This weeks Cloud Acronyms: Maas, SecaaS and FWaaS
MaaS: Monitoring as a service
Monitoring servers, networks, applications, security and many other parts of the IT infrastructure is probably the biggest single task inside any IT team. This is the reason why all of the big IT vendors, hardware and software, have their own suites of monitoring tools.
In the first flush of cloud, IT vendors who got engaged with building clouds for their customers naturally took their existing monitoring and management tools and embedded them into their cloud platform. What is happening now is that they are now looking to decouple those tools and turn them into a service component.
One of the drivers for this was the OpenStack meeting in Vancouver earlier this year. It had realised that this process of embedded tools was slowly turning OpenStack into a collection of little fiefdoms. As a result it set out a process of what vendors had to support in order to be OpenStack compliant. For the likes of HP, IBM and others this meant turning tools into services. As a result it is likely that we will see an explosion in MaaS tools in the market.
For other cloud vendors such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft they are unlikely to follow suite and decouple their tools as they are not OpenStack based clouds. Independent tools vendors have also had to do a lot of work to support multiple cloud environments with their own MaaS offerings.
SecaaS: Security as a service
Computer security is complex, expensive and mistakes cost companies large sums of money and cause reputation damage. Over the last 30 years, the rise of the security professional has manifestly failed to keep pace with demand. Present estimates from companies such as Cisco are that we are already experiencing a global shortfall of over 1 million security professionals.
Shortages have also meant that salaries have skyrocketed with experienced security experts now pulling down over £100,000 per year based on the job adverts from the major recruiting companies. It takes several years for people to go through the relevant courses in order to get their security qualifications and then they need to get practical experience.
As a result the big security providers such as Symantec, Trend Micro, IBM, HP, Microsoft and others are offering Security as a Service (SecaaS) to their customers. It works by companies effectively outsourcing their security, but not their underlying legal responsibility, to companies who can afford to hire the right staff and who have the tools to secure an IT environment.
One of the challenges for companies is making sure that they align their legal requirements with any SecaaS that they might commit to. For example, if a company is in a regulated market sector such as Financial Services there are multiple national and international compliance requirements that they will need to adhere to.
It is important that as part of taking on any SecaaS provider, their offering is aligned with the requirements of regulators. If not, companies risk creating a gap between their legal obligations and security which could not only lead to a breach but a massive fine,.
FWaaS: Firewall as a service
Firewalls provide a secure gateway between the Internet and an internal company network. They were originally software products deployed on servers but as they became more complex and exposed to problems with the underlying operating system they became solid state devices. This enabled security vendors to harden them and make them more secure.
With the introduction of cloud there has been a return to the idea of software based firewalls with FWaaS part of the OpenStack portfolio.
FWaaS enables a third-party company to provide firewall management to a business. It may include physical or software firewalls along with managed services. There needs to be good process around a FWaaS deployment to ensure that the provider and the business are on the same page when it comes to security. The business does not want the firewall to prevent it functioning but the FWaaS provider needs to ensure that they meet the agreed level of security.
Dell recently announced that its latest SonicWALL TZ range would be supported by both Security as a Service and Firewall as a Service delivered by Dell. As customer needs change it will be able to change the onsite hardware and level of services.