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Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing: Alan Perkins, CIO of Altium (Part 4)

Posted on Friday, Dec 24th 2010

By Sramana Mitra and guest author Shaloo Shalini

SM: That is interesting to know. You are saying that for large file transfers you, don’t use any of the services like youSENDit?

AP: Typically not. Obviously, there are a few places within Altium where people individually use such services. Some of my IT team use a range of different utilities. Frankly, I don’t know what some of these newer utilities are. But I know our development and R&D team, they use a number of such utilities as well, it is not a particularly big issue for us.

SM: I see. Going back to the topic of this electronic marketplace that you are about to launch in the next two months or so – that is typically a scenario where conceivably there are a lot of large files, large design files that are in play, right?

AP: Yes.

SM: These are EDA design files that can be really large at times.

AP: Yes, they can be. In that particular case, Amazon may have a range of services for uploading large files including the option whereby if you really want to have enormous files – and I’m talking about terabytes – then I suppose there are ways to deal with them. I can’t see that being an issue for us but if it is, we have the option to send physical hardware to get things up initially as well.

SM: Now how do you envision designers around the world working on this marketplace? How do you envision them using this marketplace and collaborating in it? I guess the way to put it this question is, What is your collaborative design strategy for this marketplace?

AP: We see a community using an identity service model whereby each person is identified by a unique GUID and he or she manages their own accounts using a set of services or a single sign-on approach. We have a central repository – this is their vault. We, as a provider of vault service, would not be able to see inside their vault. Users would be able to communicate, collaborate with their design, and collaborate with other vaults as they see fit. If people want to make their vaults partially public and partially private, they can choose to do so. If they want to make them completely private, they sure can, it is just a question of how they want to communicate.

SM: But what happens if I have designers working in my private vault and I have identified some other designer’s component that I want to bring in to my design? I’m not talking about collaborating in the public environment but at least with this other designer. Can bring that person in or screen share with that person, share my design with that person only and talk to him or her? What are your assumptions for this workforce model?

AP: Well I don’t know some of the specifics about that. In terms of the design vaults, they are going to remain very much private. It is the release vaults that are going to be shared. This sharing is not for compiled design that you can’t sort of share. Those that you share are the sort of designs that are finished components. You are sharing the actual finished goods in this model. In terms of internal designs that you need to collaborate on, you are going to have to collaborate with people using sharing your design through a back process. If you had any specific questions, we would have to meet our engineers who are using this and can share more insights about use model. I’m not familiar with some of these work practices.

SM: What about security? What are your assumptions around cloud-based security? Could you share what have you done in your own company?

AP: Well, the first assumption is that the cloud providers like Amazon are not insecure. In terms of the fundamental physical security model, they can do a much better job of securing the physical storage of the files than we can.

SM: We agree on that, yes.

AP: That is the first thing I think. I talk to a lot to CIOs who have this fundamental worry that they can do a better job than cloud providers, and I believe that is fundamentally incorrect.

SM: I fully agree with that.

AP: Just recently I was looking at a blog on Salesforce, and they are talking about bulletproof data management and all sorts of different things. I think the physical layer security is pretty clear. The next thing in terms of access to the Force platform, you have to have a software layer that says this is your sign or this is your access point; do you have access to this particular vault? To manage that level of security in the vault there is an identity services facility which basically says, Okay based upon your log in detail and so forth, do you have access? What do you have access to? What access do you have on the vault? And once you have access to your vault, you set up your own user identification in this facility, and you have to manage that. I’m just wondering how much detail you want in some of these areas.

SM: You can go into details, we are generally a technical audience.

AP: Okay. Some of the aspects of vault security are still being finalized because we haven’t quite got some of these issues sorted out completely. And I probably will need to talk to somebody about some details, I’m not entirely sure whether some of the stuff can be shared yet, but suffice it to say that security is taken very seriously in the vault offering. If customers want to manage all of this in-house, then they can.

SM: What about the permissions and identity management?

AP: There are a lot of layers to security. Going back to traditional EDA type stuff, first of all, in each organization you have issues surrounding what kind of components designer are or are not allowed to use in their designs. That is the first layer. Each company has a range of business rules, designer rules. For example, you must source supplies from this type of company, you must use manufacturers that are XYZ, you must have this degree of tolerance, you must meet these kinds of hazard chemical rulings, etc. All of those aspects of the design are already built into this system that we have, and the ultimate designer interfaces to that level of detail that you have, such as the overlays of the procurement process, taking account of all your business rules, and so on. That won’t change in this design vault space, but I’m not quite sure what you are looking for beyond that in terms of security.

This segment is part 4 in the series : Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing: Alan Perkins, CIO of Altium
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