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Combatting the top cloud challenges of 2023

Image: Adobe Stock / jullasart

In recent years, we have seen an acceleration in organisations migrating their databases, services and applications to the cloud, and as a result, keeping up to date with the latest developments has now become paramount. Consequently, organisations must ensure they are operating in the smartest and safest ways possible.

However, this process is not always plain sailing and the constant demand for companies to adapt to the ever-changing cloud environment can come at a cost. That said, what are the biggest cloud challenges companies are expected to face in 2023 and how should they go about combatting them?

Does a multi-cloud approach help or hinder your business?

As we progress further into 2023, we will see a significant increase in businesses adopting a multi-cloud approach due to the flexibility and efficiency it offers to firms. As we know, a multi-cloud approach involves diversifying cloud services across a number of cloud platforms rather than just relying on one – effectively, not putting all your eggs in one basket.

Multi-cloud platforms are often favoured by business leaders as it enables them to select the best tools from the best cloud providers. It is particularly useful in a disaster recovery situation, as in the event of one provider going down, the business can still operate with the other.

However, given that cloud services are available from anywhere, they can act as an entry point for infiltration by cyber criminals. Utilising more than one platform therefore broadens a business’ attack surface, potentially putting the company at greater risk of being exposed to data leaks, ransomware, Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks and other security breaches. Many cloud providers offer security tools that will help protect against prospective attacks and when configured in the correct way will add those additional layers of security to restrict who and what devices can access systems and data. However, this is sometimes not enough if internal security measures aren’t also taken. So, what can be done?

Companies should firstly install a centralised security management system for all systems, whether cloud-based or on-premises. This helps the enforcement of consistent security policies, reducing the surface area of attack, and monitors activity to detect and respond to threats across the cloud ecosystem. Secondly, it is prudent to have some form of vendor management. Companies should regularly assess and verify the security posture of cloud platforms and services to ensure they all meet relevant industry and government regulations.

However, much of this risk can be mitigated by building a security-minded culture, working with IT partners who can support you in putting the correct fail safes in place. For example, becoming Cyber Essentials or Cyber Essentials Plus accredited. This government-backed scheme is devised to assist organisations in adopting good information security practices and contains a set of standards that organisations are assessed against. Finally, and somewhat more simplistically, regular training should be offered to employees. Constructing an ongoing cyber security awareness campaign so that employees understand and implement the best practices will also help promote a security-minded culture within your organisation.

The continuing fight for cloud talent

There is currently a shortage of talent across what feels like every aspect of the tech industry and cloud tech is no exception. As cloud computing and migration continues to develop in 2023, so too will the need for a high-end crop of cloud talent.

The reality of today’s distributed and hybrid workforce – and the general desire from employees for this to continue – means businesses will need to put their people first in order to retain and attract cloud tech talent. The challenge also lies in upskilling existing employees. Upskilling and reskilling your current talent can help you to update the corporate knowledge base and create a collaborative culture of technology-led thinking. Leaders need to ensure that they are building a culture within their business that allows their cloud talent to thrive.

Beyond this, companies should invest in an in-depth training programme for both new hires and existing employees. When it comes to the cloud, a lot of an organisation’s needs when it comes to skill are unique and context specific, and incumbent staff members already have this insight and understanding to hand. Upskilling existing team members gives them a leg up over potential new hires, highlighting the importance of placing trust in what you already have.

DaaS: Friend or foe?

Another challenge that businesses using cloud solutions could encounter in 2023 is the increased adoption of DaaS (Desktop-as-a-Service). DaaS is a cloud-based system that provides remote access to virtual desktop machines and acts as a replacement to more traditional on-premises desktop solutions, such as Citrix and Microsoft remote desktop farms. It has risen in popularity due to its cost-effectiveness, scalability, security and reliability – its adoption accelerated further through the pandemic. The per-machine licensing model often used with DaaS allows businesses to only pay for the number of desktop machines they are currently using, instead of a standard fee for a shared pool of resources.   

While there are clear benefits to implementing DaaS, businesses should also consider how they secure these environments, aligning security policies and processes across data and key services. If the public cloud that houses the virtual desktop develops an issue, the productivity of your organisation could be impacted.

Businesses can mitigate this threat by ensuring they use a DaaS service that is patched on a regular basis, is secured against cyber threats by a dedicated team or IT partner and is accessed by users via multi-factor authentication. Devices on which the network is accessed – including laptops, PCs, MacBooks and mobile phones – also need to be secure and regularly updated so that both attack vectors a hacker can use are protected.  

No matter what device is used to access systems and data, all should be treated with the same security policies and processes. Public cloud services have allowed businesses to grow quickly, be more productive, work collaboratively and securely to a much greater level than traditional on-premises environments. It’s also worth remembering that cloud services have technical personnel proactively monitoring for both security and platform issues, alongside the multiple levels of security that these providers have already build into their environments.

Accelerated adoption

Enhanced scalability, increased agility, cost benefits and data loss prevention are just some of the myriad of benefits that the cloud brings to businesses. The last three years have accelerated its adoption, so much so that you are likely to be in the minority if you don’t have some form of cloud infrastructure incorporated within your organisation. As cloud adoption continues to grow, it is important that businesses stay on top of the ever-changing environment, work with knowledgeable partners to create robust cyber security practices that help keep them stay resilient to the challenges that might arise in 2023, and beyond.

Colin Blumenthal
Colin Blumenthal
Managing Director, Sharp IT Services (UK) and VP of IT Services, Sharp Europe

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