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Security concerns are holding businesses back from digital transformation

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/jijomathaidesigners)

Cloud adoption is a vital part of a business’ digital transformation journey, yet it remains under-utilised by many. CSI estimates that in the UK 80 per cent of business workloads exist on private, on-premise systems - often on legacy technology - meaning that they aren’t taking advantage of the cloud.

In this article, Neill Hart at CSI looks at the benefits of the cloud and addresses common concerns.

Security is a barrier to cloud adoption

Recent research by CSI  found that 83 per cent of IT managers view digital transformation as a key priority. However, the myths and misjudgements that exist around cloud migration are causing confusion and delaying uptake.

CSI’s research found that businesses have concerns about the security of the cloud, with over a third (36 per cent) citing that this is holding them back from cloud migration.

Are cloud security concerns misplaced?

When it comes to cybersecurity, over half of IT managers (55 per cent) in CSI’s research study say their practices are adequate, but that they could do a lot more. Whilst putting valuable business data into the hands of a third party does carry a perceived risk, the reality is that many cloud service providers offer industry-leading cybersecurity technology and stringent data protection practices that the average IT department would struggle to match.

In fact, cloud adoption offers more opportunities to transform a business’ cyber-defences to meet the sophistication of threats, in particular with the continuing advances in AI-based cybersecurity. Using algorithms based on characteristics of malware can produce a predictive model that can identify good and bad traits of a file. Traditional signature-based approaches to cybersecurity can no longer protect against known and unknown threats but with AI-based security tools that learn as they go along, protection can be increased to 99.7 per cent.

How can compliance concerns be addressed by the cloud?

Many companies, especially those operating in heavily regulated industries, share a common belief that the control needed to meet compliance standards can only come from owning and managing the infrastructure themselves. In many cases, it is this belief that is shutting businesses out of the economic and operational efficiencies of the cloud.

The very nature of a private cloud environment enables the automation of workloads which can accurately take care of the increasing burden of maintaining compliance. Automation and treating infrastructure as code delivers repeatable and consistent workloads as well as reducing effort and risk.

Hybrid cloud: the best of both worlds

A hybrid cloud - a combination of on-premise and cloud resources – is often the most effective platform for digital transformation. Each business application can be evaluated based on technical, regulatory and operational requirements and migrated to the most suitable environment. Most organisations will use multiple cloud providers, taking advantage of different platforms and fee structures to suit their particular application or business need.

Some applications, such as ‘back-end’ systems of record, may need to remain on-premise for a specific reason, such as greater speed of data access.  By keeping apps and data together, it’s not necessary to travel over slow internet links – response times will all be at LAN speed. However, the response time for other applications such email or expense reporting isn’t critical and can easily exist in a secure public cloud environment.

Being able to manage on-premise, private and public clouds in a consistent manner is a competitive differentiator. Management extends beyond monitoring technical components to include cost optimisation as well as ongoing regulatory compliance and continual service improvement.

Ensuring a smooth journey to the cloud

Cloud success does require a strategy to ensure that every system is compliant, secure and optimised to support a specific business need. Security policy and governance must be integral to cloud planning and not addressed as an afterthought. The cloud management provider and CIO should work together to specify how to approach data protection and data management, including how to ensure data protection and backups once in the cloud. Getting this right will ensure that each business workload’s journey to the cloud is smooth.

And when you’re there

There is no doubt that this shift from on-premise hardware to the cloud can enable business operations to transform. The hybrid cloud environment is configurable, scalable and protected with enterprise-grade cybersecurity services. The result is a consumption-based commercial model which avoids over-investment or under-provisioning.

By addressing the security concerns raised in CSI’s research, IT managers can focus on gaining a perpetual edge on business growth by enabling innovation in a secure environment. In today’s digital world, the cloud can make cognitive computing technologies accessible, unlocking the power of company data through AI-powered analytics. Efficient handling of data creates better business insights and improved productivity, freeing up IT teams to solve more complex technology problems and focus on business innovation.

Neill Hart, CSI