Thursday, September 12, 2013

Is the Cloud still white and fluffy? Examining the role of cloud computing for today’s businesses

Tony Pepper
Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder
Egress Software Technologies Ltd.
When I first glanced at the IT Cloud landscape, it was a wonderfully picturesque scene offering fluffy, white services that promised massive benefits to any business that wanted to realise cost savings and efficiency gains.

Is this the same landscape I see today? Put simply, no.

While Cloud continues to dominate boardroom agendas, creating panic amongst senior execs, who fear that without a Cloud strategy their business is somehow falling behind the times (and their competitors), I’m sure those ‘technology laggers’ that pinned their colours to traditional on-premise models are feeling rather smug in light of the recent negative press.

Does this mean that over time Cloud services will become less popular with businesses in the Public and Private sectors? Absolutely not, to those cynics out there! It’s all part of the adoption and maturity lifecycle that every new and innovative technology must face. 

The fact is, future delivery of IT service architecture remains unchanged; however professionals and ‘prosumers’ are now increasingly aware that a risk managed approach to consuming services must be applied to both software vendors and their underlying infrastructure providers before today’s grey clouds become white and fluffy again.

Be proactive and informed - not left behind

My team spends every day speaking to customers about data security, promoting UK Government certified encryption services with roots firmly placed in the Cloud. We are fortunate to be able to map trends that start to emerge, and what’s currently coming across loud and clear is the overwhelming shift towards the usage of Active Directory Federated Services (ADFS). 

For those of you that don’t know, ADFS is a software component developed by Microsoft that can be installed on Windows Server operating systems to provide users with single sign-on access to systems and applications located across organisational boundaries. It uses a claims-based access control authorisation model to maintain application security and implement federated identity. 

In short, ADFS is designed to use on-premise Active Directory as an identity provider to enable users to interact other Web Services and SAML 2.0 compliant federation services (used by Cloud providers), leveraging their existing business username and password. 

This tells me one thing: Cloud and integration with Cloud services is actually in its ascendancy. On-premise and hosted worlds will become more aligned to the point where soon we won’t be able to clearly define what’s inside our corporate boundary and what’s fully hosted.

Laggers be warned: Your number is almost up!

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