Fortinet upgrades for better cloud, SD-WAN protection

Fortinet has rolled out a new version of its FortiOS operating system that gives customers the ability to manage security capabilities across their cloud assets and software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) environments.

With FortiOS 5.6, the company’s Fortinet Security Fabric gives a view of customers’ public and private clouds – including Amazon Web Services and Azure – as well as assets on and their software-defined WANs, says John Maddison, Fortinet’s senior vice president of products.

+More on Network World: DARPA to eliminate “patch & pray” by baking chips with cybersecurity fortification+

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InfoWorld Cloud Computing

IT pros agree: Security is better in the cloud

About 42 percent of IT decision-makers and security managers say they are running security applications in the cloud, according to a survey of about 300 IT security pros from Schneider Electric. Almost half of those surveyed said they are likely or extremely likely to move their security operations to the cloud in a few years.

In the survey, 57 percent of respondents believe the cloud is secure. The cloud has the most confidence in on-demand security, and that confidence is highest among IT professionals (78 percent). I’ve stated before that cloud security is better than on-premises security, but it’s nice to see external evidence backing that up. 

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InfoWorld Cloud Computing

IT pros agree: Security is better in the cloud

About 42 percent of IT decision-makers and security managers say they are running security applications in the cloud, according to a survey of about 300 IT security pros from Schneider Electric. Almost half of those surveyed said they are likely or extremely likely to move their security operations to the cloud in a few years.

In the survey, 57 percent of respondents believe the cloud is secure. The cloud has the most confidence in on-demand security, and that confidence is highest among IT professionals (78 percent). I’ve stated before that cloud security is better than on-premises security, but it’s nice to see external evidence backing that up. 

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InfoWorld Cloud Computing

Five things AIs can do better than us

For millennia, we surpassed the other intelligent species with which we share our planet — dolphins, porpoises, orangutans, and the like — in almost all skills, bar swimming and tree-climbing.

In recent years, though, our species has created new forms of intelligence, able to outperform us in other ways. One of the most famous of these artificial intelligences (AIs) is AlphaGo, developed by Deepmind. In just a few years, it has learned to play the 4,000-year-old strategy game, Go, beating two of the world’s strongest players.

Other software developed by Deepmind has learned to play classic eight-bit video games, notably Breakout, in which players must use a bat to hit a ball at a wall, knocking bricks out of it. CEO Demis Hassabis is fond of saying that the software figured out how to beat the game purely from the pixels on the screen, often glossing over the fact that the company first taught it how to count and how to read the on-screen score, and gave it the explicit goal of maximizing that score. Even the smartest AIs need a few hints about our social mores. 

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Network World Cloud Computing

What’s better: Amazon’s Availability Zones vs. Microsoft Azure’s regions

Although they both offer core IaaS features like virtual machines, storage and databases the leading public cloud providers, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, take very different approaches in offering cloud services, including at the most basic level of how their data centers are constructed and positioned around the world.

+MORE FROM NETWORK WORLD: What’s behind the Amazon, Microsoft and Google’s aggressive cloud expansions? (With an interactive map!) +

Both companies’ clouds are made up of regions: AWS has 14 and Microsoft has 30. But those numbers aren’t quite an apples-to-apples comparison.

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Network World Cloud Computing

Cloud security is good, but here’s how to make it better

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter’s approach.

More than a third of businesses in the United States currently use the cloud, but by 2020 that number is expected to more than double to a whopping 80%. But even though the cloud is secure, it doesn’t guarantee immunity from data breaches. Now that the cloud is rapidly becoming a mainstream part of IT, businesses must think more critically about how to bolster their security beyond cloud providers’ default security infrastructure—which often proves to be inadequate for the changing face of business.

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Network World Cloud Computing

When it comes to cloud security which is better? Heavy hand or gentle policing?

When it comes to successfully managing cloud use within the enterprise, some security organizations try to establish and enforce firm lines between what is permissible and what is banned, while others try to learn what their employees are trying to achieve and help them do so more securely.

To get a sense of what enterprises think about cloud deployments and cloud security, we recently reached out to Jim Reavis, cofounder and chief executive officer at the Cloud Security Alliance. As a nonprofit, the Cloud Security Alliance promotes the use of security assurance best practices in cloud computing, as well as cloud computing education.

