Exclusive: Closing the hybrid cloud visibility gap

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Adrian Rowley, Senior Director EMEA, Gigamon examines some of the challenges caused by adopting a hybrid cloud model.

The cloud has become integral for almost every business; many were at first looking for solutions to enable a newly remote workforce and they are now planning a future for permanently mobile and hybrid teams. Yet with digital transformation initiatives still a top priority within the boardroom, the cloud often poses issues of significant complexity to the IT teams that are leading the migration.

Only a small minority of organisations operate within a single cloud and, according to a recent report, an average of 3.4 public clouds and 3.9 private clouds are deployed per business, with 87% of enterprises having already adopted a hybrid cloud strategy. It is this hybrid cloud infrastructure, however, that can cause problems for monitoring and security tools designed pre-pandemic and ultimately this complex environment problematises visibility into data-in-motion.

The ‘hybrid cloud visibility gap’ represents the issues that lie in the rapid digital transformation and accelerated cloud migration that many companies have embraced over the last 18 months. Tools made for the IT environment before the shift to multi and hybrid clouds do not allow a unified view into the new landscape that encompasses both cloud and on-premises systems, thus cultivating a situation where each cloud becomes its own ‘island’ of visibility, separated from the rest. End-to-end visibility is therefore compromised and with this comes a threat to security, customer experience and further in-house digital initiatives.

Incomplete cybersecurity protection

With many security tools designed for an on-premise world, they now lack the application-level insight needed to positively impact digital services. Businesses are therefore inevitably becoming more vulnerable to cyberattacks, as the hybrid cloud visibility gap makes it impossible to accurately monitor traffic or detect potential threats. If a SecOps team has ‘clouded’ vision into the cloud environment, they may be forced to rely only on trace files or application logs that ultimately provide a less than perfect view into the network. This level of insight does not prepare an organisation for the vast volume of cyberattacks that now target the cloud.

Last year, remote attacks on cloud services increased by 630% in just four months. What’s more, cloud security represents a central concern for many business leaders and can incentivise them to avoid migration completely. It is important for organisations to understand that the cloud can be safer than on-premises tools, but only when consistent and unwavering visibility is prioritised, allowing threat detection day and night.

A fall in customer experience

A gap in visibility within hybrid cloud infrastructure can also cultivate a negative digital experience for the end user. Network optimisation becomes more of a challenge for NetOps teams working without a clear view into traffic and therefore managing or even noticing application performance problems following network bottlenecks can be impossible.

While users will receive less streamlined services and struggle to access the network as a result, IT support teams attempting to troubleshoot these issues will find them increasingly difficult to remedy. If the visibility gap is closed, network optimisation again becomes a possibility and NetOps teams can begin to filter out low-risk or duplicate data in order to free up bandwidth to improve digital services. However, if the lack of visibility is left unmanaged and the user or customer experience is negatively impacted, revenue will follow in the decline and IT professionals will be left with a complex, expensive to run network that also motivates customers to look elsewhere.   

Rising costs and complex migration

Cloud migration is quickly becoming a more costly and complex process, especially if IT teams begin the process without visibility as their top priority. According to a Gigamon poll, 40% of respondents claim lack of visibility is a top concern when moving to the cloud, ranking second only to the anxiety around security gaps.

Rebuilding workloads in the cloud is an integral part of a digital transformation initiative, yet if the processes are too complex and security holes and performance failures become a direct result of the visibility gap, digital innovation is bound to fail and cloud migration will come to a halt. Increasing complexity also inevitably breeds rising costs. If numerous teams implement multiple tools to re-gain control of the migration process and patch network problems, expenses will only continue to build. The solution will always be a single, complete view across the entire cloud infrastructure in order to simplify, secure and scale the whole migration process.

If NetOps teams are to continue with their digital transformation initiatives, which are essential to ensuring business continuity, they must make sure they are not attempting to do so blindly. Gaining better visibility into the hybrid cloud is imperative, not only for protecting a business against cybercrime, but also to further digital solutions and guarantee end user satisfaction. The hybrid cloud is an important tool for business survival, but without sufficient optimisation it could also be the source of disastrous complications.

For more information, visit: gigamon.com

This article was originally published in the October 2021 edition of International Security Journal. Pick up your FREE digital edition here

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