Into the Cloud – Part III

Into the Cloud – Part III

Part III: Cloud security cannot be treated as an afterthought

Pre-empting Cloud security solutions may just solve everyone’s problems. Here’s how:

Almost 95% of Accenture’s applications are purportedly hosted on the Cloud. A case study of the same revealed up to a 70% reduction in build costs, an average drop of 50% in time for operations going live, and a three times faster speed of build compared to legacy security tools quietly underlines the need for the same.

PaaS and Cloud complexities

Conservative estimates put the CAGR for the Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) industry at a solid 20% – expected to cross $160 billion by 2026. This, against the backdrop of the already-$450 billion global Cloud computing industry growing at a CAGR of over 16% to become almost a trillion-dollar industry by 2026 makes the scope for the growth of a combination of the two industries – a global Cloud computing platform-as-a-service in an extremely healthy position.

As Cloud migration evolves to become increasingly complex, the original lift-and-shift focus of point-in-time virtual machines is today giving way to hybrid multi-Cloud computing environments – coupled with heavy investment in Platform-as-a-Service models.

Whilst introducing transparency into such a complex environment is in no way a mean feat, it is imperative in monitoring a dynamic computing environment. The lack of a formal strategy and strong governance guidelines may lead to Cloud computing initiatives becoming duplicative, exorbitantly costly, with longer time-to-value, and more reactive (as opposed to proactive) when it comes to security – thereby, redundant.

Whilst the buy-versus-build argument in third parties keeping up with native and dynamic Cloud service providers is a central one, selecting a specialized application based on functionality and security considerations is as important in deciding what level of complexity organizations should strive for in selecting the basis of their Cloud infrastructure provider. Beyond these, the replicability of consistent security controls over a multi-Cloud environment at scale becomes unequivocally crucial.

Whilst risk mitigation and data protection need to be priorities in embedding Cloud security, more often than not, it is embedded more as an afterthought than as a pre-planned aspect to be given the degree of importance it clearly deserves. Security, so to say, needs to be moved to the ‘left’, i.e., the start of the line. Accenture opines:

“Cloud needs different tools and skills to on-premise. Cloud needs to be treated like the rest of the software development lifecycle. Changes need to be made in the same way as any application—by checking in and checking out code. If we fail to “move security to the left”, poor alignment, weak governance, manual processes, legacy tools, and skills gaps will encourage executives to look upon security as the function holding the business back.”

Keyword: Cloud

Firms must consider, in this regard, hitting five major keywords for Cloud security:

  • Speed: Fast deployment is key – i.e., Cloud service providers using native accelerators enabling security capabilities to be deployed within minutes or hours rather than months.
  • Smooth: Embedding security solutions into existing business processes and operational teams on the Cloud is imperative.
  • Proactive: Pre-empting controls in order to block accidental or malicious security incidents occurring is crucial. Cloud security cannot be treated as an afterthought.
  • Scalable:  Applying “automation and self-healing processes to reduce manual steps and break(ing) the resourcing model of adding headcount to enable organizations to scale” is crucial to success on the Cloud.
  • Cost-effective: There is much prudence in incorporating security into a Cloud system proactively – it prevents excess expenditure down the line in having to re-do existing systems.

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