Afore Solutions, a cloud security startup based in Ottawa, Ontario, has locked up another deal in cloud security technology, adding a partnership with Microsoft’s Bitlocker encryption to the mix. Afore’s moves reflect growing demand for security solutions that can make enterprises more confident about using cloud services.
Security may be key to the growth in the cloud services market, whereby IT managers put the trust of their applications and their data in the hands of an outsourced data-center provider. They need more security solutions that give them control and visibility into what’s happening with their data in the cloud.
As Afore Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer Jonathan Reeves points out, despite the publicity about cloud, it’s still not a mainstream approach for many large enterprises, which are very concerned about data security when their applications and data are running on a virtual machine in somebody else’s data center.
“There is a lot of hype about cloud, but enterprises are slow to move on big change because it’s hard to do,” said Reeves in an interview with the Rayno Report this week. “Major IT projects take 2-3 years. There are lot of careful steps that have to be taken.”
Infonetics recently conducted a survey that indicated security is the number one issue for customers of cloud services. “There is no real surprise in that,” points out Reeves.
Reeves says cloud growth has been picking up in recent months, and he believes that better security solutions will help build confidence. “We’ve seen a shift recently. The economics are getting better. With Amazon’s aggressive pricing, it’s brought the economics to make sense.”
In this market, Afore’s approach is straightforward: It has deployed its CloudLink SecureVM to all of the largest cloud and virtualization platforms, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, VMware vCloud and Microsoft Hyper-V environments.
Afore’s encryption solution secures data at the operating system (OS) level in a virtualized environment. This is important because as businesses large and small move increasingly to cloud services, they want control over their data, even though it may be booting up on a machine in somebody else’s data center.
In the lastest addition, CloudLink SecureVM for Microsoft’s BitLocker, Afore believes IT managers will have more control of encryption in the cloud. BitLocker stores encryption keys on a Trusted Patform Module (TPM) on a computer’s motherboard. But when a computer is virtualized, the creation of a virtual machine loses access to that TPM, giving up security control. CloudLink SecureVM allows IT departments to centrally manage data encryption and OS boot security policy in virtualized environments.
“We control how the machine boots up,” says Reeves. “We run our own loader software. This has got a lot of attention. The [IT departments] want to do something that is consistent with the OS that they use.”
That’s what many IT managers are looking for in a mature cloud environment: The convenience of outsourcing their applications and data to the cloud, without the loss of security and control.
Afore, which was founded in has about 32 employees, according to Reeves. Its most recent funding round was $6M in June of 2013.