Q: How do you determine if your customers are cloud ready?
Shayne P. Bates, CPP, CCSK, CHS-V, FABCHS, security strategist, advisor and advocate, Washington, D.C., who blogs at http://www.cyber-crime.biz: The cloud is a business proposition based on the things you need to do with technology to meet business requirements. Cloud services provide five core characteristics that are well defined by NIST. One of these is rapid elasticity. With Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) you are renting an app in the cloud, not buying it. In fact, with almost all cloud types the core idea is to rent services rather than own. Those services can range from infrastructure, to operating systems, to an application. When organizations invest in buying a traditional IT infrastructure, the design (and cost) is usually based upon peak-time load. This model is usually comparatively more expensive and becomes a relic of the past if you can access an available infrastructure that provides a ‘pay-as-you-go’ charge model. With the perception of infinite compute, capacity is not an issue and organizations can rapidly expand or contract infrastructure based on requirements. If you don’t need peak load all the time, then why pay for it to sit idle?
Ed Meltzer, president, Security, Cloud & Mobile Partners LLC, Kansas City, Mo.: Being ready for the cloud requires a complete understanding of what it provides and what expected value propositions come with its adoption—in addition to shortcomings and risks. Cloud computing offerings in general are shared infrastructure, storage and network resources (IaaS) and applications (SaaS) typically provided by third parties via a Web browser and the Internet. Lower costs and variable cost structures, speed of application deployment and universal availability are key benefits that translate into promised lower costs. Risks associated with cloud computing include security, data portability and promised scalability under real-world production environments. Understanding both sides of the equation is the initial criteria to determine whether you are ready for cloud services, both as a provider and user.
Bill Moran, vice president of Sales, Red Cloud Security, Sterling, Va.: If you already sell Physical Access Control Systems (PACS), the good news is that the cloud is ready for you right now. Public- or private-cloud-based PACS solutions allow dealers and integrators to offer a Web-based security system as a hosted or managed service that is much easier to deploy, service and maintain than legacy, software-based security systems. In some cases, converting a legacy system to cloud-based PACS system only requires a new front-end system to manage the facilities’ existing door controllers, hardware, readers, switches, wiring and/or wireless locks and communication electronics.
Steve Surfaro, security industry liaison, Axis Communications, Chelmsford, Mass.: You have to understand what the customer needs and match that with the integrator’s business drivers. One driver is ease-of-provisioning network cameras for both permanent and temporary use. Today’s managed video technology can authenticate network video cameras instantly and securely in a single “one-click” step, eliminating lengthy manual parameter entry. If the client has numerous sites with low network device count and random footprint, a cloud service is a perfect complement and this simple provisioning service alone will build savings. A working knowledge of Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and tools to measure a service provider’s financial health are prerequisites for both parties.