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Enterprise Cloud Computing

In: Computers and Technology

Submitted By justinw3053
Words 2967
Pages 12
Enterprise Cloud Computing:
The future of enterprise networking
Justin Winter
American Military University

The term “cloud computing” is one of many new buzzwords in the technology world. Unfortunately as buzzwords go they tend to become obsequious and as a result of this obsequiousness, the term “cloud computing” is so broad that it can encompass anything from online storage products like Dropbox to entire online enterprise solutions provided by Amazon Web Services. While the term cloud computing may be obsequious, there is a reason IBM recently invested $3 billion to further research and development to benefit cloud computing and big data. ("IT Digest") Enterprise cloud networking is a relatively new technology, yet it is already available in multiple favors. For instance Amazon Web Services offers complete cloud solutions for anything from personal website and database solutions to full corporate solutions that range from simple storage solutions to user defined security groups. On the other hand, components provided by Cisco's Meraki division, offer complete network management as an easily accessible web based tool.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which is a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce defines Cloud Computing as “a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.” (Mell & Grance, 2011) The NIST also lays out five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models. The five essential characteristics of cloud computing that the NIST has described are on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity, and measured service. What these five characteristics mean to the consumer is that; with on-demand service, the consumer can utilize server time and network storage without human intervention from a service provider. The broad network access characteristic requires such services be accessible to devices from smart phones to full blown corporate workstations. Resource pooling simply means that processing power, storage, and memory may all be scaled dynamically to the consumer’s requirements. The rapid elasticity characteristic is very important, especially where IP addresses are concerned, rapid elasticity allows the consumer to provision as few or as many IP addresses as required for any contingency. Finally, the measured service characteristic is a function that allows providers to scale their product to fit consumers needs; for example a provider is not required to deliver the same processing power or storage to a consumer operating a web store as they would to a consumer running an entire corporate office. The three different service models that the NIST describes are Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). These services are all different ways that cloud computing allows buisinesses to bring their business or services to fruition in the digital world. SaaS allows consumers access to a providers software and hardware such as using Dropbox or Apple iCloud to utilize cloud storage. PaaS on the other hand is where a provider offers hardware only and the consumer must provide any software that is required for the consumers business. IaaS would be best described by what Amazon Web Services offers to consumers, Amazon makes servers, storage, and networking options to their consumers at all different proce point depending on the consumers needs. To conclude the NIST definition of cloud computing, the deployment models must be covered. The four deployment models listed by the NIST are private cloud, community cloud, public cloud, and the hybrid cloud. The private cloud would be best described by envisioning a company’s private intranet, where all the data may be accessed on or off location. The community cloud would be a conglomeration of data that would be used by, for example the Federal Government where data could be stored and accessed on or off site and any government agency would have access. A public cloud is where the data stored on it is open source such as or and can be accessed by anyone. Users may upload or download any information that is stored on a public cloud, as long as the data being downloaded is open source and not protected. Finally, the hybrid cloud can be a combination of any of the previously discussed cloud networks.

