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Category Archives: Cloud Practice

What is the Cloud?

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Filed under Cloud Practice, Hardware, Managed Services

What is the Cloud?

At the most basic level, the Cloud is a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet and used to store, manage, and process data in place of local servers or personal computers.

White Paper - What is the Cloud_rev2

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What is Cloud Computing?

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Filed under Cloud Practice

If you’re in the IT field you’re probably at your wits end hearing the term “Cloud Computing”. Chances are if you’ll admit that you know that it’s a good thing, you don’t really know why, and you haven’t the time to figure out what it is. Read More »

Azure VM Issue–The Local Security Authority Cannot Be Contacted

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Filed under Cloud Practice, SharePoint

I’ve been running my SharePoint dev environments in the Cloud lately. It makes a lot of sense to me, I need AD, SQL and SharePoint and I find that for less than $5 a day I can run those easily as AZURE VMs.

When I’m not using them I shut them down so I’m not paying for them.

This morning I had an interesting issue crop up though. When I tried to remote into my SharePoint VM I was getting a message “The Local Security Authority cannot be contacted”. It refused to authenticate my domain account.

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LightSwitch Apps for SharePoint 2013 Rollup

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Filed under Cloud Practice, LightSwitch, Productivity, SharePoint

Hey, I may be all about cloud computing these days, but my heart is still anchored in all that is LightSwitch. With the new Visual Studio 2013 Preview out, I’ve been a busy little beaver (okay, a busy big ol’ bear) with all that interesting LightSwitch stuff.

VS2013_LightSwitch_01

(image courtesy of Microsoft)

For what it’s worth, here is a bit of a web content rollup about creating LightSwitch applications in SharePoint (yes, most are from Microsoft):

Building Modern, HTML5-based Business Apps for SharePoint 2013 with Visual Studio LightSwitch

Building Modern, HTML5-based Business Apps for SharePoint 2013 with Visual Studio LightSwitch (same presentation, different presenter at TechEd 2013 Europe)

Walkthrough: Creating an App for SharePoint by Using LightSwitch

Walkthrough: Accessing a SharePoint Workflow from a LightSwitch Mobile App

Get Started Building SharePoint Apps in Minutes with LightSwitch

Sending Email from a LightSwitch SharePoint App using Exchange Online

Theming a LightSwitch SharePoint App with ThemeRoller (way cool!)

Publishing LightSwitch apps for SharePoint to the Catalog 

Survey App Tutorial: Developing a SharePoint Application Using LightSwitch

More to come I’m sure.

Hey, if you’re curious to learn more about LightSwitch, I’m your guy. Contact me and I’d more than happy to chat with you about how using LightSwitch can shave weeks, if not months, of your next line of business software project.

Cheers!

Paul P

Is Cloud-based Identity Management Right For You?

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Filed under Cloud Practice

How many passwords does it take to screw in a light bulb? Or, how many passwords does it take to use all your cloud and on-premise services?

Yes, I too suffer from password sprawl. This is mostly due to how quickly I take to the latest and greatest cloud service offerings. I can easily put the blame on my need to vet and review new cloud related products and services, whereas in fact the blame is completely on me for being very curious about the latest in shiny and new technologies. The more I abstract the things I do with technology, the more identities I seem to need.

Traditional on premise IT infrastructures typically include identity management tools, such as Microsoft Active Directory. The huge growth in the use of devices, and how people are using those devices for both internal enterprise applications as well as consumer cloud services, is challenging the way enterprise manage IT.

Check out this great article by Quinton Wall, Director of Technical Platform Marketing at Salesforce.com.  The article talks to the issues about identity “sprawl” in the context of cloud computing. I especially like the recommendation that organizations should transform identity management from the traditional on-premise model to a cloud-based identity management model. Maybe there are alternatives that you can easily leverage today?

Moving to a cloud-based model is only part of the solution pie. There still needs to be the transformation of the organization’s governance model too.

What do you think? Are you in favor of, or skeptical of cloud-based identity management?

 

 

Creating a Governance Model for Public Cloud Security

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Filed under Cloud Practice

(re-post from the blog of PaulSPatterson.com)

What does public cloud governance mean to you?

Their are obvious opportunities that the public cloud offers, and while the rewards far outweigh the risks, there are still risks. Applying governance to your cloud strategy will set you in a better position to realize value, within the levels of risk that you are willing to accept.

