Open Source Cloud Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Rostyslav Demush, Yeshim Deniz, Harry Trott

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Open Source Cloud, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing

@CloudExpo: Article

How to Put the Cloud on Your Device

What are dynamically provisioned Cloud instances on remote devices actually good for?

ZapThink is always on the lookout for innovative, iconoclastic approaches to Agile Architecture, which is why we were excited to discuss IT innovation at the US Coast Guard (USCG) in a ZapFlash last year. So when USCG Chief Information Officer Rear Admiral Robert Day discussed a novel approach to securing their enterprise email, we knew we had another story to tell. He said, “I’m not going to make this device an endpoint on my network. There’s just no way. What we’ve done is create a secure sandbox inside of the device that can be managed, fixed and certified to operate our enterprise email capability.”

At first blush this solution is a straightforward example of application virtualization. What caught our eye, however, was the conclusion that running email on a secure sandbox on a mobile device was an alternative to treating the device as an endpoint on their network. So, if mobile devices aren’t network endpoints, then what are they? And what other problems might we be able to solve if we no longer consider mobile devices as endpoints?

Playing in the Sandbox
We asked these questions before in our ZapFlash on Cloud-Oriented Architecture and the Internet of Things. In that article we pointed out that under certain circumstances, mobile devices can host little pieces of the Cloud, instead of simply being client endpoints. As a result, the Internet of Things doesn’t simply have to consist of hypermedia-linked devices, but can actually be part of the Cloud itself.

Fascinating perspective to be sure, but we’re the first to admit that the COA article left us wanting more. Thanks to the USCG, it’s time to put more meat on the bones of COA, beginning with the application virtualization that Admiral Day referred to. With application virtualization, the application (in this case, an email client) runs in a virtual machine (VM) on a server, as shown in the figure below.

The mobile device then runs a secure virtual partition we call a sandbox, and in the sandbox is a special app that accesses the server-based email client remotely. Once the user has properly authenticated themselves to the sandbox, their experience interacting with their email client is the same (or almost the same) as if the client were resident on their device, except that it remains on the server. The result is that the device itself may be untrusted (since it’s on the Internet and could also be stolen), but the email remains secure.

Except for one problem: that’s not really how sandboxes work. The central notion of a sandbox is that it protects untrusted activity inside the sandbox from compromising the host device, instead of the other way around. In the case of application virtualization, we have what some people are starting to call a reverse sandbox, as illustrated below.

For example, browsers provide sandboxes for Java applets. Since a Java applet might contain malware that could potentially damage or comandeer the host computer, the sandbox is supposed to isolate the applet and protect the host system. But in the case of application virtualization, we’re assuming the device is the risky environment and we want to protect the app in the sandbox. Another application of a reverse sandbox would be to protect a Web session from keylogger malware, for example.

The Lesson of Desktop Virtualization
There are two main problems with application virtualization: first, the server and host must run the same operating system (which in practice usually means Windows), and second, a flaky network connection hoses the entire interaction. An approach to desktop virtualization called remote synchronized virtual desktop addresses these issues. With remote synchronized virtual desktop, the client device fetches a copy of a VM instance of the user’s desktop from the server and runs it locally. (Sometimes the instance is generic while other times it’s specific to the user, but that distinction isn’t relevant to our discussion). See the figure below:

With a remote synchronized virtual desktop a sandbox separate from the local VM is optional, since the desktop hypervisor that hosts the VM typically provides the security of a sandbox. Furthermore, since the entire remote desktop environment is running in the local VM, continuous connectivity isn’t essential. You need sufficient connectivity to synchronize the local and server VMs, but an occasional dead spot or plane flight won’t crash your virtual desktop.

Of course, remote desktops have their limitations as well. The VM image file size tends to be quite large, so downloading it over a slow connection would be painful, and it likely won’t fit on a smartphone (at least for now). The virtual desktop may also expect a standard keyboard and mouse, so a phone or iPad client may be impractical (although the Windows 8 touch interface is bound to improve this situation to some extent).

