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Cloud computing and government: understanding security and resiliency benefits

March 12th, 2015 No comments

Around the world, governments are looking to cloud computing to help them meet their goals. On February 12, I published a blog post within which I highlighted that, in recent years, more than 50 governments have published strategies or initiatives that focus on cloud computing. As I described, their approaches to cloud adoption vary. However, certain government perspectives consistently emerge.

For instance, many governments devote considerable space to articulating the benefits of cloud computing. They capture how using cloud services can help them achieve far greater computing power and scalable, on-demand services, enabling them to address key public priorities with increased agility. In addition, they recognize how cloud computing might dramatically reduce their operating costs and enable them to shift employee resources toward innovating and better serving their communities. However, few governments devote much space to exploring how cloud computing might help improve their security or better ensure the availability or resilience of their data or services.

Instead, cloud security is often framed in government strategies and initiatives as a challenge. Likewise, in its 2014 paper entitled Cloud Computing: The Concept, Impacts and the Role of Government Policy, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) characterized security and risk management in the cloud as a challenge. However, the OECD paper also acknowledged “the potential for cloud computing to diminish vulnerabilities—an aspect that is sometimes neglected.” Indeed, the OECD paper listed numerous security benefits of cloud computing, especially when the resources of large cloud services providers (CSPs) are utilized. Relative to governments, OECD wrote that large CSPs may provide physical access control more cheaply, improve computing resources dedicated to security more easily, and install critical updates more habitually.

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The potential security and resiliency benefits of cloud may sometimes be neglected or overlooked not only because moving IT resources off premises creates real challenges but also because of the anxiety that accompanies any major change. Still, a few governments have recently started to acknowledge the potential security and resiliency benefits of utilizing cloud services. For instance, in late 2014, Estonia conduced a successful research project with Microsoft, testing the resiliency benefits of moving two government services to the public cloud. Indeed, in Comparison of Availability Between Local and Cloud Storage, a 2015 study, the Leviathan Security Group explained that large CSPs can better ensure high availability during emergencies than on-premises IT because of geographic replication. In addition, in February 2015, in the wake of several Bolivian government websites being hacked, Bolivian lawmakers announced that they are developing a “sovereign cloud” to strengthen the nation’s cybersecurity.

As they evaluate all of the ways in which cloud computing can help them achieve their goals, Microsoft encourages governments to consider the security and resiliency benefits that may be applicable to certain government data sets or services. In the coming months, this blog series will continue to evaluate what we’ve learned from working with governments on cloud security. It will also examine how cloud strategies might help governments to mitigate cloud security and compliance risks, enabling them to realize cloud benefits, including security and resilience as well as lower costs and increased agility.

Microsoft Next: Välkommen till Microsofts huvudkontor 27-28 november

Den 27-28 november bjuder vi in dig till vår hemmaplan med tvådagarskonferensen Microsoft Next. Ny teknik förändrar hur vi jobbar och utmanar våra tankesätt. Vilken roll får kontoret när vi inte längre behöver vara där? Vad kommer morgondagens medarbetare att kräva av sin arbetsgivare? Det Nya Arbetslivet handlar lika mycket om ledarskap och kultur som de tekniska lösningarna.

Eventets första dag riktar sig till tekniska beslutsfattare. Under dagen presenterar och demonstrerar vi rykande färska produkter, tjänster och tekniker inom affärsområdet Server & Cloud. Produkter och tjänster som nyss lanserats och som är del av dagen är Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center Server 2012 R2, Windows Azure, Windows Intune och SQL Server 2014.

Under eventets andra dag vänder vi oss till dig som ansvarar för marknadsföring, försäljning, HR eller ekonomi. Vi bjuder på spännande talare, inspirerande sessioner och relevanta kundcase. Du kommer också få tillfälle att göra ett studiebesök med rundvisning på vårt kontor i Akalla där vi visar hur vi på Microsoft har skapat vår vision kring Det Nya Arbetslivet. Ett tillfälle till ny värdefull kunskap, inspiration och erfarenhetsutbyte som du inte får missa.

