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 What Would Joe Do?
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

The Cloud: It’s Not Who You Know

February 14th, 2012 by Peggy Aycinena


Thousands of people are in the Santa Clara Convention Center this week for Cloud Connect 2012, and I don’t know any of them. They’re all in IT, and apparently those people don’t overlap with EDA people.

After spending several hours in the Exhibit Hall this afternoon, talking to folks in booths and in hallways, the only person I found was a guy in a Big Company booth who told me his wife used to work for Synopsys, and before that for Cadence. He knew a lot about SalesForce and financial services, but that’s not exactly like knowing how EDA’s needs are being met in the Cloud.

So why go to the conference? For one, the Cloud’s got a lot of buzz, and the issues are fascinating and complex. And for two, chip design is really compute intensive and requires a lot of data be manipulated, stored, and shuttled from here to there. Doing chip design in the Cloud is a natural fit, and if the designs are going to be done out there, the EDA tools have got to be out there as well. But are they?

You and I both know they are, and so do the CAD Managers in the Big Design organizations, as well as the Cloud Managers in the Big EDA organizations. Just because I didn’t run into those people at Cloud Connect, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. They do indeed exist, and they’re damn busy dealing with all of the issues I heard discussed today in the Exhibit Hall, in the morning’s keynote, and in the afternoon’s technical sessions.

Those issues include – figuring out when it’s time to migrate some or all of your engineering apps to the Cloud, figuring out if your Cloud’s going to be private, public, or a hybrid of both, figuring out which consulting services are best suited to help you with the process of getting everything up there, and then figuring how much all of that’s going to cost.

Then there’s figuring out which web service provider should be hosting your data and data crunching, and figuring out if the latency issues that result from designing in the Cloud will, or will not, outweigh the benefits of access to enhanced on-demand compute & storage capacity and reduced IT infrastructure costs.

There are also issues related to disaster recovery. The presumption must be that outages will occur. It can’t be about MTBF, per Opscode’s Jesse Robbins. It’s got to be about MTTR, Mean Time To Recovery. What are you going to do when your web service provider goes dark?

Oh yeah, and there’s one other thing, the issue that swamps all of the rest of them combined – security. How do you keep your design secure as it evolves, if the process is being hosted on a server outside your firewall? And if you’re an EDA vendor, how can you guarantee that your tools are safe out there, protected from both piracy and attack?

Well, from what I heard today, you actually can’t. You can’t keep your design secure, and you can’t protect the tools from piracy and/or attack – at least not 100% – and it’s learning that which made my trip to Cloud Connect worthwhile.

Even though they were reluctant to admit it, there wasn’t a single person I met today who claimed that security on the Cloud is a done deal, that it’s as secure as keeping designs, tools, data – stuff in general – on your own rack of servers, in your own cozy data center, nice and safe and sound inside your own impenetrable firewall. And that’s the reality of the State of the Cloud here in 2012.

It’s not who you know in the Cloud. It’s who you don’t know. They’re the ones who want to steal what you’ve got, bust what you’ve got, or just mess around with what you’ve got merely for the reason that Evil is Real. Here on Earth, and up there in the Cloud.

So, deal with it. Figure out how to make things 99.99% secure with all of the strategies already underway – protocols, encryptions, and most amusingly, getting your web service provider to promise they’re working to the latest industry standards – and then accept the fact that the Cloud is here to stay.

As Geva Perry said in his Cloud Connect keynote, CIOs everywhere are trying to keep their employees from migrating to the Cloud without permissions. However, Perry said, the employees are already out there, so work with them and help them make the move to the Cloud happen in as secure a way as possible. Deal with it.


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