Desktop virtualization is an important technology, to be sure, but there’s more to this story. The current marketplace for such products is stuck in a “horseless carriage” scenario. We have sandbox technology (regular as well as reverse), and we can also put virtual environments on mobile devices. Combine those with the existing state of Cloud Computing and what do you get? Hint: desktop virtualization is only the tip of the iceberg.

Leveraging Desktop Virtualization Technologies for Cloud-Oriented Architecture
The core realization behind Cloud-Oriented Architecture (COA) is that everything is potentially part of the Cloud. There’s nothing in the NIST definition of Cloud Computing that requires Cloud resources to live in data centers, after all. We don’t mean to say that mobile devices are inherently part of the Cloud, however. To qualify as Cloud resources, it must be possible to provision and deprovision them automatically, with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.

Now we’re getting somewhere. We have the technology to dynamically provision and deprovision VM instances on mobile devices, since that’s what remote virtual desktops are all about. We simply need to expand the approach, as shown in the figure below.

Instead of porting desktops in VMs to remote devices, we can use a similar approach to automatically provision any VM instance into a reverse sandbox on any device, since reverse sandboxes can run on anything, including smartphones, iPads, laptops, or even embedded systems like the computer in your car or proverbial fridge. From the perspective of the Cloud provider, remote environments are simply an extension of their data centers that they can automatically manage and provision. From the user’s perspective, they can have any Cloud capability they desire running locally, within the physical constraints of the remote environment.

Such constraints, including bandwidth, reliable connectivity, memory, storage space, and UI limitations, present both challenges and opportunities. Yes, smartphones have less physical resources than servers to be sure, but the resources they have are each riding their own Moore’s Law curve into the stratosphere. Think your phone is too slow or small to run part of the Cloud? Wait a week or two.

The ZapThink Take
So, what are dynamically provisioned Cloud instances on remote devices actually good for? Security is the obvious answer, but only the starting point. The reverse sandbox protects the VM instance on the device from outside attacks, and gives the Cloud provider centralized control over the instance.

COA also resolves the problem of remote wiping. IT managers are concerned about devices falling into the wrong hands, and often require the ability to fully erase such devices remotely. For employees bringing their own devices (BYOD) to work, such draconian measures are understandably unacceptable. But if all the sensitive corporate data and application access resided in a VM instance on the device, separated from the rest of the device by a secure sandbox, then the remote wipe would simply mean deprovisioning this instance. The device would remain fully functional, except for the secure capabilities in the sandbox.

Those security examples, however, are only the price of admission. The potential for COA is limited only by your imagination, as the limitations of bandwidth, memory, and storage get Moore’s Law-ed into irrelevance. For example, what kind of massively multiplayer game could you build that ran entirely on mobile Cloud instances? Or perhaps COA will enable Facebook’s Next Big Thing, keeping them from being an immense one trick pony? And remember the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) screensaver from the 1990s? It processed chunks raw data on individual PCs while they were idle. If we could look for aliens with 1990s technology, what Big Data mysteries do you think we can solve this decade?

More Stories By Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is a leading IT industry analyst, Forbes contributor, keynote speaker, and globally recognized expert on multiple disruptive trends in enterprise technology and digital transformation. He is ranked #5 on Onalytica’s list of top Digital Transformation influencers for 2018 and #15 on Jax’s list of top DevOps influencers for 2017, the only person to appear on both lists.

As founder and president of Agile Digital Transformation analyst firm Intellyx, he advises, writes, and speaks on a diverse set of topics, including digital transformation, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, devops, big data/analytics, cybersecurity, blockchain/bitcoin/cryptocurrency, no-code/low-code platforms and tools, organizational transformation, internet of things, enterprise architecture, SD-WAN/SDX, mainframes, hybrid IT, and legacy transformation, among other topics.

