Cloud-based services are a powerful way to increase productivity and storage availability while potentially cutting costs. The most common forms of cloud-based services are public and hybrid solutions; however, these options often present a business with increased security risk. Contrary to popular belief, the cloud can be an extremely secure environment if correctly engineered and controlled in a private setting. So, what are the security benefits of a private cloud? And what type of cloud-based service is right for the unique IT security needs of your business?
Selecting the Right Cloud Environment
Cloud-based services fall into three broad categories based upon infrastructure:
- Public cloud. All infrastructure—servers, storage, and so on—is the responsibility of and hosted by a cloud service provider such as Amazon Web Services. You simply contract for the amount of storage and the services you require.
- Private cloud. A private cloud is similar to a public cloud except that you host the infrastructure on your own premises.
- Hybrid cloud. Depending on the needs and security requirements of your organization, your business may choose to host some services (e.g., mission-critical applications) on premises and others in a public cloud.
Cloud-based services offer many benefits, including reduced operating costs and greater access for telecommuters and mobile employees, but many companies still express concerns about IT security and uptime. If you have such concerns, but still want to embrace all the cloud has to offer, the best option might be to consider engineering a private cloud environment.
What are the Security Benefits of a Private Cloud?
According to a recent Yankee Group survey, companies preferred private cloud computing 2:1 over public cloud solutions. Private clouds offer all the same benefits as a public cloud solution—scalability, multitenancy, and the like—but with the added security of placing computing resources behind a corporate firewall and direct control over data and assets. Of course, private clouds have drawbacks, as well, not the least of which is a potentially considerable monetary outlay for hardware, software, and the IT staff to manage everything.
With that said, the costs are not as prohibitive as one might think. And, it’s definitely worth the investment when you consider the many added security benefits of a private cloud environment:
- Flexibility for rapidly changing needs or company growth.
- Increase security because of dedicated onsite hardware.
- Better resource utilization through server virtualization.
Securing Your Private Cloud
The security protocols that a business establishes for a private cloud environment aren’t much different than what is required for a non–cloud computing environment:
- Keep hardware in a secure environment.
- Install firewalls.
- Conduct penetration testing.
- Implement principles of least privilege and defense in depth.
In addition, private clouds require that you control access to virtualized resources. Similarly, you should encrypt corporate data and automate security operations based on continuous monitoring. Private cloud-based services offer all the benefits of public and hybrid options but with greater layers of IT security protections and flexibility. Selecting the most cost-effective and secure cloud-based service your business is important. It’s critical to make an informed decision and speak with at least three experts in the process. The right IT service professional will act as a trusted advisor, asking questions to help select the most secure and affordable cloud environment for your business, whether its private, public, or hybrid.