CIS Chief Technology Officer Brian Calkin predicted in our 2019 cybersecurity trends blog that organizations would continue to move to the cloud. As on-premises systems become end-of-life, many organizations are discovering cloud solutions that meet their needs and provide a few additional benefits. Cloud infrastructure makes sense for both small organizations and large enterprises interested in leveraging modern security solutions and flexible computing power. Here are six reasons from Brian why it’s smart for organizations to work in the cloud.
Organizations are making the shift to the cloud versus buying additional hardware at on-premise datacenters because cloud resources can be rapidly scaled up as they are needed. Conversely, as the need for a particular resource (such as disk space or central processing units) diminishes, it can be scaled back. This scale up/down model is advantageous in that organizations are able to ensure they have the resources they need, when they need them.
The cloud offers a variety of solutions to fit the particular needs of almost every organization. Whether you’re looking to simply stand up a single virtual server, build an entire virtual network, or leverage a managed service such as hosted database or software suite, all are possible in the cloud. Depending on the particular service you’re interested in using, some or all of the management of the service is performed by the cloud provider. Utilizing a managed service in this way can be a great way to augment an organization’s current IT capabilities or provide a capability that does not currently exist.
Moving workloads to the cloud has the potential to save an organization money, depending on the particular workload. With cloud solutions, there are no initial investments to be made in terms of purchasing infrastructure. All of the infrastructure will be provided by the cloud provider to be used by the organization. The general cost model is the more you use, the more you pay. The cloud can be a very cost-effective solution for workloads that are required to be run for a set period of time each day. Most providers allow you to automate bringing infrastructure online to perform a specific task and then shutting it down once the work is complete. The benefit of this is that you are only charged when the infrastructure is running.
Cloud computing can deliver a speedy and economical way for an organization to recover during a disaster. The ability to rapidly “spin up” pre-configured servers to get services up and running again provides appealing response times in a crisis. Additionally, with cost-effective data storage options, an organization can keep a continuously synched copy of its data in the cloud for when disaster strikes. During a disaster, the organization would “fail-over” to the backup systems and data. Once the disaster is mitigated at the organization’s physical datacenter, the data in the cloud can then be “failed back” in order to resume normal operations.
Another great use of cloud technology is to test new ideas and experiment with the latest technology. Technological innovation sometimes involves leveraging new hardware and software which can be costly to procure on-premises, especially if the actual need has not yet been fully realized. Experimentation with technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms is possible by leveraging the cloud. After the experimentation process is complete for a given technology, the decision can then be made to continue to leverage the cloud for a production environment or build the infrastructure on-premises. Alternatively, if the experiment was not a success, the cloud infrastructure can simply be shut down and you are only charged for the period of time the infrastructure was up and running.
Cloud infrastructure can also offer advanced security options such as patch management, OS updates, and pre-hardened configurations. By implementing secure configurations, organizations can mitigate against common threats like denial of service, malspam, and privilege escalation. The CIS Hardened Images are pre-configured to meet vendor-agnostic CIS Benchmark security recommendations. Here’s how we develop CIS Hardened Images:
There are several reasons why organizations both big and small are making the jump to cloud solutions. By providing security options, cost savings, and automation, the growth of cloud infrastructure is allowing for technological exploration and innovation. CIS is proud to provide the consensus-developed security of CIS Hardened Images. In 2018, CIS Hardened Images helped protect over 160 million compute hours on cloud environments. When convenience, affordability, and security are top priorities, it’s smart to work in the cloud!