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January 24, 2013

Cloud-based Security Not-So Lofty Idea

By Dave Courbanou

Security and the cloud can sometimes seem like a contradiction in terms, but all signs point to the inevitable — cloud will eventually dominate in the IT landscape, even becoming a source of all security and related services. But how soon until on-premise hardware is swept up into the sky? It may be as soon as 2015.

CIOs that are fretting about what to do about antiquated security systems may want seriously consider the cloud today, even if it’s set to be wave of the future tomorrow. There are many good reasons that cloud security can benefit a company, and many of those reasons are identical to the existing benefits that cloud-based solutions can provide today.

According the latest Gartner predictions on the security space, growth rates for cloud-based security services will quickly surpass those of on-premise security appliances. And unsurprisingly, cost reduction is the number one cited reason and benefit for its adoption. Cost savings aside, cloud security can also provide deployment options for multiple environments — remote branches or otherwise — and also give businesses unprecedented access to critical real time updates, both to protection definitions and when new security infrastructure arrives.

If CIOs are still wary about a big-brother style security blanket, Gartner also expects a wave of virtualized security solutions to also hit the scene. By 2015, Gartner expects that 20 percent of all VPN and firewall solutions will be deployed within virtualized switches or virtualized hypervisor environments.

The benefits of virtualized security are also linked with many cloud benefits, but even if cost is not the primary factor, the flexibility and upgradability of virtualized security — in addition to meshing it to existing virtualized networking or server infrastructure — allows for an intimate and seamless link of protection.

Love it or hate it, this is yet another compelling reason to toss the old physical appliance and start considering where to virtualize or deploy into the cloud. For CIOs that are unsure where to start, consider the expense of maintaing of any existing security appliance and see if can be consolidated through virtualization. Gartner recommends partnering with a hypervisor provider of your choice to find a solution that best matches existing infrastructure capabilities.

But CIOs can still start small. Many cloud security companies offer unique endpoint protection that requires little or no setup. In some cases, cloud security does not necessitate the installation of a desktop-style client. By moving to a cloud-based solution for the desktop, it can alleviate the burden of protecting every individual user at their computer and help IT staff focus on more pressing security issues to be addressed in the data center.

For that simple reason, CIOs should keep an open mind when it comes to cloud security, because in 2015, it may be less of a choice and more of a necessity. Since moving to cloud security does not require the movement of data like other cloud solutions, it may be easier to plan and deploy these solutions before any other cloud migrations, and that can provide an on-ramp for more cloud solutions in the future.

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