From the Internet to the Cloud: A Revolution in Computing and Security

The inception and rapid evolution of cloud computing have significantly transformed the way businesses operate, store data and access applications. In this article, I explore the journey from the early days of the internet to the birth of cloud systems. I will delve into the role of the Jericho Forum in shaping cloud security and how the move to platform-as-a-service (PaaS), infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS) has revolutionized IT delivery. Additionally, I will offer my opinion on its impact on internet access and how technologies like SD-WAN led to the emergence of secure access service edge (SASE) and secure service edge (SSE) frameworks.

The Early Internet and the Jericho Forum

The internet’s origins can be traced back to the 1960s when the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) was created by the U.S. Department of Defense. ARPANET served as the foundation of the modern internet, allowing researchers to share information and resources across geographically distant locations.

As the internet gained traction, the Jericho Forum emerged in 2004, comprising IT security professionals and experts. The forum recognized that the traditional security model, focused on protecting the perimeter of a network, was inadequate for the rapidly evolving technology landscape, especially with the rise of cloud computing.

The Birth of Cloud Systems

Cloud computing, as we know it today, owes its origins to the convergence of various technological advancements. The concept of time-sharing in the 1960s laid the groundwork for the centralization of computing power. In the 1990s, the internet’s increasing accessibility led to the introduction of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications offered by companies like Salesforce and NetSuite. These early SaaS solutions marked the first steps toward cloud computing.

Pioneering Cloud Service Models

Next, the early 2000s witnessed the development of infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) models.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS):
IaaS providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) offer virtualized computing resources over the internet. Organizations can rent computing power, storage and networking on-demand, eliminating the need for physical servers. This scalability and flexibility have transformed IT infrastructure management, reducing costs and enhancing efficiency.

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS):
PaaS providers like Heroku, Google App Engine and Microsoft Azure App Service provide a platform for developers to build, deploy, and manage applications without worrying about the underlying infrastructure. PaaS streamlines the application development process, allowing businesses to focus on creating innovative solutions.

So, let’s look at some of the benefits of cloud technologies:

Scalability: PaaS, IaaS, and SaaS models offer unmatched scalability, allowing businesses to adapt to changing demands quickly.
Cost-Efficiency: Cloud computing eliminates upfront hardware investments, reducing capital expenses. Pay-as-you-go pricing enables cost optimization for businesses of all sizes.
Accessibility and Collaboration: Cloud services enable remote work and real-time collaboration, breaking geographical barriers.
Automatic Updates and Maintenance: Cloud providers handle maintenance and security updates, freeing up resources for core business activities.
Data Security and Redundancy: Reputable cloud providers implement robust security measures and backup solutions, ensuring data protection and availability.

Impact on Internet Access and the Rise of SD-WAN

The shift to cloud services had a large impact on the way companies needed to deliver internet access. Traditional wide area networks (WANs) were often rigid and difficult to scale, limiting cloud application performance. This led to the advent of software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), which brought flexibility and efficiency to WAN management. One key benefit of SD-WAN is that it intelligently routes traffic based on application needs, enhancing performance and user experience.

Gartner and the SASE Architecture

As cloud adoption accelerated, the need for integrated security and networking solutions grew. With data, applications, users, and devices all now being outside of the perimeter our networking and security tools of the past are no longer adequate. This led Gartner to introduce the secure access service edge (SASE) architecture in 2019. Then as more and more users moved outside the perimeter at the height of the pandemic, they further bolstered the security element by adding the secure service edge (SSE) framework to it in 2021. SASE is a framework that converges security (with SSE) and networking (with Wan edge service) into a unified architecture framework. The framework aims at providing secure, direct access to cloud applications for remote users while maintaining robust security policies, irrespective of their location. This takes networking and security into the new hybrid world.

Conclusion

The journey from the early days of the internet to the rise of cloud systems has revolutionized how businesses operate and access computing resources, but this does come with additional risks. The Jericho Forum played a crucial role in shaping cloud security by advocating for a perimeterless model and the move to PaaS, IaaS and SaaS models provided unparalleled scalability, cost-efficiency and data security. This transformation had a big influence on the delivery of internet access, leading to innovations like SD-WAN but security didn’t keep up with the changes. This led to Gartner’s SASE architecture bringing together a new way to tackle network and security that better fits today’s world.

It should be noted that as technology continues to evolve, the cloud and its associated technologies will undoubtedly play a central role in driving innovation and reshaping the future of computing and network infrastructure. As leaders in the space, we need to ensure that both networking and security are included in this journey and are not seen as an afterthought.

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Jaye Tillson

Jaye is a technology leader with a proven track record in delivering global strategic and enterprise wide programmes totalling over $1billion. He provides technical advisory to global mergers and acquisitions across multiple countries and cultures, large scale global transformation programs, enterprise-wide cyber security governance, digital strategic planning, and the creation of operational efficiencies.

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