The Scariest Thing About Cloud Computing…

If you ask several people what scares them about cloud computing, you will get several answers.

Here’s one I hadn’t thought of in exactly these terms.

Someone told me that the thing that just terrified them about cloud computing was how easy it was.

That might sound a little strange, but he had an excellent reason for saying that.

He worked for a government agency with strict data protection requirements. So, he had personally dismissed cloud computing as something that might be great for others but just not possible for them. He had seen about Software, Platform and Infrastructure as a Service (that is, SaaS, PaaS and IaaS, further shortened to SPI), and knew that the major cloud players had very impressive worldwide infrastructure. But the lack of control and visibility meant that it was inappropriate, so he hadn’t been thinking about it.

Then he saw a demonstration of just how easy it is to deploy cloud services. In a matter of a few minutes, this demonstration had deployed storage on several continents and pushed data out into the cloud. It clearly could have gone even faster if it hadn’t been accompanied by explanations of the steps.

Wait, the data went to some place described as “Asia-Pacific Southeast.” What does that mean? Asia is awfully large, after all.

Well, nominally it means Singapore.  But there are “Edge Locations” in Sydney and Hong Kong.  A benefit can be that you don’t have to care about the details, the cloud infrastructure is designed to be very resilient through mirroring in multiple locations.

But wait, Australia, Singapore, and China are three very different environments.  And just what did it take to deploy that cloud storage?

Just a personal credit card, and it’s cheap.  Just US$ 0.125 per GB per month.  Anyone could do this quickly and easily.

And what sort of record is maintained?

Well, if you sign into the associated Amazon account, there is a record that a storage unit is in use.  But it has just a cryptic numeric designation, basically a serial number, unless the person deploying it thought to do some careful configuration management along the way. And, of course, you would have to sign into the corresponding Amazon account.  If we’re thinking of a reckless employee in a hurry, this would very likely be just their personal account they use to buy DVDs and books.

Here is the scary part.  With the cloud, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.  Frustration with in-house processes could lead to your data leaking into the cloud.  “Easy” can translate to “dangerous.”

If you are interested in learning about cybersecurity concerns in the cloud, Learning Tree’s Cloud Security Essentials course discusses these issues.

Bob Cromwell

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