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Moving to the Cloud Creates Efficiencies

An exclusive Q&A with Alon Israely, Esq., CISSP, Co-Founder & Manager, Strategic Partnerships, Business Intelligence Associates

"A substantial amount of the ‘Big Data' discussion is relevant and interesting to organizations (as a practical matter) because of the advent of the "cloud," said Alon Israely, Esq., CISSP, Co-Founder & Manager, Strategic Partnerships, Business Intelligence Associates, in this exclusive Q&A with Cloud Expo Conference Chair Jeremy Geelan, "especially as the deployment and implementation of many ‘Big Data' systems rely on utility computing."

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

Israely: It's about saving both time and money, but primarily it's about saving money - when you save time, you save money. The advent of utility computing environments and distributed storage is very much about the economics that technology brings. Today, businesses can focus on spending more of their budgets (and time) on their core business and not on IT (e.g., IT assets, resources, etc.). Of course moving to the "cloud" also creates efficiencies around time spent on technical tasks - such as deployment of systems and applications, and allows for faster business processes because, for example, using web-based interfaces and smarter workflows - but since saving time translates directly to saving money, in the end it is primarily about saving money.

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

Israely: Organizations should be tackling "cloud"-related regulatory and compliance concerns in much the same way they have been doing with co-location and hosted services and data - there needs to be a diligent technical and legal/risk vetting of a "cloud" provider that matches the needs and requirements of the organization (one size does not fit all), and the provider must be aware and cognizant of regulatory and compliance issues in their "cloud" environment/application and should already have the appropriate legal terms in their agreements and the right policies in-place to execute on those legal obligations. There are "cloud" providers that have thought long and hard about compliance and regulatory concerns (e.g., data ownership, privacy, access, etc.), and are in a more mature position to deliver a "cloud"-based system or application that is already tuned to the nuances of critical compliance/regulatory issues - those would be the first set of providers to look at - otherwise, organizations should rely on their internal risk/auditing departments and their outside trusted consultants and attorneys (and ask those groups to be a part of any major decisions related to) using the "cloud."

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?

Israely: The Open Source community has been critical in ensuring that there are additional options for businesses and for research with respect to many technologies. That community has allowed for transparency across the board in the development of software and other systems and specifically so in the realms of security and reliability. Those same benefits continue into the "cloud" world and help to ensure that the options available for consumers of "cloud" systems are open to scrutiny - this is especially important during this early phase of growth in the "cloud" market. Though we tend to rely on commercial "cloud" providers here at BIA, our dev teams are always looking to open-source "cloud" systems as a weather vane or temperature stick for how certain issues and problems are tackled and solved - primarily, that is, we rely on the transparency and intelligence of the Open Source community to help inform the decisions we make about how we use the "cloud."

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...?

Israely: The industry is definitely further along than it was a year ago - but providing "cloud" systems to SMBs are still not a high priority for many "cloud" technology-related providers - especially with IaaS and PaaS providers. That said, there is an immense set of options at the SaaS level for SMBs - most of which are leveraging "cloud" technology to deliver the SaaS product. Thus today, for SMBs, there is a great deal of advantage they can gain by looking for web apps and managed IT services that use the "cloud" - even if the SMBs are not directly contracting with "cloud" infrastructure providers.

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?

Israely: A substantial amount of the "Big Data" discussion is relevant and interesting to organizations (as a practical matter) because of the advent of the "cloud" - especially as the deployment and implementation of many "Big Data" systems rely on utility computing. "Big Data" poses many challenges but also brings with it a ton of awesome benefits and without the technical scalability and efficient economics that the "cloud" brings, the emergence and progression of "Big Data" technologies will suffer.

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

Israely: "Social" related to technology is really about "human behavior" - so the use of devices and tablets and the ability to quickly share information with others, in groups and across the masses, is about people using technology in more interesting ways - add to that the daily devices we use (everything from phones to glasses to home appliances), and we see why social (human behavior) is a critical component to the user experience and the practical benefits gained when tying the notion of "social" to how we work - one simply needs to look at the highly accelerated increase of BYOD policies inside of major corporations to understand that social is important to the way we think about how and where we deploy technology.

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?

Israely: Cloud computing is all about "Quick," "Quick," "Quick" - quick to understand, quick to deploy, quick to learn-to-use, quick to see the economic benefits, quick to scale, quick to change direction, quick to market - the "cloud" allows us take an idea from inception to implementation without much business rigmarole or IT heavy lifting. Getting things done quickly without spending a lot of resources or money to do so, is what the cloud is all about.

More Stories By Liz McMillan

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