The Cloud (e.g. Cloud Computing) – As Solid as Real Clouds? (another Band-Aid on a Sucking Chest Wound)

The Cloud (e.g. Cloud Computing) – As Solid as Real Clouds?
(another Band-Aid on a Sucking Chest Wound)

© 2014 Research Solutions, Inc. (all rights reserved)

We do like to address subjects, regardless if it is a sore, strongly debated or touchy subject.

As a matter of fact, after 35 years, our practice has gained both the reputation and strong credibility to tackle just about anything that crosses our desk (or jumps on us).

We have waited to address “The Cloud” since everyone has some spin on the subject, good and bad, but it appears, after sitting back, collecting a serious amount of credible data and validated information and actual cases (e.g. events that have taken place), that we can throw our preferable “hat” into the ring… but from a different perspective.

We work with numerous clients, agencies and vendors who use, make, produce, sell and manage “Cloud” operations and/or services, and in the end, there is a clear pattern and direction where Cloud computing is going.

Before jumping into the trenches and possibly starting WWIII, we ask you, with a truly open mind, to read this article and digest the contents as presented. Not the propaganda from salespeople and articles that “push” manufacturers and providers, but that of “common sense” (which we have written quite a bit on), plus due diligence and validation of “claims, facts and results”.

Let us start:

A little history will be our starting point, but that of a technology and product that surfaced quite a while ago, and finally settled in the present under a present technology that doesn’t appear it will change for a while:

Does anyone remember the Mini-recorder (e.g. Mini-Cassette)? Yes, the incredible little invention that miniaturized the typical reel-to-reel tape recorder into a little hand-held device.

A quote from just one (1) manufacturer:

Panasonic®: “This device will change the course of data storage forever. It is the cutting edge of technology not to be surpassed.”

Yet, in less the 7 months, well-after millions were spent buying the little marvel, guess what?

The Micro-recorder (e.g. Micro-Cassette) enters the ring.

The mini-recorder literally died within 6 months, and manufacturing (commercially) the little mini-cassette tapes ended as well. The Great WHITE ELEPHANT died.

Finally, the “Digital Recorder” makes its appearance.

A quote from just one (1) manufacturer:

Sony®: “The digital age will end the life of conventional tape devices. The day of pocket recorders is now the cutting edge of technology, not to be surpassed.”

Strange that the quote has a familiar ring to it (perhaps the same marketing and PR person… who knows).

However, the little digital recorder did change the life of pocket recorder devices.

Now, what does this have to do with the CLOUD?

First problem, the definition of the CLOUD is very much “clouded” (no pun intended… well, it was too good to pass up) since there are so many variations on a theme.

So many definitions. So many misunderstandings. More important, a lack of true uniformity in just the definition, let alone its performance, worth, effectiveness and its failures.

Let us look at a few definitions before I go into details about our spin on the CLOUD:

The following definition is credited to PC Magazine (manufacturer/service name trademarks are recognized by their appropriate owners, licensees and applicable trademarks):

“Definition of: Cloud Computing

cloud computing

Hardware and software services from a provider on the Internet (the “cloud”). Cloud computing comprises “software as a service” (SaaS), “infrastructure as a service” (IaaS) and “platform as a service” (PaaS), all of which are explained below. Is Every Function on the Internet Cloud Computing?

Not necessarily. Although almost any computing performed in the cloud might be labeled cloud computing, it really came about in two ways. It first arose when software applications were made available to companies over the Internet in the late 1990s (SaaS), and for the first time, the internal IT department was no longer responsible for maintenance of that application. Later on, companies with a massive Internet presence such as Amazon and Google offered to lease their own datacenter infrastructure by the bits and bytes of usage per month after developing extraordinary expertise in their own online business (IaaS/PaaS). Three Distinguishing Features:

(Scalability) Cloud computing servers can be quickly configured to process more data or to handle a larger, temporary workload such as Web traffic over the holidays. (Speed) Major cloud providers are connected to the Internet via multiple Tier 1 backbones for fast response times and fault tolerance. (Self Service) The customer (end user or IT professional) can sign up online, activate and use applications and services from start to finish without phoning a provider to set up an account. Of course, phone support is essential when problems arise. SaaS – Software as a Service:

SaaS providers deliver the entire application to the end user, relieving the organization of all hardware and software maintenance. Myriad applications running from a Web browser use this model, including Web-based e-mail, Google Apps and Salesforce.com’s CRM. For IT, this has been a paradigm shift, because security and privacy issues arise when company data are stored in the cloud. IaaS/PaaS – Infrastructure/Platform as a Service:

Also called “cloud hosting” and “utility computing,” infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provides the servers and operating systems, while platform as a service (PaaS) adds the databases, runtime engines and other necessary system software for the customer to deploy its applications. Instead of purchasing and operating its own servers, it can be much more economical for a company to use the cloud for computing and eliminate the security, maintenance, network and environmental issues with in-house datacenters. In addition, commercial cloud facilities may be able to withstand natural disasters that meet and exceed military standards. For both small and large Web publishers, cloud providers such as Amazon and Google are invaluable. Their hardware can be configured to handle tiny amounts of traffic or huge amounts of traffic. In either case, IaaS/PaaS providers charge for actual usage, and there is no wasted expense with underutilized in-house servers.

