Welcome!

API Journal Authors: Christopher Harrold, PagerDuty Blog, Shelly Palmer, Elizabeth White, Rishi Bhargava

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo

Containers Expo Blog: Article

Five Key Challenges of Enterprise Cloud Computing

I have talked to a lot of people in the cloud computing and virtualization space

In the past month or so I have talked to a lot of people in the cloud computing and virtualization space. Many of these folks are working at/on startups that solves one of the many challenges for Enterprise cloud computing. What are these challenges? I have tried to summarize them here (in no particular order).

Data Governance

I’ve written extensively about the need for data governance in previous posts. In essence, enterprises have a ton of sensitive data that requires access monitoring and protection. Data (and information generated from the data) is the life blood of many enterprises, the loss of control will not be acceptable. Whole markets (read: DLP) are created to protect the enterprise data and information. On top of all that, enterprises must comply with many of the regulations that require data governance. By moving the data into the cloud, enterprise, for now, will lose some capabilities to govern their own data set. They would have to rely on the service providers to guarantee the safety of their data.

I hate to invoke the ILM acronym but much of data governance is about

  • Creation and Receipt
  • Distribution
  • Use
  • Maintenance
  • Disposition

So who’s tackling this problem? As far as I know, nobody is and nobody really can except for the service providers themselves. It is really up to the service providers such as Amazon, Google and Salesforce to provide guarantees that customer data are safe and access to data are restricted and protected.

Manageability

There are some great IaaS/PaaS out there, including Amazon’s web services (S3, EC2, EBS, etc), Google’s App Engine, Salesforce’s Force.com, Joyent, etc. However, most of these are raw infrastructures and platforms that do not have great management capabilities. This is not unusual. Throughout computing history, raw capabilities will generally appear on the market first, then management of these raw capabilities become a differentiator when competition heats up. Just look at the blade server and virtualization spaces as these are great examples of that trend. The hypervisor was the key technology that enabled enterprise virtualization; however, that piece is now being given away (see VMware’s ESXi) and management capabilities becomes the main differentiator.

Cloud computing is no different. An example of missing management capabilities for cloud infrastructures is auto-scaling. Amazon EC2 claims to be elastic; however, it really means that it has the potential to be elastic. Amazon EC2 will not automatically scale your application as your server becomes heavily loaded. It is still up to the developer to manage that scalability problem.

So who’s tackling this problem? Many startups have recognized the need for management early on and have built management capabilities on top of the existing cloud infrastructure/platforms. RightScale is one of the early pioneers in this space. Their solution solves many of the management issues such as auto-scaling and load balancing.

Monitoring

Monitoring, whether is for performance or availability, is critical to any IT shop. We are not talking about just how much CPU or memory the machines are using. We are talking about performance of transactions and disk IO and others. CPU and memory usage are misleading most of the time in virtual environments. The only real measurement is how long your transactions are taking and how much latency there are. According to High Availability’s article on latency:

Amazon found every 100ms of latency cost them 1% in sales. Google found an extra .5 seconds in search page generation time dropped traffic by 20%. A broker could lose $4 million in revenues per millisecond if their electronic trading platform is 5 milliseconds behind the competition.

So who’s tackling this problem? Hypernic’s CloudStatus is one of the first to recognize this issue and developed a solution for it. They started with monitoring of Amazon’s web services, then recently added monitoring for Google App Engine. In addition, RightScale’s solution can also provide monitoring for the virtual machines under their management.

Reliability and Availability

I won’t beat the dead “Gmail down, EC2 down, etc down” horse here. But the truth of the matter is enterprises today cannot reasonably rely on the cloud infrastructures/platforms to run their business. There’s almost no SLAs provided by the cloud providers today. Even Jeff Barr from Amazon said that AWS only provides SLA for their S3 service. I haven’t researched the SLA issue so not sure how true that is. But if it’s true, I think this will be one of the biggest factor, if not the biggest factor, in enterprise adoption. Can you imagine enterprises signing up cloud computing contracts without SLAs clearly defined? It’s like going to host their business critical infrastructure in a data center that doesn’t have clearly defined SLA.

We all know that SLAs really doesn’t buy you much. In most cases, enterprises get refunded for the amount of time that the network was down. No SLA will cover business loss. However, as one of the CSOs I met said, it’s about risk transfer. As long as there’s a defined SLA on paper, when the network/site goes down, they can go after somebody. If there’s no SLA, it will be the CIO/CSO’s head that’s on the chopping block.

So who’s tackling this problem? Well, again, no one is today as far as I know. Maybe some startup will come up with clever idea to provide SLA as a third party vendor (read: cloud insurance.) Or maybe the cloud providers will grow/wake up and actually do something to encourage the enterprise adoption.

Virtualization Security

Security is a huge area that encompasses many different things, including the standard enterprise security policies on access control, activity monitoring, patch management, etc. On top of that, virtualization security is something that most enterprises are just starting to grasp but don’t fully understand. Many IT people still believe that the hypervisor and virtual machines are safe. Recent presentations from Blackhat has demonstrate that we shouldn’t sleep so tight at night. As IT shops get more educated on the virtualization security issues, it will become one of the factors they will consider when they move into the cloud. Access control and monitoring of the virtual infrastructure will be on top of their mind.

So who’s tackling this problem? There are quite a few startups like Reflex, Blue Lane and Catbird that are creating privileged VAs that claim to protect the VAs running on VMware’s ESX servers. However, ensure you do your research on the performance of these solutions first before adopting one of them. Other startups (unnamed) are creating interesting solutions in protecting the actual virtual infrastructure themselves, e.g., how do you protect and monitor access to the ESX servers? how do you control and monitor the movement of virtual machines using live migration or VMotion.

