There are many facets of planning a transition to a Cloud Based Environment. Although proper and in depth planning is vital from all angles, the security related considerations must be given the maximum weightage. The very reputation of an organization will depend on a Secure Transition to the Cloud.
Migrating to the cloud from an on-premise infrastructure is no easy task. An entity simply cannot afford a “hit and trial” approach when it comes to selecting a particular Cloud Service Provider (CSP). The foremost security related aspect to consider is which data security protocols are offered or implemented by the CSP.
There will be two aspects of assessing the Cyber Security Protocols of a CSP. Firstly, the migrating organization should gauge the security protocols of the CSP with its in-house benchmarks. The baseline criteria should be that the cyber security protocols should either meet or exceed the entity’s current security paradigm.
Another aspect of this security analysis will be meeting the statutory compliance benchmarks that are set by the industry regulators. The process becomes even more critical if the entity’s data is either of a sensitive or confidential nature. The CSP that meets the minimum statutory cyber security protocols should be selected.
Determine a Bottom-line
Once a CSP has qualified both the internal and regulatory security needs, the transitioning organization should start working on its security bottom line, during and post the migration. The CSP is well versed with its but is largely unaware of how the migrating entity has been managing its cyber security.
Further, outsourced cloud solution providers secure an organization’s data on the basis of a shared responsibility model. As the cloud tenant regularly interacts with the entity’s data over the cloud, Security Related Challenges and are bound to surface.
The transitioning entity must prepare a detailed blueprint of how it wants to incorporate and integrate its existing data security protocols into the cloud based solution. There should be a clear implementation roadmap that should duly take into account which existing protocols will carry over to the cloud and which ones will need to be tweaked.
Another example of how an organization may want to secure its data over the cloud is by regulating access to data on the basis of employee roles. Such a data security model will ensure that employees will access, manage and manipulate only those segments of data that are concerned directly with their job description.
Once a clear roadmap has been defined, the next crucial phase is role assignment. The security plan of each aspect of the organization’s data should be entrusted to the relevant departments. The people in the helm of affairs know best the relative importance and criticality of the organization’s data.
Segregation of Data
The size of an organization’s data is generally directly proportional to its age and the complexity of its processes. It is no wonder that the total size of an organization’s data may run into several petabytes. This poses a challenge for hastily migrating and securing such a large amount of data over the cloud.
The starting point should be segregating this data on the basis of its sensitivity and criticality. In addition to the security based segmentation of data, the same process should be repeated with the criterion of data related to business critical processes. A migrating entity cannot afford any disruption in its core processes during the transition.
Migrating Business Critical and Sensitive Data
The key motivator when organizations transition to the cloud is organizational efficiency. A good cloud based solution greatly enhances the flexibility and agility of an entity’s processes. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to migrate business critical data and processes over the cloud.
In order to make this transition effective and successful, the business critical processes may run concurrent over both environments which are the CSP and the on-premise infrastructure. This practice should continue unless the critical business processes have fully stabilized over the cloud infrastructure.
Once the processes have stabilized and matured over the cloud, only then should an organization decommission the on-premise infrastructure if it is part and parcel of the overall transition plan. The next phase should be that of migrating the sensitive data over to the cloud.
On paper, a cloud based environment is highly conducive to securing an organization’s data. Firstly, the data will reside at a single data center of the CSP. Then there will be cyber security protocols both at the CSP and organization’s end.
Even from an administrative stand point, securing a central data repository is much convenient than doing the same for hundreds or thousands of end point devices. Therefore, it would be a sensible choice to move sensitive data over to the cloud as an integral part of executing a secure transition to the cloud.
Engage Cyber Security Expertise
The core business of a migrating entity may have nothing to do with IT. Even so, the requisite skill level of the existing IT workforce may not suffice to ensure a secure and smooth transition to the cloud. It is therefore a very prudent choice to engage someone with cyber security expertise.
Depending on the size of the entity, it can be an individual, a small group of professionals or even a cyber-security company in itself. Another great advantage of engaging an external partner in the transition is the addition of a whole new security perspective to the existing thought process.
However, this step should not be made conditional with anything going wrong from the security standpoint during the transition. On the contrary, this engagement should be at the very initial stages of the migration phase. This exercise would never bear fruits if it is added as a mere after thought.
Validate Your Transition
Once the business critical processes and data have successfully migrated to the cloud, the validation process should immediately kick in. This process will largely be based on two aspects. Firstly, the effort should be measured up against the transition benchmarks laid out in the planning phase for the whole process.
In addition, the performance of business critical processes over the cloud will dictate if wheels are spinning in the right direction. A very clear benchmark of the performance of any process will be its direct comparison with that of the incumbent on premise infrastructure.
This will enable the entity to gauge its overall transition and assess the strong and weak aspects of the whole process. The migrating entity will have to go back to the drawing board if a certain process that was moved to the cloud fails to deliver the intended performance.
Future Security Plan
The successful and secure transition of any organization to the cloud is indeed a major milestone. However, the journey does not end there. The cloud is a whole new environment for a freshly transitioned entity. Even after a smooth migration, technical issues may surface and they would need prompt resolution.
Therefore, a sound cloud security plan for the future should also be an integral part of the organization’s broader plan to migrate. This plan should not only address the current cloud security issues of the entity but also a host of such challenges that are in the making.
A good example of this future planning is legislative changes that can directly or indirectly impact the cloud security paradigm of the cloud tenant. There may also be a proposed legislative change that would directly impact CSPs but its spill over may travel to the recently migrated entity.
If a sound future plan is in place, it will enable the organization to cope effectively with the impact of change that is a constant phenomenon. Instead of feeling nervous and incapacitated, a company that has sound future planning for the security of its cloud solution will gear up and deliver.
Security is a high level concern for any organization that is migrating to the cloud. It is otherwise such a sensitive aspect of any cloud transition that there is virtually no room for error. Only those entities will accomplish a smooth and secure transition to the cloud who have done their homework.