AGENDA ONSDAG 27 NOVEMBER – NYA LÖSNINGAR INOM SERVER & CLOUD

  • Modern Datacenter – För dig som jobbar med infrastruktur och vill lära dig mer om hybrid-moln baserade på Hyper-V, Windows Server 2012R2 och System Center Server R2.
  • People-Centric IT – ”Any Device – Anywhere…”, möjliggör arbete från vilken plats som helst med full säkerhet och managering av IT över Windows, iOS och Android via bland annat Windows Intune. Vi går också igenom nyheter i RDS/VDI i Windows Server 2012 R2.
  • Data Insights – ”Any Data – Any Size…”, oavsett typ av data och hur stora datamängder du har så finns det en lösning lokalt eller i molnet. Hadoop, SQL Server och Power BI är del av det vi går igenom.
  • Modern Apps – Med Windows Azure, Visual Studio 2013 och SQL Server 2014 får du helt nya möjligheter att utveckla applikationer med hög prestanda och kvalitet som spänner över alla typer av klienter. ALM i molnet (Visual Studio Online) eller lokalt (TFS) oavsett om applikationerna är skrivna i .NET, Java eller andra programmeringsspråk.

 AGENDA TORSDAG 28 NOVEMBER – DET NYA ARBETSLIVET

  • Per Schlingmann, varumärkesstrateg & kommunikationsrådgivare och en av hjärnorna bakom Nya Moderaterna, ger föreläsningen Att förändras är att vinna (och ha roligt på vägen dit). De verksamheter som har modet och förmågan att gå före och förändra och förnya sig är de som blir vinnarna – men hur går det till?
  • Hur skapar man en social företagskultur? Brit Stakston, kommunikationsstrateg och expert på sociala medier, talar i sin föreläsning Det sociala företaget – det sociala ledarskapet om hur ledare kan stötta den sociala utvecklingen och vända det till en fördel.
  • Missa inte heller chansen att besöka Sveriges Bästa Arbetsplats bakom kulisserna. Under dagen får du möjlighet att hänga med på rundvandringar på vårt kontor där vi visar hur vi på Microsoft har realiserat Det Nya Arbetslivet.
  • Vi avlutar dagen med Leo Razzak, 26 år gammal och sommarpratare 2013  – en fantastisk inspiratör och en av Sveriges mest anlitade föreläsare inom jämställdhets- och integrationsfrågor – en energikick ni inte får missa! 
Konferensen är kostnadsfri, anmäl dig här idag!

Categories: cloud, DNA, konferens, Microsoft Next Tags:

VM Depot repository off to a flying start

February 11th, 2013 No comments

It’s been just one month since Microsoft Open Technologies announced the early preview of VM Depot, a community-driven catalog of open source virtual machine images. Today we are proud to announce that the community has rallied to our call and already produced over 100 images. We are thrilled at the reception this preview has received and there are more images appearing every day. VM Depot, even in preview, is already a valuable resource for open source projects and their communities. On VM Depot the community can build, deploy and share their favorite Linux configuration, create custom open source stacks, work with others and build new architectures for the cloud that leverage the openness and flexibility of the Windows Azure platform.

We already have a range of base Linux distributions upon which you can build new images. These include, but are not limited to, Debian, Centos, Ubuntu and Mageia. There are images that include “big brand” open source projects such as WordPress, Drupal as well as developer stacks such as the LAMP, Ruby Stack and Apache Tomcat. All these are complemented nicely by more niche projects such as the Moodle course management system and PhPCompta, an accounting application adapted to Belgian legislation. Each day we are seeing more and more open source software published on VM Depot for deployment to Windows Azure. I can only thank the growing community for so fully embracing the VM Depot preview. It’s great to arrive here at Microsoft just as this is taking off, I look forward to working with you as we go from strength to strength.

If you haven’t already done so, now is a really good time to take a look at the ever growing range of images available. If you have an Azure subscription, you’re ready to try it out, if not you can quickly sign up for a free 90-day trial subscription. In addition to being able to deploy from your Azure portal we have provided cross-platform command line tools that give you all the control you need. All we ask is that you remember this is a community effort so please rate and comment on any images you try out. This will help users find the best images and help maintainers ensure they are meeting user’s needs.

Should the image you are looking for not be available yet you can let the community know via the VM Depot forums, with luck someone else will have the same need and publish their image for you. Alternatively, you can build and publish an image yourself. Instructions for publishing and managing images are available on the VM Depot website. If you need any assistance please post to the forums where I or another community member will be pleased to help you.

It is clear from the communities uptake of VM Depot that open source is front and center on Windows Azure, with your help we look forward to building on the early momentum this preview release has generated.

A New Milestone For Openness On Windows Azure

June 6th, 2012 No comments

Today Bill Laing, Corporate VP for Server and Cloud, announced a very important set of Windows Azure updates. With these new updates, Windows Azure is more than ever an open and easy platform to build and run applications in the cloud, and the place to be for developers who want to have choice and flexibility.

