There’s something about top organisations that’s increasingly hard to ignore – they seem to have their heads in the cloud.
The benefits of the public cloud – scalability, cost efficiencies, agility, availability – are becoming hard to ignore. So it's no surprise that 78% of respondents said they were using more than one cloud-based service, according to research published by the Cloud Industry Forum in 2016. And the UK Government’s Cloud First policy is encouraging public sector organisations to do the same.
Public, private or hybrid cloud?
But some doubts about the public cloud persist among decision-makers. Security concerns along with a loss of control often feature highly on the list of key considerations for organisations formulating their cloud strategies. Such concerns seem understandable when migrating key systems and data to the cloud. For IT leaders, differing viewpoints put forward by different sections of the IT industry regarding the public, private and hybrid cloud strategies only serve to confuse matters.
The basics you need to know
The public cloud is the name given to cloud services provided in a shared environment using virtualised servers operated by a cloud services provider. Users access the public cloud via the Internet.
Some organisations have opted to create private clouds, where applications and data are hosted on dedicated servers within a cloud provider’s data centre, accessible only via private connections.
An alternative model is the hybrid cloud, which combines public, private clouds and on-premise data centres. While many hosting providers and systems integrators continue to advocate a hybrid approach, there is growing evidence to suggest that many of their arguments no longer stack up.
It might seem to make sense to keep control of your critical data by using either a private or hybrid cloud environment, but how founded are security concerns about the public cloud? And what are the drawbacks of a hybrid approach? A cool-headed assessment of the situation may well conclude that while organisations may transition via a hybrid environment, the end point of any cloud journey should be the public cloud.
How secure is the public cloud?
There’s no doubt that security and cyber attacks are an important consideration for any organisation. Public cloud service providers, like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, know this as well as anyone else. That’s why they are constantly investing in developing and enhancing their security capabilities to stay one step ahead of today’s constantly shifting security landscape and protect customer data and applications.
According to Neville Cannon, research director at Gartner: “Many cloud service providers, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and Google, invest heavily in incorporating higher levels of security into their products to continue building confidence that their data is more secure.”
With this in mind, Gartner predicts that by 2018 better security will in fact be be the main reason why government agencies decide to use the public cloud.
However many security breaches are not down to the cloud itself, but other issues such as human error, application vulnerabilities or poor access controls – which exist with or without cloud infrastructure. So while public cloud providers continually invest in security, it’s important for organisations migrating to the cloud to understand the lines of demarcation between their own security responsibilities and those of their cloud provider.
Just as important as choosing the right cloud provider is selecting a reputable and experienced IT Services partner who can help you plan your path to the cloud, work with you to securely migrate existing workloads or develop new cloud-native applications and manage your cloud environment.
As the private vs public cloud security arguments recede, so do the arguments in favour of adopting a hybrid cloud strategy. Private clouds, while providing a greater degree of control, are more expensive to build and maintain, and do not provide the levels of scalability and flexibility of the public cloud. A hybrid environment also presents a more complicated integration and management challenge.
Everyone agrees that security matters – but with a little investigation and by selecting the right partner for your cloud journey, you’ll find that the benefits of adopting a public cloud approach far outweigh any risks.
The key benefits of the public cloud – scalability, cost efficiencies, agility, availability – are hard to ignore.
Leading public cloud providers continually invest in their security capabilities to stay one step ahead of today’s constantly shifting security landscape.
Many security breaches are not down to the cloud itself, but other issues such as human error, application vulnerabilities or poor access controls.
Any cloud migration involves a degree of risk, but there’s a strong case for arguing that the public cloud actually brings net benefits.
Engaging the right partner can help make the right cloud decisions for your business.