public cloud security concerns

Overcoming security concerns in public cloud can clear the way for deeper integrations

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Forrester Research recently announced its annual predictions for the year, one of which pointed to the potential for soaring growth for the public cloud market. In 2020, it’s expected that the public cloud market, including cloud applications (SaaS), development and data platforms (PaaS), and infrastructure (IaaS) services combined, will grow to a staggering $299.4 billion.

That’s a lot of potential for organisations to capitalise on. Yet how can they do so without leaving themselves wide open to potential security threats?

In order to find out more we commissioned independent market researcher Vanson Bourne to interview global IT decision makers with responsibility for, or knowledge of, their organisation’s cloud infrastructure. Of the respondents, 300 represented businesses in EMEA. Here’s what we learned.

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Public cloud has become a key initiative for organisations

Public cloud is forming a key part of many organisations’ IT strategies. The average percentage of IT infrastructure running in the cloud stands at 45% today, rising to an estimated 76% in five years. Although growing, EMEA organisations have not adopted public cloud as fast as their counterparts in the US, with 36% of infrastructure in the public cloud at present compared to 58% in the US, with this growing to 72% of infrastructure running in the cloud in five years in EMEA.

In the next five years, the percentage of IT infrastructure running in the cloud is expected to rise to an estimated 76%.Click To Tweet

Security concerns are the unwelcome visitor that just won’t leave

Whilst public cloud adoption continues to gain momentum, there’s a backdrop of escalating cyber threats which threatens to derail this. Three quarters (75%) of global respondents said their organisation has been hit by an attack at least once – up from 56% when we last conducted this research in 2017. This, inevitably, leads to more drain on resources and we found that, on average, six hours per week are spent by IT staff managing and preventing security breaches.

EMEA organisations are in line with the global average on both of these fronts, yet the impact may be more keenly felt given the headstart that the US and APAC have when it comes to public cloud adoption.

It’s no surprise, therefore, to find that 66% of EMEA businesses felt that security concerns restrict their adoption of public cloud. When asked in more detail, security of public cloud infrastructure was the leading concern, cited by 40% of respondents, followed by the impact of cyber-attacks (38%) and security of public cloud apps (30%).

75% of global respondents said their organisation has been hit by a cyber-attack at least once - up from 56% in 2017.Click To Tweet

Never underestimate the importance of good connections

It’s tempting to single out security as the only roadblock, yet for the public cloud to reach its full potential the network needs to be seamlessly integrated into the cloud. EMEA businesses highlighted this as a concern, specifically pointing to the need to integrate public cloud with legacy technologies (25%), better integration with private cloud (38%) and enhanced integration with on-premises infrastructure (36%).

Secure software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) fully integrated into the public cloud is the solution of choice here, offering organisations the ability to manage security policies and bandwidth at the push of a button from a centralised  location. Just under half (43%) of EMEA organisations claimed to have already deployed this, or said that they are in the process of doing so.

Respondents are looking to SD-WAN solutions to resolve not only network issues but also security concerns, with almost half (48%) of EMEA businesses having added additional security solutions to the public cloud to protect it during access, and a further 39% planning to do so. Of those who have added security to their public cloud, 36% were using an SD-WAN solution to combine multiple access methods or multiple internet uplinks.

It’s clear that businesses in EMEA realise that cloud provider native security solutions may not provide sufficient capabilities. When asked, 94% of EMEA respondents said they are looking to third-party providers to help them overcome adoption barriers.

Remove the roadblocks and unleash the potential

Once EMEA organisations remove the traditional blockers to public cloud adoption, it’s clear that progress will be swift and transformational. Almost two thirds of respondents said that they would move more applications to the cloud (61%), whilst just under half (47%) would plan to build more applications in the cloud.

The benefits are clear for almost all to see, with EMEA businesses citing reduced IT expenditure (42%), greater scalability (42%), greater agility (39%) but also more time for staff to focus on higher value tasks (33%).

So where does that leave the public cloud?

Public cloud deployments are a key part of most EMEA organisation’s IT strategies and will become even more central to future success. As more IT infrastructure moves to public cloud, cloud providers will offer more native network capabilities, and public cloud will expand to include more network functionality. The vast majority of EMEA organisations need their security vendors to offer advanced security and cloud connectivity tightly integrated with the major cloud platforms.

Organisations that are able to find a trusted security partner to help them overcome their barriers to cloud adoption and help to deliver on the potential of public cloud will be ideally placed for business growth and digital transformation success.

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