Welcome!

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Microsoft Cloud, Cloud Security, @BigDataExpo, @ThingsExpo

@CloudExpo: Article

What Cloud Startups Need to Know About Hunting Elephants

Large companies have several sets of requirements for solution providers that differ from smaller companies

"Cloud computing" is more than just a buzzword - it has transformed the tech industry. Having been in the business of building enterprise infrastructure for over 15 years, I've had the opportunity to witness how cloud has altered the landscape, including most recently at my company, Nexgate. It has not only ushered in a radical wave of innovation, but has also created new business models. The easily accessible and inexpensive nature of its on-demand structure has both paved the way for the rapid launch of new technologies and enabled the growth of businesses.

Yet, as with any technology, it also has its limits and risks, especially for cloud startups. If not configured well, cloud doesn't necessarily fit hand-in-hand with the needs of large enterprises. While the benefits of gaining a big customer are certainly obvious, the demands of doing so are not talked about nearly as frequently, despite that both are important. Hunting elephants is a dangerous game if you're a mouse.

Large companies have several sets of requirements for solution providers that differ from smaller companies, which aren't as concerned about security and scalability. Whereas the size of smaller companies doesn't require a focus on mitigating the risk of a high profile security breach or managing complex systems on a mass scale, for larger companies, these concerns are very real. Hence, it's not enough to just have a great product to engage on an enterprise level - large companies have dedicated security teams and requirements that you as a vendor need to work with to close the deal.

Having a disaster recovery plan in place is one of the first steps to becoming enterprise ready. Any sizeable organization is going to want assurance that in the event of a crisis, any lapse in the service you provide is going to be as brief and as painless as possible. And, furthermore, that enterprise is going to want proof to back up that assurance. That proof is called a disaster recovery plan. A disaster recovery plan specifies how your company intends to mitigate the risk of an incident resulting in downtime, as well as the processes in place for remediating and recovering from one. Given organizations' increasing dependency on information technology to run their operations, the more critical your product is to the day-to-day functioning of an enterprise, the more you must demonstrate this competency.

Creating and maintaining a disaster recovery plan is no simple task. Each employee should be trained in his or her role and responsibility in the event of a crisis or outage, and the plan should be documented and tested to ensure continuity of procedures and availability of essential resources in the event of a disaster. Your plan should specify easily executable and repeatable procedures for recovering and repairing any damaged IT resources and restoring them to operation as rapidly as possible. Be sure to include a summary of the critical assets and services, their recovery objectives, and recovery priorities, in addition to the contact information for disaster support agencies and a secondary data center service provider or other temporary means of providing service.

Security policy and practices are another prerequisite for navigating a large corporate environment. Without demonstrating the security of your product, you've effectively lost your seat at the table with enterprise companies. In today's tech-saturated world, an information security breach, hack, or hijack can cost thousands of dollars - not to mention inestimable damage to brands and consumer trust. This means an even greater burden of proof lies on vendors (and their cloud providers) as far as security is concerned to prevent such an event from happening. For example, if you're storing data on behalf of customers, are they encrypted in your database? Do you have strong access policies? Are your employees trained and certified when it comes to securing both corporate and personal accounts? If you're a web-based app, do you use a web app firewall (WAP)? Do you have IP and firewall restrictions in place from a cloud security service like Dome9? And what level of security does your cloud provider (e.g., Amazon Web Services) provide? The answers to these questions can help you structure your security policy and practices in alignment with enterprise needs.

To augment these policies and practices, you should also implement security review and testing. Policy and procedures are critical, but without confirmation and review of their execution, they only live in theory. For this reason, implementing internal and external reviews to ensure that your company, your employees, and your partners are all following your policy is critical. Ultimately, you should be able to show that you've created a process that's being applied day-to-day, which is sufficient enough to hold off socially engineered attacks and risks from phishing and malware, among other threats to your security. Allowing for third-party penetration testing is a great strategy to demonstrate your security capacity in this way. The more you can verify the process and results of that testing, the more you can prove to an enterprise that your product is effective and safe for use on a large scale.

