Feature update: The critical components of cloud security

Feature update: The critical components of cloud security

Dr Mohammad Hamdan, associate professor of Computer Sciences, Heriot-Watt University Dubai addresses the 3C’s (Concerns, Challenges and Costs) critical to effective and secure cloud adoption

IT infrastructure networks in the modern age are increasingly shifting towards the cloud, to benefit from cost, scalability, and management-related advantages. Online data centres and cloud infrastructure networks are being adopted at-scale across industries worldwide. In the GCC region alone, the public cloud market is set to grow 25% annually through to 2024.

Chief innovation officers, technology buyers, and IT decision makers understand the importance of migrating to the cloud, with 53% of them accelerating their digital transformation initiatives, as found in a recent study by the International Data Corporation (IDC).

On-premises and hybrid models are paving the way for complete cloud adoption, with enterprises focusing on key risks and benefits. The three Cs, namely concerns, challenges, and costs, remain critical to effective cloud adoption which is why understanding how they apply to your organisation is vital.

It is essential to address key concerns when considering cloud migrations, especially for businesses that have data centres across borders. The challenges become increasingly complex with multiple business units, stakeholders, and data ingestion pipelines involved. The shifting of IT infrastructures to the cloud should therefore be analysed through the lens of scale, flexibility, and security.

While many enterprises may opt to add and remove servers from their traditional infrastructure, it is less complex to run data systems on cloud. The scale of public and private clouds is immense, giving business several opportunities to expand utility. Whether through consumption-based IT, processing-based infrastructures, the enterprise cloud solution should be easily scalable.

Flexibility is a key area of concern for many enterprises that have several applications, data warehouses, systems, and processes involved in their IT infrastructure. Added to that, the core concerns of user management, information protection, and scalable use-cases is essential to address early on.

Cybersecurity is another area of concern for business worldwide, including those in the Middle East. According to a 2020 study by the Ponemon Institute and IBM Security, the average cost of a data breach incident incurred per company in the Middle East region is around $6.53 million USD (global average at $3.86 million).

The rise of cyber-attacks in the region has thus prompted many cloud advocates to focus on strengthening cybersecurity as a core area. This includes protecting against crypto-jacking, phishing, spoofing, encryption-hacking, and much more.

“While a key reason why enterprises migrate to the cloud is to lower their data centre costs, the opportunity cost around cloud should also be considered”

Enterprises need to develop comprehensive migration strategies to help overcome challenges that can arise during implementation and scaling up. Enterprises can face critical challenges in terms of vendor selection, IT model, use-case derivation, bugging/debugging, data-access, and IAM. These challenges can be mitigated when enterprises focus on developing a robust IT migration pathway for their operations.

The strategic management of the IT infrastructure adopted is vital as well. This includes managing applications, instances, servers, and access points for the entire IT infrastructure leveraged. IT managers and technology experts need to ensure that incoming data streams are encrypted, and access to data warehouses and data centres is uninterrupted.

Enterprises also need to focus on acquiring the right talent to help streamline the migration process for their IT infrastructure projects. Enterprises focusing on different business verticals across countries, need to develop a stage-wise digital transformation approach that is spearheaded by the right vendors, leaders, and teams. While IT infrastructure is a one-time activity, it needs to be executed in stages across a larger timeframe based on the size of the enterprise.

Cost and ROI

While a key reason why enterprises migrate to the cloud is to lower their data centre costs, the opportunity cost around cloud should also be considered. Additionally, the savings in administrative and management resources required to upkeep traditional data centres is also essential to account for. The long-term savings around complete cloud-based systems is significant for enterprises of all sizes.

Enterprises can shift towards innovating, based on the speed and agility of the cloud IT infrastructure. The benefits of improved productivity, transparency, and connectivity, outweigh the initial costs of setting-up and executing on cloud data systems. Teams can focus on faster delivery, while providing a superior customer experience across the board.

There are also indirect costs associated with the cloud that need to be captured earlier on. These include auditing, sunsetting, manpower, equipment, maintenance, up-skilling, and scaling. With more applications, instances, and servers running, the indirect costs will rise as well, requiring greater management and oversight. However, the overall costs of migrating to the cloud will outweigh the current costs of running traditional systems.