Cloud Adoption and Cyber Revolution
Cloud computing has emerged as a new paradigm shift in hosting and delivering internet services. In this era of digital transformation, cloud computing plays a key role in acting as a catalyst for the transformation. Cloud-enabled business models and services have become prominent in supporting organizations to adopt novel technologies to enhance customer experience and differentiate business strategies from the competitors.
Organizations are creating more cloud-based platforms to perform core business functions. In 2021, cloud-based services are processing a total workload of nearly 94% and cloud adoption is becoming the new normal.
Trends in Cloud Adoption
According to IDC’s State of the Cloud Security report, 85% of the organizations are using cloud services from different cloud providers and 93% of the organizations will use cloud services from multiple cloud providers within another 12 months. The report also showcased that 53% of the C-level executives are trying to adopt a “cloud-first” policy for their IT service capabilities.
Based on a recent report by Gartner, hybrid cloud solutions will continue to drive overall cloud adoption in India. Forrester stressed that hybrid clouds are the future state of computing and storage for enterprises. RightScale observed that organizations are already running applications in 3.1 clouds on average. According to a report by f5, multi-cloud enables the best cloud for the app strategy.
Enterprises’ Perception on Public Cloud – An Overview
Organizations or enterprises never considered cloud adoption as the key focus area from 2006 to 2010. Cloud adoption obtained its prominence in the year 2011 and cloud services were used for development and testing purposes but not for production purposes. In 2013, specific production workloads have been moved into the cloud, yet cloud services were not considered as completely secure and safe.
In 2016, more and more workloads were moved into public or hybrid cloud services, and these services offered an enhanced security environment. From 2018 onwards, the concept of using multiple cloud services came into being, even though multi-cloud services brought in more complexities.
Cloud Transformation Journey
The journey towards cloud transformation started with the transformation from the traditional IT infrastructure to the dedicated and homogenous IT infrastructure. Components, controls, and storage were added to the traditional IT infrastructure. Prior to the adoption of cloud services, space was a constraint in traditional IT infrastructure as organizations had to utilize the storage space within the organization or data centers.
Enterprises were facing a lot of connectivity issues such as point-to-point connections, MPLS connections, etc., which were complex to manage in the traditional IT infrastructure. When organizations face more and more connectivity issues, situations of system downtime also occurs that force the skilled workforce to work round the clock to maintain the uptime for the traditional IT infrastructure.
Later, traditional IT infrastructure evolved by integrating with the private cloud services that allowed the workloads to move to the private clouds. Public cloud services were gradually adopted by enterprises, which created a multi-cloud ecosystem. The major challenges of integrating cloud services were centralization of cloud management and governance that have been taken care of today.
The future of IT infrastructure will be the adoption of hybrid cloud services, which will be the combination of traditional IT infrastructure and private-public cloud. The future of cloud transformation will partially depend on the traditional IT infrastructure and largely on the public cloud. However, the manageability will be centralized and the organizations will use managed services in operationalizing as well as in ensuring the security of the ecosystem.
Cloud Adoption Drivers
When it comes to cloud adoption, there is an upsurge in the need for reliable, secure, and redundant cloud accessibility. Organizations are progressing to cloud adoption to keep up the pace of the advancements in technology and obtain a maximum output with minimal cost and risks.
Some of the drivers that trigger cloud adoption in organizations are:
- Flexibility and choice of applications
- Extend the IT resource capacity of existing on-premise infrastructure without capital expense
- Maximize return on existing on-premise IT investment and use of public cloud/IaaS for new workloads
- Right balance between speed, innovation, and security/risk
- Migrate workloads as needed between private/public cloud and on-premise/off-premise environments
- Integrate core business systems and data (systems of record) to enable interaction with customer/end-user facing digital initiatives (systems of engagement)
- Non-requirement for an off-site location for business continuity or disaster recovery
Challenges of Cloud Adoption
As discussed earlier in this article, governance/control and security are the major concerns. Other challenges of cloud adoption include visibility and multi-cloud operations.
Security: The risk of cloud adoption increases during the implementation and management of cloud services. The security issues of cloud adoption include data breaches, compromised authentication and credentials, account hijacking, and hacked interfaces and APIs.
Governance/Control: To ensure that the IT assets are implemented securely, proper IT governance should be in place. Right policies and procedures help to control and maintain the IT assets in a proper manner to execute business strategy and achieve business goals.
