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Securing the multi-cloud
INFORMATION technology leaders have been hesitant about making the shift from physical data centres to the private and public cloud. Their primary concern is this: how is security of the network to be maintained during (even) a (partial) move to the cloud?
This is as on-premises data centres get costlier, take up real estate, and with the operating costs associated with physical buildings and hardware, experience rising capital expenditure.
Already the market for cloud services reportedly grew to £189.1 billion (S$349.5 billion) in 2017, up 18 per cent year-on-year from £160.3 billion in total worldwide revenue.
Multi-cloud, a strategy whereby companies deploy cloud services from two or more vendors, is becoming a preferred choice for organisations. This is especially due to the flexibility to mix and match offerings. For instance, a company might use Amazon Web Services for computing capacity and Google for machine learning.
Network solutions company Juniper Networks thinks similarly - that a custom mash of private, public, and centrally managed clouds - alongside traditional IT infrastructures, will better be able to manage and control the security of the data. Less sensitive data and applications can be stored in the public cloud, while extremely sensitive data can be kept in private data centres.
"By 2020, 90 per cent of organisations will have adopted hybrid infrastructure management methods," reads Juniper's proposal for their Secure Hybrid Cloud. "An enterprise's survival rate correlates very closely to its ability to stay ahead of ever-changing technology trends - and to make that technology secure."
In response, Juniper provides solutions it believes to secure the multi-cloud. For example, because some companies may have invested in physical data centres and firewalls, "we will leverage previous network investments", they say.
They add that they don't like vendor lock-in either. This refers to when customers become dependent on one vendor for products and services and are unable to use another vendor without substantial switching costs.
"We will co-design a network that plays nicely with others and interoperates across third-party solutions and switches, including Cisco," the proposal reads.
Their solutions include a Software Defined Secure Network (SDSN), which offers defence across a multi-vendor environment, such as with both public and private clouds.
Their firewall, the virtual SRX (vSRX) Firewall, integrates with an array of private and public cloud offerings, such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
And Juniper's centralised management solution, Junos Space Security Director, automates security policies for both public and private data centres. Threats can therefore be attended to "across large, geographically distributed deployments".
In the Forbes article, "Let's Face It: No One Was Planning for Multi Cloud", Dan Streetman writes that "The proliferation of cloud environments has moved very quickly, in some cases without the realisation of the extent to which it was happening."
Regardless of the gusto in cloud culture, no organisation will want to put its valuable assets at risk. So whether its needs are best suited to a single or a multi-cloud strategy, it must take control and responsibility for its data security.