The flexibility of today’s cloud services, especially public cloud services, provides for very convenient and easy ways of “spinning up” services on demand. Just like the way grocery store candy and magazine stands serve customer impulse buying tendencies, so do the offerings of some public cloud services. It is very easy to provision a new service in the public cloud. With Windows Azure for example, I can fire up a full blown 8 server infrastructure, complete with networking and integrated services, in a matter of twenty minutes. That simple convenience makes it easy to cater to impulse tendencies.

Policies and procedures are meant to ensure that activities are executed in way that are in the best interest of the organization. Additional governance processes specifically for cloud services ensures that those services are used in a controlled way, so that the interests of the organization are maintained. Creating and deploying a cloud based server farm that includes virtual networking connected to your on-premise infrastructure, for example, presents risks. With a set of governed practices, that cloud based deployment will meet the expectations of the organization, and thus make your CIO sleep better at night.

Is governance for cloud services needed? Well, let’s try and answer the questions that help determine if your use of cloud services should be governed in some what or another.

What returns do you expect to receive from public cloud services? What opportunities will be lost of you don’t adopt a cloud strategy?

Again, the risk of using public cloud services are likely insignificant compared to the opportunities that will be lost.  Operational efficiencies. Improved customer service and satisfaction. Sales and revenue. There are plenty of opportunities in adopting a public cloud strategy. Planning and executing on a sound cloud strategy can enabled an organization to realize a return from new opportunities.

Policies and practices will typically guide how public cloud services will provide value.  Governed cloud services are expected meet organizational expectations, with goal being that the services used will return value and  realize new opportunities.

If you used a cloud service today, is there clear direction and does that direction align with strategic objectives?

Cloud services are not the means to an end. Cloud services are simply another mechanism for enabling and delivering business value. Your current internal data center, or your “private cloud”, was created for a reason; to deliver value to the organization.  Decisions on IT spending are ultimately measured against strategic objectives. The decisions made to use cloud services should be traced back to clearly defined, accepted, and measured organizational priorities.

Do you have a cloud strategy for your organization? If so, does that strategy include plans to meet enterprise goals and objectives?

Are you ready for the cloud? How do you feel when someone starts talking to you about public cloud services?

Some organizations are not ready for the public cloud, or cloud computing in general for that matter. There is a lot of publicized hype and marketing about cloud services. The cloud computing landscape can be confusing and intimidating at best. Being ready for the public cloud means being comfortable about what the public cloud offers, and what risks are, and are not.

An organizations’ readiness for public cloud services can be gauged by the following:

  • The amount of public cloud knowledge in the enterprise.
  • Organizational attitude towards the public cloud, and does the organizations’ culture support public cloud opportunities.
  • Existing strategies conflict with using public cloud services.
  • What does your gut say?

Determining an organizations readiness for adopting a Public Cloud strategy is critical in identifying adoption pressure points. Rather than brute force the implementation of a strategy, due diligence will hash out and prioritize the opportunities that will bring the organization to a state of Public Cloud readiness. Risks should be identified with existing organizational culture, knowledge, and policies and practices. A readiness assessment can then created and vetted.

What else?

Some resource that I have found of interest (so far)…

Hey, this is just one of many topics I am discovering  in my never ending public cloud security journey. I likely just touched the surface on this particular topic and if you have any insight, opinions, or whatever, please let me know. The more discussion the better.

Cheers!

Organizations Struggle with SharePoint Data Security Governance

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Filed under Cloud Practice, SharePoint

(re-post from the blog of PaulSPatterson.com)

This article is not quite specific to my cloud security bandwagon context, however I was just reading an interesting report from Aberdeen Group. The report, titled SharePoint Collaboration Secure and Mobile, talks to a couple of SharePoint data security concerns that I found interesting. Most notably, how organizations are not performing well at data governance with their SharePoint environments.

Data Security and the Cloud Sprawl

Keeping track of corporate data is harder today than it ever has been. Introduce the use of cloud services for data management, and now your looking at whole different dimension end-points to worry about.  Adding the elastic and organic nature of the cloud, specifically in how cloud services are used to host data, seems to only compound security and privacy concerns.

And it’s tough to keep up. As quickly as we move to adjust and implement governance models, a new way of doing something in the cloud is made available. SharePoint is arguably the most commonly used collaboration software used today. Consider the massive amount of documents, lists, and knowledge that is managed by today’s enterprise SharePoint environments, and the number of users that have access to those environments. Those same users are also accessing elastic cloud services and social networks that when combined, represent a sprawl of new risks that are sometimes impossible to map and keep track of.

