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“Moving to the Cloud” by Sean C. Randles

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“Moving to the Cloud” by Sean C. Randles

Posted by: Maria Roman
Category: News Letter

While the words “Cloud computing” might scare people nowadays with all the risks that COULD potentially happen, there are plenty of unseen benefits that I believe could be utilized when it comes to implementing it into the power industry.

 

The major scare that jumps out when talking about use of the cloud for data storage is security. After reading the article titled “Cloud Computing for the Power Grid: From Service Composition to Assured Clouds,” I believe that the author(s) states this concern very well when they say “…the migration of power system applications to the cloud would require stringent security guarantees in order to meet the reliability needs of power system operation and be compliant with regulations. The requirements can be very diverse, depending on the application.” (Dan,2013, p.3) While the previous statement is true in the sense there needs to be very reliable security guarantees in place in order to upload these SCADA/DCS systems applications and data to the cloud, there are other industries, such as the banking industry, that are utilizing both public and private clouds to hold their data, meaning that it is doable and realistic.

 

The author goes on to provide an answer to the previous concern stating that “.…security guarantees have to be implemented at the application layer with no support for assured computing from the cloud provider, as is the case in today’s public clouds.” (Dan,2013, p. 4)The key difference between these industries is that the power industry deals with critical infrastructure, requiring availability 24/7. What if there is an outage? How can we guarantee that we will be able to pull that information from the cloud? This is a great point because service outages are real issues, as well as power outages.

 

I believe the author provides a reasonable answer to this problem stating, “the availability of cloud-based computations can be improved by replicating network connections to cloud service providers and by replicating cloud-based computations and storage over several independent clouds.” (Dan,2013, p. 4) Distributing this through many different clouds could ensure availability, acting in a redundant fashion, and redundancy is seen in many utilities in today’s world.

 

This can lead into the final foreseeable issue though, which is where these cloud servers will be located. This is another great question because we don’t want data from these SCADA/DCS systems being held in different countries, countries that could be considered either allies or foes. The answer to this is utilizing sovereign clouds, “which are a specific form of community clouds whose physical location is guaranteed to be within a nation, could address the legal issues that arise from the physical location of cloud data centers.” (Dan,2013, p. 5)

 

The fact of the matter is that there are solutions that can be taken away from these foreseeable issues. As more entities move to the cloud to handle their data, its use will almost certainly bring along new compliance requirements and/or standards regarding the topic of “Cloud Computing.”

 

There was already been a meeting between FERC this past month in which they talked about utilizing Amazon Web Services and moving data to its cloud. I, personally, believe it will bring along with it more pros than cons for the power industry and will keep with it its reliable operation. The author goes more in-depth into the article about the applications it can benefit and how they can be utilized in the cloud, so please go take a look.

 

References

Dan, G., Bobba, R. B., Gross, G., & Campbell, R. H. (2013). Cloud Computing for the Power Grid: From Service Composition to Assured Clouds. Retrieved from

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/4d4a/3e14b0bf4b8252dd5f08e83a32b601d9bbef.pdf

Author: Maria Roman