How significant is the cloud in the functioning of business worldwide and Australia today?
The public cloud is a relatively young industry that, according to Gartner Research, will expand by 16% to AUD 412 billion (USD 302 billion) by next year. It’s at times like this that we feel uncertain. There’s a sense that unless we jump on the bandwagon, we’ll end up eating our competitor’s dust. Building multi-cloud and hybrid cloud infrastructure for your organization is an IT challenge that rests on answering a formidable range of questions. For example, can the public cloud reliably, cost-effectively, and to the highest standards provide the following?
- Data Security
- Shared Tenancy
- Connectivity Options
- Service Uptime SLA
- Access Speed
Rumour, folklore, the usual number of horror stories, and general misconception muddy the waters, creating confusion and diverting us from making the right decisions. The result is that we cling to false notions, one of the biggest being that storing data on-premises in our exclusively owned data centres is a safer way to go.
Jeff Williams, the co-founder and CTO of Contrast Security, and an acknowledged expert in the study of data breaches, underlined in an interview with Forbes that the majority of data leaks were on-premise. He cited the fact that the significant headliner data breaches, credited with creating the most fear, have had nothing to do with data stored in the cloud. We expose a lot more on data security below as we go through other crucial aspects.
How easy is it to transition to the cloud?
The foundation of data security depends on two essential items:
- Access Control
- Data Encryption
Both require deep resources for successful implementation, and both are typical features of the public cloud providers. The software and licensing costs alone can be inhibitive and beyond the reach of many SMB companies. Moreover, in-house management complexities can overwhelm anyone trying to clone public cloud security measures in-house.
Let’s cut to the chase. Small and medium-sized businesses, saddled with tight budgets and ever cash flow-vigilant, can affordably access unique benefits in the public cloud otherwise unaffordable in-house. For example, now you can get enterprise-grade data encryption (i.e., at rest & in-transit) for each volume or file stored without complication or colossal upfront capital outlay.
Following the best practices guide to secure your data in the public cloud.
1. Data Sovereignty
Cyber security laws force companies to host data within defined borders, aside from other good reasons businesses should host within national boundaries. Therefore, reputable, well-structured cloud providers like AWS make you select where you would like to host your resources.
2. Shared Tenancy
Logical and recurring questions are these:
- How secure and segregated is my network within the shared hosting environment?
- Isn’t it a little contradictory to expect separation in a shared tenancy situation?
The answer lies in virtualization – a concept many of us understand. Its chief benefits go right to our bottom line by ensuring the best ROI for the hardware acquired. Virtualization involves creating virtual hardware machines that share physical hardware resources of the host server. Your servers, storage devices, network, and operating system all are share among the virtual servers. The hypervisor, also known as host operating system divides the resource into one or more execution environments.
The public cloud provides virtual machines that are similar to our private virtual network, except we share resources with many different companies and individuals. It’s not a big stretch to realize that many of the sharers lack security or are indeed malicious users. On the surface, that’s scary. So what’s the “something special” that the public cloud providers are doing to stop a collapse in its participants’ data security?
Answer: The entire public cloud computing model depends on optimally segregating your virtual machines hosted within the public cloud domain from your private virtual network. In a nutshell, it avoids hypervisor level breach and cross-contamination. Watch this video to see how AWS cloud delivers.
Making a move away from your exclusively owned data centre doesn’t stop you from having a private WAN linked between your network and the public cloud. Public cloud providers like AWS and Azure indeed offer VPN connectivity over the internet as a cheap solution, but it doesn’t suit those entities requiring fast low-latency connection.
Most MPLS providers offer AWS Direct Connect as Azure Express Route at a minimal cost, or in simpler terms, layer three MPLS into your virtual private cloud. The connectivity delivers secure private WAN connection with less than 5ms latency. It enables you to connect your on-premise and private data centre sites with your virtual private cloud (the latter residing within a public cloud).
Service Uptime SLA
One of the key benefits of the distributed computing system is that it delivers high availability and fault tolerance. For example, let’s look again at the structured cloud regions of AWS. Inside each region, there are at least two zones, with each zone consisting of multiple data centres. Never before has any service provider offered an IT system with so many layers of redundancy, and tens of interconnected distributed sites – each one with its own 99.9% SLA. For a single enterprise to build a network with multiple similar locations around the globe, the cost would be massive. So, when it comes to availability, affordability, and business continuity, there’s no match for the public cloud.
Public cloud providers like AWS offer a transparent costing structure publically available on their websites. There’s no such thing as waiting for a proposal and then negotiating your next three-year contract. You also don’t have to pay for resources that you don’t need. Flexible on-demand pricing options make it easy and cheaper for businesses to run their networks in the cloud, while significantly improving their service SLA, business continuity, and disaster recovery options.
It brings us back to the question – Do we need to be afraid of the public cloud?
The answer is NO! The public cloud is here to stay. Let’s give this definitive response a little more perspective:
- There’s a common misconception that hosting one’s server in the private cloud results in a completely private network. It’s not true. Since the early days of modern computer technology, we have been sharing IT resources to some extent. For example, you always share your physical cable delivering a private WAN connection; or in a private cloud, you may be sharing a storage system while running your virtual machines on separate physical servers.
- AWS and Azure, as primary public cloud providers, have invested heavily in research that helps them continuously upgrade their already secure distributed computing network. They have the needed human resources and money to implement rigorous security practices and maintain security compliance, most of which small, medium, and even some large enterprises can only dream of.
- The virtualization provided by AWS is far more segregated and controlled than any private cloud provider has ever offered. The bottom line is that sharing isn’t the problem at all. The vital consideration, indeed, is how the resources are shared.
- The foundation of the public cloud business model depends on building trust and providing useful partitioning between tenants while allowing them to share every bit of the resources placed within their domain – safely.
- The only thing you need to focus on is following the best security practices advised by your cloud provider.
The iVersion team, Australia’s leading public cloud consultant and advisory resource, knows everything there is to know when it comes to building multi-cloud and hybrid infrastructures. They are vested in the future of IT infrastructure represented by a distributed computing network, and therefore the iVersion experts are ideally positioned to answer all your questions and address your concerns in making the transition. Connect with them to derive an unparalleled cost-benefit ratio alongside minimal security concern that’s clearly working in your favour as an SMB enterprise, as long as you follow the best practice guides.