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Deconstructing the Complexity of Managing Hybrid Cloud Security

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There is a fine line between security and stability. So, how do you keep your IT assets running while maintaining a stringent security posture?

 

The move from traditional data centers to a hybrid cloud network environment has revolutionized the way enterprises construct their networks, allowing them to reduce hardware and operational costs, scale per business needs and be more agile.

When enterprises choose to implement a hybrid cloud model, security is often one of the primary concerns. The additional complexity associated with a hybrid cloud environment can, in turn, make securing resources to a single standard extremely challenging. This is especially true when it comes to managing the behavioral and policy nuances of business applications

Moreover, hybrid cloud security presents an even greater challenge when organizations are unable to fully control the lifecycle of the public cloud services they are using. For instance, when an organization is only responsible for hosting a portion of its business-critical workloads on the public cloud and has little to no control over the hosting provider, it is unlikely to be able to enforce consistent security standards across both environments.

Managing hybrid cloud security

Hybrid cloud security requires an extended period of planning and investment for enterprises to become secure. This is because hybrid cloud environments are inherently complex and typically involve multiple providers. To effectively manage these complex environments, organizations will require a comprehensive approach to security that addresses each of the following challenges:

  • Strategic planning and oversight: Policy design and enforcement across hybrid clouds
  • Managing multiple vendor relationships and third-party security controls: Cloud infrastructure security controls, security products provided by cloud and third-party providers and third-party on-premise security vendor products.
  • Managing security-enabling technologies in multiple environments: on-premise, public cloud and private cloud. 
  • Managing multiple stakeholders: CISO, IT/Network Security, SecOps, DevOps and Cloud teams.
  • Workflow automation: Auto responding to changing business demands requiring provisioning of policy changes automatically and securely across the hybrid cloud estate.
  • Optimizing security and agility: Aligning risk tolerance with the DevOps teams to manage business application security and connectivity.

With these challenges in mind, here are 5 steps you can take to effectively address hybrid cloud security challenges.

Step 1. Define the security objectives

A holistic approach to high availability is focused on the two critical elements of any hybrid cloud environment: technology and processes. Defining a holistic strategy in a hybrid cloud environment has these advantages: 

  • Improved operational availability: Ensure continuous application connectivity, data, and system availability across the hybrid estate.
  • Reduced risk: Understand threats to business continuity from natural disasters or facility disruptions.
  • Better recovery: Maintain data consistency by mirroring critical data between primary locations in case of failure at one site through multiple backup sites.

Step 2. Visualize the entire network topology  

The biggest potential point of failure for hybrid cloud deployment is where the public cloud and private environment offerings meet. This can result in a visual gap often due to disparities between in-house security protocols and third-party security standards, precluding SecOps teams from securing the connectivity of business applications. The solution lies in gaining complete visibility across the entire hybrid cloud estate. This requires having the right solution in place that can help SecOps teams discover, track and migrate application connectivity without regard for the underlying infrastructure. 

Step 3. Use automation for adaptability and scalability  

The ability to adapt and scale on demand is one of the most significant advantages of a hybrid cloud environment. Invariably, when considering the range of benefits of a hybrid cloud, it is difficult to conceptualize the power of scaling on demand. Still, enterprises can enjoy tremendous benefits when they correctly implement automation that can respond on-demand to necessary changes. With the right change automation solution, change requests can be easily defined and pushed through the workflow without disrupting the existing network security policy rules or introducing new potential risks.

Step 4. Minimize the learning curb 

According to a 2021 Global Knowledge and IT Skills report, 76% of IT decision-makers experience critical skills gaps in their teams. Hybrid cloud deployment is a complicated process, with the largest potential point of failure being where in-house security protocols and third-party standards interact. If this gap is not closed, malicious actors or malware could slip through it. Meeting this challenge requires a unification of all provisions made to policy changes so that SecOps teams can become familiar with them, regardless of any new device additions to the network security infrastructure. This would be applicable to provisions associated with policy changes across all firewalls, segments, zones, micro‐segments, security groups and zones, and within each business application.

Step 5. Get compliant 

Compliance cannot be guaranteed when the enterprise cannot monitor all vendors and platforms or enforce their policies in a standard manner. This can be especially challenging when attempting to apply compliance standardizations across an infrastructure that consists of a multi-vendor hybrid network environment. To address this issue, enterprises must get their SecOps teams to shift their focus away from pure technology management and toward a larger scale view that ensures that their network security policies consistently comply with regulatory requirements across the entire hybrid cloud estate. 

Summary

Hybrid cloud security presents a significant—and often overlooked—challenge for enterprises. This is because hybrid cloud environments are inherently complex, involving multiple providers, and impact how enterprises manage their business applications and overall IT assets. To learn how to reach your optimal hybrid cloud security solution, read more and find out how you can simplify your journey. 

 

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