vr-on had the privilege of conducting an exclusive interview with Mr. Andreas Christoph, Mr. Sebastian Häpe and and Mr. Pasi Katajainen from Nordcloud. Founded in 2011, the company has been using the latest technology and data-driven methods like machine learning, to help its clients with IT transformation. The main three public cloud platforms, their efficient use, and migration from traditional data centers plays an important role in this digitalisation process. Enterprises have been opting for cloud storage instead of traditional data centers due to increasing difficulties in managing ever-growing amounts of data and the operational complexity of building and maintaining scalable solutions in their traditional data centers. Moreover, expanding to various locations means that companies require easier 24/7 access to their data, along with an elastic storage capacity while maintaining high-security throughout the process. Nordcloud is a multi cloud solutions expert and is partnering with with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure to provide innovative and scalable solutions for its customers already in hundreds of projects. Therefore, it was the right choice for answering our queries about cloud platforms and related issues. What follows is a list of questions we had and their detailed responses to each of them :)
What are the big advantages of using cloud solutions?
Fast Innovation at low cost: Cloud vendors spend billions per year on providing solutions which would be time-consuming for individual customers to create themselves (E.g. AI, ML, and all the rest of the hundreds of services). It is faster than ever to build new applications and business solutions using these services without having to first implement, setup or create frameworks yourself for enabling the innovation. Moreover, these solutions mean less management overhead for the cloud users.
Increased security: Cloud solutions are more secure in comparison to usual DC solutions as cloud vendors spend time, money, and manpower to ensure high-security in their data centers. Furthermore, cloud platforms provide easy to use solutions for ensuring and monitoring your solutions’ security level.
Flexibility, scalability and availability: Cloud platforms are designed with scalability and high-availability in mind. The platforms enable creating new resources such as virtual machines, storage solutions, or analytics clusters in a matter of minutes and these resources can be torn down as easily to save cost. The “pay as you go” model is a powerful tool to enable companies experimenting with different solutions without having to pre-invest in hardware or storage and computational capacity.
The platforms provide high-availability and scalability for the solutions it provides (such as S3 or EFS storage), and moreover provides easy to use tools for customers to design their own applications to be highly available and scalable.
Moreover, a properly implemented solution can cope with the failure of entire zones and regions or can provide a replacement environment within minutes.
Another huge advantage is the rapid implementation of prototypes/tests, as Infra is in principle available at any time and does not have to go through any purchasing processes. Infra also quickly undergoes horizontal/vertical scaling with requirements, e.g more powerful virtual machines (VMs) OR more VMs. Compared to On-Prem, it is economically and technically more flexible.
How secure is the cloud and what encryption techniques are there?
Cloud platforms provide good tools for monitoring security and compliance of the environments. All storage and transport in the cloud environment can be encrypted with ease, which is mostly a “tick in the box” solution. Moreover, security actions can be more easily automated in the cloud (e.g. fight back by automation in case of a security incident).
The cloud platforms themselves are highly secure and they go under multiple security audits by different authorities early. Each of the cloud platforms hold numerous certifications from different 3rd party institutions.
It is important to understand that the user is in control of the security of his/her solutions in the cloud. The “shared responsibility model” in the cloud means that cloud vendors secure the platform up to the hypervisor level, but the security of the solutions built on top of the platform is the responsibility of the user.
The security of the solutions can be ensured by designing and implementing a solid "governance model" for the cloud which, among other things, specifies the security and compliance guidelines to be applied as well as the roles and responsibilities. Nordcloud sees the governance model creation as the entry into the cloud. As part of the security practice, solutions such the CIS framework, which can identify the most important security gaps and sources of error, are quite often used to design proper security baseline for the solutions and environments. Meanwhile, there is a complete ecosystem of 3rd party tools and solutions which can be used for enabling easier monitoring and reaction on security events. That said, the most important thing is the design all solutions keeping security in mind in each step of the way and to utilise automation to ensure auditability and security.
How is the risk of industrial espionage in the cloud context to be assessed?
The risk of espionage is almost non-existent as the customer environments are accessible by only customers themselves. Cloud vendors and other cloud platform users do not have access to any of the customers´ data. The responsibility for safety, therefore, resides with the customer to make sure that access management and the applications/solutions are configured securely (shared responsibility model). Some measures that can be taken in this regard are:
- Data Classification
- Encryption of all data in transit and at rest
- Utilisation and management of encryption keys
- Implementation of good access management (IAM)
Who are prominent cloud providers and where are their strengths?
There are currently three relevant players in the German Cloud Providers Market. AWS provides a strong breadth of services, where one can build anything conceivable. Azure is strongly integrated with existing MS infrastructure (Active Directory, O365, Dynamics) GCP boasts strength in Google's own developments (GSuite, Kubernetes, BigTable, BigQuery). Each platform has some strengths over the other ones but in general they all provide quite similar services and are constantly introducing new ones. Selecting “the right” platform for a customer depends on many factors such as skills available, technology stack being used, existing relationships with the cloud vendors, and the services really needed from the platform.
In addition to the three big ones, Alibaba is currently gaining importance among users with distribution in China. Its portfolio is comparable to the portfolio of AWS but it still has a long way to go. Nordcloud offers services for all the mentioned providers.
What role does the physical presence of servers play at home or abroad?
The physical presence of servers means that the customer can control the location of data and cloud resources being used in the cloud platform, and data is not transmitted outside the region by cloud vendors. In addition, hyperscalers offer the choice whereby region resources can be used. Resources themselves are then located in the region (EU countries are preferred by German companies, particularly with regard to GDPR), meta data (user accounts) are usually stored globally. There are concepts, however, to take the requirements of personal data into account. As a rule, contracts are concluded with the "local entity"; the place of jurisdiction is often an issue and must be observed.
What advantages does the cloud offer for VR applications?
CAD data and 3D data can be very extensive and may only be needed for conversion processes. Services such as S3/EFS have an advantage here, as it scales virtually endlessly and only the data volumes used result in costs. Here, storage classes can also be a concept to optimize costs.
Many game engines require strong GPUs. If capacities are needed for (automated) tests at short notice, no purchasing process has to be started in cloud as the capacity is available within minutes.
Moreover, latest hardware are upgraded automatically by cloud providers, according to the latest developments in the market. The tool landscape is fully trimmed for automation and supports DevOps approaches.
In conclusion, scalability, reliability, security and especially the high speed of innovation are major benefits for VR.
We hope that our interview helped you understand how beneficial and equally secure cloud solutions are for businesses. If you are interested in more, including live discussions about cloud and how it boosts VR applications, make sure to attend our Unreal Meetup being held in Munich on 19th September. Follow the link below for further details :)