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Author Interview: Tim Mather


Tim Mather is the author of the book Cloud Security and Privacy: An Enterprise Perspective on Risks and Compliance (Theory in Practice). Tim spoke to us about his book and his vision on cloud computing.

theCloudTutorial: There are many definitions of Cloud Computing. How do you define Cloud computing?

Tim Mather: There are more than twenty definitions of cloud computing. However, in our book, we define clod computing as having five essential characteristics:

  1. multi-tenancy (shared resources)
  2. massive scalability
  3. elasticity
  4. pay-as-you-go
  5. self-provisioning of resources

theCloudTutorial: Tell us about your book on cloud computing?

Tim Mather: In our book, we focus on security and privacy, though there are other aspects of cloud computing that need to be considered too (such as availability and interoperability). Additionally, our focus is on enterprise-use of cloud computing (i.e., enterprises as customers), and not on consumer use of cloud computing.

theCloudTutorial: What inspired you to write this book?

Tim Mather: There is a lot of hype around cloud computing, and a lot people bemoaning cloud computing security, but almost no articulation of what those exact security problems apparently are. So we decided to specifically address these issues.

theCloudTutorial: What are the target audience for your book?

Tim Mather: Our target audience is anyone interested in using the cloud for enterprise-use, including information security practitioners, IT professionals, and well as other business unit management.

theCloudTutorial: Which trends do you see in this decade for cloud computing?

Tim Mather: What we have not seen yet are:

  1. Security suitable for sensitive, regulated and/or classified information in a public cloud environment. So we will probably see such in semi-public, regulated or community clouds. That notion has yet to play out, and should evolve in the next couple of years.
  2. We have yet to see interoperability between cloud providers, which will lead to cloud-to-cloud or inter-cloud environments. Such environments will only exacerbate the scalability and compliance issues which already exist.

theCloudTutorial: Which cloud computing vendors are going to grow exponentially in the next couple of years?

Tim Mather: My belief is that the existing leaders will continue to grow and dominate the market. However, I don't think that Rackspace will survive as an independent player for much longer; they will likely be acquired, and I'll bet on HP to be the acquirer, though it could be Dell. Dell is effectively fighting for its life in its current form; possibly, the only way that it can survive is a big bet on the cloud, and they just might acquire Rackspace in an attempt to save itself - think Perot System, but cloud computing.

theCloudTutorial Any cloud computing products that you use yourself?
Tim Mather: Several! Let's start with Gmail, LinkedIn, and Facebook. For collaboration and coordination for our book, we used Google Apps.

theCloudTutorial: Is the hype around cloud computing justified?

Tim Mather: Yes, but not for the reason that the MSM (mainstream media) keeps writing about. MSM keeps writing about cloud computing as being something really new, close to revolutionary. Cloud computing is not revolutionary, and it is not a new technology(s). Cloud computing is a new, but evolutionary business model (shared resources), making use of newer, but existing technologies (such as virtualization - in many cases, but not all).

However, the hype should really be around the 'fact' that cloud computing is really the Internet eating enterprise IT. Cloud computing is the end of enterprise IT as we have known it since the early 1980s. Just as the Internet has already devoured travel agents and stock brokers, and is now devouring real estate agents and print journalism, cloud computing is the Internet eating traditional enterprise IT.

theCloudTutorial: A major roadblock on the growth of cloud computing is security concerns of organizations. Do you think security will continue to remain a oadblock for the exponential growth of cloud computing?

Tim Mather: Short answer, yes. Long answer is about 200 pages long and is the reason for "Cloud Security & Privacy: An Enterprise Perspective on Risks and Compliance".

theCloudTutorial: Other than your book, any other cloud computing books will you like to recommend the readers of theCloudTutorial?

Tim Mather: We worked hard to get our book to market early (i.e., early for cloud computing). There are now many other cloud computing books in the publishing pipeline. I'm sure that there will be a couple of outstanding books released this year on the topic. One reading that is already available and that I am very impressed with is the "Cloud Computing: Benefits, risks and recommendations for information security report that ENISA published in November (2009). ENISA did a very good job with this report, and I recommend reading it.