20
Sat, Jul
2 New Articles

Moving Applications to the Cloud? You Need a Strategy First

Managed Services / SaaS / PaaS / IaaS
Typography
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

First steps to a successful cloud migration: know the cloud’s risks and how it will fit in the enterprise’s IT structure

Editor’ note: This chapter is excerpted from chapter 5 of Identity Management: A Business Perspective (MC Press, 2016).

The cloud provides an ideal opportunity for organizations to rethink their identity management (IdM) environment and plan an approach that will not only allow them to manage their cloud-based future but also exploit the capabilities of the cloud to drive an innovative and agile organization.

Possibly the biggest issue when considering cloud migration is the changes it makes to the way IT is managed within an organization. In some companies, cloud is seen as outside IT’s purview because the cloud gives business managers the laxity to “do their own thing” without the constraints imposed by the IT department, which has developed processes that not only take time but have a tangible cost to the company. This is dangerous since it removes cloud infrastructure from the controls that are required to ensure good governance. While the board of directors might not realize it, cloud represents a potential “wild frontier” of computing that can lead to significant trouble in the absence of governance.

So how can an IT operation assimilate the cloud without destroying its attractive qualities: agile, inexpensive, and powerful? Among the many issues that must be addressed are two main concerns: risk management and enterprise architecture.

Risk Management

A risk management approach is highly recommended for any company that seeks to migrate applications to the cloud. The selection of a cloud services provider (CSP) should include a risk assessment that will guide the process to select an appropriate supplier to provide the required cloud service. While many assessment tools are available, at minimum you should evaluate a service based on three categories of risks.

Organizational risks such as:

  • Lock-in to a single provider
  • Loss of governance over IT services
  • Cloud service failure

Technical risks such as:

  • Malicious insider activity
  • Management interface compromise
  • Denial of Service (DoS) attack

Legal risks such as:

  • Data protection risks
  • Licensing risks
  • Changes of jurisdiction risks

Only when the risks are understood can they be managed and disaster averted.

Enterprise Architecture

From a strategy perspective, an organization’s enterprise architecture should address cloud services. Organizations that lack an enterprise architecture are paying too much for their IT infrastructure and should expedite the development of at least a technical architecture. This will mandate what operating systems should be supported, and which are deprecated. It should also indicate which type of configurations (patterns) are supported. This will reduce the management cost of the organization’s IT infrastructure.

Note: Locating a suitable consultant is not a trivial exercise. It seems many IT architecture consultants tend to make the development of an enterprise architecture overly complex. This is unfortunate because developing an enterprise architecture is not too difficult. There are basically four levels to be addressed by an organization’s IT architecture:

Business system’s architecture—how the IT infrastructure will support business unit applications. This includes planning the touchpoints between the applications and the identity management infrastructure. Process maps assist in this understanding.

Information architecture—indicates the information in the organization’s main data stores and how it maps to the requirements of the applications that the organization supports. Entity relationship diagrams are a useful tool.

Application portfolio—an inventory of the applications used in the organization, which indicates their operating system requirements, storage requirements, and support requirements. This will also include the development plans for each application, so that the enterprise architecture will be used to optimize upgrades —in an application that requires additional identity attributes, the collection and storage of these attributes needs to occur first.

Technical architecture—indicates the server infrastructure (and operating system versions), supported technical patterns (e.g., client/server, n-tier Web services), supported databases, and guidelines for deployed interfaces. Most organizations will maintain a Web services environment (browser client, Web server, application server, database server); some will have client/server applications, possibly with a standard operating environment deployment model; and some might also support a hub-and-spoke pattern for a mainframe app. The more patterns to support, the more the environment costs to operate and the more complex will be the identity management environment. A Web services environment will typically use a Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) request to communicate identity attributes, client/server apps will often use LDAP, and a mainframe application will typically require identity attributes to be written to its accounts repository.

Interface Support

A cloud strategy must also address the interfaces to be supported.

As noted in chapter 3, LDAP is not a good solution for cloud apps. This is a good thing because it means that software developers do not need to learn the intricacies of optimizing LDAP filters; they can work with the Java-based, RESTful API interfaces that they prefer. But these services do represent a potential vulnerability for organizations. There are two basic approaches to the modern identity management task: use a Web service to connect to the data repository or use an API that supports the programming language of choice to integrate with the identity provider (IdP) service. The latter will generally provide better security and performance; the former requires less programming prowess.

Developer guidelines should be developed and documented to dictate what the various HTTP methods are allowed to do. If an API is developed, both API management and API security controls need to be determined and documented. Engaging a Web developer on the basis of lowest cost is generally unwise.

The protocols shown below (explained in more detail in Identity Management: A Business Perspective) will be required for most cloud-based identity management deployments.

  • SAML support for requests and assertions
  • RESTful API with support for JSON arrays and XML files
  • OData native support
  • OpenID Connect with OAuth token support
  • The Fast ID On-line (FIDO) Alliance

Planning a cloud deployment requires the definition of the protocol support to be put in place so that cloud services comply with organizational security policy.

