I was granted the privilege of attending the Security Cloud Computing event in Dallas this week where leaders in the security world discussed their impressions, opinions, visions, and plans for how their solutions and their customers will be moving into the cloud. With brilliant panels filled with CEOs, CTOs, and marketing leaders from a few of the biggest names in security solutions, I learned more about the future of real world cloud solutions than I had imagined. I was impressed with the balanced view promoting realistic expectations sometimes encouraging a move to cloud services and other times realizing the cloud is a poor fit. The hype surrounding the theoretical potential of clouds sometimes blurs the opinions, and this event helped focus the pros and cons of any such move.
Bud Broomhead, CEO of Intransa, made a solid argument that cloud computing has been around for a very long time before we started using the word “cloud” to describe it in products like IBM’s “Utility Computing” and even the classic Mainframe model from the previous century. He also was quick to point out the physical limitations of a cloud solution when it comes to high performance security requirements, like high resolution surveillance cameras. He conjectured that if a physical plant has over, say, 500 high performance cameras, the bandwidth requirements for those cameras would vastly exceed the acceptable network connectivity options offered by most cloud providers. So, for the foreseeable future, the security industry will have a technical limitation hindering widespread adoption of cloud solutions.
Conversely, there are solutions already being implemented where clouds are a perfect fit. For example, an I.D. / badge creation and management solution, which doesn’t have an ultra-high performance requirement but benefits from global access to a central database, is perfect for clouds. A company could grow their facilities using the same badge solutions in every location to create and manage identifications for all their employees and contractors. Even traveling employees could move between facilities without any loss of service or access to where they need to be working. And, should a security concern come up with a specific ID, global corrective actions can be taken instantaneously.
There are still any questions to be answered as the security market dives deeper into Cloud solutions. Will security sensors (cameras, badge readers, door sensors, etc.) of the future have the intelligence to communicate direct to the cloud? Would CSOs prefer to have their information protected inside their own data centers over sending all that data into the cloud? What about backup data? These and other questions were brought up, but some specific cases of end users already moving to the cloud with great success were discussed as well.
I look forward to my next opportunity to meet with these people and others like them.