HostingCon 2014 proposed innovative concepts to further the future of the hosting sector based on current events and end user expectations. Globalization was a notable theme that has been present ever since the term “World Wide Web” was officially coined in 1990. However, effective global communications and flexible bandwidth opportunities have made cloud-based hosting a popular option for businesses in various industries. End user expectations are higher than ever, and innovative hosting options allow companies to meet end user demands.
Additionally, online regulation and security has been a major concern for decades. However, the nature of malicious online attacks has changed substantially over the past few years. The hacking community has largely changed its agenda from juvenile pranks to illegal enterprises.
A multi-stakeholder global community was also proposed to better regulatory practices, which are currently ineffective. Recent media coverage of illegal use of the Internet has given the issue more attention to end users not strongly connected to the hosting sector. The best of HostingCon 2014 proposed innovative ways to grow businesses via secure cloud-based hosting, combat cybercrime, and promote governance.
The Buzz About Cloud-Based Hosting
Numerous industries have adopted cloud-based hosting solutions due to current events. However, many are still hesitant to adopt cloud-based hosting due to security issues associated with public clouds, especially in fields that demand high levels of privacy, such as education and healthcare.
Cloud-Based Hosting Concerns Among Highly Regulated Industries
The healthcare industry in the United States is a prime example of where the future of cloud-based hosting is headed. A recent study suggests almost all healthcare organizations plan to implement or expand existing cloud-based hosting in the foreseeable future. The 2014 HIMSS Analytics Cloud Survey found 86 percent of respondents cited hosting as a primary use of cloud services, 79 percent cited cloud services as a primary use for backup and data storage, and 77 percent cited cloud services as a primary use for hosting archived data. Respondents also cited security concerns and HIPPA compliance as top factors used when deciding whether or not to enter an agreement with a provider.
Adding Security, Cutting Reoccurring Costs, and Standardizing Public Clouds
“Standardizing Performance in the Public Cloud Arena” by speaker Kenny Li from Cloud Spector was one of the most compelling presentations at the event. Recent research suggests 70 percent of businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and government or quasi-government institutions currently use or strongly consider using a hybrid cloud solution. However, a standardized public cloud would address pertinent concerns about security, regulation, and fidelity. Additionally, reoccurring costs associated with changing hosting service providers and investing in new hardware would be mitigated.
Cloud-Based Hosting in the Entertainment Industry
Cloud-based hosting also has a notable presence in the entertainment industry. User expectations for streaming video are higher than ever. Subscription-based entertainment services are on the rise, and many utilize cloud-based hosting to meet user expectations without unnecessary costs. Users do not want to watch a grainy version of the World Cup, and users do not particularly care about company-specific bandwidth limitations. Flexible payment options and payment based on usage via cloud-based hosting is a viable way for online entertainment companies as well as large enterprises to stay in business.
Combating Concerns Regarding Cloud Security
Inadequate cloud security can have notable consequences. In one recent example, a code-hosting service had all customer data deleted by a group of extortionists that accessed the control panel used to manage infrastructure on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). The impact was costly to both parties as the attackers were unsuccessful at extorting any funds.
Awareness of cloud security is another pressing topic. Like numerous other types of security, the end user can utilize simple best practices, such as properly setting up the IAM (not using the default IAM permission provided by Amazon, as recommended by Amazon) and using strong passwords. Speaker Philbert Shih further explored numerous challenges faced by the growing hosting sector as well as historic industry trends.
Piracy, Ransomware, and Webmaster Best Practices
Internet regulation is a notoriously difficult undertaking for obvious reasons. In a presentation with an especially compelling title, “Piracy, Porn & Privacy: Why Best Practices Work,” multiple speakers explored various options for increased regulation and security. The Internet has posed challenges for regulatory agencies as well as webmasters for decades.
Combating illegal pornography, extortion, and the trade of illegal substances across borders has been in numerous news headlines in the past year. The Silk Road, Bitcoin, and the Heatbleed bug all brought attention to pressing issues. The nature of attacks has become more malicious. Instead of cruel pranks, attackers have developed complex systems for extortion and distribution of unlawful content. However, best practices can combat a large percentage of cybercrime. Often, best practices are as rudimentary as choosing a reputable hosting service or a strong password.
Globalization and Regulation in the Hosting Sector
Numerous speakers made a strong argument for the multi-stakeholder regulatory model for online activities, which would include government entities and end users. A fragmented approach to standards and regulation could be more than ineffective; it could actually promote misuse of the Internet and hosting services in various jurisdictions across the globe. Regulation is at a critical point, and a top-down approach might be more effective than the bottom-up approach by which the Internet and regulation was originally developed.
A strong regulatory community made of multiple stakeholders could provide highly effective governance for an entity in desperate need. It is difficult to deny that current regulatory practices are highly ineffective, and growing media attention has brought more awareness about the need for effective Internet regulation to end users.
The Future of Hosting Services
The hosting sector has been met with a large influx of new challenges in the past few years. It will continue to rely heavily on innovation and publicity as part of long-term solutions for end users. Best practices in security are often at the core of cybercrime, and it is currently unlikely that the most effective regulatory agencies could identify every instance where IAM default permission settings were not changed. The sustainability and growth of the hosting sector largely relies on what hosting is about, innovation and communication.
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