Benefits of Cloud Computing

Cloud adoption has grown rapidly in recent years. According to Check Point’s 2022 Cloud Security Report, 98% of the respondents say their organizations are using cloud computing, and over three-quarters (76%) have multi-cloud deployments using two or more cloud providers.

Companies are making the move to the cloud because cloud-based infrastructure provides numerous benefits compared to an on-prem data center. However, organizations considering this move must ensure that their cloud-based resources are properly protected against attack.

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What is Cloud Computing?

In the past, many organizations hosted their data and applications on-prem in server rooms or data centers. Under this model, an organization was wholly responsible for purchasing, installing, configuring, maintaining and securing their infrastructure, even if these types of IT services fell outside their areas of expertise.

Utilizing the cloud, however, enables organizations to take advantage of the expertise and resources of specialists in data center operation and maintenance. Under a cloud model, a cloud provider is responsible for deploying and maintaining the hardware, and potentially some of the software layers of their customers’ infrastructure stacks. At some point, the customer takes over control, maintaining their own operating systems, software, etc. A cloud provider may also offer users access to applications hosted on the cloud such as web-based email or data storage.

Cloud computing is critical nowadays because IT systems are increasingly vital to companies’ operations, and the constraints of an organization’s on-prem infrastructure can impede growth. Cloud computing  enables an organization to achieve greater flexibility, scalability than they could in-house, and also provides other benefits.

Cloud Computing Benefits

Some benefits of cloud computing include:

  • Cost Savings: Cost is a common concern when switching to the cloud; however, properly configured, the cloud can provide significant cost savings. Cloud providers’ scale increases the efficiency of their operations and enables cost sharing that reduces the cost of hosting – lower than an organization can achieve in-house. Also, service-based offerings mean that cloud customers only pay for the resources that they use.
  • Flexibility: In the cloud, an organization uses virtualized services hosted on infrastructure owned by their cloud provider rather than deploying hardware of their own. This makes it faster and easier to make changes to an organization’s IT infrastructure by adding new services or taking down old services.
  • Variety of Service Offerings: Cloud providers often have a variety of service offerings, such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), and more. This variety enables an organization to outsource the management of as much of their infrastructure stack as required while retaining the needed level of access and control.
  • Rapid Service Deployment: For on-prem data centers, adding processing power, storage capacity, or specialized equipment requires purchasing and deploying the necessary hardware, which can carry a significant lead-time. Cloud services can be rapidly deployed within hours or minutes, decreasing time-to-value for cloud-hosted services.
  • Scalability: With virtualized infrastructure, an organization can always purchase additional infrastructure or services from their cloud provider as needed. This makes it possible for an organization’s cloud deployment to scale on demand to meet the evolving needs of the business.
  • Remote Access: Companies are rapidly becoming more distributed with increased support for telework and branch offices. With cloud-based services, remote employees have access to corporate solutions that may offer greater accessibility, higher performance, and better support for mobile devices than an organization’s on-prem data centers.
  • Outsourced IT Management: Deploying and managing IT infrastructure can require significant time, resources, and specialized expertise. With cloud computing, the cloud service provider is responsible for the maintenance and security of an organization’s underlying IT infrastructure, reducing the workload of in-house employees.
  • Reduced Security Responsibility: Under the shared responsibility model, the cloud provider is responsible for securing the portion of the cloud infrastructure stack under its control. This reduces an organization’s security responsibilities and enables it to take advantage of the cloud provider’s experience and expertise.
  • Up-to-Date Solutions: Often, an organization lacks the resources to ensure that the corporate data center has the latest hardware, and keeping up with updates and patches commonly strains IT teams. With cloud infrastructure, the cloud provider can often deploy newer more up-to-date hardware than an organization can support in-house. Updates of the portion of the infrastructure under the service provider’s control are often automatically and promptly rolled out across the entire cloud environment.
  • Resiliency and Redundancy: Redundant and resilient systems are essential to maintaining the availability of an organization’s systems and services in the face of electrical and Internet outages and other business-disrupting events. With cloud infrastructure, the cloud service provider offers uptime guarantees backed by service level agreements (SLAs), providing stronger availability protections than most organizations can achieve in-house.

Cloud Computing Security

While the cloud may be important for organizations to grow and compete effectively in the marketplace, these environments often differ significantly from the on-prem data centers that organizations are accustomed to.

A common concern for organizations who plan to or have adopted cloud infrastructure is cloud computing security. Companies face a variety of issues when attempting to secure their cloud investment, including:

  • Infrastructure Complexity: Many organizations that adopt cloud computing take a multi-cloud approach, enabling them to take advantage of the various benefits and optimizations of different cloud providers. However, this dramatically increases the complexity of maintaining consistent security across an organization’s IT infrastructure as it requires securing many disparate cloud environments.
  • Security Misconfigurations: Cloud service providers offer various settings by which a customer can tune its cloud deployment and cloud security. However, these settings vary from one provider to another and can be complex to properly and securely configure, creating the potential for security misconfigurations that place the business at risk.
  • Data Loss: Cloud collaboration and data storage solutions are designed to make it easy to share data hosted in the cloud. While this is good for collaboration, it also creates security risks. For example, setting a cloud-based resource to use link sharing makes it accessible to anyone who knows or can guess the URL.
  • Lack of Vital Expertise: Securing the cloud requires expertise in both a cloud environment and security. The cybersecurity industry is facing a significant skills shortage, and specialists are even more difficult and expensive to attract and retain. As a result, companies often struggle to find vital talent to secure their cloud deployments, especially when this requires knowledge of multiple different cloud environments.
  • Reduced Visibility and Control: Under the shared responsibility model, the cloud provider has complete control over a portion of an organization’s cloud infrastructure stack. This means that an organization lacks access to its underlying infrastructure, which can impede visibility and make it impossible to deploy some types of monitoring and security solutions.
  • Solution Integration: With a move to the cloud, an organization expands its IT infrastructure, often to include multi-cloud environments. The need to protect a variety of environments against a range of threats can result in a complex array of security solutions. Integrating these solutions across on-prem and multiple cloud environments can be complicated. 
  • Regulatory Compliance: Companies are subject to a range of regulations, and regulatory complexity is growing. Achieving and demonstrating regulatory compliance is complex in the cloud where an organization lacks low-level visibility and control and needs to secure many different cloud environments.
  • Shadow IT: Cloud infrastructure is designed to be easy to use, meaning that employees can easily set up and use personal and unauthorized corporate cloud services for their work. Security teams can struggle to secure corporate data and applications hosted on cloud infrastructure created without their knowledge and outside of their direct control.

Cloud Computing Security with CloudGuard

As organizations shift to the cloud, they face numerous cloud security challenges. Solving these challenges is essential to the long-term growth and usability of an organization’s cloud-based infrastructure.

For organizations looking to make the move to the cloud and take advantage of its benefits, check out these Best Practices for Secure Cloud Migration. And for more information on securing your cloud environment, download Check Point’s Cloud Security Blueprint.

Check Point’s CloudGuard can simplify and streamline an organization’s cloud security by offering integrated monitoring and threat prevention across on-prem and cloud-based infrastructure. Learn more about securing your cloud investment with CloudGuard with a free demo.

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