Calling today’s modern business environment data-driven is stating the obvious. Data is at the core of most, if not every, business strategy, and for good reasons. Data allows leaders to base their decisions on facts, trends and statistics rather than gut feeling. But it’s more than just a tool to inform decision making; data is what empowers businesses to operate in the first place. It is unthinkable to run a company in the 21st century without setting up a corporate email, developing an official website or managing business profiles on social media channels, all generating infinite amounts of data that becomes business intelligence.
Historically, businesses tended to keep their data locally, using legacy equipment such as HDDs or disk-based storage. But, with the office environment suddenly out of the picture due to social distancing measures, deploying IT infrastructures on-premises has become an obstacle rather than a facilitator to business continuity; tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams or G-Suite fill the gap. These digital tools that allow for decentralized work processes naturally require virtual systems where remote collaboration can be established in real-time – and that’s where cloud computing comes into play.
It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated worldwide cloud adoption exponentially. In fact, according to a recent report by Gartner, in the aftermath of the crisis, worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services is forecast to grow 18.4% in 2021 to total $304.9 billion. However, the sudden move to the cloud can, in turn, result in neglect of even the most basic security and compliance protocols.
Cloud transformation is not a simple process. It involves the migration of apps, software programs, desktops, data – or even entire infrastructures – to the cloud. Naturally, implementations thrown together in haste can result in faulty configurations. As IT teams scramble to implement, in weeks, changes that otherwise might have taken years, cybersecurity is often not prioritized. It has been a weak spot for many companies since the beginning of the pandemic – not to mention the unprecedented lack of control over data, with the majority of employees now working from home, outside of on-premises IT environments.
The move to the cloud should be carefully considered, starting with which type of cloud to choose – private, public or hybrid. All three options come with robust security and firewall solutions, but private cloud certainly offers more control; control is everything when it comes to data security.
Unlike public or hybrid cloud, private cloud offers businesses full control over every aspect of the cloud infrastructure, as it is run on dedicated hardware rather than a shared server. All security efforts are deployed either in-house or are outsourced to a managed service provider. Businesses don’t need to share resources and can be certain their sensitive information isn’t at risk of being exposed. This ownership, also known as single-tenant architecture, assures companies that their data is inaccessible to any unauthorized person.
Companies that adopt private clouds are the sole users of the hardware, which means their private cloud infrastructure can be customized to meet their unique business needs – not only where performance is concerned but also in terms of process control and authentication. In that sense, they are not limited by the generic cloud-based security methodologies common to the public cloud. This is particularly relevant for organizations in regulated industries that need to adhere to compliance, governance and security conditions, such as finance, government or healthcare.
Private cloud access is also more secure because it is achieved through private and secure network links, rather than the public internet. IT resources and capabilities are accessible as network services, often via browsers, to users behind firewalls. Other security advantages include greater levels of authentication, API-enabled protection, additional layers of automation and the potential for scalability if required.
That’s not to say that the public cloud lacks security precautions. On the contrary – public cloud providers have, over the years, adapted and fortified their security services in order to prevent cyberattacks. There are, however, limits to the level of the security service offered. Ultimately, opting for public, private or hybrid cloud will depend on a company’s unique needs. But as data security concerns rise, private cloud solutions could offer a more secure alternative.