Government Turns Again To Cloud Computing

Skeptics take note: Cloud computing is taking hold.

The Pentagon has awarded another contract for cloud computer -- which, roughly speaking, involves putting software tools on the 'net and delivering them to users only when needed.

Think of it as sort of a digital utility model.

Anyway, Northrop Grumman and some partners http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/permalink/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20090430005765&newsLang=en -- including a Swiss company called SIMtone -- scored the deal from the Defense Information Systems Agency.

Here's what SIMtone had to say:

"SIMtone's Universal Computing platform is a stateless and massively scalable intelligent network computing solution that allows users to securely access data and applications residing in any cloud from a broad array of endpoint devices. Through its patented technology, by placing intelligence in the network, SIMtone allows firewalls to be closed to inbound traffic so that data and applications remain secure in corporate data centers yet are globally accessible via any device on any broadband connection."

Cloud computing has become all the rage over the last year. Among the fans is Vivek Kundra, the new chief information officer. Here's a solid primer from Information Week last year.

Government Inc. wonders what this all means. It seems like the approach has tremendous potential and maybe make things more convenient and cut the costs. But we also wonder about the security of the cloud. Seems like it holds out the potential for an awful lot of mischief.

Please share what you know and think.

By Robert O'Harrow |  May 1, 2009; 4:58 PM ET defense
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Comments

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Which sounds more secure to you?

1 - Thousands of laptops, PDAs, and Blackberries loaded with data, emails, phone numbers, etc. that can get lost or stolen; or
2 - A bunch of dumb access devices that have no data on them that connect to a data center "cloud" where PC sessions can be centrally managed, controlled and administered.

Cloud computing is far more secure, not to mention cost effective, than the legacy distributed-computing model.

SIMtone happens to have a patented architecture that makes it far more secure than competing technologies, but all cloud computing enables greater security through its centralized architecture.

Lorenzo Mejia
SIMtone Corporation

Posted by: lorenzo4 | May 1, 2009 6:04 PM

The could sounds like the latest attempt to bring the old style mainframe back. A centrally managed computer with dumb terminals hanging off of it.

Posted by: jsenter1 | May 2, 2009 7:14 AM

I am amazed that we are returning to failed technology from the 1990s. NGC and other Govt contracting firms are clearly pushing this technology to gain an opportunity to create 'virtual data centers' and eliminate US Govt jobs. I would not be shocked to see that the first application that enters 'the Cloud' is Lotus Notes.

Posted by: jaffer4158 | May 2, 2009 8:57 AM

This is *similar* to "old-style" mainframe technology with one important difference: the applications available via cloud are the same as are available on standard PCs. In a business environment, with a fixed set of allowable applications, this makes a lot of sense both economically and from a security standpoint. It's nothing new, however. Seven years ago, I worked for a large chemical company that was rolling out a Citrix product that offered the same architecture: large, centralized servers and dumb "toasters" on the desktops.

Posted by: jralph | May 2, 2009 9:04 AM

jaffer4158: yep, no doubt that cloud comp. is just a contractor plot to eliminate government jobs. snap out of it, ma'm. show some proof. what govt jobs are you talking about? how would this happen? and, why would a fast-growing group of career and appointed officials be favoring it? are they all members of the plot?

Posted by: axolotl | May 2, 2009 12:16 PM

Cloud computing is a waste of money. If you want the most secure systems, cloud computing is definitely NOT the way to go. But then, who says that the top brass make good calls? What's happening here is exactly the same as big pharma companies having a choke hold on doctors whose prescriptions are maliciously influenced. In a wartime scenario cloud computing would be worthless.

Posted by: rexsolomon | May 2, 2009 12:37 PM

Computer technologies are neither good nor bad. Each one of them was designed with a specific purpose in mind, which means that it is good in dealing with the problems it was designed to cope and lesser good elsewhere.

Unlike what silly people say, there is no such a thing as an ideal technology suitable for everything. Such a technology has simply not been invented yet.

While there is potential for cloud computing, you should just make sure this is not a panacea, that is the medicine which cures all deceases. There is plenty of room for desktop, web and cloud, the point is they do not rival between them, they merely complement each other.

Security wise, typically the more a technology is exposed to the net, the more vulnerable it becomes and cloud is rather heavily exposed by definition I am afraid. Those who believe that because they are firewalled they are secure, of course they must be at a state of sin.

Every computer may run in problems whether they are desktop, servers or mainframes. I understand that mainframe computers run on big problems though.

