Cloudflare – a security, performance and reliability company helping to build a better Internet and a leading connectivity cloud company – has released a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting that underscores companies’ growing need to connect everything in their business while maintaining control over their security, productivity and competitive growth.
To help the industry address this emerging challenge, Cloudflare is introducing the concept of the connectivity cloud – a unified platform of cloud-native services designed to help enterprises regain control over their increasingly complex and sprawling technology and data.
“Today, the big clouds have built business models on capturing your data, making it hard to move your data. These captivity clouds will lure you in with one product and make it near impossible to mix and match competitive offerings across the cloud space,” said Matthew Prince, CEO, Cloudflare. “Cloudflare offers an alternative: the connectivity cloud. Fundamentally, we are a network that makes it easy for you to connect and protect everything. We sit atop everything else and connect anything that’s online — whether it’s a cloud, a device, a database, or on-premises hardware — so businesses can escape the grasp of the cloud captors.”
In the last several years, organisations across the globe have seen a dramatic increase in the adoption of more applications, often SaaS-based, to help teams efficiently and collaboratively operate in a hybrid work environment. However, this has introduced new risks and challenges and led nearly 40% of organisations to agree or strongly agree that they are losing control over their IT and security environments.
IT and security teams are now tasked with responsibilities to remain productive and compliant while managing an increasingly complex landscape – and a third of organisations say these new responsibilities weren’t in their purview five years ago. These tasks have also become harder since 2020, with 30% of teams noting that managing and securing both public cloud environments and data in SaaS environments is significantly more complex today than ever before.
Security and IT leaders see their major challenges revolving around managing a growing business landscape while ensuring their team remains productive and secure. Nearly 50% of organisations see the growing number and types of users – spanning human, machine and third party – as one of the top five challenges they face today. The top five challenges also include the difficulty of maintaining or improving their team’s productivity (44%) and addressing growing attack surface areas (44%). If not adequately addressed, these challenges are expected to have a direct impact on the customer experience, productivity and the organisation’s competitive advantage.
Almost all (98%) of organisations agree that businesses would gain value from a connectivity cloud that provides secure, performant, ‘any-to-any’ connectivity (i.e., connectivity between more people, apps, data, devices, networks and clouds) more now than ever before. Nearly half of respondents believe this type of solution would accelerate Digital Transformation while reducing attack surface area.
Jerome Dilouya, CEO, InterCloud
When businesses are looking to regain control over their data, they should consider five key points.
Cybersecurity threats are showing no signs of relenting – the Sophos State of Ransomware 2023 report revealed that 66% of businesses have been hit by a ransomware attack this year. As a result, bolstering data security should be a priority for organisations of all sizes, particularly as far as cloud is concerned. Identifying a cloud-agnostic platform that allows interconnection across multiple cloud service providers (CSPs) ensures data confidentiality via a private data backbone, while reliance on more than one cloud network builds resilience and leaves companies less susceptible to outages.
To keep costs down, it is important to select tools or services for data management that closely align with the needs of the business. With a global reach from a single multi-cloud provider, enterprises can lower costs by removing the need to manage multiple CSPs at the same time.
Scaling at speed
Sprawling data can restrict businesses from expanding across regions and into new territories. Utilising a centrally managed solution facilitates easy scalability across environments and delivers high-performing infrastructure with central monitoring and optimisation. Therefore, data stops becoming a limitation and transforms into an asset that companies can use to inform decision-making and drive growth.
Leveraging Edge analytics
According to reports, we’re set to generate more data in the next three years than over the past 30, outlining the scale of the challenges businesses face in handling ever-increasing quantities of information. Companies that effectively store and govern their data can then implement a data architecture that captures data at the Edge and transports it securely to the nearest locations for processing to deliver real-time insights. This ensures consistent high-performance of applications dependent on data collected from Edge locations.
Expanding the value chain
Businesses collaborating with partners and engaging in the digital ecosystem will also find new and innovative ways to control their data and choose the right technology. Enterprises seeking to harness the benefits of a digital ecosystem must implement a cloud network infrastructure that supports a globally distributed network, facilitating partnerships within a secure environment.
