Mike Howard is the Chief Security Officer at Microsoft.  In this article Mike provides a powerful insight into how Microsoft runs it’s security operation on a global basis.

At the end of 2010 Microsoft Global Security was at a crossroads, how could we meet the continuing needs of our business to deliver a world class secure working environment, while remaining efficient, driving down our costs and improving productivity by using scalable and extensible solutions.

GSOC TVP 1We realized that the cloud was the most viable option to help meet our goals, and we would need a strategy to understand, develop and put in place cloud security. Fortunately, for us the needs of Global Security and the business of Microsoft were in alignment. For MSGS, cloud technology is a priority, it wasn’t mandated – we chose it, understanding the benefits it would provide.

Cloud innovation can be compared to the development of the printing press – in that in the security cloud, users can consume security applications without owning the infrastructure, just as readers of books do so without owning a printing factory. Cloud technology, lowers or eliminates the transaction cost of existing functions. It enables previously unthinkable functions to become affordable because they can be delivered on a mass scale, in a cost effective manner.

When we looked at the cloud, the questions we asked were:

  • How will this enable us to be more efficient and provide deeper insights and agility for the functions of security?
  • How will we add business value to the services we offer?

This business value has come in many forms.

GSOC TVP 2For example; during a crisis situation abroad, we can use the cloud to quickly visualize where traveling Microsoft employees are. The cloud provides relevant information from several sources at once, in a few clicks Global Security knows who needs to be contacted, and where. With cloud based partner apps from conTgo, MapCast and IDV Visual Command Center we are better able to save lives because having the right information enables quick response which is key in life threatening situations. Here is an example of how we used these tools during the Arab Spring

Going forward there is greater flexibility and opportunity to deliver many new security functions with real-time data, as a consumable experience to anybody, anywhere, anytime. There are also new opportunities for functions that have yet to become mainstream and the cloud is an ideal mechanism to deliver them as-a-service.

As we reached the realization that apps as we know them today will become a consumable service, the Cloud became an “all-in” proposition for Global Security. Good things are built on a solid foundation. The reality is that the foundation requires the right environment in which it can be developed and tested and Microsoft provides that environment.

As we continue our journey to the cloud, we’re exploring new possibilities for the delivery of security services on platforms and devices that did not exist even a short time ago. The possibilities that this family of devices and platforms offer are phenomenal, and even more exciting, is the opportunity to make a meaningful difference when it comes to saving lives. This sharpens our focus.

Mike Howard

Chief Security Officer - Microsoft

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