Graham Williamson is an identity management consultant in Brisbane, Australia. He has 27 years of experience in the IT industry, with expertise in identity management, electronic directories, public key infrastructure, smart card technology, and enterprise architecture. He is a coauthor of Identity Management: A Primer and the author of Identity Management: A Business Perspective.


MC Press books written by Graham Williamson available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

Identity Management: A Business Perspective Identity Management: A Business Perspective
Understand all facets of identity management and how to leverage identity data for access control.
List Price $49.95

Now On Sale

Identity Management: A Primer Identity Management: A Primer
Get a comprehensive overview of the elements required for a properly planned identity environment.
List Price $49.95

Now On Sale

BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS

LATEST COMMENTS

Support MC Press Online

$

Book Reviews

Resource Center

  • SB Profound WC 5536 Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. You can find Part 1 here. In Part 2 of our free Node.js Webinar Series, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Brian will briefly discuss the different tools available, and demonstrate his preferred setup for Node development on IBM i or any platform. Attend this webinar to learn:

  • SB Profound WP 5539More than ever, there is a demand for IT to deliver innovation. Your IBM i has been an essential part of your business operations for years. However, your organization may struggle to maintain the current system and implement new projects. The thousands of customers we've worked with and surveyed state that expectations regarding the digital footprint and vision of the company are not aligned with the current IT environment.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT Generic IBM announced the E1080 servers using the latest Power10 processor in September 2021. The most powerful processor from IBM to date, Power10 is designed to handle the demands of doing business in today’s high-tech atmosphere, including running cloud applications, supporting big data, and managing AI workloads. But what does Power10 mean for your data center? In this recorded webinar, IBMers Dan Sundt and Dylan Boday join IBM Power Champion Tom Huntington for a discussion on why Power10 technology is the right strategic investment if you run IBM i, AIX, or Linux. In this action-packed hour, Tom will share trends from the IBM i and AIX user communities while Dan and Dylan dive into the tech specs for key hardware, including:

  • Magic MarkTRY the one package that solves all your document design and printing challenges on all your platforms. Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product. Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Request your trial now!  Request Now.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericForms of ransomware has been around for over 30 years, and with more and more organizations suffering attacks each year, it continues to endure. What has made ransomware such a durable threat and what is the best way to combat it? In order to prevent ransomware, organizations must first understand how it works.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericIT security is a top priority for businesses around the world, but most IBM i pros don’t know where to begin—and most cybersecurity experts don’t know IBM i. In this session, Robin Tatam explores the business impact of lax IBM i security, the top vulnerabilities putting IBM i at risk, and the steps you can take to protect your organization. If you’re looking to avoid unexpected downtime or corrupted data, you don’t want to miss this session.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericCan you trust all of your users all of the time? A typical end user receives 16 malicious emails each month, but only 17 percent of these phishing campaigns are reported to IT. Once an attack is underway, most organizations won’t discover the breach until six months later. A staggering amount of damage can occur in that time. Despite these risks, 93 percent of organizations are leaving their IBM i systems vulnerable to cybercrime. In this on-demand webinar, IBM i security experts Robin Tatam and Sandi Moore will reveal:

  • FORTRA Disaster protection is vital to every business. Yet, it often consists of patched together procedures that are prone to error. From automatic backups to data encryption to media management, Robot automates the routine (yet often complex) tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAManaging messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. Messages need a response and resources must be monitored—often over multiple systems and across platforms. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events? Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAThe thought of printing, distributing, and storing iSeries reports manually may reduce you to tears. Paper and labor costs associated with report generation can spiral out of control. Mountains of paper threaten to swamp your files. Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing. Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAFor over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i. With batch job creation and scheduling at its core, the Robot Job Scheduling Solution reduces the opportunity for human error and helps you maintain service levels, automating even the biggest, most complex runbooks. Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:

  • LANSA Business users want new applications now. Market and regulatory pressures require faster application updates and delivery into production. Your IBM i developers may be approaching retirement, and you see no sure way to fill their positions with experienced developers. In addition, you may be caught between maintaining your existing applications and the uncertainty of moving to something new.

  • LANSAWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed. Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

  • LANSASupply Chain is becoming increasingly complex and unpredictable. From raw materials for manufacturing to food supply chains, the journey from source to production to delivery to consumers is marred with inefficiencies, manual processes, shortages, recalls, counterfeits, and scandals. In this webinar, we discuss how:

  • The MC Resource Centers bring you the widest selection of white papers, trial software, and on-demand webcasts for you to choose from. >> Review the list of White Papers, Trial Software or On-Demand Webcast at the MC Press Resource Center. >> Add the items to yru Cart and complet he checkout process and submit

  • Profound Logic Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.

  • SB Profound WC 5536Join us for this hour-long webcast that will explore:

  • Fortra IT managers hoping to find new IBM i talent are discovering that the pool of experienced RPG programmers and operators or administrators with intimate knowledge of the operating system and the applications that run on it is small. This begs the question: How will you manage the platform that supports such a big part of your business? This guide offers strategies and software suggestions to help you plan IT staffing and resources and smooth the transition after your AS/400 talent retires. Read on to learn: