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The next phase of cloud: The future of digital security

Image: Adobe Stock / Connect world

Mark Anderson, senior director of Global Solutions Enablement EMEA, at Equinix curbs some common concerns surrounding the cloud and outlines why this technology is now essential to business and – if done right – can help ensure your organisation stays ahead of the curve.

Cloud-based solutions are now being adopted by businesses at a truly astounding rate. With 83% of enterprise workloads predicted to be in the cloud by 2020 this is a market that will only keep growing.

Most progressive businesses have now accepted cloud as the most economic and efficient way of solving their IT issues, and have realised the cost and flexibility outweigh any security concerns.

What companies are now appreciating is that implementing cloud-based strategies is not just an additional bolt-on, but is essential to the foundation of digital business.

Leaving behind the traditional enterprise

Most of the concerns businesses harbourregarding cloud security are around the threat of a major cyber-attack.

This of course could be devastating to a business’ reputation, and therefore performance, but is in fact, a rare occurrence.

Far more likely risks come from phishing and internal security breaches, which can be mitigated by applying best practice, user education and often, prevented by deploying cloud solutions.

To take the leap to cloud, businesses need to step away from traditional architectural approaches.

Companies have tended to treat security as a bolt-on or back-office function, in which they only secure around the enterprise on premise perimeter; as opposed to thinking about the entire span which includes cloud.

Both multi-cloud and hybrid cloud strategies can help companies step away from older enterprise models, towards a successful digital future.

Multi-cloud vs hybrid cloud

Multi-cloud is increasingly being embraced by companies because of the flexibility it provides.

Different cloud service providers tend to excel in different areas – so companies that use just one provider tend to find their needs well met in some sectors, and under-served in others.

Connected multi-cloud solutions – primarily available in advanced co-location data centres where these clouds are present – enable companies to pick and choose which cloud service providers they have access to for each different facet of their digital needs.

But multi-cloud can be an aid on the security front, too. A well-designed multi-cloud strategy can lessen the possibility of a catastrophic attack occurring, as a company’s cloud services do not sit with one single provider.

This extra degree of diversity reduces the risk of service interruption across multiple parties should there be an outage or performance issue in one particular cloud.

So, if multi-cloud strategies tick all the boxes, where does hybrid cloud come in?

For businesses looking to re-architect their IT infrastructure away from siloed and centralised models, to internetworked and co-located (thereby addressing many of the fundamental challenges of IT departments today), a balance must be found between cost-effectiveness and security – and hybrid cloud can be beneficial in this area.

Building a private cloud in a data centre can provide an extremely secure setup, offering very defined mechanisms of access, control and management.

It can almost certainly protect the business from the risk of external hacking by eschewing the public internet – but it comes at a price.

Often the most financially prudent way to provide for a business’ IT needs is to use a hybrid cloud.

Hybrid cloud solutions are taking enterprise IT by storm. Forward-thinking businesses are now setting up their cloud architecture in a way that allows them to quickly and efficiently move the most-often used workloads to and from the public cloud, while storing regulated data in a private cloud.

At first glance the idea of putting some data in a private cloud and some in a public cloud, seems to be an administrative headache, but with the right IT infrastructure and connectivity to the appropriate cloud service providers, businesses can easily distribute workloads between multiple clouds, and therefore have the best of both worlds.

Unsure which is best? Both multi-cloud and hybrid cloud can bring huge benefits to a businesses’ infrastructure, and the most advanced businesses will combine the two.

However, for all the complexity around the issue of cloud security, the solution can often be far simpler – there is no connection more secure than a private, direct connection.

The simple solution

Bypassing the public internet can eliminate many of the data liabilities which keep company bosses awake at night. It can also cut latency times and boost infrastructure reliability.

Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric for example was developed to allow companies to interconnect with multiple cloud service providers directly; dramatically lowering the risk profile compared with the public internet.

By using direct interconnection strategies to optimise cloud migration, enterprises will not only decrease the likelihood of a cyber breach, but also ensure sensitive data is kept safe, whilst still increasing the performance of backup and recovery process over private, high-speed, low-latency connections.

Staying ahead in the digital economy

As the reputational and financial importance of cybersecurity initiatives continue to grow, the significance of the decisions businesses make on security and network architecture will only increase.

Cloud is no longer a differentiator but a core business enabler.

As more critical workloads are shifted to the cloud, demand for private interconnection between enterprises and cloud and IT service providers is also on the rise.

By sending data outside of the public internet, businesses are making their data transfers faster, more secure and more stable, whether it’s travelling to one point or many, and allowing their businesses to leverage the full potential of the cloud without sacrificing privacy protection.

It is no longer a choice for companies of whether cloud is worth embracing – those who choose not to take advantage of it will be left behind. 

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