Perimeter
7/25/2011
08:03 AM
Jim Reavis
Jim Reavis
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Future Clouds: Centralized Or Decentralized?

The trend might be moving toward putting more eggs in fewer, more secure baskets

Risk concentration is one of the issues to consider as cloud computing evolves. The economies of scale that have brought cloud computing to where it is so far seem to point to further consolidation and the growth in size of a smaller number of mega data centers.

When Vivek Kundra, the outgoing federal CIO, spoke at the Federal Cloud Strategy at our CSA Summit earlier this year, my favorite slide in his deck compared the federal government to IBM in data-center consolidation. Whereas both had several hundred data centers in 1997, the federal government now has more than 2,000, while IBM has 12!

It seems as though the trend is toward putting more eggs in fewer baskets -- albeit more efficient and I believe more secure baskets. But is that truly the case? I can see Moore’s Law and management efficiencies continuing to support this trend, but I think the wild card is the cost of energy. It could very well be that this is the variable cost that upsets the apple cart, and the cost of cloud services might track the cost of energy over time.

In the U.S., many data centers have been built in eastern Washington and Oregon to take advantage of cheap hydroelectric power. It is easy to imagine a variety of events that could radically change the energy cost basis of a data center.

Greater decentralized clouds could mitigate this issue, and it is not hard to imagine more sophisticated versions of the cloud-brokering solutions of today helping customers move workloads around to lower energy cost data centers. If you take this idea to its extreme, the compute power of a few million smartphones could be pretty tremendous, and the energy costs are zero. Is it possible that the future of cloud will be a significant amount of mobile clouds?

Management costs could be higher for something like this, but there have been very good examples of well-managed distributed compute networks for years; my favorite is the botnet.

I don’t know whether this is the future, but I think we need to plan for this being a possible outcome. Clouds might include a lot of untrusted, low assurance infrastructure, and thinking of our security layers in completely virtual terms is very healthy. Building security into the applications, abstracting between the different technological layers, protecting the data wherever it might go, and instrumenting every entity (virtual machines, hypervisors, data stores, users, etc.) with identity management and nonrepudiated logging technologies is essential.

None of us really knows what the cloud might look like tomorrow, so think about implementing security in a way that allows us to take advantage of its future -- or some alternate futures.

Jim Reavis is the executive director of the Cloud Security Alliance, and president of Reavis Consulting Group.

Jim Reavis is the President of Reavis Consulting Group LLC, where he advises organizations on how to take advantage of the latest security trends. Jim has served as an international board member of the Information Systems Security Association and was co-founder of the ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
Partner Perspectives
What's This?
In a digital world inundated with advanced security threats, Intel Security seeks to transform how we live and work to keep our information secure. Through hardware and software development, Intel Security delivers robust solutions that integrate security into every layer of every digital device. In combining the security expertise of McAfee with the innovation, performance, and trust of Intel, this vision becomes a reality.

As we rely on technology to enhance our everyday and business life, we must too consider the security of the intellectual property and confidential data that is housed on these devices. As we increase the number of devices we use, we increase the number of gateways and opportunity for security threats. Intel Security takes the “security connected” approach to ensure that every device is secure, and that all security solutions are seamlessly integrated.
Featured Writers
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading's October Tech Digest
Fast data analysis can stymie attacks and strengthen enterprise security. Does your team have the data smarts?
Flash Poll
Title Partner’s Role in Perimeter Security
Title Partner’s Role in Perimeter Security
Considering how prevalent third-party attacks are, we need to ask hard questions about how partners and suppliers are safeguarding systems and data.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2012-5242
Published: 2014-10-21
Directory traversal vulnerability in functions/suggest.php in Banana Dance B.2.6 and earlier allows remote attackers to include and execute arbitrary local files via a .. (dot dot) in the name parameter in a get_template action.

CVE-2012-5243
Published: 2014-10-21
functions/suggest.php in Banana Dance B.2.6 and earlier allows remote attackers to read arbitrary database information via a crafted request.

CVE-2012-5702
Published: 2014-10-21
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in dotProject before 2.1.7 allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the (1) callback parameter in a color_selector action, (2) field parameter in a date_format action, or (3) company_name parameter in an addedit action to i...

CVE-2013-7406
Published: 2014-10-21
SQL injection vulnerability in the MRBS module for Drupal allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary SQL commands via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2014-2531
Published: 2014-10-21
SQL injection vulnerability in xhr.php in InterWorx Web Control Panel (aka InterWorx Hosting Control Panel and InterWorx-CP) before 5.0.14 build 577 allows remote authenticated users to execute arbitrary SQL commands via the i parameter in a search action to the (1) NodeWorx , (2) SiteWorx, or (3) R...

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Follow Dark Reading editors into the field as they talk with noted experts from the security world.