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Where cloud goes next

John Considine, CTO of Verizon Terremark | June 12, 2013
The cloud continues to disrupt IT in new ways so predicting tomorrow is a perpetual moving target.

What do we have to do to make the cloud better for tomorrow?
Security: Often a twofold problem, as there are different measures taken to protect both the servers and the data:

Network protection: We have spent many hours protecting data center perimeters, while allowing applications to communicate to one another within the data center. With cloud, the developer or the cloud service provider is responsible to protect the server. Future cloud offerings should provide isolation that is similar to traditional IT environments. At the same time, the cloud should provide strong protections coupled with policies that can be applied across the whole organization — freeing developers from this responsibility.

Data protection: Several cloud providers have given data protection special attention and developed policies to control access to information. The cloud should provide more data protection services like user controlled encryption functions to provide customizable methods of protecting customer data independent of the cloud providers. [Also see: "The state of cloud encryption: From fiction to actionable reality"]

Management: The elements that compose a virtual infrastructure are different and how the IT staff interacts with those infrastructure tools and components are varied. Today, cloud management is complicated because the systems and applications must account for each different deployment environment. The next cloud evolution needs to provide enough control so that the user can match the various environments and eliminate the need for additional translations and conversions.

Maintenance: The number of pieces that make up an IT solution is extremely challenging and time-consuming for cloud users due to the various dependencies of each element. In a typical IT model, when security vulnerabilities are discovered, a security patch is usually a good solution. In a cloud environment, it's critical that the rest of the components are taken into consideration to ensure the new security patch does not affect other functionality. When other functionality is affected, most cloud solutions require the addition of agents, scripts or device drivers to carry out control of the cloud environment — driving up cost. This creates a huge number of new dependencies and interactions complicating maintenance of the deployed applications. Going forward, cloud providers need to simplify the management process to assure systems stay up while costs stay down.

Performance: Performance is critical. Security has traditionally been the top concern of companies considering cloud deployments, but increasingly performance is overtaking it. It's extremely difficult to manage and predict performance in current cloud offerings but several cloud providers have developed a series of procedures that help control performance issues through careful provisioning and a strong infrastructure. The major hurdle is overcoming the multi-tenancy effect. Future offerings need to address performance as a fundamental goal. The cloud of tomorrow will treat performance as a critical function by allowing the users to select the amount of performance they need for their applications.


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