SharePoint Concerns

Coming back to SharePoint, Aberdeen presents some points about what organizations are performing well at with SharePoint, and what they are not doing well at. Two pieces of insight are presented in the report; how well are organizations doing when they use complementary security technologies for SharePoint, and how they are struggling with SharePoint data governance.

The use of complementary security technologies seems to be what most are doing well at. Measurements of security-related incidents, non-compliance incidents, and human related errors, were each used to determine how organizations fared.  Strategies such as; disk encryption, data classification, data loss prevention, and rights management are used. According to the report, best-in-class users of SharePoint are leaders in the use of disk encryption and data classification, while the lagging performers seem to have more issues due to data loss, and rights management security.

Clearly understanding expectations of how data is accessed and used seems to be a challenge for most organizations using SharePoint. SharePoint empowers users with the ability to do a lot of things, including the ability to define very granular security permissions. Without a clear and defined expectation of what users should or should not do, users can wreak havoc with the data. Organizations, according to the report, are struggling with data governance.

What Can Be Done?

As per the report, there are some steps that can be taken to mitigate a more secure SharePoint environment.

  • Data Classification. Taking an inward-out strategy by putting controls on the data. The idea that information about the data follows the data wherever it goes, even it happens to go outside of the SharePoint environment – such as into the cloud sprawl.
  • Prioritize Security Objectives. Create, or apply existing, data security and compliance protocols to SharePoint data.
  • Policies and Procedures. Especially important for publicly traded companies, data in SharePoint needs to meet legislated compliance regulations, as well as organizations guidelines.
  • Knowledge and Training. Teach users how to do things right the first time.
  • Best Practices. Using security best practices will scaffold the privacy and protection of the data.
  • Complementary Tools. There are many complementary data protection tools for SharePoint. Use them.

I can see much of the above being applied to pretty much any other internal, and external cloud-based, environment. What attracted me to this report were data security concerns, and how poorly many organizations are doing with data governance.

Do you see any of this being a concern? How about in your own organization?

Canadian Legislation and Cloud Security

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Filed under Cloud Practice

(…re-post from PaulSPatterson.com)

If you’re a Canadian based enterprise looking into cloud services, you need to understand that Canada has it’s own domestic security policies that, essentially, mirror those of the United States. You’ve likely heard of the United States’ Patriot Act. Canada has it’s own version of the Patriot Act called the Anti-Terrorism Act (Bill C-36), which amended the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act (CSIS Act) as well as the National Defense Act.

The Anti-Terrorism Act is legislation created in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US. This act amends existing legislation to give Canadian security agencies additional powers to respond to terrorism threats. In effect, the act offers more security and surveillance powers to agencies, when required.  Some of the provisions of act expired in March of 2007, which were not renewed as a result of a House of Commons vote a month earlier.

In 2012, Bill S-7 was introduced in  the Senate. Bill S-7, also known as the “Combating Terrorism Act” sought to restore the expired C-36 provisions, as well as amend new crimes to the bill. The recent bombings in Boston escalated the agenda of S-7, which resulted in a vote in April which saw the bill passed into legislation.

The Anti-Terrorism Act is similar in context to the Patriot Act in the US. What is somewhat different is that Bill C-36 also considers other concerns. Consider the United States Foreign Intelligence Service Court (FISC), which is responsible for issuing surveillance warrants to the likes of the FBI and NSA – basically allowing foreign spies to be spied on. Bill C-36 provides amendments to the CSIS Act that essentially offers the same powers to Canada’s own domestic security and intelligence communities. Considering that Canada is known as a world leader in communications research and technology…

Understanding that these laws are created in the spirit of preventing terrorism, and not meant to be an over arching mechanism to keep tabs on everyone and everything. The immediate thought of a Hollywood type spy movie plot is an unfortunate, and a sensational, scenario that many in the real world immediately think about when first we talk about security and privacy in the cloud. We have the oversight, and general understanding of what the difference is between right and wrong, to mitigate the risks that the legislation is not being used for what it is intended to be used for.

What to know more about Canadian privacy legislation, and then some? Check out this massive list of resources compiled by David T.S. Fraser here…

Also, his blog post by Shaun Calderwood from Perpetual West is another terrific resource for all things cloud security and privacy in Canada.

What are your thoughts on domestic cloud security and privacy concerns?

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