options when choosing a public, private or hybrid cloud. What are the pros and cons of each?
Pros: Because infrastructure is maintained outside of the organization , public clouds offer the grea level of cost savings and efficiency – provides ability to add capacity as needed. The public cloud has commoditized traditional technology infrastructure.
Cons: You share this cloud infrastructure with other users, potentially including competitors. Consider the sensitivity of the data to be stored on a public cloud and use encryption where required to protect corporate assets
Pros: Because infrastructure is maintained on a private network, private clouds offer the grea level of security and control. You own not only the data but the cloud that houses it too.
Con: Provides lower cost savings than a public cloud, and the infrastructure lifecycle has to be managed.
Pros: Includes a mix of public and private storage and server infrastructure. Different parts of your business data can be stored on different clouds, ensuring high security or efficiency where needed.
Con: You have to keep track of multiple platforms and ensure all parts can communicate to each other.
By keeping these factors in mind you can ensure a smooth and successful transition to the cloud with secure and easy access to your data.
Every once and awhile you run across something to do with Cloud Computing that makes you stop and say “Wow that is cool!”.
Last week we had the privalege of being at the AWS Summit in New York to launch our beta of 2W Insight, our new billing application for AWS. While at the summit we had a chance to listen to how innovative companies are using AWS to solve real business problems.
The most interesting of these to me was a company called Cycle Computing. Jason Stowe from Cycle Computing was on stage during the keynote to describe the AWESOME work he and his team are doing around building supercomputers on AWS. I’ve posted lots of blogs on how to run a server or utility for <$1 month on AWS and while these are neat tricks they pale in comparison to the social importance of Jason and his team's work.
Cycle Computing built a supercomputer on AWS with over 50,000 cores to do cancer research. I will explain it terribly so please go over to their blog – blog.cyclecomputing.com and read about it yourself. It is impressive to say the least.
Kris and Jeff are at a summit in New York today to unveil the beta version of 2nd Watch’s new cloud billing application, 2W Insight. 2W Insight will allow AWS customers to manage billing and consolidated billing environments in an easy to understand, streamlined manner. It will give customers easy visibility into their AWS bills – no more confusion in deciphering your bills!
2W Insight updates billing costs on a regular schedule, allowing accountants the most accurate billing information of any tool on the market, not just estimates. 2W Insight provides an organization’s management with simple, clean and easy to understand summaries of AWS use. Services are organized into compute, storage and network categories with charges summarized by region, size and VPC. 2W Insight also enables analysts to create more detailed drilldowns of AWS charges, giving them control over how they view and organize thier bill. Users can sort and filter detailed cost and usage information, view instance level details and multiple department costs. The printing feature also allows users to print a PDF summary of bills, delivering easy reporting capabilities.
Are you an AWS Solution Provider? The application will also be available as a platform to manage customer billing. It will generate accurate bills across the consolidated billing set up, enabling solution providers to apply AWS pricing to end consumers in a consumer-friendly format.
We are very excited about the new application and plan to have a production version available in early June.
The article has a bit of sales in it – it does quote several partners and the VP of enterprise sales. That aside it’s an interesting take on something I believe in strongly – the power of Cloud Computing to enable creators to create in a way not previously possible!
Here at 2nd Watch we are very proud to be a part of this new job creation! Since 2011 2nd Watch has created 15 new jobs in the Cloud Computing industry!
The Cloud is a technology industrialization that will help empower business owners in a way not before possible. Let me give you a case study of something that was not feasible before Cloud Computing:
Here at 2nd Watch we are working on a number of utilities to make the Cloud easier to consume. One such utility requires very large datasets to be stored for each customer. Our application stores 21 Million data points per month, and that is only for 10 customers. In the old world of technology if I wanted to mass market an application at this scale I would need to buy and provision several servers and massive disk storage to keep up with the demand.
In this instance I estimate that I would have purchased $65-75,000 worth of equipment. Forget depreciation and useful life – for a startup this is just money I don’t have. Today my almost Terabyte of storage costs me less than $10 per month, and I only pay for what I use. My servers are several hundred dollars a month, and I can scale them up or down based on usage.
Big data problems are no longer big dollar problems. This is a huge shift in an industry built around selling and consuming hardware. This new wave of technology will spur the thinkers and doers in our society to create new and compelling business ideas that could not have existed before.
Welcome to the industrial age of technology. I for one am looking forward to the opportunities this new world will bring!
AWS has a very neat way to backup your server with attached storage called EBS Snapshots. This technology starts with a full snapshot of the entire volume and continues to do incremental snapshots based on the difference between the last snapshots.
Snap shotting is not a new technology, and many people use this in their on-premise environment to take snapshots of a virtual machine or specific disk for backup or copy purposes.
At AWS you cannot schedule these snapshots. You either have to call these via API or use the management console to do this.
Below is the high-level process to automate these snapshot backups at a particular time each day:
Build a t1.micro that has a script to run that calls the snapshot API for EBS for the volumes you want to backup. Make sure this script runs on machine start up.
Setup an Auto-scale group to launch a server based on a schedule (we start ours at 3am and shut it off at 3:50 am). This ensures time to kick off all the snapshot jobs – note: I do not have to run the server while they complete, only to kick off the snapshot and any pre-activities I need to accomplish before I can take my backup.
Check your snapshots to ensure they are occurring regularly and them on a monthly or quarterly basis to ensure you can recover sufficiently in the case of an outage.
By doing this daily we have incurred the costs of our storage for snapshots and the $.02 an hour charge for our T1.micro – effectively $0.62 per month for a backup server.
AWS is making it less complicated and less expensive for your company to recover in the event of a disaster. Check out a great webinar that will change your view of how you recover after a disaster! 2nd Watch is highlighted in the webinar.