Securosis Warns Against Cloud

Mike Rothman warns in his blog entry called “RSA Guide 2011: Key Themes” that only a very elite and small group (himself included, of course) can understand the cloud, let alone the security issues.

Last year you could count real cloud security experts on one hand… with a few fingers left over.


The number of people who truly understand cloud computing is small. And folks who really understand cloud computing security are almost as common as unicorns.

Unless I am reading that wrong he is saying that no one really understands cloud computing security. How does one enter the cloud if no one exists that can understand how to make it safe? Is that a warning against it?

He probably means to say only he and his immediate colleagues are to be hired — they are the real deal and will save you from the cloud. Even that sounds to me like scare-mongering, marketing and hype. Perhaps he could just issue a new Securosis byline:

We are like unicorns in the cloud — and everyone else is dumb

The truth is that many people outside his sphere of influence understand cloud security and are actively working on tools, architectures and live deployments. Not all of them take the time or even want to give presentations. And let’s face it, cloud security actually is not that hard to understand. It is essentially applying controls to new engineering, architectures and technologies and then finding ways to address gaps. That is a familiar exercise for anyone who has worked in the past with security for product companies and development, especially within large shared environments.

Speaking of marketing hype, Mike gives a clear set of criteria for how to choose a good presentation, but then he appears to ask you to violate his own criteria for two presenters that are related to his company.

Skip over session descriptions that say things like, “will identify the risks of cloud computing” and look for those advertising reference architectures, case studies, and practical techniques (don’t worry, despite the weird titles, Rich includes those in his cloud presentation with Chris Hoff).

This is some odd advice. Don’t worry? On the one hand he warns about others who engage in a kind of behavior he wants you to find distasteful, and on the other hand he (and his colleagues) engage in it. Not sure what to make of that; much of what he says is interesting and well researched, but it is hard to overlook contradictions and double-standards. Why not just say “don’t worry” about the cloud?

Disclaimer: I am also presenting on cloud security at RSA and I do not believe in unicorns.

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