An appreciation of AFCEA Cloud Computing Conferences

Posted by on Jul 17, 2011 in Articles | 18 comments

In today’s world, we are faced with numerous problems when it comes to computer security. Our problem though, is not the security itself but rather the “more speed” that we need to have and the procedures that need to be changed.

By speed we mean
More processing power that needs to be available. Since we need better encryption and “stronger algorithms” our processing power has to be increased in order to be able to support the ever-evolving needs for more data. Grid computing (the cooperation of many computers to form a bigger entity and therefore to optimize speed) was created. Grid computing nowadays evolved into Cloud computing. The changes are not many but the main distinction is that with cloud computing we can “rent” as much processing power and resources as we need “on-the-fly”. At this point I should offer an example coming from my world:
I have a website that is located on my dedicated server. Wether I want it or not, I am allocating the resources of the whole server between my other sites, giving them what they need in terms of RAM, CPU usage and Bandwidth. This site gets 1000 visitors per day. In that case everything is fine but when the site started getting 5000 visits per day all the other sites started becoming slower because the needs of this particular site became a constrain for the server.
If I was to continue like this, I would face the following problem: Social media DDOS attack. Well it’s not an attack to be honest, and it should be a good thing. When people vote for their favourite or funniest articles on the internet one of my stories might get “picked” and move to the front page of a popular social bookmarking site like Digg. The traffic spike will be huge and even with my own dedicated server I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the constant user load, making my server non-responsive and eventually act like it’s not operating. That’s where cloud computing comes into play. With cloud computing, all I have to do is to realtime allocate more resources in order to be able to serve those requests. A user cannot understand any difference but we might utilise 16 CPU cores instead of the normal 4 a simple, dedicated machine has. When the user spike gets back to normal, we are able to automatically “give back” those resources to the network so someone else is able to use them.
Using cloud computing in armed forces is not a good idea in the first place. There are no more security risks since the instances that open when needed have logs and those instances are hosted on physical machines but armed forces will have to create a private cloud network in order to maintain their secure environment and therefore, not take advantage of what makes cloud computing great; the automatic distribution of resources.
This happens because if we had a private cloud network, we would have to have bought the physical computers in advance before having witnessed the increased need and therefore go back to grid computing while at the same time we would be naming it “Cloud”.

But the problem is not the speed, the problem is Changes
When we move into an architecture like this, we will have to create new applications that will take advantage of this technology.
Centralizing most of our needs into one new system would solve most of the problems Armed Forces face today (cooperation, distribution and communication).
But change and cooperation is not easy and not everybody wants it. If we have two departments for example that have the same duties but one is operated by the airforce and the other one by the navy, those two departments would gain huge advantages when their operations are combined in a new system. Those same two departments though, haven’t been able to cooperate with normal procedures and won’t be able to cooperate in the cloud space either because when our procedures get optimized, people lose their “authority” and the huge need for a particular department. Most of the Military Officers I have met in my life at  do not welcome that kind of change and do not want their “power” to diminish or vanish. This is why we spent a whole day talking about “procedures” and anything but technology; because technology is there to meet our current needs but what needs to change is the people who operate this technology and who is responsible for it.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not an easy transition and I am not implying that changes are not made because people are resistant to changes. A system like this would be much more complicated because it would have to “serve” multiple times the users and therefore create more issues on security and on who would be able to access what type of information.
What I am sensing is a need for this conference to  invite more people from the professional space of security and let them state their opinions and the results of their research. By this, we will all be able to educate ourselves with what are the current trends and needs in today’s environment; whether business or combat and face the challenges of tomorrow with a more open eye to new technologies and practices that will make our life a little bit easier when it comes to applying what is best for the army or our corporation.
Angel Papaioannidis, DEREE – The American College of Greece
Graduate, School of Business Administration,  Computer Information Systems
Administrator of


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