What Are the Advantages of Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is rapidly gaining popularity. The vast majority of companies are using the cloud, and many are leasing infrastructure from multiple Cloud Services Providers (CSPs), providing a number of advantages:
- Cost Efficiency: Cloud deployments enable an organization to participate in cost-sharing of their computing infrastructure. Sharing servers, network infrastructure, and the services of the CSP can be significantly cheaper than attempting to implement the same functionality in an on-premises data center.
- Security: Cloud-based infrastructure operates under the cloud security shared responsibility model, where security responsibilities are shared between the CSP and the cloud customer. This decreases an organization’s security responsibilities, and many CSPs provide tools and guidance to customers to help with securing their cloud-based resources.
- Speed: CSPs are in the business of providing high-quality computation and storage resources to their customers. This means that the infrastructure a CSP provides is likely newer and higher-quality than what an organization could implement in-house on a similar budget. As a result, a company can access more and faster computational resources to do their business.
- Increased Collaboration: Cloud-based document creation services (like Google Docs and Microsoft 365) enable multiple parties to edit a document simultaneously. Additionally, cloud-based data storage can make data more accessible across an organization. These features enable an organization’s employees and partners to collaborate more quickly and easily.
- Flexibility/Elasticity: Maintaining an onsite data center requires investing in the infrastructure necessary to meet the organization’s needs. If an organization or its customer base outgrows its existing infrastructure, then it needs additional hardware, which can be expensive and time-consuming to acquire, deploy, and configure. With cloud-based infrastructure, an organization’s infrastructure can easily flex or contract to meet the current needs of the business.
- Business Continuity: A number of different situations could result in the inability to operate an onsite data center, including power or Internet failures, fires, and flooding. To maintain business continuity, an organization requires a backup site that is unlikely to be impacted by the same event. With cloud-based infrastructure, the CSP manages the redundancy and failover of the organization’s systems, providing a higher level of reliability at a fraction of the price.
- Integration: Many CSPs offer built-in integrations for the common applications that a company will use to perform their business operations. This makes it faster and easier to build the interconnected systems that a company requires.
- Quality Control and Compliance: CSPs commonly provide services to organizations that are operating in a wide range of industry verticals and under a number of regulatory requirements. A CSP is likely to have a SOC certification demonstrating their ability to perform their services as well as any certifications that their customers may require of their service providers (such as PCI DSS compliance).
- Disaster Recovery: An organization’s cloud-based infrastructure is likely implemented as virtual machines, which are easy to back up and restore from a backup. This makes it easy for an organization to restore services after a disaster.
- Loss Prevention: Cloud-based infrastructure includes built-in redundancy and features for monitoring for unauthorized access to company or customer data. This helps to protect data from being lost or stolen by a cybercriminal.
- Software Update: A CSP has the advantage of economy of scale when performing software updates. Any updates that are the CSP’s responsibility are likely to be applied quickly and automatically.
- Competitive Edge: Cloud-based deployments provide an organization with high-performance, flexible infrastructure with a number of built-in features. This enables an organization to take advantage of features that improve their competitive advantage without the need to configure or secure them.
- Sustainability: Cloud-based infrastructure is shared among multiple organizations and operated by organizations that are highly motivated to maximize efficiency. This provides a much more sustainable solution than an onsite data center that may not be fully utilized or optimized.
- Enhanced Customer Experience: Cloud-based infrastructure is reachable from the public Internet and easily scales to meet the needs of an organization’s customers. This provides an optimized and enhanced experience to an organization’s customers.
Cloud Computing, Cloud Security, and Workload Protection
Businesses are eager to bring more cloud computing and regulated workloads, including applications that manage or contain personal identifying information, financial information or healthcare information. The responsibility for securing data in the cloud is shared between the cloud customer and the CSP. Understanding the breakdown of security responsibilities is essential to properly securing data in the cloud.
Key requirements for cloud computing workload protection:
- Understanding of Workload Requirements: It is impossible to secure something that you can’t understand. The first step in securing a cloud computing workload is understanding its requirements and the organization’s attack surface in the cloud.
- Observability: A common challenge in securing cloud environments is a lack of visibility into the cloud. Cloud computing workload protection requires the ability to monitor the entirety of an organization’s cloud-based environment.
- Least Privilege Protection: The principle of least privilege states that users should only have the level of access required to do their jobs. This is especially true in the cloud, where all resources are directly accessible from the public Internet.
- Active Threat Prevention: The rate of cyberattacks is accelerating, and cloud-based infrastructure is a prime target for cybercriminals. The ability to identify and block attacks before they reach an organization’s systems is essential to minimizing the cost and damage that they incur.
Cloud computing has introduced new models for an organization to operate its cloud-based infrastructure. Securing the new corporate data center requires cloud security solutions, such as specialized solutions for:
- Serverless Security: Serverless environments have the CSP run the server and provide machine resources on an as-needed basis.
- Container Security: Containerization involves running applications in standalone, isolated environments to reduce their attack surface.
As organizations embrace these new computing models, they require cloud security solutions capable of addressing their unique security requirements.