The unprecedented amount of media coverage on concerns over global warming, energy conservation, social responsibility and all things “green” is an eye-opener for everyone. For businesses, environmental issues are a consideration of most IT strategies. But what role does cloud computing play in shouldering social responsibility and supporting green IT computing?
What is Green IT?
The objective of Green IT is to use computers and IT resources in a more efficient and environmentally responsible way. In today’s highly technological world, businesses are becoming more and more reliant on staff working on different computing devices – desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones – all day, which are connected to the corporate network. This is compounded by the fact that virtually all organizations are increasingly handling larger amounts of data that is critical to their business.
Social Responsibility in the Business World
At the operational level, enterprises are also striving to adhere to environmental directives. In the United States, Public Law 109-431 is now effective. Its aim is “to study and promote the use of energy efficient computer servers in the United States”.
Access to data anywhere and at any time is important to enhance the usability of the data. Disparate storage is inefficient; from the business perspective, assets are generally underutilized, resulting in waste of capital investment in storage infrastructure. From the environmental perspective, this leads to unnecessary consumption of power, cooling and space resources.
Cloud computing meets both of these requirements, and maximizes efficiency without hindering on productivity. The eco-friendly solution of cloud computing reduces management complexity by reducing the number of storage devices, centralizing administration and policies, and enhances security and control.
Scalable Computing via Pure Software Remote Access
Organizations can save power by using “server-based computing”, or thin-clients to cater to all parts of the business. A pure software VPN solution provides the most scalability, while simultaneously reducing the cost of IT staffing via decreased internal maintenance and upgrade and support costs. A thin-client computer using a simple Web browser with remote desktop virtualization software can save up to approximately double the energy of a standard desktop loaded with its own dedicated applications. In this case, the applications can be accessed on demand from a remote server from any location via the cloud.
By moving sensitive data into the private cloud, organizations can become greener while simultaneously reducing costs. This prevents staffs’ obligation to use inefficient and time-consuming filing cabinets and copying/printing endless paper documents for themselves or for others. Businesses can make such documents available electronically by storing them securely in the cloud; employees can access them from any location at any time. This saves on paper and ink, and decreases printer carbon emissions.
What’s your opinion about Green IT? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
Businesses today face a new challenge in the form of data – big data analytics make businesses more efficient, and for many companies, managing large volumes of data (storing, sharing and backing up company files) has become mission critical. In part, this challenge has been overcome by cloud storage services such as DropBox and Google Drive, but how safe are such services?
While there are many exciting uses for cloud storage, using public cloud storage services to store the bulk of your private or corporate data is not advisable.
No Security, No Protection from Deletion or Loss
The notion of storing all or the majority of your files online appears to be a simple and affordable option for everyone. However, there is a catch – none of your data is safe! Almost all of the main cloud storage services refuse to assure the security of any data uploaded to their servers. Until a provider is ready to guarantee the safety of your data, it is not sensible to upload anything of importance. With these solutions, all of the individual or company’s sensitive data is housed on a cloud server that the individual/company has no control over. This is obviously an issue for many organizations.
No Protection from Spying or Termination
One issue is having data deleted or inaccessible, but what if all private documents are scanned and searched through? Transferring documents to a digital/online medium does not indicate that that we should lose all rights to privacy. However, when using cloud storage services, we are losing our privacy.
No Permissions and Access Control
More traditional server systems or private cloud deployments allow for extremely fine-grained access control of files by setting up group permissions allowing certain data to be accessible to specific users. Often, groups are set up on servers and folders are shared accordingly, such as “administrators,” “financial,” and “sales”. In this manner, the sales staff cannot access your HR data, and the receptionist cannot read your financial information. Implementing similar permissions on cloud services is not an easy task. Many cloud storage services adopt the philosophy of simplicity, whereby they do not offer more advanced controls such as permissions and access control.
Other Prevalent Issues to Consider
Apart from the issues outlined above – security, spying and access control – there are several other issues to consider before opting for cloud storage services. Some organizations, businesses and industries may have regulations or by-laws that prevent them from using such services because they handle data that is highly sensitive and requires a high level of protection. Furthermore, these service providers are allowed to change the way that the service operates, unbeknownst to their customers, which can cause issues for organizations who are not prepared for it.
Due to minimal costs involved, these cloud services may appear to be an easy solution to data management, but it is still not worth the risk; for businesses, data loss or theft may result in complications that translate into millions of dollars, and may permanently damage the company’s brand and reputation. Public cloud storage services are an innovative step in cloud computing, but our advice is not to put anything of value in it. Ultimately, security should never be sacrificed for compatibility.
