Blog #1 of a multi-part series on Security in the Cloud, by Rick Vincent – Director of Sales Operations at cloud provider, Peak (getcloud@ poweredbypeak.com) May 7, 2014

CLOUD SECURITY: FROM FOUR WALLS TO NO WALLS. Until now, the conventional view on IT security has been that applications and data are safe because they’re physically housed within the confines of a company’s data center walls using company-owned equipment. So, it’s not surprising that many decision makers perceive greater risks as they trade physical assets for cloud-based solutions. Pre-cloud, data security focused on physical access and control, network security, and device threats. However, in the cloud world, OPEX infrastructure models are the norm. Corporate data constantly moves to/from company-owned equipment, to/from non-corporate devices, and it traverses both Layer 2 and Layer 3 network segments. IT personnel need to address encryption, authentication, and authorization (identity management) security strategies at the physical, data link, network, transport, session, presentation, and application layers.

The majority of the security budget once went to protecting the perimeter of the enterprise. Now, because of compliance mandates and the nature of cloud computing, security must be woven into every functional area of the company—from each business unit’s infrastructure and line of business applications to externally sourced SaaS service agreements and identity management systems. Note that it’s important to consider the dynamics of security within the cloud whether you adopt cloud-based application delivery or not.

BUSINESS-CRITICAL COMPUTING IN THE CLOUD. Your challenge: adopt cloud and secure it. Cloud computing opens up new avenues of collaboration, cost management, and convenience. Now you have a more agile way to deliver business-critical information with business partners, consumers, and end-users. You can minimize operational expenses by leveraging pooled resources and paying for just what you need, as you need it. And you can support the convenient mobile data access your users demand.

Business-critical computing on-premise:

  • Over-buying to meet highest anticipated demand
  • Dedicated storage
  • Dedicated compute
  • Control: only the devices are mobile, not the apps
  • Security budget dedicated to protecting the perimeter and controlling access

Business-critical computing in the cloud:

  • Pooled resources, scale on-demand
  • Shared networking and compute in public clouds
  • Delivery via the Internet in public clouds
  • Security must be embedded within every layer and application when delivering via public infrastructure
  • Private hosted clouds can be leveraged to deliver cloud economics without re-architecture

Cloud computing paves the way for IT advancements. But, without the proper cloud security mechanisms in place, your enterprise risks data leaks and security breaches. Cloud security fortifies IT efforts at every layer. The strength of that security depends upon the type of cloud you choose, the infrastructure supporting it, your service providers, and the identity management tools you use to collaborate with employees, partners, and consumers.

Want to read more about cloud? Check out our blog series on the Economics of the Cloud: The Economics of the Cloud Buyer Beware