Virtualization:

The cloud employs server virtualization, which, among other benefits, allows application workloads to be easily added and removed as self-contained modules. In fact, virtualization has been a major enabler of the cloud computing model. However, the amount of work required by the customer differs greatly. Configuring virtual implementations on servers can range from being almost entirely automatic to requiring that the IT administrator be thoroughly familiar with very technical software.

Private and Hybrid Clouds:

Enterprises can create private clouds in their datacenters that employ the same cloud computing infrastructure used on the Internet. The private cloud provides the same flexibility and self-service capabilities, but with complete control of privacy. A hybrid cloud is both private and public. If the private cloud is overloaded, applications are activated on the Internet cloud. Extending software and databases from internal servers to a providers’ servers and managing both venues from a central console are major issues in cloud computing administration.”

Again, the “previous” definition is credited to PC Magazine (manufacturer/service name trademarks are recognized by their appropriate owners, licensees and applicable trademarks).

There is no misunderstanding that all-in-all, In OUR opinion, PC Magazine has produced an excellent definition of Cloud Computing; however we need to address Cloud Computing from our perspective:

  1. Cloud Computing is an infrastructure with its foundation comprising of computer hardware and computer software.
  2. It provides and delivers numerous types of computer data (e.g. applications many types) across the Internet, utilizing numerous structured and un-structured websites for public and private companies, institutions, agencies and individuals.
  3. It is truly virtual by nature.
  4. There are two established types of Clouds. Public and Private.
  5. It is comprised of three (3) major components, that being Connectivity, Application and Storage, which vary in their structure and purpose depending upon the specific application or discipline it would be addressing, and to whom as well as how.

This may be a “VERY” simplistic definition, but many readers will be overwhelmed by the plethora of available definitions out there, many of which are “dead wrong” and “totally misleading”.

The “advantages” of the CLOUD, whether it be public or private is also filled with thousands of “pros” and “cons”. Advantages and disadvantages. It actually looks a lot like discussing the subject of politics.

Almost ALL the discussions about the CLOUD are based upon “subjective” information, facts and statistics, when, in fact, the CLOUD is new. VERY new.

We have seen articles, from some very legitimate (or so we thought) sources telling us about how fantastic the CLOUD was, and that it started in 1989. Errrrr…

We as a TRUE R&D facility with its participation in Think Tank commissioned studies, NOT by any manufacturers or funders of any company with any financial or political interest in CLOUD operations or technology, have come up with some interesting results and findings.

We will tell you IF you are a CLOUD company, you will NOT like what we have to say.

However, like the little MINI-CASETTE recorder, the entrance and embracing of the CLOUD has not been close to the sales pitches on what it “could” do, versus what the present state of affairs (e.g. reality) is with the CLOUD in general.

Claimed Advantage: Cost Efficiency.

Reality: It has been a “cost disaster”. There are an over-abundance of massive losses, outages, complete system failures that have cost millions, if not billions, both in the public and private sectors, not to mention individuals which putting a price on is somewhat hard, so let leave it to pulling one’s hair out (if you have hair left).

Claimed Advantage: Responsiveness of Functionality.

Reality: Rapid service? Not quite. The number of “acknowledged” bottlenecks and “fatal loops” alone has resulted in more server functions and disconnect, let alone “corrupted data that was un-usable. That is Fact.

Claimed Advantage: Accessibility from anywhere in the world.

Reality: Well, that is what we call a “half-truth”. The truth is, yes, it IS accessible from anywhere in the world; however a complete connection, lock-outs, stall-outs, fatal loops, corrupted data are just a few of the “typical” results when connecting “anywhere in the world” or “just from your office or home

Claimed Advantage: Quick delivery of service.

Reality: We won’t waste your/our time discussing this for the exception of saying “if everything works according to plan… which it doesn’t quite a bit of the time” let alone the quality and accuracy of what you get…

Now, let’s look at the single, most important component of the CLOUD that “just doesn’t hold water” (no pun intended):

HOW ABOUT SECURITY?

Oh, there are discussions, promises and “claims” of perfect security, un-breachable security and security measures making it bullet-proof.

In our field of Threats and Frauds, we NEVER, EVER use the word “bulletproof”, let alone PERFECT.

There is OUR phrase, in every paper, in every publication, every lecture and every seminar we give, and that is not “if” security is breached, but W-H-E-N.

Not “if”.

WHEN.

Say it 100 times and it still will not get through the “subjective” thinking of those who bless the CLOUD like it is a G_D, the Omnipresent Cutting Edge of Information Technology.