Posted by: skata3 | May 2, 2009 1:06 PM

"Cloud computing is a waste of money. If you want the most secure systems, cloud computing is definitely NOT the way to go. "

Without backing up this comment with real data it's nothing but BS.

Cloud computing is NOT 1970's mainframe technology, and it can be much more secure than individual computers.

Companies like Citrix and VMWare are growing leaps and bounds (surprised ORCL hasn't bought one of them). Virtualization will save money and provide higher security. Even motleyfool thinks virtualization will replace the PC in many corporations in the next decade.

Posted by: kkrimmer | May 2, 2009 1:07 PM

The debate over cloud computing has begun, but many of the points being made are quite irrational. Lorenzo is quite right to make a point out the stolen laptops - how many times in the past few years has security been compromised by stolen laptops?

The cloud will be secure, and it will have backup storage. Learn more about it here:
http://www.cloudstoragestrategy.com and here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing

Posted by: christiansarkar | May 2, 2009 1:14 PM

Cloud computing is un-American. The PC put the "personal" in computing. The increasing use of linux and other GPL operating sytem and apps, plus the free and popular web servers such as Apache, the widespread use of Java and other open source programming and scripting languages show that "cloud computing" is an attempt to corral the freedom we enjoy. Is it more secure? I doubt it! There will only be a greater throng involved in bringing down the "main Mainframe"!

Posted by: wallasongs | May 2, 2009 3:29 PM

How is it that SIMtone Corporation, the subject of the article, makes the first comment that stays at the top of the blog? That seems a little fishy to me.

Posted by: brewstercounty | May 2, 2009 3:33 PM

In olden times, it was called "timesharing"

Posted by: DaveInDC1 | May 2, 2009 4:18 PM

"1 - Thousands of laptops, PDAs, and Blackberries loaded with data, emails, phone numbers, etc. that can get lost or stolen; or
2 - A bunch of dumb access devices that have no data on them that connect to a data center "cloud" where PC sessions can be centrally managed, controlled and administered."

"2" sounds impossible, if they access/create data, they will have data on them.

Also, one only needs to hack once to get a huge amount of data.

Then there's DDoS attacks, the Post had an article just yesterday about one shutting down a cloud.

Posted by: buckdharma | May 2, 2009 5:36 PM

The first posted response to this article by Lorenzo Mejia (from SIMtone Corporation) was astonishing. Lorenzo's view differs dramatically from John Chambers, CEO of CISCO, who has stated that although his company will make billions from cloud computing, it is a "security nightmare". Mr. Mejia refers to distributed computing as "legacy". Anyone who has been in the computing industry for more than 15 years knows that centralized computing is the legacy architecture. Futhermore, Mr. Mejia is ignoring DDOS attacks, which could be much more effective against cloud computing than a local data center. SIMtone may have top technology, I have not investigated the company, but Mr. Mejia's comments do not suggest that he does not understand corporate computing or information security. Perhaps the company needs a new spokesperson.

Posted by: jhmailcenter-1 | May 2, 2009 6:12 PM

I took a look at their website, they seem to have something that goes well beyond Cloud Services.... they talk about secure mobile usability of any datacenter without data replication anywhere. I am not sure how jobs and Cisco stuff has anything to do with this, but it is very intriguing...

Posted by: tvv149 | May 4, 2009 5:11 PM

In response to some of the above posts, "legacy" technologies are always defined by what new technologies supplant them, and IMHO physically distributed computing with clients hosted on the user device will soon be the new legacy.

People who comment that this sounds like mainframes again are correct. There are two factors, however, that make cloud computing different: 1) PC virtualization, which makes it practical to provision a true, “personal” PC in the cloud, and 2) ubiquitous broadband connectivity which makes it possible to access it virtually anywhere. For the writer who feels we might lose freedom, I respond that we will actually get MORE freedom because of the ability to access our fully customizable, personal PC from anywhere, on any device.

As for Denial of Service threats, enterprises traditionally have had two choices: 1) avoid DoS risk by keeping networks completely private, meaning either zero mobility for employees or the high cost of an extended private network; 2) permit remote access, expose their network to the Internet, accept a decided security risk in exchange for the benefit of mobility, and pay a lot of money for solutions to mitigate the security threats.

SIMtone offers a new paradigm where through our patented architecture, enterprises can enjoy full mobility on the public Internet at low cost while keeping both the client and server inside the corporate data center, invisible to hackers and DOS assaults.

Lorenzo Mejia
SIMtone Corporation

Posted by: lorenzo4 | May 5, 2009 3:42 PM

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