Experts predict the cloud services market will be worth $ 623.3 billion by 2023. Among the many factors that companies consider when choosing cloud services, cost optimization is at the forefront. After all, a successful cloud transformation enables an organization to shift operational costs from an investment model to an operating model.

However, companies often fail to make this business case work because of oversights and the inability to factor in hidden costs. These include services transformed by the cloud service provider (CSP), transformation programs, and added network and security services, which are typically an afterthought during the cloud transformation process. Failure to consider network and security during the planning process can lead to duplication of costs by businesses, operating redundant networks, and missing critical vulnerabilities in their security infrastructure, leaving them vulnerable.

Therefore, it becomes imperative for the business to carefully plan the process of moving to the cloud and optimize each step to reduce costs and make the business case feasible. More importantly, careful planning for network and security transformation can contribute to a positive cloud business case. So how can businesses realign their network and security to match a modern cloud-based corporate network?

Building a cloud architecture: a paradigm shift

When it comes to a cloud transformation, most business cases are primarily focused on compute, store, and back up the data center. Some cloud migration approaches based on migrating individual business applications do not adequately consider network and security aspects, even though they add about 20-30% to the overall IT budget. Marketing studies show that some industries end up spending up to 14% of their IT budget just on cybersecurity.

But moving to the cloud is not a silver bullet. While migration to the cloud offers businesses opportunities to scale and grow with agility, it also increases vulnerabilities. With cybersecurity flaws costing organizations Over $ 3.86 million on average in 2020 alone, network and security realignment cannot be an afterthought. Businesses must prioritize network and security realignment to implement relevant practices and processes and build a secure and profitable organization in the cloud.

For the legacy technological architecture, network and security are akin to the gates and walls keeping a monolithic factory and the roads connecting the factory inside and out. This type of thinking has no place in cloud architecture. Modern cloud-based architecture is inherently open and borderless. This makes it the perfect choice for organizations looking to leverage their global application hosting capabilities with hyper-scalers. Additionally, cloud applications are frequently integrated with on-premises applications as part of a hybrid ecosystem. This requires a completely redesigned and restructured approach to network and security protocols.

Today it is common for us to collaborate with colleagues and clients who are in a more distant continent. Combined with the massive, and possibly irreversible, spike in remote working since 2020, this has reaffirmed the importance of network security. In this paradigm, traditional access controls cannot keep up with ever-changing assets distributed both logically and geographically. As a result, they become more of a hindrance than a catalyst for human productivity. From a practical standpoint, it is logistically impractical and prohibitively expensive to implement individual security settings (firewalls and the like) at the on-premises data center and at each dispersed endpoint.

So what is the solution? Is it about creating a cloud mindset that integrates network and security realignment from the start? Or is it about establishing a security infrastructure that integrates key cloud components: accounts, servers, hypervisors, storage, databases, network, and containers?

Organizations need to re-evaluate their network and security architecture to operate securely in this highly open cloud paradigm. This new model will have to take into account both cost optimization and company performance.

Network for the cloud: realigning expectations and practices

Traditional network architecture has followed a star or star network model. These models are provided by large Internet service providers (ISPs) and have instituted a complete dependence on MPLS for organizations. This is a problem because traditional MPLS networks offer little or no control over the routing of traffic and network usage to the business. The opex remains high due to the inability to turn off services during downtime and cost movements only occur in one direction: up. These models are further complicated by long-term lockdowns and strict ISP controls, which remain a black box for businesses.

On the other hand, a cloud network provides much more comprehensive controls to businesses. These controls are built into its DNA. Network routing intelligence is configured at the SD-WAN layer, giving organizations substantial control over their network / IT. Replacing MPLS with the Internet and consumer networks, which are just as or more reliable than corporate networks, would mean fewer lockdowns. It would also allow improved access relative to cost variability, as services can be easily downgraded without compromising network quality and security controls.

Cybersecurity for the Cloud: Fortifying Cloud Businesses

In terms of cloud cybersecurity, as we reduce reliance on legacy centralized security controls, controls must scale to the borderless business and focus on endpoints and application access layers. In traditional models, security is primarily at the access level, as firewalls, IPS, and IDS protect and monitor access inside and outside data centers. All inbound and outbound data traffic is tightly controlled, but once a user accesses it they are relatively free to access applications from inside the network due to the less stringent application security layers. Additionally, the siled nature of network security means that most industrial systems are separate from corporate IT, limiting the means of access to the systems.

The open nature of the cloud network requires modified security measures to facilitate business performance without compromising application security. We need to change our perspective from edge control to edge security – across multiple layers of business and IT applications / devices. Data center-based security can slow performance, especially if traffic is forced to traverse unnecessary layers, so cloud-based applications need to be significantly more accessible. Additionally, AI and ML can induce behavioral trait and transactional tendency monitoring capabilities to further mitigate vulnerabilities.

In conclusion: Rationale for the business case

As the cloud becomes ubiquitous, the lines between enterprise and industrial computing are blurring even further. Realigned network architecture, along with edge security, are the keys to expanding cloud use cases. Redesigning cloud networks can help organizations save on costs and effort, while reinventing security to induce smart security practices can secure applications and avoid any incident or additional expense. With careful planning, businesses can achieve exponential cloud-based growth, making it an important business case that cannot be ignored for greater success.

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