I am proud to say that Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc. has been working closely with the Windows Azure team and it has been a great journey together, exploring openness and taking interoperability to a new level. There is too much news in this release to cover in a single blog post, and I strongly suggest everyone attend the Meet Windows Azure event tomorrow, when Scott Guthrie and many others will provide a lot of additional information. At the same time, I would like to spend the next few paragraphs on some of the many facets of openness in Windows Azure, to further demonstrate how Windows Azure is living in interesting and exciting times.

Services and Partnerships

For one, I have to point out how all-encompassing the Windows Azure platform is becoming. We will talk in a minute about the support for IaaS, but I would like to draw your attention to how the Windows Azure platform has now announced a set of partnerships that will provide very compelling data services such as MySQL, CouchDB, and Apache Solr.

Those services can be enjoyed by PaaS and IaaS developers and come from the leading industry experts in the field: Microsoft is partnering with leading companies such as Cleardb, Cloudant and Lucid Imagination to provide true data-as-a-service and enable developers and customers to build applications at scale without the worry of provisioning and maintaining their databases. At the same time we and our partners addressed the needs of those who prefer to run software independently in their own PaaS and/or IaaS instances, providing easy installation packages of Windows Azure-optimized versions of Apache CouchDB and Apache Solr. Last but not least, we worked with 10gen to improve the installation experience of MongoDB on Windows Azure that was originally announced in December, and we are looking forward to building a great experience for Windows Azure MongoDB users. 

More importantly, both Microsoft and our partners are committed to always maintain full compatibility with the underlying Open Source applications so that our customers can always rest assured their data will work everywhere. With these technologies joining the existing pool of Windows Azure SQL Database and Apache Hadoop, Windows Azure is leading by leaps and bounds when it comes to data.

OSS on Windows Azure

If Windows Azure databases are now a few clicks away, applications are far from being out in the cold. The announcement of Windows Azure Web Sites – a hosting framework for Web apps that will work across both Windows Azure and private-cloud datacenters – unveils amazing opportunities to run popular Open Source applications in Windows Azure: be it WordPress or Drupal, Joomla or Umbraco, DotNetNuke or PHPBB, or one of the many apps in the Web Sites gallery, it has never been easier to deploy applications on the Windows Azure platform. And I can’t wait for developers to try the new releases of the Windows Azure open source SDKs (now including Python in addition to .NET, Java, PHP and Node.js) as well as the integration with Git.

We are also releasing a major update to the Windows Azure Plugin for Eclipse with Java (by Microsoft Open Technologies that includes a number of user feedback-driven improvements. Among them is a significantly revamped deployment experience contributed by GigaSpaces Technologies Ltd, an established leader in helping enterprises move their Java applications to the cloud, who has recently joined in the development work behind the plugin. Their impressive “publish to cloud” wizard makes it much easier for Windows Azure developers working with Java to deploy their projects to the Windows Azure cloud directly from Eclipse. Read the more detailed blog post from Martin Sawicki that covers the Eclipse plugin in more detail.

Last but not least, you probably have noticed the upcoming support for IaaS, Virtual Machines and Linux. I believe this move demonstrates how Windows Azure is built around what customers are asking for and with the idea of being the most inclusive platform ever. Customers are demanding high degrees of flexibility and want to be able to run every possible scenario in a seamless fashion: there are very interesting examples of hybrid private/public clouds out there, not to mention a number of creative contaminations of IaaS, PaaS and data services. We are most definitely moving away from monolithic architectures – customers and developers today want and deserve flexibility.

Linux on Windows Azure

Enabling use of Linux on Windows Azure is a key piece of the puzzle, and needs to be as easy as possible. As with data services, it’s all about strong partnerships with industry leaders: this is why you are seeing Windows Azure partnering with major Linux publishers to provide an amazing experience, and I’m sure this will be a very exciting and ongoing story. On top of that I have to note how partners like BitRock are doing very interesting work to provide more choice: two initial Linux images are available for Bitnami, and we look forward to extending the catalog much further.

Allow me to make a final example of openness and talk about the Windows Azure Command Line Tools for Mac and Linux (the ones Windows Azure users will run on local machines to deploy and manage their Windows and Linux virtual machines): not only they are Open Source, but they are available right now for Mac and Linux clients. And this is just the beginning – stay tuned for more exciting news.