Working with enterprise certainly has massive upsides, but with those benefits inherently comes a higher level of skepticism, scrutiny, and caution. Expect to have to prove that you can support sophisticated systems on a large scale, not only in terms of operation but also when it comes to appropriate processes, documentation, and security. The more you can anticipate enterprise needs and have the necessary procedures in place right out of the gate, the greater the level of confidence larger organizations will have in your company, and the better you can serve your customers.

For additional information about making your organization enterprise ready, check out these resources:

  1. Disaster Recovery Journal Sample Plans
  2. Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) Security Guidance
  3. AWS Security Center

More Stories By Rich Sutton

Rich Sutton is co-founder and CTO at Nexgate, a cloud-based social media compliance and security solution. Along with holding multiple patents, he has more than 15 years of experience in enterprise software and application development experience. Prior to working at Nexgate, Rich led a 50+ person engineering team building Websense’s web security product portfolio and also held senior management and technical positions at Symantec, 8e6 Technologies (now Trustwave), and eFunds (now Fidelity) building everything from SaaS applications to high-throughput network appliances, client security software, and mobile applications.

Comments (0)

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.


Latest Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
Father business cycles and digital consumers are forcing enterprises to respond faster to customer needs and competitive demands. Successful integration of DevOps and Agile development will be key for business success in today’s digital economy. In his session at DevOps Summit, Pradeep Prabhu, Co-Founder & CEO of Cloudmunch, covered the critical practices that enterprises should consider to seamlessly integrate Agile and DevOps processes, barriers to implementing this in the enterprise, and pr...
The principles behind DevOps are not new - for decades people have been automating system administration and decreasing the time to deploy apps and perform other management tasks. However, only recently did we see the tools and the will necessary to share the benefits and power of automation with a wider circle of people. In his session at DevOps Summit, Bernard Sanders, Chief Technology Officer at CloudBolt Software, explored the latest tools including Puppet, Chef, Docker, and CMPs needed to...
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
CIOs and those charged with running IT Operations are challenged to deliver secure, audited, and reliable compute environments for the applications and data for the business. Behind the scenes these tasks are often accomplished by following onerous time-consuming processes and often the management of these environments and processes will be outsourced to multiple IT service providers. In addition, the division of work is often siloed into traditional "towers" that are not well integrated for cro...
It's easy to assume that your app will run on a fast and reliable network. The reality for your app's users, though, is often a slow, unreliable network with spotty coverage. What happens when the network doesn't work, or when the device is in airplane mode? You get unhappy, frustrated users. An offline-first app is an app that works, without error, when there is no network connection.
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
More and more companies are looking to microservices as an architectural pattern for breaking apart applications into more manageable pieces so that agile teams can deliver new features quicker and more effectively. What this pattern has done more than anything to date is spark organizational transformations, setting the foundation for future application development. In practice, however, there are a number of considerations to make that go beyond simply “build, ship, and run,” which changes ho...
With the proliferation of both SQL and NoSQL databases, organizations can now target specific fit-for-purpose database tools for their different application needs regarding scalability, ease of use, ACID support, etc. Platform as a Service offerings make this even easier now, enabling developers to roll out their own database infrastructure in minutes with minimal management overhead. However, this same amount of flexibility also comes with the challenges of picking the right tool, on the right ...
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint Systems, Inc., a provider of innovative web and infrastructure monitoring solutions, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit at 18th Cloud Expo New York, which will take place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Catchpoint is a leading Digital Performance Analytics company that provides unparalleled insight into customer-critical services to help consistently deliver an amazing customer experience. Designed...
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
In most cases, it is convenient to have some human interaction with a web (micro-)service, no matter how small it is. A traditional approach would be to create an HTTP interface, where user requests will be dispatched and HTML/CSS pages must be served. This approach is indeed very traditional for a web site, but not really convenient for a web service, which is not intended to be good looking, 24x7 up and running and UX-optimized. Instead, talking to a web service in a chat-bot mode would be muc...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies adopt disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevO...