Click here to close now.


Government Cloud Authors: Dana Gardner, Ian Khan, Maria C. Horton, David Dodd, Kevin Jackson

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo

Containers Expo Blog: Article

Five Key Challenges of Enterprise Cloud Computing

I have talked to a lot of people in the cloud computing and virtualization space

In the past month or so I have talked to a lot of people in the cloud computing and virtualization space. Many of these folks are working at/on startups that solves one of the many challenges for Enterprise cloud computing. What are these challenges? I have tried to summarize them here (in no particular order).

Data Governance

I’ve written extensively about the need for data governance in previous posts. In essence, enterprises have a ton of sensitive data that requires access monitoring and protection. Data (and information generated from the data) is the life blood of many enterprises, the loss of control will not be acceptable. Whole markets (read: DLP) are created to protect the enterprise data and information. On top of all that, enterprises must comply with many of the regulations that require data governance. By moving the data into the cloud, enterprise, for now, will lose some capabilities to govern their own data set. They would have to rely on the service providers to guarantee the safety of their data.

I hate to invoke the ILM acronym but much of data governance is about

  • Creation and Receipt
  • Distribution
  • Use
  • Maintenance
  • Disposition

So who’s tackling this problem? As far as I know, nobody is and nobody really can except for the service providers themselves. It is really up to the service providers such as Amazon, Google and Salesforce to provide guarantees that customer data are safe and access to data are restricted and protected.


There are some great IaaS/PaaS out there, including Amazon’s web services (S3, EC2, EBS, etc), Google’s App Engine, Salesforce’s, Joyent, etc. However, most of these are raw infrastructures and platforms that do not have great management capabilities. This is not unusual. Throughout computing history, raw capabilities will generally appear on the market first, then management of these raw capabilities become a differentiator when competition heats up. Just look at the blade server and virtualization spaces as these are great examples of that trend. The hypervisor was the key technology that enabled enterprise virtualization; however, that piece is now being given away (see VMware’s ESXi) and management capabilities becomes the main differentiator.

Cloud computing is no different. An example of missing management capabilities for cloud infrastructures is auto-scaling. Amazon EC2 claims to be elastic; however, it really means that it has the potential to be elastic. Amazon EC2 will not automatically scale your application as your server becomes heavily loaded. It is still up to the developer to manage that scalability problem.

So who’s tackling this problem? Many startups have recognized the need for management early on and have built management capabilities on top of the existing cloud infrastructure/platforms. RightScale is one of the early pioneers in this space. Their solution solves many of the management issues such as auto-scaling and load balancing.


Monitoring, whether is for performance or availability, is critical to any IT shop. We are not talking about just how much CPU or memory the machines are using. We are talking about performance of transactions and disk IO and others. CPU and memory usage are misleading most of the time in virtual environments. The only real measurement is how long your transactions are taking and how much latency there are. According to High Availability’s article on latency:

Amazon found every 100ms of latency cost them 1% in sales. Google found an extra .5 seconds in search page generation time dropped traffic by 20%. A broker could lose $4 million in revenues per millisecond if their electronic trading platform is 5 milliseconds behind the competition.

So who’s tackling this problem? Hypernic’s CloudStatus is one of the first to recognize this issue and developed a solution for it. They started with monitoring of Amazon’s web services, then recently added monitoring for Google App Engine. In addition, RightScale’s solution can also provide monitoring for the virtual machines under their management.

Reliability and Availability

I won’t beat the dead “Gmail down, EC2 down, etc down” horse here. But the truth of the matter is enterprises today cannot reasonably rely on the cloud infrastructures/platforms to run their business. There’s almost no SLAs provided by the cloud providers today. Even Jeff Barr from Amazon said that AWS only provides SLA for their S3 service. I haven’t researched the SLA issue so not sure how true that is. But if it’s true, I think this will be one of the biggest factor, if not the biggest factor, in enterprise adoption. Can you imagine enterprises signing up cloud computing contracts without SLAs clearly defined? It’s like going to host their business critical infrastructure in a data center that doesn’t have clearly defined SLA.

We all know that SLAs really doesn’t buy you much. In most cases, enterprises get refunded for the amount of time that the network was down. No SLA will cover business loss. However, as one of the CSOs I met said, it’s about risk transfer. As long as there’s a defined SLA on paper, when the network/site goes down, they can go after somebody. If there’s no SLA, it will be the CIO/CSO’s head that’s on the chopping block.

So who’s tackling this problem? Well, again, no one is today as far as I know. Maybe some startup will come up with clever idea to provide SLA as a third party vendor (read: cloud insurance.) Or maybe the cloud providers will grow/wake up and actually do something to encourage the enterprise adoption.

Virtualization Security

Security is a huge area that encompasses many different things, including the standard enterprise security policies on access control, activity monitoring, patch management, etc. On top of that, virtualization security is something that most enterprises are just starting to grasp but don’t fully understand. Many IT people still believe that the hypervisor and virtual machines are safe. Recent presentations from Blackhat has demonstrate that we shouldn’t sleep so tight at night. As IT shops get more educated on the virtualization security issues, it will become one of the factors they will consider when they move into the cloud. Access control and monitoring of the virtual infrastructure will be on top of their mind.