Visibility: Cloud visibility is the accessibility to the data from the cloud that allows organizations to recognizing security threats and inefficiency in performance. If the cloud visibility is compromised, the organizations do not get access to the cloud assets while working on hybrid and multi-cloud environments. Enterprises will not be able to monitor and address certain issues including who is accessing the cloud services or from where the traffic is coming in.
Multi-cloud Operations: The learning curve in multi-cloud operations is quite challenging because the operations team may lack expertise in the tools and services of every cloud platform. Migration of apps and services from the existing cloud solutions to multiple clouds is also a challenge. Multi-cloud operations may have to meet multiple compliance requirements also.
Approach to Cloud Security
Cloud security services are the tools, technologies, controls, services, and policies that defend cloud infrastructure, applications, and data from security threats. The holistic approach to cloud security includes:
- Cloud Security Controls Review: This is to ensure that proper cloud security is in place by examining the cloud configuration. The cloud security control review includes service policy configuration, storage service configuration and management, monitoring, and disaster recovery. The security review will mitigate threats caused by misconfigurations.
- Cloud Management and Migration Services: Though vigilant cloud adoption enhances the security of the organization, cloud services also pose threats to organizations. Management of cloud services by assessing security implications while migrating resources to the cloud will reduce the exposure of sensitive information.
- Cloud DR/BC Planning: Cloud disaster recovery (DR)/business continuity (BC) planning is a process that prepares the organization to reduce the effects of security events. The role of BC/DR planning is to minimize disruptions in business operations and decrease the probability of emergencies.
- Cloud Governance: It is the framework that monitors how end-users avail cloud services by developing policies to reduce security risks, enhance operational efficiency, and increase the speed of deployment.
- Cloud Security Architecture Design: It is a strategy designed to protect and monitor/manage enterprise data and related applications in the cloud. Security becomes the priority when more and more enterprises are shifting the infrastructure and data to the cloud. Enterprises have to be competitive by including new capabilities and enhancing the efficiency of cloud operations.
- Cloud Security Monitoring (Cloud SecOps): Cloud security monitoring helps to safeguard the data in the cloud by preventing unauthorized access.
- Cloud Authentication Security Brokers (CASB): CASB is an application that helps organizations secure and manage their data in the cloud. It offers firewalls, encryption, tokenization, malware detection, threat prevention, device profiling, authorization, and many more.
Advantages of Cloud Managed Services
Managed service providers help enterprises to manage the computing, network, storage, and operating systems of the end-users. These providers use complex applications and tools to offer comprehensive cloud management support. Effective cloud management is the highest priority of enterprises to address challenges in cloud infrastructure. Here are the advantages of using cloud managed services:
- Advisory support
- Baselining of the infra resources
- Creation of Roadmap
- Application migration POC (optional)
Visibility and Control
- Unified dashboard
- Application modeling
- Application lifecycle management
- Application migration
- Advanced integration with 3rd party applications or tools
- Custom service framework creation
- Blueprint creation (modeling) of Brownfield Application
- Cloud Cost Optimization
How businesses are benefitted from cloud adoption?
The revolution of cloud adoption offers transformative effects on businesses. There are several types of cloud services, of which, three of them are the major ones such as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Cloud adoption offers cost savings, scalability, reduced downtime, huge data storage, faster deployment, better operational efficiency, improved quality, reduced automation total cost ownership (TCO), and so on. Some of the benefits are as follows:
- Deploy applications more rapidly
- Add, change, and delete cloud applications and users with ease
- Move application workloads across multiple cloud environments
- Reduce both the IT and user effort
- Optimize workload placement
- Benchmark to determine the best price and performance
Security and Control
- Apply centralized, policy-based governance
- Apply policy-based interconnect and network location
- Deploy a penetration-trusted solution
- Comply with FIPS cryptography requirements
- Apply detailed financial controls
Multi-cloud environment is a complex scenario, which is largely adopted by enterprises. A multi-cloud platform is used by enterprises to utilize more than one cloud platform and each cloud platform in a multi-cloud environment offers a specific service or application. A multi-cloud environment consists of public, private, and edge computing clouds that enable enterprises to achieve their end goals.
Cloud adoption is the future as it offers beyond storage solutions. Identifying the cloud adoption trends will help enterprises to enhance cybersecurity, data accessibility, and data management that offer a competitive edge over other organizations.