The Doyle Report: Refresh Fatigue Has Left Computers Vulnerable and Spurred Greater Investment into Cloud Computing
There are a multitude of reasons why computers the world over were compromised by the WannaCry malware attack despite the availability of a patch that could have protected systems.
Upgrade costs and applications incompatibilities are just two reasons why. But talk to experts and they will tell you there is another reason why so many were affected: “refresh fatigue.” Simply put, organizations and individuals are worn out from trying to keep their systems up-to-date. This is having profound implications industrywide. It’s one of the reasons why some large enterprises have accelerated their embrace of cloud computing.
So says Shahin Pirooz, CTO at DataEndure, a Silicon Valley solutions integrator that has served the likes of Renown Health, American Express, Facebook and CenturyLink. DataEndure, which has been around since the early 1980s, helps companies “meet specific business challenges and build digital resilience.”
A year ago, The VAR Guy Editor Kris Blackmon checked in on DataEndure when it was in the midst of several changes. DataEndure was not only changing its brand from “CMT,” it was also expanding its focus to include data protection in addition to its longtime mainstay, data storage and management.
This time around, I turned to DataEndure to better understand the appetite for cloud computing among enterprise customers. This is where Pirooz, whose mission is to help DataEndure grow its cloud revenue and capabilities, comes in. Pirooz joined the company in 2016 after more than two decades in the industry. Prior to joining DataEndure, he was CTO at CenterBeam and RiverMeadow, and he held leadership roles at EarthLink, AppShop and EDS.
“We are seeing a lot of our customers, which typically are very large enterprises with a minimum of 2,000 seats, spending less on traditional infrastructure, including private clouds, and starting to consume more cloud services,” says Pirooz.
Shahin Pirooz, DataEndure
Where customers dip their toes into public cloud computing, he adds, is data protection. They start their cloud immersion by backing up their data in various clouds, and then proceed with projects that involve moving a few workloads into the cloud. After getting their feet wet, they move ahead with more transformational projects such as building a database in the cloud and then developing native cloud applications on top of it.
When Pirooz looks at his customer base, he sees a distinct split between startups and more established organizations. Those that are unburdened with legacy apps or equipment are the most aggressive consumers of cloud technology. More traditional organizations, meanwhile, move with more caution and reduced speed as you might expect.
To take advantage of the uptick in cloud interest, DataEndure has structured its business around four technology practices. They are data infrastructure, data storage, information management and security.
One of the most popular services the company offers is its “cloud readiness assessment.” For a fee, DataEndure will go inside a customer’s IT department and investigate their existing infrastructure, assess the dependencies between their applications, and then gain an understanding how much data is being exchanged between different servers.
“We’re seeing a lot of cross pollination of these services,” says Pirooz. A conversation on how best to manage data leads to one on how best to secure it and so on. “At a high level, it’s storage first, then compute. That’s because there are all kinds of questions that come up when you start talking about [cloud] compute.”
What’s driving these conversations? Pirooz says it’s refresh exhaustion. Customers, he says, are simply fatigued from having to overhaul their IT environments every two-to-four years. “Even though virtualization helps so you can refresh more easily, there’s still exhaustion. The minute you start consuming somebody else’s infrastructure, that exhaustion isn’t yours anymore; it’s their pain,” he says.
When looking ahead, Pirooz believes cloud adoption will continue to grow. That said, he does not believe in a cloud-only approach to technology. “Once you get to a certain size, say 100 employees, there are some things in terms of performance or locality that you can only get in a hybrid environment. As you grow bigger and bigger… you need a hybrid model more,” he says.
When asked what was the biggest downside to a cloud-first mentality, Pirooz says the answer is unquestionably “security”—not of the systems but the people managing them, instead.
“People [tend to] abdicate their responsibility for security when they leverage the cloud. They assume when they use a cloud provider that they don’t have to worry about the security of that environment, which is the biggest fallacy on the planet,” he says. “You need to extend your security policies to the cloud, not end them there.”
Another problem? Over-provisioning, which has left cloud customers with literally one of everything. One of the things his company offers, for example, is a cloud access checkup, which identifies which people in an organization are using which cloud services. One of DataEndure’s customers turned out to be using 7,500 different cloud applications, most of which were provisioned by line of business buyers who did not coordinate with their IT departments.
If that sounds like an opportunity to you, then you’re thinking just like Pirooz, who believes that there are thousands upon thousands of customers around the U.S. who find themselves in the same position.
(For more on the implications of this trend, be sure to read CompTIA’s new report entitled, “Considering the New IT Buyer.”)