Author: Hazel Farrugia
As a gold sponsor of RSA 2014, the HOB team was fortunate to be at the epicenter of all things IT security. Not only were we able to showcase our own contributions to the industry, RSA was an opportunity for us to join the conversation of IT security experts discussing trends and debating the future of the industry.
As part of our RSA recap, we’d like to share 5 trends we observed during the conference:
Although an atmosphere created by the exposure of NSA activity, and its subsequent fall-out, is to be expected at any IT security conference, this was especially true at RSA. Prior to the conference, Reuters reported that the RSA organizer was engaged by the NSA and was responsible for creating loopholes for the agency. As a result, several digital security experts declined to attend and speak at RSA. In opposition to this movement, Stephen Colbert, who gave the closing remarks, called Snowden, “practically a war criminal,” and encouraged the American people to take responsibility for their actions:
"We all deserve credit for this new surveillance state that we live in," he said, "Because we the people voted for the Patriot Act. Democrats and Republicans alike. We voted for the people who voted for it, and then voted for the people who reauthorized it, then voted for the people who re-re-authorized it."
Corporate firewalls with authentication services from the past created the notion of corporate security as an island fortress. The more remote the island, the more secure the company. Today, the prevalence of BYOD has created several bridges to that island, and the workforce is eager to make use of these bridges. At RSA, we saw that IT admins are less inclined to manage multiple security vendors and systems.
Along this same thread, enforcing security policies in the cloud was also heavily discussed at RSA. Overall, companies were looking for a mix of private, hybrid and public cloud services, whereby some applications remain stored in corporate data centers and others housed in a public cloud.
The many security breaches that occurred in 2013 sparked the discussion about which team – admins or hackers – is winning the security match. The several billions being spent on IT security didn’t prevent severe attacks on Target, Neiman Marcus and Snapchat, to name a few, and thousands of people suffered as their personal data was exposed.
In order to combat malicious hackers, we saw a trend toward the application of big data to IT security. The use of massive amounts of data could enable the early detection and removal of security breaches.
Which IT security trends did you discover at RSA 2014? Let us know in the comments!
The adoption rate of cloud computing and remote access solutions has been exponential in recent years, as many different industries have fully migrated to cloud solutions.
However, one industry has yet to fully adopt the cloud—the government. According to cloud computing expert, David Linthicum, the government has been resistant to full migration to cloud computing and remote access due to complexities of federal business processes.
Despite the complicated nature of security regulations, government research organization, IDC Government Insights, released a study that took a detailed look at the government’s 2014 IT plans. According to the report, the U.S. government experts to spend $118.3 million on public cloud solutions. This new budget is an increase of 32.8%. The implications of this budget proves that in the next year, the government will be more focused on developing an IT strategy that will allow the adoption of cloud computing.
We, here at HOB, hope to see an increase of the government’s use of cloud computing and remote access solutions as our products are designed especially to meet the growing security and compliance requirements. For example, our flagship product, HOB RD VPN, has extensive security perfect for critical government data.
HOB RD VPN supports government agencies in successfully integrating secure remote access solutions into their existing IT infrastructures – for 24/7 secure remote access to data and applications, at any time, from anywhere around the world and with any device. This software solution also enables encrypted data communication using SSL and supports various state-of-the art authentication mechanisms like Kerberos Single Sign-On. Additionally, HOB RD VPN allows government agencies to implement client-side SSL-certificates, e.g., on Smartcards, and supports the usage of one-time-password solutions within their compliance strategy.
Do you think the government’s adoption of cloud computing and remote access solutions will be successful? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
The cloud has granted many enterprises with endless benefits including streamlined business processes and improved flexibility. However, as the cloud becomes a necessity, a number of enterprises are realizing that cloud migration requires more effort than they had assumed.
The most common mistake that enterprises make when adopting the cloud is lack of research. We want to make cloud migration easy on the enterprise. Here are a few Cloud Don’ts to make sure you stay on Cloud 9:
Don’t Always Choose What Is New
When selecting a cloud service provider, many assume that the latest cloud software is the best option for their enterprise. In reality, all clouds are not created equal. It is important to be aware of the differences between basic data storage providers and the wide range of IT networking infrastructure with on-demand access to servers, applications and software.
Don't Forget to Plan
When adopting your new cloud computing solution, don’t forget to plan for security, governance and compliance. Failure to plan results in a system that will not provide proper services to enterprise employees and will not a pass audit. Furthermore, failure to abide by security policies and regulatory requirements will result in large fines and legal issues.
Don’t Assume You’re Immune
The cloud is a certainly an efficient method to store data, but do not assume that cloud service providers are immune to security breaches, hacks or website crashes. Ensure that a third party also consistently backs up enterprise critical data.
The cloud is a remarkable invention, but it is important to recognize the nuances so that we can properly handle cloud migration for our enterprises! Please share additional cloud don’ts in the comments below.