Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: Andreas Grabner, Stackify Blog, Liz McMillan, David H Deans, Automic Blog

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, Cloud Security

@CloudExpo: Article

A Cloud Security Conversation with the SMB

Why the cloud makes sense for companies with limited resources and modest budgets

I just got off the phone with a friend of mine. His name is AJ and he was particularly grouchy. He had just spent the last 12 work hours scouring month-old machine logs so that he could compile a quarter-end audit that met his company’s compliance requirement. AJ is the Director of IT for what would be considered an SMB. It’s a modest home warranty related company that deals with homeowner end users, finance and loan offices, mortgage companies and manufacturers. It does roughly 15-20 million in business each year and employs about 60 direct employees and maybe 100 contracted agents. AJ has a staff of three other IT professionals, but given the workload, could easily double that headcount.

AJ is very proud of his jack-of-all-IT-trades status. He is proficient at writing code as he is virtually installing access on contractor home devices or planning strategic IT footprint expansion. And it's this proficiency that has been making him grumpy. Because he can work some sort of magic with just about any application, the bosses have him wear many different hats. In fact, one of his online IT forum handles is “The Maddest Hatter.” But it is this reliance on his tribal knowledge and multidisciplinary acumen that keep the C-Levels saying “that sounds like it’s right up AJ’s alley.” AJ’s biggest problem is that there are only 24 hours in a day and he can only prioritize so many projects that are interspersed with hair-on-fire emergencies.

Now when I called AJ, it was not to sell him anything, but to see if he wanted to play a round of golf this weekend. However, the conversation soon turned dark, as he said that he would probably be in the office all weekend catching up on the work he would have been doing if not for the pesky audits.  I asked him if that were a regular happenstance, working through the weekend. He said it happened once or twice a month. If it wasn’t compliance, it was server repair, or backup tapes, or investigating why the website submission page transmits gobbledigook (his word, not mine).

“So what about your security policies?” I snuck in the question.

“What about them? Raul and Savino (his techs) usually take care of it-the provsioning, password stuff, whatever. I just step in when the feds come knocking and ask about compliance. Man PCI is just burying me.” (note...most of his company's users pay for service online using credit card--see last week's blog about PCI)

I sighed. “So you don’t know who’s accessing your network, if they’re friendlies. What they are looking at?”

“I know what you’re trying to do…you’re trying to sell me SIEM and Log Management. You know I’ve got it covered.”

“Do you? How secure are those home agents computers? Are they monitored by anything more than virus software? Do you know what sites they’re visiting, how open their networks are before they sign in an access your network? Heck are they using unsecured smartphones?”

“I know. I know. But I thought this call was about golf.”

“Just trying to help a buddy out.

I know from experience that too many SMBs do not enforce data security policies. Like AJ, they are spread too thin or don’t have the necessary budget to afford a holistic solution. Without these security controls they run the risk of losing data, stagnate employee (and agent) productivity, and open themselves up to a myriad of breaches, sabotages and carelessness. Any of which could bring their modest enterprise to a screeching halt.

For company’s like AJ’s, security-as-a-service is making more and more sense. It provides best of breed capabilities for a fraction of the cost. I told AJ that for what he pays currently in support and maintenance, I could provide an enterprise-class holistic solution-one that provides all the tools, plus 24/7 monitoring vigilance. And this is not to displace any person or process currently in house. They might have the expertise, but typically don’t have the bandwidth or the budget or the buy-in. Too many company’s like AJ’s do the bare minimum to maintain compliance, but that certainly leaves them vulnerable. In fact, the all the automated and outsourced functionalities can provide the breathing room to address not only business need and revenue generating priorities, but to allow a transformation from an infrastructure-based organization to a information-based one. AJ knows this and often crosses swords with the C-levels in that they need to upgrade security protocols because it is a matter of when (not if) a major security issue will occur and cost them not only dollars, but reputation as well.

Cloud-based security is not just a benefit for SMBs.  The residual benefit of cloud security is that IT no longer has to be in the Identity Management business, but still reap all the benefits and efficiencies. No more time dedicated to resetting passwords or setting up role based access every time someone is hired, fired or moved. It doesn’t have to be in the log monitoring business, but still is effectively and securely protected from intrusion and attack with 24/7/365 monitoring. IT department is no longer a compiler of data, but a conduit of information and evaluator of compliance audits and reports that meet the various industry standards and government requirements.

