A Good IDEA in the Cloud

A Good IDEA in the Cloud

This piece was originally published in the July 2016 issue of electroindustry.

Paul Molitor, President and CEO, Industry Data Exchange Association (IDEA)

Computer servers panels with blue lights and cloud computing services

The increasing reliance on cloud computing implies an increasing reliance on data centers. For this reason, we must strive to make them as secure, reliable, and efficient as possible.

In January 2015, RightScale, a consultancy specializing in cloud computing services, surveyed 930 IT professionals from companies of various sizes about their adoption of cloud infrastructures. The results (available at rightscale.com) show that 88 percent of enterprises are using public cloud services and 68 percent are using a private cloud. This is a huge development, given that cloud computing barely existed a decade ago.

Paul Moliter
Paul Moliter

IDEA relies very heavily on cloud infrastructures to provide its industry data warehouse service (IDW). As users, we naturally have concerns about both the communication and electrical aspects of the providers we choose. The fundamentals of network security, on the communications side of our concern, are well known. Routing, switching, and server nodes on the internet have been the target of hackers for a number of years. Security of the electrical infrastructure—both in the electric utility company and the data center provider—is much less known.

That is why we were excited to see the release of NEMA’s CPSP 1-2015 Supply Chain Best Practices last fall. This standard focuses on four key areas of the product lifecycle:

  • Product inception: ensuring that the components of the electrical infrastructure are free of viruses and backdoor vulnerabilities
  • Tamper-proofing: ensuring that the integrity of the device is maintained to the point of installation
  • Operations: ensuring that the security features of the product can be updated in the field
  • Decommissioning: ensuring that the product cannot be used to penetrate a secure network after its useful life has been expended

We see the implementation and adoption of this standard by data center operators as critical to reliability in our business. And, as testing regimes for the standard are implemented, IDEA looks forward to the day when we can ask our data center partners for their statements of compliance with CPSP 1-2015.

The other thing we’re excited to see is NEMA’s continued focus on energy efficiency for data centers as part of the Energy Policy Modernization Act. Given that electricity usage is one of the major expenses for a data center, companies like IDEA could use the energy-efficiency ratings proposed by NEMA as a means to compare potential providers.


Read this month’s issue of electroindustry.

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