Realign Network, Security with Cloud Migration: Making the Business Case of a Cloud Mindset

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Experts predict the cloud services market will be worth $623.3 billion by 2023. Among the many factors companies consider when choosing cloud services, cost optimization is high on the list. After all, a successful cloud transformation allows an organization to shift operational costs from a capex model to an opex model.

However, companies often fail to make this business case work due to oversights and a failure to factor in latent costs. These include cloud service provider (CSP) transformed services, transformation programs, and added network and security services, which are usually an afterthought during the cloud transformation process. Failure to consider network and security during the planning process can result in duplicating costs, operating redundant networks, and missing critical gaps in their security infrastructure, leaving them vulnerable.

Therefore, it becomes imperative for the business to carefully plan the cloud transition process and optimize each step to reduce costs and make the business case achievable. More importantly, careful network and security transformation planning can contribute to a positive cloud business case. So how can enterprises realign their network and security to match a modern cloud-based enterprise network?

Building a Cloud Architecture: A Paradigm Shift

When it comes to cloud transformation, most business cases focus primarily on data center compute, storage, and backup. Some cloud migration approaches based on migrating individual line-of-business applications do not sufficiently consider network and security aspects, even if they add around 20-30% to the overall IT budget. Marketing studies show that some industries end up spending up to 14% of their IT budget just on cybersecurity.

But moving to the cloud is not a silver bullet. While migrating to the cloud provides businesses with opportunities to scale and grow with agility, it also increases vulnerabilities. With cybersecurity flaws costing organizations over $3.86 million on average in 2020 alone, network and security realignment cannot be an afterthought. Businesses should prioritize network and security realignment to implement relevant practices and processes and create a secure and cost-effective organization in the cloud.

For legacy technology architecture, network and security are akin to the doors and walls guarding a monolithic factory and the roads connecting the factory inside and out. This type of thinking has no place in cloud architecture. Modern cloud-based architecture is inherently open and borderless. This is what makes it the perfect choice for organizations looking to leverage their global application hosting capabilities with hyper-scales. Additionally, cloud applications are frequently integrated with on-premises applications as part of a hybrid ecosystem. This requires a completely redesigned and restructured approach to network and security protocols.

Today, it is common for us to collaborate with colleagues and clients far from a continent. Combined with the massive, and possibly irreversible, spike in remote working since 2020, this has again underscored the importance of network security. In this paradigm, traditional access controls cannot keep up with ever-changing assets distributed both logically and geographically. As a result, they become more of a hindrance than an enabler of human productivity. From a practical perspective, it is logistically impractical and cost-prohibitive to implement individual security settings (firewalls and the like) at the on-premises data center and at each dispersed endpoint.

So what is the solution? Is it about creating a cloud mindset that incorporates network and security realignment from the start? Or is it about establishing a security infrastructure that integrates the key components of the cloud: accounts, servers, hypervisors, storage, databases, networking, and containers?

Companies must re-evaluate their network and security architecture to operate securely in this highly open cloud paradigm. This new model will have to take into account both cost optimization and commercial performance.

Networking for the Cloud: Realigning Expectations and Practices

Traditional network architecture has followed a star or star network model. These models are provided by major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and have instituted a complete dependency on MPLS for organizations. This is a problem because traditional MPLS networks offer little or no control over traffic routing and network usage to the enterprise. The opex remains high due to the inability to shut down services during downtime and cost movement flows in only one direction – upwards. These models are further complicated by long-term blocks and strict ISP controls, which remain a black box for businesses.

On the other hand, a cloud network provides much more comprehensive controls to businesses. These controls are embedded in its DNA. Network routing intelligence is configured at the SD-WAN layer, giving organizations substantial control over their network/IT. Replacing MPLS with the Internet and consumer networks, which are equally or more reliable than corporate networks, would mean fewer instances of foreclosure. It would also allow for improved access despite cost variability, as services can be easily downgraded without compromising network quality and security controls.

Cybersecurity for the Cloud: Empowering Cloud Businesses

In terms of cybersecurity in the cloud, as we reduce reliance on legacy centralized security controls, controls must adapt to the borderless enterprise and focus on the endpoint and application access layers. In traditional models, security is primarily at the access level, as firewalls, IPS, and IDS monitor and monitor access inside and outside data centers. All inbound and outbound data traffic is tightly controlled, but once a user gains access, it is relatively free to access applications from inside the network due to less stringent application security layers. Additionally, the siled nature of network security means that most industrial systems are separated from corporate IT, limiting the means of access to the systems.

The open nature of the cloud network requires modified security measures to facilitate business performance without compromising application security. We need to shift our perspective from edge control to edge security – across multiple layers of business and IT applications/devices. Data center-based security can slow performance, especially if traffic is forced to navigate unnecessary layers. Cloud-based applications must therefore be much more accessible. Additionally, AI and ML can induce surveillance capabilities on behavioral traits and transactional tendencies to further mitigate vulnerabilities.

In conclusion: Justifying the business case

As the cloud becomes ubiquitous, the lines between enterprise computing and industrial computing are blurring even further. A realigned network architecture, along with edge security, is key to expanding cloud use cases. Redesigning cloud networks can help organizations save cost and effort, while reinventing security to drive smart security practices can secure applications and avoid any incident or additional expense. With careful planning, businesses can achieve exponential cloud-based growth, making it a substantial business case that is impossible to ignore to ensure greater success.

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