Cloud computing is here to stay. It will be the next big wave and will be adopted by enterprises. However, the industry as a whole needs to answer some of these challenges and ease the enterprises’ concerns.

More Stories By Jian Zhen

Jian Zhen, CISM, CISSP, is the Director of Cloud Solutions at VMware. He is responsible for working with the world’s largest service providers to design cloud infrastructures and platforms, and creating partner ecosystems for the clouds. Previously, he was the VP of Emerging Technologies at LogLogic, the log management and intelligence leader in San Jose, Calif. At LogLogic, he was responsible for the overall vision and strategy of LogLogic’s product lines. Prior to joining LogLogic, he was responsible for developing the Managed Security Services infrastructure for Exodus/Savvis. During his 12+ years career in the information security field, he has performed audits for many Fortune 1000 companies as an IT auditor with Ernst & Young and Charles Schwab. In his spare time, Jian also writes a variety of topics covering cloud computing, IT security, intellectual property protection, and managed services. You can also find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Comments (2) View Comments

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.


Most Recent Comments
jeffhardy 11/24/08 11:54:12 AM EST

Separating Cloud Computing Fact and Fiction

In November I presented a session at PubCon regardint Cloud Computing. Mike Culver from Amazon sat on the panel with me. My goal was to cut through the hype and buzz talk and to articulate the real potential benefits and debunk false claims. I got a lot of feedback. So much so that I wrote a follow up article:
http://www.smartertools.com/blog/archive/2008/11/20/cloud-computing-chal...

It is important that we remember what Cloud Computing is and what it is not.

Be well,
Jeffrey J. Hardy
http://www.smartertools.com

kmunse 09/02/08 01:05:10 PM EDT

Joyent is tackling the problems you have listed above. In terms of security, ease-ability of not having to rewrite apps, availability, flexibility, and manageability, Joyent has been able to achieve their goals of delivering a cloud that addresses the needs and concerns of both small developers and large enterprise CIOs.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to imp...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develo...
The IETF draft standard for M2M certificates is a security solution specifically designed for the demanding needs of IoT/M2M applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Romansky, VP of Strategic Technology at TrustPoint Innovation, explained how M2M certificates can efficiently enable confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity on highly constrained devices.
In today's uber-connected, consumer-centric, cloud-enabled, insights-driven, multi-device, global world, the focus of solutions has shifted from the product that is sold to the person who is buying the product or service. Enterprises have rebranded their business around the consumers of their products. The buyer is the person and the focus is not on the offering. The person is connected through multiple devices, wearables, at home, on the road, and in multiple locations, sometimes simultaneously...
Basho Technologies has announced the latest release of Basho Riak TS, version 1.3. Riak TS is an enterprise-grade NoSQL database optimized for Internet of Things (IoT). The open source version enables developers to download the software for free and use it in production as well as make contributions to the code and develop applications around Riak TS. Enhancements to Riak TS make it quick, easy and cost-effective to spin up an instance to test new ideas and build IoT applications. In addition to...
Identity is in everything and customers are looking to their providers to ensure the security of their identities, transactions and data. With the increased reliance on cloud-based services, service providers must build security and trust into their offerings, adding value to customers and improving the user experience. Making identity, security and privacy easy for customers provides a unique advantage over the competition.
CenturyLink has announced that application server solutions from GENBAND are now available as part of CenturyLink’s Networx contracts. The General Services Administration (GSA)’s Networx program includes the largest telecommunications contract vehicles ever awarded by the federal government. CenturyLink recently secured an extension through spring 2020 of its offerings available to federal government agencies via GSA’s Networx Universal and Enterprise contracts. GENBAND’s EXPERiUS™ Application...
"We've discovered that after shows 80% if leads that people get, 80% of the conversations end up on the show floor, meaning people forget about it, people forget who they talk to, people forget that there are actual business opportunities to be had here so we try to help out and keep the conversations going," explained Jeff Mesnik, Founder and President of ContentMX, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
I wanted to gather all of my Internet of Things (IOT) blogs into a single blog (that I could later use with my University of San Francisco (USF) Big Data “MBA” course). However as I started to pull these blogs together, I realized that my IOT discussion lacked a vision; it lacked an end point towards which an organization could drive their IOT envisioning, proof of value, app dev, data engineering and data science efforts. And I think that the IOT end point is really quite simple…
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
"My role is working with customers, helping them go through this digital transformation. I spend a lot of time talking to banks, big industries, manufacturers working through how they are integrating and transforming their IT platforms and moving them forward," explained William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, discussed the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to focus...
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
ReadyTalk has expanded the capabilities of the FoxDen collaboration platform announced late last year to include FoxDen Connect, an in-room video collaboration experience that launches with a single touch. With FoxDen Connect, users can now not only engage in HD video conferencing between iOS and Android mobile devices or Chrome browsers, but also set up in-person meeting rooms for video interactions. A host’s mobile device automatically recognizes the presence of a meeting room via beacon tech...
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
It’s 2016: buildings are smart, connected and the IoT is fundamentally altering how control and operating systems work and speak to each other. Platforms across the enterprise are networked via inexpensive sensors to collect massive amounts of data for analytics, information management, and insights that can be used to continuously improve operations. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Chemel, Co-Founder and CTO of Digital Lumens, will explore: The benefits sensor-networked systems bring to ...