Cloud Networking Enterprise cloud networking is becoming a real and viable option for businesses that are trying to cut cost while at the same time trying to stay relevant and current. There are many options where cloud networking is concerned, this paper will attempt to discuss only two of the many options available. The first option is where a third-party entity manages all of a businesses networking hardware, the second option is for a company to utilize cloud managed hardware based on a Wi-Fi corporate network. As previously mentioned, these are but two of the many options available to businesses. The first enterprise cloud computing option could be accomplished by utilizing Amazon Web Services (AWS) products. There are many ways that AWS is able to distinguish itself from its competitors. For example, AWS is able to only charge consumers or businesses for the services they use. (Varia & Mathew, 2014) This is such an advantage for AWS because consumers only pay for what they use, with no up-front costs or long-term commitments. Another key point in AWS’s business strategy is to allow their customers to scale up or down their respective requirements; this again ties into only charging customers for what they use. The ability to allow customers to instantly scale up or down their processing power, storage capability, add or remove a server is something that would be unheard of in a standard networking configuration. Requiring an IT department to instantly scale up the their storage capacity ten-fold, or expanding the amount of redundant servers due to a “hot” selling item, or even expanding the department to bring on an entire new satellite site would be impossible and cost prohibitive. AWS is able to do this in more, mostly because the equipment is already available and waiting. This goes back to AWS’s ability to scale the products so well, when a company has a “hot’ selling product they will need to scale up, but when the sales on said item fall off, the same company will scale back down. Since this is an example of short-term requirements that AWS knows will not be required full time; AWS is able to offer this service with the expectation while in the short-term the hardware is unavailable, in the long-term it will be turned over and it will be available for use to another consumer. On the other end of this spectrum Cisco (a traditional networking giant) acquired a cloud infrastructure start-up by the name of Meraki for $1.2 billion in 2012. (Constine, 2012) Cisco was able to integrate the Meraki technology into its routers, access points and switches. What this means for companies or IT departments that are interested in integrating cloud networking into their workplace, is that they now have the ability to manage their entire network from anywhere in the world while keeping all of their devices integrated and without having to train staff on new hardware. Cisco was able to integrate the Meraki software into their own proprietary software, which means that IT professionals will not face a steep learning curve when the time comes to integrate the new hardware into their datacenters. Unfortunately this ease of installation or adoption does not come cheap; with the rollout of Meraki devices, new hardware must be purchased to fully enable their cloud networking data centers capabilities. While spending the required capitol to retrofit an entire datacenter or multiple datacenters may not sound appealing, the cost may be offset in a couple major ways; with the cloud management capabilities of Meraki, a cloud managed network operation center will not require as many IT professionals as a traditional network operations center. This is reason enough to see why Cisco would leverage so much by acquiring Meraki. Another important feature of the Cisco Meraki system is that it is predominately Wi-Fi based, meaning that companies can easily implement a “Bring your own device” BYOD policy that would alleviate the cost of providing tablets or smartphones to employees. The key to this offset is with the Meraki System Manager, the system manager allows for the reduction of IT staff while simultaneously allowing for better overall management of all devices on the corporate network. The system manager can be utilized from any device; it is platform and form factor independent. What this means for the IT manager, is that they can manage the entire network from their office, from their smartphone at the airport, or even on a beach using their tablet. This does not spell disaster for the IT professional either; while there will be reductions within existing networking operation centers, this will allow for new positions elsewhere dealing specifically cloud based networking.

