The inevitability of cloud in a mixed environment

Hear the second part of our interview with David Chen.


Today we continue our chat with David Chen, lead of the technology consulting practice for Accenture Health and Public Service.

Security in the cloud: Risks and benefits

Security is definitely a very valid concern.

If you look at how companies are able to offer some of the economies of the cloud is because they have shared infrastructure and they’re able to leverage unused compute power in one are to another application and move that around.

By the nature of things being shared, that poses a security concern, especially in the federal government, where there’s sensitive and classified information — and there’s also the need for certifications and accreditations of certain environments.

So, the first message there is to be conscious of that. I think IT managers need to choose very carefully what applications are appropriate to host on the cloud, given the current state.

Then, the third thing you’ll see is a lot of the cloud providers are working toward a hybrid model, where they will have computing infrastructure dedicated toward one agency or one organization and have a cloud within that.

Now, you won’t get quite the same economies when you do that.

We also see a lot of agencies starting to implement private clouds, where they use a lot of the same technologies internally and get some of the same advantages to address some of those security concerns.

I would say, though, also, on the flip side, the cloud can actually give you some benefits with security.

One is that you keep some of your applications that might be more public facing away from from your highly sensitized internal applications.

So, somebody breaks into your public facing Web page, for example, then, if it’s on the cloud, the intruder cannot get to other systems that would otherwise be on the same network.

We’ve seen that happen to some of the agencies — where [hackers] got into one system and then, all of a sudden, could get into other systems that were much more sensitive, because they were on the same network.

By moving things out to the cloud, you can avoid that problem and also the cloud can help you with things like denial of service attacks because of the ability to shut off and turn on new servers and other compute infrastructure quickly.

Accenture and the cloud

We help agencies and companies operate in the cloud and with the cloud.

We help them with their cloud strategy; we help them with the management of their infrastructure, including both cloud and non-cloud environments; and then we also will partner with cloud companies and really leverage their capitol investments in the infrastructure.

So, as an example, we announced a partnership with Microsoft on their Azure cloud offering, with the idea that we would be a primary systems integrator helping our clients use that offering and figure out how to implement it and help them with that integration.

What is the Accenture Cloud Computing Accelerator?

The name may be a little misleading — it’s not something to make the cloud go faster, but . . . It helps an agency or a company formulate their cloud computing strategy.

We help them, in a very short time period — usually four weeks or less — look to see which business applications could be migrated to the cloud, how cloud fits in with their overall strategy and then how to both transition into that . . . as well as long-term — how their environment might look or should look when they start integrating both their cloud and traditional computing environment.

Wrapping it up

I think what I would say in terms of [the topics about] — everyone’s struggling with how quickly to move into the cloud — and is it real — and is it secure enough?

What we’ve seen time and time again is that, when we look at internal compute enterprise environments butting heads with the Internet, the Internet always wins.

So, we see cloud as something that is inevitable long-term. What I would say is that most IT managers should start looking at the cloud [and] figuring out how it plays in and understand that it’s still early on and the technology is maturing and it’s not going to be a fit for everything — but start to look and see what is a good fit.

There are some incredible economies that should be — and can be — taken advantage of now. Then, also, as I have mentioned several times, really making sure that there is a holistic strategy.

It’s not just about cloud computing.

It’s not just about traditional, but we see, in the next several years, that everyone is going to have a mixed environment.

Cloud still has to be managed just like other systems out there need to be managed in terms of system monitoring and everything else.

So, it’s going to be very important for agencies to look at migrate and evolve their management structure to both be able to handle cloud and non-cloud in a mixed environment.

Fed Cloud Blog will return next week with more posts. Have a great holiday in the meantime!

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