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Cloud as Delivery Vehicle – The Next Wave of the Internet

Meet FireHost at Cloud Expo New York

"While cost has traditionally been a foundational benefit of the cloud, we believe that other factors can play a more important part in defining the cloud of tomorrow," said Todd Gleason, Vice President of Technology at FireHost, in this exclusive Q&A with Cloud Expo conference chairs Larry Carvalho and Vanessa Alvarez. "We believe that the generalist cloud provider - those low-cost commodity clouds that created price competition and insecure clouds - are going to either be gobbled up or beaten up as the industry evolves from this generalist mentality to focus on specialist clouds that have a particular focus."

Cloud Computing Journal: How are cloud standards playing a role in expanding adoption among users? Are standards helping new business models for service providers?

Todd Gleason: Standardization is important, but we're concerned because security desperately needs to be part of this effort. It is not addressed enough, if at all. Much of the open standards work in cloud and other IT technologies traditionally is not security-conscious, making adoption riskier than many want to admit or truly understand. So, while standards are a good thing, we believe security should be baked in at their inception. We advocate for innovation, but it's important that the innovative spirit is not blind to the need to protect vendors and customers.

Cloud Computing Journal: How are hybrid clouds evolving to allow the coexistence of private and public clouds? What are the challenges to meeting a true hybrid cloud scenario?

Gleason: Too much attention and marketing real estate has been paid to debating the merits of public, private and hybrid clouds. Definitions of what's public, what's private and what's hybrid are wide-reaching and are often created to suit a vendor's point of view rather than an educational, objective delineation for the industry. From where we sit, use cases and security are key to disarming this debate. The conversation needs to shift from which model is best in general to which one is appropriate for an individual vendor, provider, or customer, and it must address and incorporate security because regardless of the model chosen, a cloud is insecure unless it's built secure. Use cases vary for industries and individual companies, but security is a common denominator and applicable for all of them. This is where the industry discussion needs to shift.

Cloud Computing Journal: Are on-premise software vendors successfully migrating their business model to a SaaS model? What are the challenges faced in this journey?

Gleason: Most are and the bigger question is how effective will they be at delivering from the cloud and will it be secure. Will they expand their business model and provide infrastructure, or will they stay in their niche as software only players? And for those who do not migrate, will they become more inefficient and outdated?

Cloud as a delivery vehicle is the next wave of the Internet, especially as automation, software techniques, and infrastructures adapt toward applications and servicing their performance more and more. The efficiencies of today are miles ahead of an insulated, on-premise software solution - a situation that gets much sweeter when security is architected into the infrastructure. However, we are not even close to being a truly application-centric world.

Truthfully, though, we need to focus on what the customer wants. Every model will be viable to various customers, so some software vendors may become irrelevant due to the cloud providing a better way to service the customer's needs. The cloud industry can be too hung up on terms such as hybrid, public, SaaS or PaaS. Instead, we have to focus on the customers' needs and their applications that run their business and give them competitive advantages operationally and provide a truly seamless experience.

Cloud Computing Journal: What are the challenges for end users to adopt a new model for application development using Platform as a Service? Are vendors doing enough to meet their needs?

Gleason: Platforms are important to reduce time-to-market for SaaS or internal use cases, and it's good to see the industry shifting from infrastructures being the center of the universe to how they can be architected to service applications in a more on-demand, dynamic, intelligent manner. But, again, where is security in the discussion? It's not anywhere to be found in the majority of industry conversations and vendor communications. It badly needs to be.

In addition to security, there are two other big to-dos that need to be addressed: orchestration and inter-cloud technology. To make applications work well across infrastructures, those infrastructures must work well together in an inter-cloud fashion. This brings us back to security. Businesses will have many clouds, as will their customers. The weakest link is the most insecure cloud, so change must happen to bring security into the larger, strategic conversations rather than focusing so much on architecting an infrastructure or specific software techniques.

Cloud Computing Journal: With several vendors lowering costs for infrastructure, is there a way for new cloud service providers entering this space to make money?

Gleason: While cost has traditionally been a foundational benefit of the cloud, we believe that other factors can play a more important part in defining the cloud of tomorrow. We believe that the generalist cloud provider - those low-cost commodity clouds that created price competition and insecure clouds - are going to either be gobbled up or beaten up as the industry evolves from this generalist mentality to focus on specialist clouds that have a particular focus. For FireHost, that's security. We evolved out of the need for security and have created an infrastructure that provides an advanced security architecture, top security personnel and compliance expertise for customers that are security- and compliance-driven.

•   •   •

Todd Gleason, Vice President of Technology at FireHost, is a central figure in continuously innovating and architecting the secure cloud infrastructure for FireHost and its customers. He brings 15 years of global IT and R&D experience, including deep knowledge of security, cloud, networking, compute, virtualization, storage, and application delivery technologies.

Gleason is driven by the notion that customers ultimately care about servicing their applications to perform efficiently in a secure environment. With this in mind, Gleason has displayed a knack for understanding the latest technology trends in the industry, synthesizing what is applicable for FireHost's customers, and incorporating relevant technology into the company's cloud infrastructure to ensure businesses' applications and data are protected in a cutting-edge, secure cloud. Gleason has helped redefine industry expectations about performance, security, and compliance in the cloud. His creative approach to architecting FireHost's secure cloud proves that security can be incorporated without compromising infrastructure performance, which improves customers' risk management while maintaining thrifty usage of infrastructure resources.

Prior to his role with FireHost, Gleason worked as director of information technology at Panini America, formerly Donruss Trading Cards, which is now a subsidiary of the global Panini conglomerate. There he implemented a high-performance infrastructure and unique business applications enabling rapid high-quality production workflows and integration into the Panini global business. Gleason holds a degree in computer information systems from Remington College.

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