So who’s tackling this problem? There are quite a few startups like Reflex, Blue Lane and Catbird that are creating privileged VAs that claim to protect the VAs running on VMware’s ESX servers. However, ensure you do your research on the performance of these solutions first before adopting one of them. Other startups (unnamed) are creating interesting solutions in protecting the actual virtual infrastructure themselves, e.g., how do you protect and monitor access to the ESX servers? how do you control and monitor the movement of virtual machines using live migration or VMotion.

Cloud computing is here to stay. It will be the next big wave and will be adopted by enterprises. However, the industry as a whole needs to answer some of these challenges and ease the enterprises’ concerns.

More Stories By Jian Zhen

Jian Zhen, CISM, CISSP, is the Director of Cloud Solutions at VMware. He is responsible for working with the world’s largest service providers to design cloud infrastructures and platforms, and creating partner ecosystems for the clouds. Previously, he was the VP of Emerging Technologies at LogLogic, the log management and intelligence leader in San Jose, Calif. At LogLogic, he was responsible for the overall vision and strategy of LogLogic’s product lines. Prior to joining LogLogic, he was responsible for developing the Managed Security Services infrastructure for Exodus/Savvis. During his 12+ years career in the information security field, he has performed audits for many Fortune 1000 companies as an IT auditor with Ernst & Young and Charles Schwab. In his spare time, Jian also writes a variety of topics covering cloud computing, IT security, intellectual property protection, and managed services. You can also find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Comments (2) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

Most Recent Comments
jeffhardy 11/24/08 11:54:12 AM EST

Separating Cloud Computing Fact and Fiction

In November I presented a session at PubCon regardint Cloud Computing. Mike Culver from Amazon sat on the panel with me. My goal was to cut through the hype and buzz talk and to articulate the real potential benefits and debunk false claims. I got a lot of feedback. So much so that I wrote a follow up article:

It is important that we remember what Cloud Computing is and what it is not.

Be well,
Jeffrey J. Hardy

kmunse 09/02/08 01:05:10 PM EDT

Joyent is tackling the problems you have listed above. In terms of security, ease-ability of not having to rewrite apps, availability, flexibility, and manageability, Joyent has been able to achieve their goals of delivering a cloud that addresses the needs and concerns of both small developers and large enterprise CIOs.

@ThingsExpo Stories
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningful and actionable insights. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Paul Turner, Chief Marketing Officer at...
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, demonstrated examples of com...
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessions, I wanted to share some of my observations on emerging trends. As cyber security serves as a fou...
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
Continuous processes around the development and deployment of applications are both impacted by -- and a benefit to -- the Internet of Things trend. To help better understand the relationship between DevOps and a plethora of new end-devices and data please welcome Gary Gruver, consultant, author and a former IT executive who has led many large-scale IT transformation projects, and John Jeremiah, Technology Evangelist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), on Twitter at @j_jeremiah. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound effect on the world, and what should we expect to see over the next couple of years.
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now all corporate assets – people, objects, and spaces – can share information about themselves and thei...
PubNub has announced the release of BLOCKS, a set of customizable microservices that give developers a simple way to add code and deploy features for realtime apps.PubNub BLOCKS executes business logic directly on the data streaming through PubNub’s network without splitting it off to an intermediary server controlled by the customer. This revolutionary approach streamlines app development, reduces endpoint-to-endpoint latency, and allows apps to better leverage the enormous scalability of PubNub’s Data Stream Network.
I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Ben Perlmutter, a Sales Engineer with IBM Cloudant, demonstrated techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk was on IBM Cloudant, Apache CouchDB, and ...
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" in this scenario: microservice A (releases daily) depends on a couple of additions to backend B (re...
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true change and transformation possible.
There are over 120 breakout sessions in all, with Keynotes, General Sessions, and Power Panels adding to three days of incredibly rich presentations and content. Join @ThingsExpo conference chair Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040), June 7-9, 2016 in New York City, for three days of intense 'Internet of Things' discussion and focus, including Big Data's indespensable role in IoT, Smart Grids and Industrial Internet of Things, Wearables and Consumer IoT, as well as (new) IoT's use in Vertical Markets.
Container technology is shaping the future of DevOps and it’s also changing the way organizations think about application development. With the rise of mobile applications in the enterprise, businesses are abandoning year-long development cycles and embracing technologies that enable rapid development and continuous deployment of apps. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kurt Collins, Developer Evangelist at, examined how Docker has evolved into a highly effective tool for application delivery by allowing increasingly popular Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (mBaaS) platforms to quickly crea...
The cloud. Like a comic book superhero, there seems to be no problem it can’t fix or cost it can’t slash. Yet making the transition is not always easy and production environments are still largely on premise. Taking some practical and sensible steps to reduce risk can also help provide a basis for a successful cloud transition. A plethora of surveys from the likes of IDG and Gartner show that more than 70 percent of enterprises have deployed at least one or more cloud application or workload. Yet a closer inspection at the data reveals less than half of these cloud projects involve production...