How Do You Solve A Cloud Compliance Crisis

mark

Almost every enterprise is using the cloud in some way, whether for infrastructure services,or to provide software-as-a-service applications to users. For some time, confidence has been growing in the cloud’s role in IT infrastructure, to the point that we are hearing increasing talk of serverless computing – where a company places its entire infrastructure inthe cloud, which dynamically expands and contracts resources to meet business needs.

In the future, serverless computing may become a reality. But for now, IT staff continues to battle with the challenges of managing the hybrid environments they already have, rather than feeling able to push everything to the cloud. These complex hybrid environmentsoften include multiple operating systems and cloud service providers, as well as increasingly common use of virtualized servers and hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI).

WinMagic recently conducted research to try and establish whether companies are gettingthe benefits they want from cloud technology and what, if anything, is holding them back from greater use, maybe even slowly moving towards this new serverless computing world.

There were some really interesting findings. The role good security and compliance policiesplay in realising the business benefits were clear; 87% ITDMs surveyed said they limit theiruse of the cloud because of the complexity of managing regulatory compliance.

Many companies fear compliance is balanced on a knife edge and having a hybrid infrastructure with multiple cloud vendors heightens the risks of falling foul of regulatory requirements, such as those imposed under the new General DataProtection Regulation. A quarter (24%) said, it meant as a result, they only work with a single cloud vendor in their infrastructure, rather than exploit the benefits multi-cloud environments can provide like cost effectiveness, flexibility, reliability, security and avoidingvendor lock-in.

The survey by Viga of ITDMs in Germany, India, the UK and US, noted that 63% felt the needto use multiple infrastructure management tools was also a hugely restricting factor in theiruse of multiple cloud vendors. This is hardly surprising as, the more tools you have, themore complexity and points at which security and compliance processes can break downare introduced. ITDMs realise this, with over a quarter (28%) stating they would “not becompletely confident” IT systems met all the required processes and standards if an auditwas called “today” and 7% went as far as to say there was “a high risk of them failing.”

When you get it right, the magic happens!

But there are companies that manage to overcome these challenges by using platform-agnostic management tools. When they do, it enables them to implement solid security and compliance policies across on-premises and cloud providers in a way that treats the hybrid infrastructure as a single composite unit over which encryption, access rights, data protection and data sprawl can be effectively and seamlessly managed. That ability to take a holistic view of compliance increases confidence, and brings additional tangible businessbenefits:

ü  63% improved the efficiency of their systems

ü  57% now had enforced compliance across the infrastructure

ü  56% say they are more secure

ü  32% have made measurable cost savings

ü  30% believe their risk exposure is lower

The pain, stopping the gain

The pain caused by poor proprietary management tools, is leaving companies restricted on their infrastructure choices and places them at greater risk of regulatory fines. But poorsecurity compliance is so much more dangerous, putting company data at risk of data breaches, both accidental and through theft, by hackers or even employees. The reality isthat both are entwined – you cannot achieve good compliance without management tools that are fit for the purpose in mixed operating system, multi-cloud environments.

Good security management tools won’t just help you understand and visualize the overall estate, they’ll help you improve productivity and manage compliance through enforcedencryption, virtual machine management, password controls and key management. Critically, they will also enable the kind of reporting that will demonstrate that you arefollowing the requirements of regulators and the law to the letter.

Reduce the burdens and worries

The most productive way to pursue a multi-cloud mixed infrastructure and achieve all thebenefits that come with it, is to invest in tools that can manage the whole estate and ensureits security and compliance. Proprietary tools may claim to offer the “best solution” for themanagement of their platform, but you need to manage beyond the single vendor. You want the benefits of a multi-cloud mixed environment – by their very definition proprietary tools fall short of the task you need them to do. And trying to navigate a collection ofmanagement tools will add to your IT burdens, inevitably leading to the kinds of human error that expose you to data breaches or audit failure, and keep you in a constant state ofworry. And, as we saw earlier, ITDMs say it halts the adoption of the very cloud technologies they want to exploit.

Without a doubt, the cloud is proving its value to enterprises. But we need to address the management of mixed and multi-cloud infrastructures if we are to overcome thecompliance crisis that exists, and have the confidence, as ITDMs, that we can achieve the infrastructure we desire, without compromise.