With regulation, risk and demands on modern businesses constantly increasing when it comes to data management, it’s vital that organisations explore all available options and leverage the knowledge of experts when implementing new technology or data infrastructure. The first step to achieving success is to move away from reliance on one CSP and prioritise network diversity to keep data secure while maintaining scalability and keeping costs to a minimum.
Andre Reitenbach, CEO, Gcore
As technology infrastructure evolves and the opportunities to leverage data for success expand, companies must make decisions that will serve them in the long term. The best way to approach this is by prioritising four key areas: cloud strategy; data protection; compliance; and monitoring and analytics.
A well-defined cloud strategy is fundamental to success. If we assume that a business has decided to deploy its platforms, applications, assets and workloads into the cloud, it will need to make informed decisions about whether it adopts a single cloud provider or embraces a multi-cloud system. The advantages of a single cloud, such as simplified orchestration of the technology and a uniform cybersecurity approach, make accessing resources straightforward. However, for maximum flexibility, a multi-cloud approach provides service offers that match specific parts of the business and potentially gives companies the option to compare competitive prices and redundancy for business applications between different cloud providers.
If it’s important for an organisation to deliver its own services with redundancy and low latency, it must consider the strength of the network in different regions and the location of the data centres that support that multi-cloud network. There’s also a decision to be made about whether a public cloud, which offers scalability and affordability advantages, would be preferable to a private cloud, which can be customised to the needs of the business.
It has never been so important to ensure sensitive information is protected. The more that data is distributed across diverse platforms and networks, the more crucial it is to put in place state-of-the-art security measures. Organisations can consider different ways to protect data but if they are using a public cloud, they will need dedicated security resources to accelerate resilience, reliable infrastructure protection against DDoS attacks and web security mechanisms to enable stable application operation. Data must be protected at rest and in transit, ensuring enterprises maintain control over their proprietary information.
The risks of not complying with government regulations, such as GDPR, are expensive in terms of cost and reputation. However, meeting compliance requirements adds a layer of complexity for companies using cloud services. The best approach is to discuss the compliance features that are offered by providers, which will help organisations align with the regulations in their geographical and vertical markets, further supporting the goal of regaining control.
Migrating into the cloud means making use of measurement, evaluation and monitoring tools that determine if cloud-hosted applications and platforms are performing within their SLAs. All services that are offered should be monitored and companies can make use of analytics tools to gather critical data on everything from end-user experiences to identifying changes that need to be made.
While these are important priorities, businesses must decide what matters most to them, not just for their current needs, but as they scale in the future too.
Phil Lewis, Senior VP of Solution Consulting, Infor
The sheer number of technologies, applications and systems that many enterprises are working with daily means they run the risk of being overwhelmed by the very solutions that are designed to help them. To mitigate against this, there’s a lot to be said for getting the base systems well established before the finer tuning takes place. So, for example, get the ERP solution installed and up and running before focusing on the additional value-add stuff, which invariably involves fine-tuning what’s already there to suit the often unique needs of the business.
Choosing a solution with pre-built processes and configurations that are relevant to the industry the enterprise operates in goes a long way to helping with this, not only enabling a more predictable, quicker implementation but delivering a faster time to value too. A time-to-value analysis before any implementation takes place can be a great help, setting out just what are the timescales to be expected, not only in terms of implementation but how long the enterprise can expect to wait before the technology investment delivers real, tangible value.
Also, an enterprise’s core systems should be ready to integrate with a whole host of other solutions that the business might already have or systems that the business is considering implementing. This makes life easier for the in-house IT team, meaning much less work (not to mention expense) involved in bringing everything together.
Additionally, the key to overcoming the very real threat of drowning in data is to harness the existing data to extract optimum levels of value from the swathes of data available. This warrants a real shift from talking separately about data sources, data storage, data rationalisation, data enrichment and data visualisation – the list is almost endless – to instead focussing on a single, unified strategy for data management. At the heart of this is the need to not only store all data in a single repository, such as a data lake, but to then restructure this data to become even more powerful and, ultimately, more effective.
Through the application of advanced AI and Machine Learning technologies, it’s possible to turn this amalgamated data into meaningful, intelligent insights that inform better, faster and more effective decisions, making optimum use of the huge amount of data that’s available to enterprises today.Click below to share this article