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Compliance and Security in Cloud Migration

An exclusive Q&A with Joel Daly, Chief Operating Officer of HOSTING

"Anyone moving to the cloud saves not only time but money," stated Joel Daly, Chief Operating Officer of HOSTING, in this exclusive Q&A with Cloud Expo Conference Chair Jeremy Geelan. "For SMBs, the primary cost issue is a lack of resources. They have no choice but to run legacy systems during the transformation to the cloud. This gets expensive, but once done, the cost savings are there."

Cloud Computing Journal: The move to cloud isn't about saving money, it is about saving time. Agree or disagree?

Joel Daly: Agree, but time is money. Virtualization allows for faster provisioning and faster recovery, therefore increasing time-to-market for solutions. In many cases, especially if you're a software provider, getting to market sooner means revenue sooner. In addition, via the cloud, you can reinvest that money and use it to increase your capabilities. A recent study by the University of Manchester showed that 60% of companies have more time to focus on strategy and innovation and 70% of large enterprises and 59% of SMEs surveyed have been able to reinvest more money back into their business.

Cloud Computing Journal: How should organizations tackle their regulatory and compliance concerns in the cloud? Who should they be asking/trusting for advice?

Daly: First and foremost, companies must have their own compliance department involved from the beginning as they consider entering the cloud. The biggest oversight we see is when an IT organization pushes to move applications and infrastructure to the cloud, and then after the planning phase, just as they're ready to migrate, they bring in the compliance team. At that point, they often have to start over.

There are many organizations out there - consultants, professional services, not to mention cloud service providers - who can bring a solid compliance and security focus to the cloud migration process. And, just to set your mind at ease, there are a plethora of analyst reports that talk about companies that are effectively incorporating cloud and meeting security and compliance requirements to their IT strategies. It can be done.

Cloud Computing Journal: What does the emergence of Open Source clouds mean for the cloud ecosystem? How does the existence of OpenStack, CloudStack, OpenNebula, Eucalyptus and so on affect your own company?

Daly: Open source tech is a great competitive element in the technology community - no matter what aspect of the technology business you're in. It only improves the market. Open source drives more choices for consumers, more competition, lower prices and increased technology innovation.

As an example, in the way that open source has brought benefits to the OS market - expanded options such as Linux, and even enabled those with proprietary technologies to improve their suites, so it goes with cloud. Movement to open source will fuel competition, drive innovation and lower prices.

Cloud Computing Journal: With SMBs, the two primary challenges they face moving to the cloud are always stated as being cost and trust: where is the industry on satisfying SMBs on both points simultaneously - further along than in 2011-12, or...?

Daly: First, on the issue of cost, anyone moving to the cloud saves not only time but money. For SMBs, the primary cost issue is a lack of resources. They have no choice but to run legacy systems during the transformation to the cloud. This gets expensive, but once done, the cost savings are there. The important part is to do a comprehensive ROI model that shows what your break-even point is, and stick to that model to begin to see cost benefits.

From a trust perspective, the security issues are mixed - some real and some imagined. However, the cloud community is well aware of these issues and is adapting cloud environments to help ease the SMB transition to the cloud. Additional security services are available in private cloud, for example, to help with trust issues. Some of these same security solutions are making it to public cloud, where the environment allows. Many CSPs, including HOSTING, provide a variety of environment and security services options in both private cloud and public cloud, and we see many of our clients using private cloud as a stepping stone to public, especially for risk-averse companies. Having said all that, there are simply some applications that cannot exist in public cloud due to regulatory requirements, for example.

Cloud Computing Journal: 2013 seems to be turning into a breakthrough year for Big Data. How much does the success of cloud computing have to do with that?

Daly: Big Data has been around for some time, although perhaps called other things - data warehousing, data analytics and business intelligence, among others. And everyone continues to hype up Big Data, but very few are actually using it effectively.

Our customer base in particular - mid-size enterprises - tend to be highly transactional in their businesses, so they are at beginning stages of Big Data. We have many customers - Rapleaf, Quantum Retail, Rich Relevance and Affinity - for example whose job it is to listen to social media and ensure that companies are armed to react appropriately. I see these as effectively driving the collection and analysis of massive amounts of data to good purpose. But again, I see Big Data as still being in the early phases of the hype cycle. Once there is a consummate company blazing the trail - someone who sets themselves apart as Salesforce.com did in SaaS - we can call it a breakthrough year.

Having said all that, cloud technologies such as software-based storage and advances in virtualization and compute power will certainly help move it along.

Cloud Computing Journal: What about the role of social media: aside from the acronym itself SMAC (for Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud) are you seeing and/or anticipating major traction in this area?

Daly: Social media has come a long way in the last five years. Our company did not budget for it five years ago. Then it crept into our marketing budgets first. And now we're starting to see practical applications in other parts of the business. This is in part due to the fact that social media has been bolstered by advances in analytics, mobile access and cloud technology. In fact, the growth of all these is certainly fueling the drive toward Big Data. Now, as applications grow for social media outside marketing - for example our data centers send updates on Twitter to customers regarding status or issues - all of these technologies will grow.

Cloud Computing Journal: To finish, just as real estate is always said to be about "location, location, location," what one word, repeated three times, would you say Cloud Computing is all about? (Example: Scalability, Scalability, Scalability)

Daly: Availability, Availability, Availability. At the end of the day, if the solution isn't up and running, it can't help customers.

More Stories By Pat Romanski

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