The good news is AJ is slotting cloud security migration for his 2013 budget. So I just may let him win the next time we hit the links…but don’t tell him that!

More Stories By Kevin Nikkhoo

With more than 32 years of experience in information technology, and an extensive and successful entrepreneurial background, Kevin Nikkhoo is the CEO of the dynamic security-as-a-service startup Cloud Access. CloudAccess is at the forefront of the latest evolution of IT asset protection--the cloud.

Kevin holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from McGill University, Master of Computer Engineering at California State University, Los Angeles, and an MBA from the University of Southern California with emphasis in entrepreneurial studies.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, neural networks. We’re in the midst of a wave of excitement around AI such as hasn’t been seen for a few decades. But those previous periods of inflated expectations led to troughs of disappointment. Will this time be different? Most likely. Applications of AI such as predictive analytics are already decreasing costs and improving reliability of industrial machinery. Furthermore, the funding and research going into AI now comes from a wide range of com...
"When we talk about cloud without compromise what we're talking about is that when people think about 'I need the flexibility of the cloud' - it's the ability to create applications and run them in a cloud environment that's far more flexible,” explained Matthew Finnie, CTO of Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
The current age of digital transformation means that IT organizations must adapt their toolset to cover all digital experiences, beyond just the end users’. Today’s businesses can no longer focus solely on the digital interactions they manage with employees or customers; they must now contend with non-traditional factors. Whether it's the power of brand to make or break a company, the need to monitor across all locations 24/7, or the ability to proactively resolve issues, companies must adapt to...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a client-oriented software development company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex software systems for startups and enterprises. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business...
SYS-CON Events announced today that GrapeUp, the leading provider of rapid product development at the speed of business, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market acr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ayehu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara California. Ayehu provides IT Process Automation & Orchestration solutions for IT and Security professionals to identify and resolve critical incidents and enable rapid containment, eradication, and recovery from cyber security breaches. Ayehu provides customers greater control over IT infras...
In this presentation, Striim CTO and founder Steve Wilkes will discuss practical strategies for counteracting fraud and cyberattacks by leveraging real-time streaming analytics. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Steve Wilkes, Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Striim, will provide a detailed look into leveraging streaming data management to correlate events in real time, and identify potential breaches across IoT and non-IoT systems throughout the enterprise. Strategies for processing massive ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy named "Bronze Sponsor" of 21st International Cloud Expo which will take place October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud com...
In his session at Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, an entertainment executive/TV producer turned serial entrepreneur, presented a success story of an entrepreneur who has both suffered through and benefited from offshore development across multiple businesses: The smart choice, or how to select the right offshore development partner Warning signs, or how to minimize chances of making the wrong choice Collaboration, or how to establish the most effective work processes Budget control, or how to ma...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st Int\ernational Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to focus on the core of their ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business - from apparel to energy - is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
Amazon started as an online bookseller 20 years ago. Since then, it has evolved into a technology juggernaut that has disrupted multiple markets and industries and touches many aspects of our lives. It is a relentless technology and business model innovator driving disruption throughout numerous ecosystems. Amazon’s AWS revenues alone are approaching $16B a year making it one of the largest IT companies in the world. With dominant offerings in Cloud, IoT, eCommerce, Big Data, AI, Digital Assista...
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists looked at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deliver...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Lachapelle, CEO of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), provided an overview of various initiatives to certify the security of connected devices and future trends in ensuring public trust of IoT. Eric Lachapelle is the Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), an international certification body. His role is to help companies and individuals to achieve professional, accredited and worldwide re...
With the introduction of IoT and Smart Living in every aspect of our lives, one question has become relevant: What are the security implications? To answer this, first we have to look and explore the security models of the technologies that IoT is founded upon. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nevi Kaja, a Research Engineer at Ford Motor Company, discussed some of the security challenges of the IoT infrastructure and related how these aspects impact Smart Living. The material was delivered interac...
IoT solutions exploit operational data generated by Internet-connected smart “things” for the purpose of gaining operational insight and producing “better outcomes” (for example, create new business models, eliminate unscheduled maintenance, etc.). The explosive proliferation of IoT solutions will result in an exponential growth in the volume of IoT data, precipitating significant Information Governance issues: who owns the IoT data, what are the rights/duties of IoT solutions adopters towards t...