For a long time now, security has been the number one roadblock for organizations considering a move to the cloud. Once large enterprises started moving their entire infrastructure to the cloud, people started asking questions about security. What to secure, where the vulnerabilities are, and who’s responsible for what? The information gap for such a significant business development is alarming.

On June 19, Alaska Airlines Director of Network and Connectivity Solutions, Brian Talbert, Former Symantec CEO, Enrique Salem, Dimension Data Cyber Security Evangelist, Ami Hofman and ShieldX VP of Product Management, John Parker teamed up to answer the industry’s most critical questions on secure cloud migration best practices and more.

Below we provide a recap of some key discussion points, but to get all the insights from our expert panelists, you can watch the recorded webcast on BrightTalk.

Cloud Security Webcast Panelists

How are attitudes about cloud changing?

In the past, barriers like security, availability and vendor lock in concerns kept many organizations from moving on premise applications to cloud. But Enrique Salem, former Symantec CEO, explains a shift has occurred over the last 24 months as, “People have gotten more comfortable that they can build an application and that their data is secure. That they can move fairly quickly to take advantage of the robust services that cloud infrastructure is providing.”

Even financial institutions that had been resistant to public cloud infrastructures, due to sovereignty issues, are now expecting that upwards of 30% of their applications will be built on public cloud infrastructure in the next 3-5 years.


What are the driving factors for cloud adoption?

Companies are trying to figure out how to become more agile and how to reduce the cost of running infrastructure. But they are also looking at the robust set services that are being made available through public cloud infrastructure.

Public cloud infrastructures make new capabilities, like the ability to create data links or use new machine learning tools, rapidly available and accessible to application developers without requiring them to set up those tools and infrastructure. Cloud migration isn’t just an agility or a cost play, but also the availability of services that allow businesses to move much more quickly than in traditional on premise environments.

Ami Hofman, Dimension Data Cyber Security Evangelist, reports that the cloud is a key catalyst for digital transformation. Dimension Data are using the cloud to drive better innovation and agility by reducing the amount of time needed to take a new product to market. So the decision to move to cloud is typically driven from the business.


How do businesses decide what gets migrated to the cloud?

Hofman says that security teams are trying to be involved early in the cloud conversation to define the right strategy and make sure that security is incorporated when the business begins to assess and identify which applications will be moved into cloud. The goal of many businesses is to develop different architectures and metrics that would support a cookie cutter approach that accelerates cloud adoption and meets business goals.

Brian Talbert, Alaska Airlines Director of Network and Connectivity Solutions, shared the overarching principles of Alaska Airlines’ “cloud first strategy” and their goal to run all applications in the cloud within the next 3 – 5 years. As Talbert explains, “We don’t want to be in the data center business, we’ve got an airline to run.”

When evaluating an app and its applicability to move into the cloud, Alaska Airlines takes into consideration some of the obvious factors, like current investment in infrastructure and ability to host it in their internal cloud against the cost effectiveness of moving it to one of the public clouds. As well as the need for elasticity.

But Talbert acknowledges that there is a lot of gray area when making decisions on what to move to the public cloud. As he explains, “Even things like the cost effectiveness become a little bit tricky when you look at short term expenses particularly on non-elastic workloads on the surface, it may not look like it all adds up as an effective move to the cloud, but when you factor those costs over time and ongoing investments into premise data centers and hardware lifecycle replacement costs, and human resource investment costs and even the opportunity costs of not moving to the cloud, suddenly it starts to makes sense for most things that have the ability to run in the cloud or can be easily factored to do so.”


What tools or technologies support a secure migration to the cloud?

There are so many new tools launching every week that claim to support migration to the cloud, making it a really confusing landscape. Talbert encourages people to start with their cloud provider because they provide native tools to help with some elements of migration. But native tools can only do so much. Talbert explains, “We, internally at Alaska Airlines are using ShieldX Elastic Security Platform, ShieldX’s product, in a capacity to monitor our workloads, provide insights into our applications and which applications are talking to which other applications. That’s absolutely critical to the success of moving those workloads.”

Hofman always recommends that companies start their cloud journey by mapping applications and with asset discovery because most enterprises don’t understand what exists in their environments and the data flows within those environments.

Hofman explains that support for automation and multi-cloud are important considerations for Dimension Data clients as he states, “Clients are looking for something that is simple. Automation is key. They are looking to automate the processes. They are looking for something that would work across a number of environments.”

Fundamentally a successful migration to cloud begins with the people. Alaska Airlines is making significant investments into its architects and application owners who have historical and deep knowledge of their applications. They have also launched a cloud competency center which is focused on helping architects and applications owners factor their applications for the cloud. They take the deep insights learned from ShieldX Elastic Security Platform to understand the full picture of what applications are doing and the type of data and interfaces that are being exposed, and make sure they have the appropriate privacy and data governance to protect the data that is moving about.

Micro-segmentation is rising in popularity because segmenting environments allows organizations to create logical silos and accelerate cloud adoption. Dimension Data works with clients to help them understand how to segment their network. Hofman states, “With ShieldX, we provide a very good framework to allow clients to move into cloud securely.”

Even with all the advances in technologies Talbert cautions, “Don’t under estimate things like software migration planning, post migration testing and analysis and optimization—all those things that are outside the context of a specific tool. It is important to have an understanding of how you are securely moving your data to the cloud.”

Want to learn more about secure cloud migration? Watch the entire recorded webcast on BrightTalk.


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