Openness and Interoperability

When a journey reaches an important milestone it’s good to look back and think about the road so far: in my case I went as far as two years ago, when we shared our view on Interoperability Elements of a Cloud Platform. Back then we talked to customers and developers and came out with an overview of an open and interoperable cloud, based on four distinct elements: data portability, standards, ease of migration & deployment and developer choice. We have been laser focused on the quest for an interoperable and flexible cloud platform that would enable heterogeneous workloads, and it’s really rewarding to see how today’s announcement maps nicely to the vision that we outlined back then. More precisely:

  • A lot of efforts have been spent on data portability with great results. Allow me to remind you how on Windows Azure your data is either a JSON/XML call away or in any case available through open interfaces (think of JDBC/ODBC support for SQL Database, as an example). Working on open interfaces really pays off when I think of how our partners have been able to build data solutions (MySQL, Hadoop, Solr, CouchDB, MongoDB) that can run either as a service or as independent workloads. Our customer own their data, and this is near and dear to our hearts.
  • When it comes to standards Windows Azure has one of the most complete API layers around, exposed as REST, XML, OData, Atompub, JSON and others. We are working with standard bodies such as IETF, OASIS and DMTF to ensure that important topics such as identity and management in the cloud are exposed as standard-based APIs, and we have been proactive proponents of important standard efforts such as AMQP and OData among others.
  • Ease of migration & deployment is a key factor when building a cloud platform that preserves existing investments and enables co-existence between on-premise software and cloud services. I see a lot of progress in this area, as an example when I think of the work we have been doing to provide our Java customers and developers with a much improved Eclipse experience, while at the same time providing to everyone the flexibility of FTP and Git to deploy and manage applications. Windows Azure Web Sites is also a great example of how easy deployment can be in the cloud, putting your favorite applications (WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, PHPBB and many others) just one click away. While at it, you may want to check out our step-by-step instructions for running Magento.
  • And finally, developer choice, defined as the possibility to use a variety of development tools, runtime and languages. Here we have five SDKs layered on top of a standard APIs, covering .NET, Java, PHP, Python and Node.js. We support the widest possible variety of workloads: be it PaaS or IaaS, be it Windows or Linux, be it public, private or hybrid. We are working with Open Source communities and with leading vendors to provide the best of breed in applications and data services. No matter what your workload is, Windows Azure will be a great home for it.

I have broken every promise I made to myself to keep this post short, yet I barely managed to scratch the surface of this announcement. I have in front of me the plan for the upcoming weeks and I know it will be busy times for this and many other blogs in Microsoft as there is so much to share. It will all start tomorrow at the Meet Windows Azure event: be there!

OSBC 2012: Advancing Interoperability in the Cloud

May 21st, 2012 No comments

At the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco today, Sandy Gupta, the General Manager for Microsoft’s Open Solutions Group, along with Alan Clark, Director of New Initiatives and Emerging Standards for Open Source at SUSE, announced the release of a beta version of the SUSE Manager Management Pack for System Center.

In a blog post, Gupta said the announcement, which was made in collaboration with SUSE, lets this management pack connect the Linux server management capabilities provided by SUSE Manager to System Center, Microsoft’s management platform.

“As a result, customers will be able to administer both Windows and Linux environments from a single management console,” he said.

Gupta positioned the management pack as one example of the work Microsoft is doing to advance interoperability for private clouds. You can try the Linux management capabilities this management pack provides for System Center here.

“On the public cloud front, there’s extensive work going on across the company to facilitate interoperability between Microsoft and open source cloud tools and services. One of the most exciting examples of this comes from the SQL Server Team — the Hadoop-based service for Windows Azure, for which Microsoft released a second preview last month,” he said.

This solution for managing “big data,” connecting it and turning it into business insight, is a prime example of the type of value customers want to realize as a result of leveraging open source and Microsoft software together, he noted.

You can read his full blog post here.

FreeBSD to run as a first-class guest on Windows Server Hyper-V

May 11th, 2012 No comments

Today, at BSDCan 2012, Microsoft and partners NetApp and Citrix announced upcoming native support for FreeBSD support on Windows Server Hyper-V.

This move continues our commitment to extend support across platforms to the Windows Server Hyper-V solution, making it easier for more customers to realize the benefits of server virtualization and more easily adopt cloud computing.

This will allow FreeBSD to run as a first-class guest on Windows Server Hyper-V. The drivers and associated source code will be released early this summer under the BSD license, and will initially work with FreeBSD 8.2 and 8.3 on Windows Server 2008 R2.

You can read more about this on the Openness blog.

