Elastic Clarifies How Cloud ‘Cleaned-Up’ The Work From Home Directive – Forbes

The Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic disrupted everything, from weddings to weekend away-days, the world has had to re-invent, readjust and refactor as the operational mechanics of daily life around the planet were thrown in and out of kilter.

While professionals working in roles like marketing, sales and the more easily defined aspects of administration or client liaison found the sudden work from home orders comparatively easy to shoulder, a great many professions found the “log in from home” directive to be more challenging. These were (and still are) the jobs that require secure systems access due to the highly sensitive, highly mission-, enterprise- or life-critical nature of the work.

One of those jobs was the role of traders on the stock market.

Wall Street on your street

Recreating enterprise system strength, agility and robustness via a laptop login is no plug-and-play affair. The pandemic drove IT systems architecture and engineering teams far beyond the strategic platform transformation projects that their employers had laid down for the next five to ten years. A lot of these things had to happen inside a month, inside a week and in some cases almost overnight.

So could the highly regulated, heavily controlled trading floors of the largest stock markets have moved to the living room floor that quickly?

According to Dan Broom, AVP for Northern Europe at petabyte-level enterprise search company Elastic, of all the technologies we have had at our disposal, cloud computing platforms – although still-nascent in so many respects – were in the right place at the right time in terms of enabling remote, virtualized yet appropriately secured data and applications services to happen, quite literally from people’s living rooms and kitchen tables.

“As dry as it may seem, a new increasingly cloud-native IT world order is happening because cloud brings with it a far better opportunity for auditing. When you lift layers of infrastructure (and all of its data with it ) to the cloud, it’s actually finally possible to get a true picture of IT, warts and all. So as virtualized as so much of any cloud instance is, it is that abstracted nature that helps to afford clarity and (for the right people under policy approved guidelines) insight and control,” said Broom.

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His firm, which is behind the Elastic Stack technology platform, is a search company built on a free and open heritage offering three solutions for enterprise search, observability and security, in one technology stack.

Cloud, as a cleansing agent

Across financial (and other industry vertical) enterprises of all sizes, there are decades of IT infrastructure that on one side have delivered huge benefits, but on the other continue to eat cost, increase complexity and stifle innovation through overlapping bureaucracies. Broom notes that cloud has been a cleansing agent for many firms, not least by revealing vast duplications in vendors, services and data. In fact, duplicated (and perhaps even duplicitous) data often exposes problems in the on-premises pre-cloud world through a process as trivial as the hours spent locating a document. More urgently, data also helps when identifying the source of a security breach.

Optimizing business operations and defending the digital perimeter of an organization starts within the masses of data that organizations are already collecting. But with no way to quickly surface critical insights, many businesses are at a distinct disadvantage. Broom insists that this problem is addressed for users of Elastic’s search platform, which gives them a singular datastore underpinned by a powerful search engine.

The platform has seen significant uptake in the developer community both in on-premises (private cloud) and off-premise (i.e. public cloud) environments. What has made Elastic’s technology useful to this group of business users is the speed at which data is ingested as it enters the organization. It means that teams across the business develop the apps and services that depend on that data far quicker easier.

So it’s no longer a question of how to find the needle in the haystack, it’s now more directly a question of what size needle you want, when you want it and what you want to do with it?

Everybody’s talking about observability

Elastic’s Broom talks of another priority that has increased massively in volume across the last two or three years. Improvements in IT observability have enabled those stock market traders, pharmaceutical professionals, government workers and countless others in previously highly controlled environments to live the hybrid working dream.

“Precisely locating a needle in a digital haystack means having the ability to see the entire haystack. Within the walls of an office building, solutions like Application Performance Monitoring (APM) have had limited use-cases. But now those walls have come down and are likely to remain that way, the use-case is nearly infinite and the observable IT universe must also expand to meet this need.”

A near-infinite audit trail may sound like a regulator’s dream, but it has the adverse effect of lifting the breaks on innovation. Aside from muting that classic notion of technology moving too fast for regulation, it also builds greater confidence for the other major barrier to change – security. For the Security Operations Center (SOC) analyst, more IT observability helps take the guessing game out of data. The cracks become easier to spot and the remedies more preventative.

Here is where Broom throws down the gauntlet for any organization or indeed economy looking towards a future of growth and prosperity. The past year has shown that the more digital a business, the more resilient it becomes. Developers, IT and security professionals have long understood this. But while the urgency for a seismic reset is clear, the ability to deliver the pace of innovation necessary to drive a sustainable recovery is less so.

“Success will depend on how quickly developers can make this data accessible. The speed at which IT and the business as a whole can act on it — and critically, how we can ensure that this evermore valuable data is protected. To do this we must bring together the seemingly disparate disciplines of enterprise search, IT observability and data security,” concluded Broom.

Why the long-er pause?

All this may seem like an obvious plug for Elastic’s business and its technology proposition, but Broom also acknowledges some hurdles not even Elastic can overcome. For starters, there’s that interoperability conundrum which he believes continues to plague the industry. A lack of standards will certainly put a dampener on rapid innovation. Without these, the big reset we have all been waiting for could become an even longer pause.

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