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Reaching for Cloud Nine: Tips to Help You Prepare to Launch Business Applications to the Cloud

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According to a recent survey, two thirds of organizations are currently deploying or planning to deploy business applications on a public cloud infrastructure. If your organization is among them consider this: two-thirds of the organizations we surveyed are struggling to figure out how to extend their security policy across the hybrid environment. It a little daunting, right?

So before you make your move to the cloud, here are a few tips to help make your cloud migration as smooth as possible:

  1. Understand the business impact on your applications. You may want to move to a cloud environment for any number of financial or operational reasons, but if migration takes down a key application or impairs its performance, that’s bad for business. You can minimize the chance of that happening by knowing how changes to firewalls will affect your business applications, and ensuring you can properly match all firewall changes to all the affected applications.
  2. Know the risk of decommissioning applications. At some point, you’re going to decommission an application or a server. You need a plan to remove any unneeded access associated with that decommissioning. Why not just leave them? Many organizations do, but they (and you) shouldn’t. While you want to avoid accidentally causing an outage or other problem, not removing unneeded rules leaves open access points for hackers to exploit. Good firewall rule documentation makes it easier to identify the network components and applications related to retiring servers or other applications so that you can restrict access without breaking critical connectivity.
  3. Set priorities for network vulnerability in a way that works for you. In our survey, nearly 80 percent of respondents stated they need better visibility across their hybrid environment. If you have visibility by application, you can better engage the applications’ business owners and enable them to truly “own the risk.”
  4. Streamline and Reduce Complexity. Complexity endangers security and impairs agility, so you want to keep it as simple as you can. That can be a challenge in an environment where there may be hundreds of business applications with multiple components, multiple tiers, and communication with many other applications and devices. Furthermore, network traffic may well travel across a number of policy enforcement points, and individual security rules may therefore impact several separate applications. Ultimately you could easily have hundreds or even thousands of rules that affect scores of devices and impact dozens of business critical applications. Visibility across the hybrid environment, automation and an application-centric view of risks and changes will help to dramatically simplify security policy management.

There are many valid reasons for moving to the cloud. But don’t forget the implications of poor security management and how improvements through visibility and automation will not only ensure tighter security, but will also help make your data center more agile and supportive of the business.

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