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9.5 min to readCloud Services

How to secure your multi-cloud for maximum efficiency

Ravi Bindra
Ravi BindraCISO
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Data and applications are considered business critical in the 21st century, where success and growth are directly tied to digital transformation. Over the last few years, many CIOs have led their companies through a transformation-within-a-transformation: shifting more of their data and applications to new infrastructures on the public cloud.

This growth in Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) has caused organisational leadership to begin the adoption of multi-cloud strategies, which allows them to choose different cloud providers to serve certain business functions. However, optimising one cloud solution can be quite the challenge – and optimising three or more can be overwhelming. Let’s look at why multi-cloud is so vital to business today and how to maximise its efficiency.

Cloud infrastructures help boost business efficiency for survival in the digital era

Platforms and other public cloud infrastructures like Microsoft Azure offer both small and large companies a way to increase speed and agility – two factors considered essential in the digital era. Deploying more applications and boosting their performance brings greater efficiency, which is a strong factor in business success. Consequently, the growth of Infrastructure-as-a-Service has risen steadily over the last decade.

As IaaS grows, CIOs are adopting multi-cloud hybrid strategies

Increasingly, CIOs and other IT leaders are finding that there are benefits to spreading their operations and their data across different cloud providers. This so-called “multi-cloud hybrid” strategy helps them maximise the benefits of cloud usage, as they can choose different services for different functions across their organisation. Maybe HR has a CMS that is better served by a particular platform with an attractive data storage plan while accounting needs a cloud provider that offers heavier computing power at a better price.

A multi-cloud hybrid strategy is also a good solution for improving up-time. Having apps and data spread across different providers helps keep business operations going when one cloud provider is hit with an outage.

Many companies are also choosing to add private cloud to their multi-cloud hybrid strategy (or, if they already utilise private cloud, they are choosing to keep their on-premises infrastructure). As the cloud environment grows and becomes more disparate when more providers are added, the security challenges increase.

The challenges of securing a multi-cloud environment

The enemy of cyber security is complexity. Moving from a single-cloud platform to a multi-cloud platform increases complexity simply because working with multiple cloud providers can be time consuming. Beyond that, with every new platform that is added, there is a learning curve to navigate and each will require ongoing maintenance.

A lack of skilled professionals in the cyber security space adds yet another challenge: finding people with the right skills to choose, configure, secure, and manage a variety of cloud platforms and infrastructures. There is a growing need to connect and integrate the various cloud services so tools and systems can leverage the same data which presents yet another layer of challenge for security teams.

User error is also a chief security concern with multi-cloud deployments. According to Gartner, 99 percent of cloud failures will be due to some version of user error – a surprisingly high percentage, which will remain at that level for at least five years. If your company’s strategy is to use a multi-cloud environment, please consider the following to secure all of your environments.

Best practices for multi-cloud security

The security challenges of a multi-cloud environment are mounting but the many advantages mean adoption is still on the rise. By following these best practices, companies can work to secure their multi-cloud deployments, despite the challenges they face:

  • 1. Be smart about implementing and enforcing policies

    Policies should be written once and cover a broad range of topics such as cloud ownership, risk acceptance, and responsibility but standards should be written specifically for each platform. Each security standard should cover how the entire cloud lifecycle, provide plans for centralised management of cloud services, and contain monitoring plans that expand across the multi-cloud environment. Finally, the standards that are created should also be consistent whenever possible.

  • 2. Maintain consistency with security settings

    When two different cloud providers are being used to enable identical operations or support the same tools, the security settings for both providers should be the same. As mentioned above, security standards should be synchronised as well.

  • 3. Find and deploy the right security tools

    If the products you are choosing do not allow you to synchronise security policies, there may be a better choice available. Your security tools must also help maintain compliance across your various platforms.

  • 4. Automate as many tasks as you can

    Again, one major risk factor in cloud security is human error. By automating certain tasks, you eliminate that risk. To enjoy the added benefits of speed and agility, automation should always be worked into your processes with security top-of-mind.

  • 5. Simplify

    An uncontrolled public cloud is a huge security risk. According to Gartner, most organisations who fail to control their public cloud use will eventually intentionally or unintentionally share sensitive data. Simplifying cloud sprawl by using tools that offer a “single-pane-of-glass” view of the entire cloud environment will help security teams manage their apps and data so breaches are less likely to occur.

  • 6. Monitor everything closely

    A security tool that monitors events occurring on all of your platforms is essential. It should consolidate data from every platform and present logs and alerts from one location. Issues can then be resolved by IT staff or, even better, by the tool itself. Some can also guide staff on remediation strategies after a security event.

  • 7. Consolidate

    Using multiple security solutions adds complexity which is the enemy of cloud security. Cloud providers like AWS and Azure do typically provide security tools but in a multi-cloud environment, that adds up to a lot of different tools that may not integrate well together. More tools mean more staff needed to deploy them and maintain them, which leaves security gaps because the likelihood of human error increases. A single, overarching security solution that provides seamless security across an integrated cloud landscape is the best way to protect the network.

Final thoughts

Securing your multi-cloud environment may feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. We want all of our customers to feel supported by the people, processes, and technology needed to achieve maximum efficiency. The sooner you begin to incorporate the above best practices into your multi-cloud hybrid strategy, the better off you’ll be. And if you’re unsure of where to begin, we’re always here to help. Once you and your organisation come together, you’ll be able to leverage the many benefits multi-cloud has to offer.

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Want to know more?

Knowledge is power. To learn more about multi-cloud deployments and how to secure them, contact our cloud security team.

Want to know more?

Knowledge is power. To learn more about multi-cloud deployments and how to secure them, contact our cloud security team.

Author

Ravi Bindra

Ravi Bindra
CISO

Ravi holds over 20 years’ experience as a cyber security evangelist, holding multiple leadership roles in the Swiss pharmaceutical industry, such as Global Head of Risk Management, Global Head of Architecture and Global Head of Security Operations.