The Challenge of Visibility in Cloud Computing Environments

These days, more and more enterprises are opting to migrate their data into the cloud, what with the numerous advantages that it promises to provide. In a report by the SANS Institute published in September 2015, it was revealed that 40 percent of organizations are now using hybrid cloud architectures. These computing environments employ a combination of private cloud services and third-party public cloud services to accomplish different functions within the same organizations.

The survey also showed that private cloud implementations are the second most favored by IT professionals, being used by 38% of the respondents, whereas only 12% of them used public cloud implementations.

Opacity of cloud provider infrastructure

The move to cloud computing is being fueled by organizations’ desire to make IT delivery more efficient and to make their businesses more agile. But the increasing shift toward private, public, and hybrid cloud is putting tremendous pressure on security professionals, who need to maintain complete visibility over their compute infrastructure.

Security teams are often left wondering which cloud servers are being attacked and how they will know about them. The fact of the matter is that when sizeable portions of a corporate network is in public cloud environments, the security becomes more complicated as an enterprises will then have to rely on their service providers for a big part of their security protocol. Often, this mutual obligation model becomes a major challenge for organizations that need to satisfy compliance and other regulatory obligations.

This opacity in provider infrastructure, which results in lack of visibility into important corporate data stored externally, not only poses security risks for enterprises, but also promote fears that may prevent wider acceptance of cloud-based systems. As a matter of fact, the SANS Institute study showed that 58 percent of IT professionals cited lack of visibility into provider infrastructure management as the biggest point of contention they have with cloud vendors. And this was true whether the organizations were relying on providers of software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), or infrastructure as a service (IaaS).

The need for modern security tools

As modern computing infrastructure are very elastic, dynamic, and automated, traditional security tools are often left in the dust because they are not agile enough. They don’t scale well due to their cumbersome footprint on each workload, they require numerous manual processes, and they don’t deploy automatically as systems spin up.

What enterprises need is a security and compliance platform that successfully addresses the limitations of traditional technologies that are unable to work well in today’s dynamic compute environments. Such a platform should be able to provide constant protection for servers in any combination of data centers, private clouds, and public clouds.

With the right tools, organizations’ security professionals will be able to gain comprehensive visibility over all of their cloud servers, thus significantly minimizing their networks’ vulnerability to attacks.