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Exploring the security benefits of hybrid cloud

Tue 21 May 2019 | Venkat Ramasamy

Hybrid cloud is currently the most popular enterprise architecture around. That’s good news for security and good news for the bottom line, writes Venkat Ramasamy, COO at FileCloud

From Amazon Web Services (AWS) to IBM, some of the biggest names in technology have fully embraced the latest enterprise data trend: hybrid cloud. Boasting the benefits of in-house data centres combined with the benefits of putting data on the public cloud, the latest brand-name endorsements of a hybrid cloud strategy position the approach to dominate the future of enterprise IT.

In what many tech experts took to be a direct challenge to Microsoft, AWS announced the specifics of its hybrid cloud options in a grand manner at the company’s re:Invent conference in November. Partnering with VMWare — a subsidiary of Dell Technologies — AWS now allows customers to order the hardware they need to power their own data centres onsite, otherwise known as a company’s private cloud.

At IBM’s Think conference in mid-February, the computer giant announced that it would also be throwing its hat into the hybrid cloud ring. With its new “Cloud Integration Platform,” the company hopes that it can simplify enterprise transitions to hybrid cloud strategies.

The move is a step away from the all-in approach to Internet-based computing that IT companies, including AWS, had previously evangelised. It is essentially an admission that while Internet-based computing has its advantages, it also has significant drawbacks if companies rely solely on the public cloud.

That admission is a welcome one. Hosting data on a hybrid cloud boasts numerous security benefits, and companies should invest the necessary resources now to adopt this new prevalent cloud model.

Hosting data on a hybrid cloud allows the best of both worlds

With a hybrid cloud approach, the data that companies store on their onsite, private cloud can only be accessed from within the company. They also have the option to store data on the public cloud that can be accessed remotely, from any location. This combination leads to a final result that is not only more flexible than either of those options alone, but is also more secure in the following ways.

“Having access to a public cloud means that a company can quickly scale up without having to undergo the expensive and time-intensive task of expanding onsite servers.”

Remote and onsite options allow companies to strategically categorise data into differing security needs. Critical information can be kept on the company’s private infrastructure, while less sensitive information can be stored in the public cloud. A tiered approach enables companies to benefit from the convenience of Internet-based computing for most of their needs while safeguarding any data that requires extra precautions.

Onsite hardware ensures that companies retain clarity on data ownership questions. This takes on increased importance in light of the current regulatory environment, where data governance is critical. Maintaining sensitive data on the private cloud is an easy way to ensure that companies are in compliance.

By diversifying access points, a hybrid system can improve speed and performance. With a hybrid setup, users can access files locally while they are in the office. By providing local access, hybrid cloud removes latency, ensuring the highest performance while providing the cloud flexibility, which is critical for collaborating on large files (e.g. CAD files).

The hybrid cloud is an efficient method of disaster recovery. If a system failure does occur, a hybrid cloud doubles as an inexpensive method of disaster recovery. Enterprises can set up their operations so that if the on-premises hardware fails, they can transition to the public cloud. This eliminates the need for companies to have a backup physical data centre. Additionally, since a hybrid system does not have a single point of failure, it is less likely that the system will go down at any given time.

The hybrid model, however, is not entirely without risk. Organisations need to remain vigilant about maintaining sound enterprise security architecture to oversee the management of data in two places: the public cloud and on-premise. This may result in additional overhead expense. The second risk area of the hybrid approach is ensuring that any public cloud service used is well protected. An enterprise organisation dealing in sensitive data should understand that if said data is shared with the public cloud, there is always a risk factor of exposure.

Higher security at a lower cost

There is another aspect of a hybrid cloud setup that, combined with its greater security, makes implementing the model a no-brainer: its relatively low cost.

By using a hybrid model, companies can take advantage of the fact that a public cloud operates on economies of scale and is cheaper than keeping information stored at an onsite data centre. Having access to a public cloud means that a company can quickly scale up without having to undergo the expensive and time-intensive task of expanding onsite servers. Concurrently, keeping a private cloud active allows businesses to benefit from cost savings with none of the data ownership issues and security risks of relying solely on a public cloud.

Hybrid cloud is already the most popular enterprise architecture that exists today. As word continues to spread about its many benefits, even more companies will eagerly take the plunge. That’s good news for security and good news for their bottom line.

Experts featured:

Venkat Ramasamy

COO
FileCloud

Tags:

cloud security hybrid cloud public cloud
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