According to findings from The Cloud Industry Forum, almost nine in ten (89%) businesses are fully immersed in one cloud-based service or another, with adoption levels continuing to rise. For the first time in the cloud’s history, cloud infrastructure receives almost a fifth of businesses’ total IT budgets (19%), surpassing on-premise and legacy expenditure by 18%.
One of the biggest lessons learnt throughout this journey is that the cloud is different – and it had to be. The giants that created the platforms wanted to attract the masses, and they wouldn’t have been half as successful if they were simply recreating the customer’s environment on a cheaper tin. Innovation was key.
And so, the journey began. Customers dipped their collective toes in, and then, once confidence was achieved, implemented a cloud-first policy that completely transformed their IT practice.
But, what if you’re not there yet? It’s definitely healthy to look back at the lessons learnt from those who bravely stepped out of the sanctuary of their own data centre and put their prized possessions into someone else’s hands. This wasn’t sitting and worrying about your child’s first ever sleepover; this was sending them away on an indefinite exchange trip.
Connectivity is key in the first step to the cloud
You are effectively breaking the perimeter for the first time and allowing a path to and from your data centre. Things were simpler with that wall in place. You controlled everything, including the ability to watch and monitor the behaviour of your infrastructure at any given time of day or night.
One of the first observations regarding traffic management was that not all routes to the cloud are equal. Some connections gave basic connectivity only. This was a shock to some who not only were used to monitoring traffic, but also shaping it for priority during peak times. Having the ability to assign more bandwidth to mission-critical apps was a given and, even though it is possible to do it in the cloud, not being able to do this between your two locations was a problem.
Fortunately, there are some firewall technologies that allow for on-premise behaviour of traffic management to be consistent across the link between HQ, the cloud, and multiple cloud vendor platforms. This is an important area to consider when acknowledging the cloud, as it is a good example of this maturing.
If we dig deeper into other areas that caused confidence to increase, the vendors themselves were a contributing factor by adapting their own portfolios to be cloud-capable. Vendors started to realise that it wasn’t realistic simply to deploy their on-premise solutions in a software fashion on the cloud. There were many features that weren’t required or simply didn’t work: a new approach was needed. As the cloud architecture evolves, a new form of tool is becoming available that can monitor things from the inside.
Here, the cloud generation of products was born.
Why would this be important? We talked about areas of the cloud that are different to on-premise and the evolving steps that have occurred. One of the slower areas keeping pace is the general knowledge of cloud-based platforms within organisations. In this era of constant attacks and zero-day threats, this is a big concern. Gartner have said that 80% of future cloud breaches will be due to customer misconfiguration, mismanaged credentials, or insider theft – not cloud provider vulnerabilities. Having a comprehensive view of your infrastructure is vital.
The cloud generation demands the next wave of management options and sitting ‘inside’ – as opposed to ‘outside’ – the cloud’s walls. This will enable your shiny new engine not only to perform just as they said it would, but also help keep you one step ahead of the bad guys.
One of the attractions of the cloud is developer freedom. This is because the cloud gives developers the ability to test and deploy at lightning speed. CISOs, however, find this much less attractive. Though developers don’t want to be tied to a strict process, CISOs struggle to get the visibility they need when cloud instances are spun up by individuals or groups. The cloud separates the two: developers want to build fast and CISOs want to stay secure.
Likewise, current SIEM tools are important and can offer great reporting at incredible speeds. However, speed in this area is not always the only thing you need. If a tool reports back quickly on a wealth of issues with suggestions of areas to address for resolution, you then not only have to factor in the time for these fixes, but also have to figure out if you have the knowledge to address them.
The cloud is an enabler, and choosing a platform that offers visibility, reporting, and automatic remediation will free up specialised resources to concentrate on other benefits that the cloud offers.