Since the beginning of cloud, the prevailing expectation was that organizations would follow a standardized, linear ‘cloud adoption’ roadmap. This would start by initially migrating specific applications to the cloud, such as email, before moving more business applications and network infrastructure into virtualized environments. Through this process, enterprises would establish a hybrid environment utilizing a mix of on-premise and cloud networks. Eventually, it was envisaged, entire IT infrastructures would be migrated to the cloud, boosting efficiency, scalability, agility and flexibility.
It may appear that this prediction is on the way to realization – that organizations’ cloud adoption has reached the point where the entire IT infrastructure can be migrated to the cloud and a hybrid environment is no longer necessary. However, reality is proving otherwise.
Private cloud deployments on the rise. While the number of applications being migrated to the public cloud is increasing (according to IDC public cloud market grew by 17% in 2016), spending on on-premise infrastructures is also growing at a rate of 10.3%. This shows that while enterprises are keen to realize the benefits of the cloud, they do still see value in maintaining an on-premise infrastructure – pointing to a prolonged life expectancy for hybrid cloud environments.
Multi-cloud hybrid environments. Organizations are increasingly adopting a multi-cloud approach, i.e. using solutions from multiple cloud vendors within their infrastructure. Indeed, research shows that 49% of businesses already use multiple providers within their infrastructure and 77% of those that don’t are likely to do so in the near future. This approach means that organizations are still effectively using a hybrid environment as they will be working with, and managing, two different types of security controls – for example those offered with AWS and those offered by Microsoft with the Azure platform. As a result organizations will face similar security management challenges as with the traditional ‘hybrid’ set-up that utilizes a cloud environment alongside an on-premise infrastructure
The repatriation cycle. Many organizations are increasingly repatriating applications that they previously migrated to the cloud, back to internal or on-premise private infrastructures. There are several drivers for this, including concerns around regulatory compliance and data ownership through to cost, as cloud provider fees continue to climb as data volumes and processing requirements grow.
Interestingly, some companies that were originally ‘cloud native’ from inception, such as Dropbox, Groupon and Twitter, have all ultimately found savings and benefits by expanding to on-premise solutions.
The impact on security
So what does this mean for network security? Originally with organizations expected to eventually become purely cloud based, it was anticipated that the requirement to secure applications separately across cloud and on-premise infrastructures could gradually be phased out, since the on-premise infrastructure would become redundant. Therefore, organizations could focus on securing applications in the cloud.
However, with the hybrid environment here to stay for the foreseeable future, and organizations increasingly moving applications between cloud and on-premise infrastructures, IT teams will need to maintain security for both environments. In our next blog we will look at how this can be built into the foundations of the hybrid infrastructure.
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