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The biggest challenge with multi-cloud security stems from how most businesses arrived at a multi-cloud architecture in the first place. For most organizations, cloud ambitions start out slowly -- and with a single cloud service provider. Typically, this was an IaaS platform that allowed current apps and data stored in-house to simply be moved to a cloud infrastructure.
As the IT department grew more and more comfortable, more apps, services and data continued to flow out of private data centers and into this cloud. Around the same time, PaaS and SaaS began to take hold. It was here where IT security started to have a problem. Because corporate resources suddenly resided within multiple, third-party cloud environments -- each of which was managed differently from a security policy enforcement perspective -- it became quite difficult to enforce a unified multi-cloud security policy.
In the meantime, it became abundantly clear that, from a resiliency standpoint, relying on a single IaaS provider for the bulk of application and resource management was not the best option. Despite cloud infrastructures having multiple layers of redundancy built in, major outages can still occur. From a data continuity perspective, many IT architects determined that a better model would be to spread IaaS applications and data across multiple cloud service providers.
Lack of a single security policy complicates management
This strategy led many IT security architects to manage security policy as if each cloud service provider were a separate entity. Yet this makes it impossible to institute a comprehensive security approach that spans across both internal and cloud resources.
While piecing together an end-to-end security policy across multiple disparate clouds may work for some companies -- at least for a while -- it's far from ideal. For one, a multi-cloud security approach like this doesn't scale. At some point, it will become unmanageable. Second, the likelihood of security policy gaps forming within some cloud environments creates tremendous risk.
Therefore, the best way to approach multi-cloud security is to build a framework that allows a security team to uniformly manage separately controlled environments as if they were one. New tools have emerged, among them multi-cloud management and network security analytics platforms. These systems give administrators deeper insight and a more efficient way to centrally manage security -- no matter where critical apps and data reside. For those organizations that are only now starting their multi-cloud journey, tools like these can be used from the onset to create the necessary holistic security foundation. For others mid-journey, they will want to migrate their security policies and frameworks from existing platforms to these new tools as soon as they can.
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