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Making Cloud Computing Secure for the Enterprise

Today using a public cloud means moving from an internal environment

Cloud Expo on Ulitzer

For cloud computing to gain traction in the enterprise, IT and security executives need to be certain that their company’s applications and data are safe. But when security is partly out of enterprise control, it becomes impossible to know if sensitive information has been accessed or compromised.

Today, using a public cloud means moving from an internal environment where a company has complete control of data and processes to an environment where that control belongs to someone else, and is often opaque. Within the cloud, applications run in a multi-tenant virtual environment, sharing physical machines with other customers. Companies considering moving an application to a cloud have legitimate concerns about data being compromised or stolen, including unauthorized access by cloud administrators, exposure in the internet or rogue employees using the cloud to corrupt or leak sensitive information.

One solution is to keep sensitive data within the corporate data center and put the other application tiers in the public cloud. While this approach works well for some use case scenarios, the latency impact of the “reach back” into the data center can be unacceptable for many applications and users. The other option is to move the entire application to the cloud – including the database tier – for better performance and scalability, but this exposes the application to new potential threats such as those mentioned above.

Encryption is a well-known approach to addressing these types of security threats. For protection in the cloud, the enterprise would need to encrypt all data and communications. While it’s not that difficult to add encryption software initially to the application environment, the new configuration requires ongoing management and maintenance. And in order to run the application in the cloud, the enterprise needs to deliver the encryption keys to the cloud to decrypt the data, creating additional security risks by exposing the keys in the operating environment. In the worst case, poor configuration can expose the corporate data center to threats from the cloud.

In developing our security model at CloudSwitch, we worked closely with CSOs and security teams at several large enterprises to understand their requirements. As a result, our architecture addresses three areas of protection required to make cloud computing secure for the enterprise:

  • In the data center: Role-based access control protects data and processes from unauthorized access.
  • In the Internet: Connections are authenticated and data is encrypted to prevent data in transit from being exposed or compromised.
  • In the public cloud: Data is encrypted with keys under enterprise control, and can never be accessed by the cloud provider or unauthorized users.

The CloudSwitch security strategy is a key part of our vision to make the cloud a seamless extension of the corporate data center. Using CloudSwitch technology, companies can move applications and data to a cloud without modification, and back to the data center as needed. Companies can also select the right cloud for a specific application, based on security and compliance levels as well as service offerings and pricing structures. Only with control of applications and data at all times can enterprises take full advantage of cloud resources without sacrificing the security required by customers, internal users, regulators and other stakeholders.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Ellen Rubin

Ellen Rubin is the CEO and co-founder of ClearSky Data, an enterprise storage company that recently raised $27 million in a Series B investment round. She is an experienced entrepreneur with a record in leading strategy, market positioning and go-to- market efforts for fast-growing companies. Most recently, she was co-founder of CloudSwitch, a cloud enablement software company, acquired by Verizon in 2011. Prior to founding CloudSwitch, Ellen was the vice president of marketing at Netezza, where as a member of the early management team, she helped grow the company to more than $130 million in revenues and a successful IPO in 2007. Ellen holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Harvard University.

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