Let’s start simple. The cloud is essentially the new mainframe.
Before I discuss the benefits of taking advantage of this technology, I will begin by framing this discussion with what is becoming apparent to most technology leaders. The introduction of technology into our society may result in artifacts that cause more harm than good.
One example of this is how society handled the introduction of the personal computer. Although we have benefited from increases in productivity, there is also a dark side of society that we have not been able to control. We need a way to balance these two competing interests so we can innovate with confidence. I see cloud technology as a vehicle to facilitate that and I elaborate on this in the whitepaper I published last month.
The cloud is built on a technology called “hardware virtualization”. Although most PCs in use today have virtualization capabilities, general uses are not going to appreciate or understand how to use the technology. In layman’s terms, virtualizing the hardware allows the engineers to do a better job at keeping bad guys from doing dirty deeds.
For example, a virtualized CPU can obscure timing delays in responding to system requests that would make the presence of a virus scanner detectable to a savvy intruder. Virtualizing the microprocessor and inserting what is called a “hypervisor” between the operating system and the physical hardware provides an additional layer of defense.
This is not something most business users want or need to understand, but it is important for everyone to understand that virtualization makes is easier for the good guys to defend you and that is one of the reasons there is a push to migrate to the cloud.
The ability to virtualize hardware provided for the development of large data centers that can offer on-demand computing resources. Not long ago, if you wanted to relieve yourself of the burden of securing your servers, you would rent space in a secure data center, buy the machines and ship them to the facility. This model was messy and inefficient. The individuals with access to the physical hardware had limited control over the equipment in their facility. The individual using the equipment had no physical access to their equipment. In order to perform a hard reboot on a server, the IT staff at a company had to call the IT staff at the data center and ask them to walk over and restart the machine.
The new business model is for a single entity to make the investment in the facility and the equipment and use virtualization technology to sell the hardware and software on a pay-per-usage basis. In some cases, it may be less expensive to maintain the equipment on-premises, if you cut corners, but when you look at the total cost of ownership, including the implementation of all the appropriate security protocols, it is less expensive to use an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provider.
I decided to partner with Microsoft for several reasons (not that we will not entertain other relationships), but my confidence in the Azure infrastructure was one of the primary motivations for working with Microsoft, rather than undertaking building and maintaining my own data center. I believe that as more organizations migrate into the major cloud infrastructures, like Azure and AWS, cyber criminals will find smaller data centers easier targets. I prefer our clients not be on that target list, so, for us, it was a decision of either AWS or Azure, and 80 percent of the world uses Microsoft Office. That motivated us to invest our time in learning to use Microsoft’s tools.
So, that is the technology framework on which the cloud is built – well-maintained, on-demand computing resources – and one of the primary motivations for Kynektyd’s partnership with Microsoft.
As you begin to explore Azure, however, you quickly realize there is a lot more to the cloud than a simple displacement of the data center. It is an entire ecosystem.
I will explain more in the next edition.