Enterprise Cloud Networking Security A constant concern of any networking IT professional is security; the threat of data breeches or malicious code injection is ever present. A data breach for a major Internet brand seems to be in the news every few weeks. For example in 2014, by compromising just a few eBay employees login information, hackers were able to compromise approximately 145 Million people’s personally identifiable information. (Peterson, 2014) Another headline making data breach occurred the day after Thanksgiving 2013, the discount retailer Target was the victim of a data breach where hackers were able to steal credit card information from approximately 40 million shoppers. ("Target: 40 Million Credit Cards Compromised," 2013) Finally, one of the worst data breeches to date occurred in 2006; the credit card information collected between 2003 and 2006 of 45.7 million people was stolen from the retailer TJMaxx. ("45.7 Million Credit Cards Stolen in Tjmaxx Breaches," 2007) To discuss security options available to companies interested in enterprise cloud networking, this paper will again focus on two options from the many that are available, Amazon Web Services and Cisco Meraki. Both Amazom web services and Cisco Meraki offer extensive whitepapers that cover security best practices when using their respective services, be it fully integrated cloud networking or cloud-based network management. Amazon operates on what is called “The shared responsibility model” where Amazon is responsible for the facilities where the hardware is stored, the physical security of the hardware, the network infrastructure, and the virtualization infrastructure. The user or customer is responsible for the security of the Amazon Machine Images, operating systems, applications, data in transit, data at rest, data stores, data credentials, and policies and configuration. (Todorov & Ozkan, 2013, pg. 5) Amazon utilizes a tool called Identity and Access Management (IAM) as a way for customers to centrally manage users, security credentials such as passwords, access keys, and permissions policies that control what services and resources users can access.(Todorov & Ozkan, 2013, pg. 6) This means you as the administrator can create users in the system with specific roles and responsibilities. For example, this means that an administrator could create users based on job function and only admit permissions based on role, where a sales account would not have access to say, accounting information, and accounting roles would not have access to management information that is only available to those users assigned management roles and accounts. When discussing security, Cisco Meraki covers multiple security measures that are ill-advised such as RF propagation as an attempt to contain wireless signals, SSID cloaking as a way of stopping SSID’s from appearing in a wireless network search, MAC address filtering, and WEP security. All of these security measures, while valid, are incredibly unsecure to anyone with access to malicious intents and access to Google. ("Wireless LAN Security," 2009, pg. 5) There are three options that Cisco Meraki recommends for securing their networks. The first step is what is called “open with VPN”, this approach assumes that all wireless data is insecure. This type of access allows an employee access to the Internet, but not the internal network. For access to the internal network, the employee would be required to login via VPN. This setup is advantageous because it treats all wireless traffic as unsecure and will not allow anyone on the internal network with out logging in, the biggest draw back to this is that some employees may find logging in via VPN inconvenient. ("Wireless LAN Security," 2009, pg. 6) The second option is to use a shared key WPA2-PSK, the key would be provided or installed on all employees devices/machines that require access to the internal network. The biggest drawback to this approach is administering the shared keys, if for example an employee leaves the company; the shared key is potentially unsecure and would need to changed, now all keys within the company would have to be changed. ("Wireless LAN Security," 2009, pg. 7) The third approach Cisco Meraki proposes is to utilize user authentication WPA2-Enterprise. Instead of using a shared key as WPA2-PSK does, employees are assigned a unique username and password. When accessing the network, the employee’s username and password are checked against an active directory or server to allow access. The advantages of this setup are primarily that it is extremely secure and employees are not required to VPN into the network for access. ("Wireless LAN Security," 2009, pg. 7) While network security is of the utmost importance in online commerce, there is only so much a network security professional can do. As data breeches become more common, it appears that the emphasis for the business is moving away from thwarting cyber criminals to ensuring a data breech is responded to in an appropriate and timely fashion with an in-depth crisis response program. Businesses are becoming aware of that fact that data breeches are a part of online commerce, the key to good online business practices is to have a solid crisis response plan on file before a breech occurs. An example of why this is so important would be the previously referenced data breech of eBay. The eBay data breech could be called “A case study in how not to respond to a data breech”, customers should hear about the possibility that their information may have been compromised should come from the affected retailer, not from a media outlet as was the case with the eBay data breech. EBay’s failure to inform customers via mass-email in a timely manner, and also by placing an alert at the top of the eBay home page with a “Learn More” link that led to a blank page has led to numerous instance of bad press regarding the company’s response and the disservice to their customers. (Sun, 2014)

Enterprise cloud networking versus traditional networking Enterprise cloud networking is not going away; with the proliferation of wireless devices and networks, todays smartphone or tablet is more powerful than the computers of only a few years ago. Taking into account the availability of cloud storage, internet enabled devices are able to do more in a business sense while more mobile and versatile than ever before. The implementation of cloud networking will be expensive and time consuming which is why this technology will not replace traditional networking overnight. Both technologies discussed in this paper have the distinct advantage of the ability to be integrated into existing workplaces on a piecemeal basis. Amazon Web Services can be utilized for new satellite offices or new web stores, while Cisco Meraki can be gradually implemented to offset corporate device cost and implement a BYOD program. The cost-savings of both platforms over the long term will ensure that this technology takes hold while traditional networking technologies are progressively phased out of tomorrow’s data centers.

45.7 million credit cards stolen in tjmaxx breaches. (2007, March 29). Retrieved July 20, 2014, from
Constine, J. (2012, November 18). Cisco Acquires Enterprise Wi-Fi Startup Meraki For $1.2 Billion In Cash | TechCrunch. Retrieved July 15, 2014, from
IT Digest. (2014, July 13). Retrieved July 15, 2014, from
M. (2009, March). Wireless LAN security [Scholarly project]. In Meraki White Paper. Retrieved July 20, 2014.
Mell, P., & Grance, T. (2011). The NIST Definition of Cloud Computing (Special Publication 800-145) (USA, U.S. Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology).
Peterson, A. (2014, May 21). EBay asks 145 million users to change passwords after data breach. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from
Sun, L. (2014, May 27). EBay Data Breach Response Teaches Everyone How Not to Handle a Crisis. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from
Target: 40 million credit cards compromised. (2013, December 18). Retrieved July 20, 2014, from
Todorov, D., & Ozkan, Y. (2013, November). AWS security best practices [Scholarly project]. Retrieved July 20, 2014.
Varia, J., & Mathew, S. (2014, January). Overview of Amazon Web Services [Scholarly project]. In Whitepapers. Retrieved July 15, 2014, from

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