Joe CaraDonna, the Technical Director of Core Operating Systems at NetApp, says in an interview that he was thrilled to have had the opportunity to work with Microsoft and Citrix to deliver Windows Server Hyper-V support to FreeBSD.

“I think the combination of these virtualization technologies helps round-out the FreeBSD virtualization story, and makes the FreeBSD operating system a more compelling offering.”

He also notes how committed Microsoft is to open source initiatives: “we decided from the very beginning that we were going to open source the code under the BSD license. No strings attached. They were as eager as us to support the project, and then give the code away. How cool is that?”

You can read the full interview here.

New Interoperability Solutions for SQL Server 2012

March 22nd, 2012 No comments

I am excited to share some great news about how we are opening up the SQL Server data platform even further with expanded interoperability support through new tools that allow customers to modernize their infrastructure while maximizing existing investments and extending virtually any data anywhere.

The SQL Server team today introduced several tools that enable interoperability with SQL Server 2012.

These tools help developers to build secure, highly available and high performance applications for SQL Server in .NET, C/C++, Java and PHP, on-premises and in the cloud.

These new tools include a Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Native Client, a SQL Server ODBC Driver for Linux, backward compatibility with ADO.Net and the Microsoft JDBC Driver 4.0 and PHP Driver 3.0.

You can find more information on all this goodness on the SQL Server blog here.

Update: Microsoft, Hadoop and Big Data

February 28th, 2012 No comments

I’m really excited to be able to give you an update on our strategy and product roadmap for Big Data, especially around our embrace of Apache Hadoop as part of our data platform.

As you may remember, at the PASS Summit last October we laid out our roadmap for Big Data, with Microsoft Corporate Vice President Ted Kummert announcing plans to deliver enterprise class Apache Hadoop based distributions on both Windows Server and Windows Azure.

Even more importantly, he announced that Microsoft will be working with the community to offer contributions for inclusion into the Apache Hadoop project and its ecosystem of tools and technologies.

Now, this week at the O’Reilly Strata Conference, Dave Campbell, a Microsoft Technical Fellow, will give a keynote address on Wednesday morning where he will talk about how we are demonstrating our progress on this front as we strive to help organizations derive new insights from Big Data.

In a blog post today, Campbell notes that Microsoft has been working hard to bring the simplicity and manageability of Windows to Hadoop based solutions, and we are expanding the reach with a Hadoop based service on Windows Azure.

“Hadoop is a great tool but, to fully realize the vision of the modern data platform, we also need a marketplace to search, share and use 1st and 3rd party data and services. And, to bring the power to everyone in the business, we need to connect the new big data ecosystem to business intelligence tools like PowerPivot and Power View,” he says.

Microsoft is working closely with the community and ecosystem – including partners such as Karmasphere, Datameer and HStreaming – to deliver an open and flexible platform that is compatible with Hadoop and works well with leading 3rd party tools and technologies.

“We have recently reached a significant milestone in this journey, with our first series of contributions to the Apache Hadoop projects. Working with Hortonworks, we have submitted a proposal to the Apache Software Foundation for enhancements to Hadoop to run on Windows Server and are also in the process of submitting further proposals for a JavaScript framework and a Hive ODBC Driver,” Campbell says.

As Gianugo Rabellino, Microsoft’s Senior Director for Open Source Communities said last October, these moves benefit not only the broader Open Source community by enabling them to take their existing skill sets and assets use them on Windows Azure and Windows Server, but also developers, our customers and partners.

“It is also another example of our ongoing commitment to providing Interoperability, compatibility and flexibility,” he said at that time.

You can read Campbell’s blog here and learn more about what we are doing for Big Data here.

Using Forefront TMG 2010 to Secure Access to Your Cloud Services

February 22nd, 2011 Comments off

Figure 3 Leveraging the high-availability features in Forefront TMG 2010If you read the article Economics of the Cloud published last November on Microsoft on the Issues blog, you will see the that Microsoft analysis “uncovers economies of scale for cloud that are much greater than commonly thought”. As more and more business start to move to the cloud there is also the aspect of secure cloud access by an on premises gateway. A new article written by Yuri Diogenes (a former Senior Support Escalation Engineer from Forefront Edge CSS Team) was recently published at TechNet Magazine (February 2011 issue) and explains how Forefront TMG 2010 can assist you during this deployment.

Read the full article here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/gg607680.aspx

Blog post written by Gabriel Koren

Categories: cloud, secure, swg, TMG Tags: