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Cloud: Cluttered, confusing and in need of compliance

Choosing cloud is no longer an option – it’s an inevitability, but it’s not plain sailing, writes ZAHEER EBRAHIM of Trend Micro South Africa.

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Cloud adoption isn’t a “nice to have”, a strategy for the future, or even digitally disruptive anymore. “At this point,” says Sig Nag, Gartner’s VP of technologies and cloud,  “cloud adoption is mainstream.”

Cloud’s on-demand self-service environment means organisations of every type, industry and size are using the cloud. Instead of buying, owning and maintaining physical data centres or servers, cloud brings an incredible array of technology resources and works for a wide variety of use cases from data backup to disaster recovery, machine learning, virtual desktops, big data analytics and more.

Simply put, businesses that use cloud are simply more agile. They can scale easier and innovate faster because they have instant access to new technologies (and often at a reduced cost). Accessing resources from the cloud in real-time, when you need them, gives businesses the ability to scale up or down when needs change or deploy cloud technology services in a matter of minutes, never mind months.

Zaheer Ebrahim, presales engineer at Trend Micro South Africa

But here’s where it gets confusing

Many solutions incorrectly called “cloud” actually hinder safe scalability and get in the way of business agility. There also isn’t one type of cloud computing that’s right for everyone. There are actually three different ways to deploy cloud services: public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud. And most cloud computing services fall into four general categories: infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), serverless and software as a service (SaaS).

Public, private and hybrid cloud all come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages as each dictates how data is stored, how customers interact with it and how applications (deployed on cloud) will run. This is why it is important to understand what kind or combination of cloud solutions will fit in with the evolving technology needs of your organisation.

Cloud banking

Across every industry, cloud has become a catalyst for enterprise business transformation. Within the financial services sector, however, it’s already changing the game with many companies using the cloud to power real-time fraud detection and prevention. But not everyone is on board just yet. Bigger, older and more established companies sitting within the financial services industry have been slow to embrace the cloud. According to a survey of banks conducted by Accenture, 70% of the respondents (who relied on legacy systems) said it was either difficult or impossible to migrate to the cloud. 3% didn’t have a cloud strategy and had not even started thinking about it.

Banking consumers are demanding digitisation. If legacy banks want to keep up with newer banks, born in the cloud, they will have to accelerate their cloud strategies. The problem is that many legacy banks still rely on on-premise data centres. While migrating to the cloud could help modernise their IT ecosystem, they would first need to migrate and then be able to optimise to move faster. On the other hand, cloud banks have a completely different set of security requirements. They don’t have to invest in expensive hardware or pay for capacity they simply won’t use. Instead they trade capital expense for variable expense and only pay for IT as they consume it. Cloud also has a unique advantage: performance edge. They have the freedom to experiment and test new ideas, to differentiate customer experiences and transform their digital business with things like adding machine learning and data analytics to their applications.

What the coronavirus pandemic has shown is that banks of every size need to accelerate their cloud strategies. While each organisation has a unique set of challenges, the quicker a bank can roll-out new services, the more likely they are to secure existing customers and appeal to the underbanked, one of the biggest growth areas for financial institutions.

The only way is cloud

With cloud, it is easier than ever to access technology services. But who is responsible for implementing your cloud strategy? Today developers, operations, solution engineers and business units all have a role to play in ensuring that an application is delivered successfully. And the conversation around making the transition to the cloud has shifted from a discussion of “if” to “when and how”. Unless you’re a bank, the days of only using in-house servers has become increasingly rare. Legacy data centres and on-premises security techniques aren’t built for this new modular and agile cloud-first environment.

Times are changing, are you?

It’s no secret that moving workloads to the cloud can result in cost, scale and geographic benefits. According to Forrester the public cloud market — cloud apps (SaaS), cloud development and data platforms (PaaS), and cloud infrastructure (IaaS) — is expected to reach $411 billion by 2022.

Whether you’re already in the cloud, making the transition, or just about to jump in, the cloud is here. What cloud means that instead of focussing on infrastructure and data centres, you can focus on what matters most to your business – growth.

For any company migrating computing and data resources to the cloud, security should remain a priority for both operational and compliance reasons. But in In order to gain the benefits of the cloud and meet business objectives, cloud security needs to match that set of cloud infrastructure services and the speed of application delivery. Just remember it takes continuous work to secure a complex and fast paced cloud environment, no matter the type you of cloud you choose to deploy.

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