Security Experts:

The Benefits of Cloud Services Far Outweigh On-Premises in 2021

The pandemic, among other variables, has greatly accelerated cloud adoption for many organizations in 2021.

It’s time. If they weren’t already invested, the events of the last year have clearly forced the hands of organizations to embrace the world of cloud-delivered services. The global rise in remote work is a big driver; it has forced organizations to think more progressively about everything from their office space to their infrastructure. 

It’s becoming increasingly evident that things may never truly get back to normal. For many companies, having a distributed workforce – work from anywhere, work from home, etc. – is simply a way of life now. A recent Gartner survey suggests that at least 30-40% of the workforce in the U.S. will continue to work from home post COVID-19. 

According to Gartner's 2021 CIO Agenda survey, this will require a shift that includes a total reboot of policies and security tools suitable for the modern remote workspace. Endpoint protection services, if they’re not already, will need to move to cloud-delivered services to ensure data is protected across the enterprise. The shift will also force security leaders to revisit policies for data protection, disaster recovery, and backup to ensure they’re still useful for a remote environment. 

2021 has seen a rise in cloud-native apps that have enabled companies to have workers perform duties remotely, keep supply chains running, and adapt to change. 

Has your organization made the move to cloud-delivered services? At this point, the advantages of cloud services are unrivaled. These are just a few of the many:

Agility, scalability, service availability, and speed

Keeping legacy software can be tempting but it has its drawbacks. This strategy limits new opportunities, and businesses can grow stagnant. For years, experts have demonstrated how on-premises security solutions can hinder an organization's ability to support employees. Restrictive security policies – those based on the physical premises of a business – can impede productivity. Solutions set up to block endpoint threats like malware and exploits in on-premises networks aren’t helpful if users aren’t working at the office.

Eradicating old, legacy code and platforms can reduce and eliminate bottlenecks for employees. It can also keep them safer, as antiquated, on-premises setups can often be an appealing target for hackers.

When it comes to hacking, cloud services are not a silver bullet, but it’s worth noting that according to Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report, 70% of breaches hit on-premises environments last year while only 24% of breaches affected cloud assets.

Cloud-based services are more equipped when it comes to integrating new emerging technologies and standards, too. With on-premises solutions, you can only bolt on so much new tech before security teams are required to install new infrastructure.

At the end of the day, enterprises want to move faster and aggressively to handle challenges that come their way, without adding new headaches for IT. By investing in the cloud, organizations can boost efficiency and cut costs. For small businesses looking to expand, the technology inherent in cloud solutions like AI, machine learning, and so on, can prove invaluable when it comes time to scale up, too.

Affordability

Maintenance, safety and updates, power, space – you name it. When you buy an on-premises infrastructure, you own it. Without a third party, all of its inherent costs fall on the owner. Moving to the cloud can bring an organization reduced power requirements and physical space concerns, but also save resources earmarked to buy expensive computer hardware or perform software updates. 

Speaking of updates, the cloud can also spare an organization from having to hire extra staff to maintain on-premises infrastructure. Because Software-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service companies shoulder the cost of maintaining and upgrading data centers and systems, organizations that move to the cloud can cut down on software development and deployment stemming from setups as well.

Security

While there were mixed feelings about cloud security in its infancy, using at least one form of cloud infrastructure is commonplace for organizations these days. 

According to a recent IBM survey, more than 150 enterprise executives said they planned to migrate most of their non-cloud apps, 75%, to cloud environments over the next three years.

One of the things driving this adoption is the narrative that data stored in a cloud environment is more secure compared to data in on-premises data centers. While it’s difficult to prove definitively, cloud companies usually have more robust cybersecurity measures in place to protect sensitive data. It’s a cloud provider’s sole responsibility to ensure its clients’ data integrity and that its systems have the most up-to-date security. To that end, cloud security providers must also ensure that data is kept compliant and up to code, something that helps mitigate risk too.

Enhanced overall security posture

When complemented by the right pieces, the benefits of the cloud can help an organization maintain a more robust cloud security posture and in turn, protect its data and reduce the chances of a successful attack.

Having the right policies, technologies, applications, and controls in place can help a company protect intellectual property, fend off both external and insider threats, and provide much needed visibility – affording an organization insight into applications and software running on their environment.

With greater security, agility, scalability, and speed, the trade-off for companies is more time and flexibility for their staff.

In a recent Cisco CISO benchmark study, 93% of CISOs agreed that moving security to the cloud had increased their organizations’ efficiency, allowing their security teams to focus on other areas of need. The shift has translated to big money for cloud providers. Recent research from Synergy Research Group found that cloud infrastructure spending surpassed on-premises spending for the first time in 2020.

To put that spending into perspective, according to Forrester’s Predictions 2021 report, global public cloud infrastructure will grow to 35% to $120 billion in 2021. Security stakeholders have diverted a lot of money to the cloud; at this point, it’s clear why. 

Shifting to the cloud can be a radical but necessary change. There’s no denying the transition can be time consuming and costly upfront. It requires strategy, buy-in, and a service model, among other requisites. Once you’ve done your homework and identified the intrinsic benefits of the cloud though, it’s value – especially in comparison to on premises solutions – becomes apparent.

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Tim Bandos is the Chief Information Security Officer & VP of Managed Security Services at Digital Guardian with more than 15 years of experience in information technology and securing mission-critical data. Tim joined Digital Guardian in 2016 as VP of Cybersecurity and successfully built the company’s Managed Detection & Response program from ground up. Prior to Digital Guardian, Tim ran a global security team for Dupont company where he was responsible for overseeing internal controls, incident response and threat intelligence.