No matter what you “want” to believe, the CLOUD has proven to have at least ONE major flaw that makes it:

  • Dangerous
  • Unreliable
  • Costly
  • Time-Wasting

The Flaw?

SECURITY

We are not going to go into “our” findings, along with the others in Think Tanks, independent studies and the like that pick the CLOUD apart like a rotting carcass by a flock of buzzards.

We feel that addressing just one (1) flaw is good enough for us, especially when it deals in something that we label as

HIGH-THREAT, HIGH-RISK.

Let’s look at just ONE facet of the market place.

How many government agencies truly endorse the CLOUD?

Be careful how you “sell” your answer to the public reading this article. They are NOT stupid and many ARE in government or have worked in agencies.

The government reports, which some are public in nature are worth looking at.

How about the “Task Force Report: Cyber Security and Reliability in a Digital Cloud” issued by the United States Department of Defense.

An excellent report to read, especially when it has no “axe” to grind. Take a look at the nice PDF file link:
http://www.acq.osd.mil/dsb/reports/CyberCloud.pdf

Read it. Tell the readers it is full of lies, even though they spent MILLIONS upon MILLIONS of dollars researching, testing and ultimately finding out the security aspect of the CLOUD IS DANGEROUS DUE TO ITS INABILITY TO SECURE DATA AND INFORMATION WITHOUT THE TYPICAL ASSURANCES OF SAFETY AND RELATED SAFETY PROTOCOLS. Then again, there are those who will say it is all lies.

Then again, the Internet has people on Google that say the world is flat and the moon landing was staged in 20th Century Fox Studios where Century City is in Los Angeles, California now…

How about the “Cloud for Science and Public Authorities” issued from the European Commission (Ref. Ares (2013)2703248 -18 (/07/2013)?
Another excellent report to read. Take a look at the nice PDF file link:
http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/ict/e-infrastructure/docs/final-report-clouds-study.pdf

How about “The Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency’s Cloud Computing Initiative” (September 2014 – nice and current!)?

A very well-produced report to read. Take a look at the PDF file link:
https://www.ignet.gov/sites/default/files/files/Cloud%20Computing%20Initiative%20Report(1).pdf

Notice these few of MANY, MANY selections are very current? Well, most of them are, but nothing from 1989 (I do love that 1989 comment…).

What do they all have in common?

Listen to the ECHO:

  • Dangerous
  • Unreliable
  • Costly
  • Time-Wasting

Well, they must be all LIARS.

And the Love Canal is perfectly safe and we should bottle the water to sell as well as the plots of land because they are so safe, especially for raising children.

And we should reinstitute Agent Orange into the battlefield (oh, wait a minute, we don’t have a real jungle war going yet) since it works so well and is SO SAFE FOR OUR SERVICE PEOPLE.

And we should bring back ASBESTOS since it is so SAFE.

We are sorry to rain on many people’s parades with this subject.

However, we have been asked about “endorsing” CLOUD technology.

We have been retained, by several of the largest manufacturers and providers of CLOUD technology (in its various forms, both hardware and software).

We found many aspects excellent, and a number very good.

We found many that were “satisfactory”.

But we found MANY that were nothing less than “unacceptable by ANY standards.”

They did not like our answers and findings.

They did not like our supportive evidence and validation of data.

They didn’t “disagree” with our findings.

They just never included them in ANY publications of their materials whatsoever.

This little article really only touched on a single issue of the CLOUD, that being SECURITY.

We didn’t hammer you with the thousands of examples of failures, losses, disasters, and such. It is there for your OWN review and assessment.

Let it echo a few times more: SECURITY

We don’t NEED to go any further with that “Achilles Heel” of a problem.

It is “too” big of a problem that cannot be overcome with conventional technology that would even come close to “cost-effective”.

It looks good, but so does Nightshade.

It tastes good, but so do many of the deadly mushrooms.

The CLOUD salespeople say it’s PERFECT, FAILSAFE (or pretty close to it) – Is that like being a “little bit pregnant?”

There have been “constant” promises of solutions for the “security issue”, which, from the birth of the CLOUD to the present, have NEVER been solved, and in its structural form, many of those who are the authors and creators of the hardware and software the CLOUD depends on will say the same thing – “Security is a major problem”.

Trying to sell the CLOUD with a problem like this is as reasonable and logical as

“Giving a Starving Dog a Rubber Bone”

But all those reports are false…

And the world is flat…

When do admit fault?

When do we invent the “digital recorder” instead of trying to sell the “Mini-Cassette Recorder” all over again….

We are not “Singing in the Rain”

As with all articles we write, we will submit to you, our readers a number of “interesting alternatives” which appear to be not only the solution to the CLOUD, but a far superior solution that addresses SECURITY first, which we, at RSI truly appreciate.

We hope you will too.

Regards,
Research Solutions, Inc.

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