Jim Reavis Cloud Security Alliance

Jim Reavis

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Network World Cloud Computing

Why monolithic apps are often better than microservices

Sinclair is CEO and cofounder of Apprenda, a leader in enterprise Platform as a Service.

With all of the talk these days about microservices and distributed applications, monolithic applications have become the scourge of cloud systems design. Normally, when a new technical trend emerges to replace a previous one, it is due (at least in part) to evolved thinking. The odd thing with monolithic application architecture, however, is that nobody ever proposed it as a good idea in the first place.

The idea of loosely coupled services with clear boundaries has been around for decades in software engineering. So, how did we end up with so many apps “designed” as monoliths? In a word – convenience.

The fact is, in many use cases, monolithic architectures come with some non-trivial and durable benefits that we can’t simply discount because it doesn’t adhere to a modern pattern. Conversely, microservices can introduce significant complexity to application delivery that isn’t always necessary.

As a fan of microservices, I fear enterprises are blindly charging forward and could be left disappointed with a microservices-based strategy if the technology is not appropriately applied.  The point of this post isn’t to pour FUD onto microservices. It’s about understanding tradeoffs and deliberately selecting microservices based on their benefits rather than technical hype.

Debugging and testing

Generally speaking, monolithic applications are easier to debug and test when compared to their microservices counterparts. Once you start hopping across process, machine, and networking boundaries, you introduce many hundreds of new variables and opportunities for things to go wrong – many of which are out of the developer’s control.

Also, the looser the dependency between components, the harder it is to determine when compatibility or interface contracts are broken. You won’t know something has gone wrong until well into runtime.

Performance

If your shiny new mobile app is taking several seconds to load each screen because it’s making 30 API calls to 30 different microservices, your users aren’t going to congratulate you on this technical achievement. Sure, you can add some clever caching and request collapsing, but that’s a lot of additional complexity you just bought yourself as a developer.

If you’re talking about a complicated application being used by hundreds of thousands or millions of users, this additional complexity may well be worth the benefits of a microservices architecture. But, most enterprise line-of-business applications don’t approach anything near that scale.

Security and operations

Fortune 500 enterprises I work with struggle with managing the relatively coarse-grained application security IT departments use today. If you’re going to break up your application into lots of tiny services, you’re going to have to manage the service-to-service entitlements that accompany this plan. While managing “many as one” has time tested benefits, it’s also contrary to the motivation behind microservices.

Planning and design

Microservices have a higher up-front design cost and can involve complicated political conversations across team boundaries. It can be tricky to explain why your new “pro-agile” architecture is going to take weeks of planning for every project to get off the ground. There’s also a very real risk of “over-architecting” these types of distributed solutions.

Final thoughts

Having said all of this, microservices can absolutely deliver significant benefits. If you’re building a complicated application and/or work across multiple development teams operating in parallel and iterating often, microservices make a ton of sense.

In fact, in these types of situations, monolithic applications simply serve as repositories of technical debt that ultimately becomes crippling. There is a clear tipping point here where each of the advantages of monolithic applications I described earlier become liabilities.  They become too large to debug without understanding how everything fits together, they don’t scale, and your security model isn’t granular enough to expose segments of functionality.

One way to help reduce and in some cases even eliminate the technical “tax” associated with microservices is to pair them with an enterprise Platform as a Service (PaaS). A proper enterprise PaaS is designed to stitch together distributed services and takes deployment, performance, security, integration, and operational concerns off the developer and operators’ plates.

Why monolithic apps are often better than microservices originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015.

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Cloud

Review: Office 2016 for Mac offers a new interface and better features

Mac users of Office who have felt left out in the cold by Microsoft (because the last version, Office 2011 for Mac, was released in October 2010) now have reason to be pleased: The final version of Office 2016 for Mac brings the suite out of the dark ages and into the modern world.

Hints of what the new Office would offer have been out for quite a while, notably the preview of Outlook, introduced in October 2014. But Mac owners had to wait until early July for the final release of the full suite, including the core applications Word, PowerPoint and Excel.

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Network World Cloud Computing