Mr. Bloomberg’s articles in Forbes are often viewed by more than 100,000 readers. During his career, he has published over 1,200 articles (over 200 for Forbes alone), spoken at over 400 conferences and webinars, and he has been quoted in the press and blogosphere over 2,000 times.

Mr. Bloomberg is the author or coauthor of four books: The Agile Architecture Revolution (Wiley, 2013), Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (Wiley, 2006), XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996). His next book, Agile Digital Transformation, is due within the next year.

At SOA-focused industry analyst firm ZapThink from 2001 to 2013, Mr. Bloomberg created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011.

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting), and several software and web development positions.

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.

@ThingsExpo Stories
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that All in Mobile, a mobile app development company from Poland, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. All In Mobile is a mobile app development company from Poland. Since 2014, they maintain passion for developing mobile applications for enterprises and startups worldwide.
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
The best way to leverage your CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at CloudEXPO. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audienc...
IoT is at the core or many Digital Transformation initiatives with the goal of re-inventing a company's business model. We all agree that collecting relevant IoT data will result in massive amounts of data needing to be stored. However, with the rapid development of IoT devices and ongoing business model transformation, we are not able to predict the volume and growth of IoT data. And with the lack of IoT history, traditional methods of IT and infrastructure planning based on the past do not app...
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, 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.
IoT is rapidly becoming mainstream as more and more investments are made into the platforms and technology. As this movement continues to expand and gain momentum it creates a massive wall of noise that can be difficult to sift through. Unfortunately, this inevitably makes IoT less approachable for people to get started with and can hamper efforts to integrate this key technology into your own portfolio. There are so many connected products already in place today with many hundreds more on the h...
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smart...
DXWorldEXPO LLC, the producer of the world's most influential technology conferences and trade shows has announced the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO "Early Bird Registration" is now open. Register for Full Conference "Gold Pass" ▸ Here (Expo Hall ▸ Here)
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
The Jevons Paradox suggests that when technological advances increase efficiency of a resource, it results in an overall increase in consumption. Writing on the increased use of coal as a result of technological improvements, 19th-century economist William Stanley Jevons found that these improvements led to the development of new ways to utilize coal. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Thiele, Chief Strategy Officer for Apcera, compared the Jevons Paradox to modern-day enterprise IT, examin...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICC-USA, a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. ICC is a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances to meet a wide range of ...
Headquartered in Plainsboro, NJ, Synametrics Technologies has provided IT professionals and computer systems developers since 1997. Based on the success of their initial product offerings (WinSQL and DeltaCopy), the company continues to create and hone innovative products that help its customers get more from their computer applications, databases and infrastructure. To date, over one million users around the world have chosen Synametrics solutions to help power their accelerated business or per...
We are seeing a major migration of enterprises applications to the cloud. As cloud and business use of real time applications accelerate, legacy networks are no longer able to architecturally support cloud adoption and deliver the performance and security required by highly distributed enterprises. These outdated solutions have become more costly and complicated to implement, install, manage, and maintain.SD-WAN offers unlimited capabilities for accessing the benefits of the cloud and Internet. ...
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...
Charles Araujo is an industry analyst, internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and author of The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. As Principal Analyst with Intellyx, he writes, speaks and advises organizations on how to navigate through this time of disruption. He is also the founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation and a sought after keynote speaker. He has been a regular contributor to both InformationWeek and CIO Insight...
Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant tha...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, 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.
I think DevOps is now a rambunctious teenager - it's starting to get a mind of its own, wanting to get its own things but it still needs some adult supervision," explained Thomas Hooker, VP of marketing at CollabNet, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Recently, WebRTC has a lot of eyes from market. The use cases of WebRTC are expanding - video chat, online education, online health care etc. Not only for human-to-human communication, but also IoT use cases such as machine to human use cases can be seen recently. One of the typical use-case is remote camera monitoring. With WebRTC, people can have interoperability and flexibility for deploying monitoring service. However, the benefit of WebRTC for IoT is not only its convenience and interopera...
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...