Building Security into Your Cloud-First Business

Key Terms

  • Cloud
    Software, services, and databases that run on a shared infrastructure.
  • Cloud-first
    The idea that organizations should try to run as many of their processes and workflows in the cloud as possible, only considering other environments after the cloud is ruled out as the most efficient option.
  • Visibility
    A comprehensive knowledge of the presence all the devices and endpoints in the environment and all rules associated with them.

What is Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation is the overhauling of an entire organization – business model, technologies, processes, customer experiences, organizational structure, and even company culture – to become more efficient and agile through the use of digital technologies like cloud-computing, automation, and APIs.

Why Digital Transformations Fail

Digital transformation requires a cultural shift across the entire organization. The words “But we’ve always done it this way,” need to be exorcised from the company vocabulary. Instead, people should be asking, “How much of this process can we automate to create a smoother customer experience or streamline a process in the cloud?”

Many organizations make the mistake of simply copying their manual processes into a digital format. For instance, one financial services provider created a customer experience that emulated the steps performed by their core banking system, even though about 30 percent of those steps were unnecessary in the digital environment. After investing millions in an innovation lab, all the company had achieved was providing their customers the ability to work through dozens of screens instead of dozens of pieces of paper. The reason for this costly misstep was that the company culture was so accustomed to the limitations of its decades-old core system that business owners never questioned whether things could be done differently. Only 13 percent of organizations have begun to see a return on their investments in enterprise digital transformations – this is an example of why that percentage is so low.

A digital transformation must emanate from the inside out. Dig deep and rethink what must change to support a competitive business model, and don’t worry about what can’t change because of the limitations of legacy systems or organizational structures. Systems and structures can always be changed. 

How to Prioritize a Digital Transformation Strategy

Strategic initiatives around digital transformation should contribute to as many of these areas as possible:

  • Customer satisfaction 
  • Infrastructure security posture 
  • Corporate cost savings 
  • People efficiency
  • Meaningful innovation

 

Say No to Stowaways on Your Digital Transformation Journey

The greatest challenges cited by C-level respondents to a recent FireMon survey on the state of hybrid cloud security are the lack of a centralized view of information across tools, too many tool suites and management consoles to keep up with, and lack of integration across tools. 

These problems are the source of more than inconvenience and inefficiencies – they’re security risks. When an organization can’t see exactly what and who is on its infrastructure, it is insecure. So, ultimately, the most critical priority for IT and security professionals who are shifting workloads to the cloud during a digital transformation is visibility.

Visibility is being able to see all the devices and endpoints in the environment and their associated rules, including what has already been put in the cloud. 

 

True visibility is gained through a single pane of glass that provides a consolidated view of all systems. A single pane of glass is important because without it, IT and security staff are left bouncing from console to console to work with data based on different metrics that are difficult or impossible to collate. Gaining a comprehensive understanding of the state of the infrastructure is like playing a virtual game of whack-a-mole, and the enterprise is always the loser. For enterprises to fully benefit from a cloud-first strategy, their highest priority should be complete visibility into both their new and existing IT environments.    

4 Ways Visibility Supports Cloud Migration

1. Before you decide what to automate, make sure it’s worth automating

Use your visibility capabilities to gain a clear picture of you already have so you don’t waste resources and carry over risk by shifting outdated and non-compliant security to the cloud. Once you can see everything you have and you’ve shored up your security policy, you can automate what should be automated and replicate the appropriate on-premise controls in your cloud environment. And, because you’re not necessarily going to move everything, know what you’re leaving behind and why you’re leaving it, so you can determine whether to repair, replace, or jettison those systems.

2. Clean before you automate

Visibility will expose broken processes and rules that must be fixed or eliminated before migration to the cloud. Carrying them over “to fix later” will create technical debt and institutionalize risk. For example, most firewall rulebases contain hidden, shadowed, redundant, and overlapping rules, any of which may cause network, security, and migration problems. These types of issues must be cleaned up before they can inject risk into the new infrastructure.

3. Orchestrate your automations

End-to-end automation is more than a collection of scripts. Today’s automation can provide real-time visibility, control, and management of the network. But to realize that functionality, everything must work together in an orchestrated manner. Orchestration reduces the complexity of hybrid security, secures applications as they scale, exposes vulnerabilities, removes change request backlogs, and more. The infrastructure of a digitally transformed enterprise is significantly more complex than that of a traditional organization, so orchestration is mandatory because there is simply no way to perform all these tasks manually on the large number systems inherent to a digital business.

4. Re-imagine your security teams as part of the design process

Before migrating, align the teams responsible for security, especially if on-premise and cloud security duties are divided. Better still, unify your security resources into one team so there is no chance for gaps or redundancies. 

Protect Your Digital Transformation Strategy with Automated Security

Most enterprises have already begun their digital transformation journeys. But no matter whether they’re just starting out or nearing completion, their common destination is a cloud-first organization that is more profitable, responsive, efficient, and customer-centric. 

Complete visibility will help these organizations overcome obstacles on the road ahead. Not only will visibility will save them from replicating and automating inefficient processes, it will help them keep security at the forefront of all their operations. Proper configuration of cloud deployments and automation of security policy management can advance their digital transformation efforts and enable them to scale their services and pivot their business models in upcoming years as their markets evolve.

At FireMon, we have been driving innovation that allows customers see their cloud deployments the same way they see their on-premise infrastructures, even when security configurations differ widely. Digital transformation is an opportunity to create a dashboard that can travel with you far into the future, even as the horizon changes — in this case, to wherever you decide to put workloads and digital assets. But wherever you go, make sure your security controls go with you. You should have the same level of confidence in the cloud as you did on-premise, and the same visibility, if not better.

Seize control of your cloud security today by ensuring visibility and exercising control. Find out how easy FireMon makes it to gain control of cloud security.

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*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from FireMon authored by FireMon. Read the original post at: https://www.firemon.com/digital-transformation-and-cloud-migration-security/