Initially, cloud adoption did bring apprehension owing to its nature of lack of direct accessibility and the budding security infrastructure around it. Today, the adoption of cloud is a technology revolution and has grown by leaps and bounds.
As an extension of it, cloud has grown into hybrid and multi-cloud environments. With this, the complications are no more whether cloud is safe, it has grown into bigger questions like how do you avoid vendor lock-in with cloud?
Hybrid cloud and multi-cloud are the terms going around in cloud computing. These have often been misunderstood and used interchangeably, which is far from reality. Both these environments have distinct differences, with respect to their architecture, elements, security aspects, and the overall relation to the organization’s functionality.
In this read, let’s understand what they are, how are they different from one another, and how do they affect the cybersecurity landscape.
Hybrid cloud vs. multi-cloud
Let’s get back to the basics and talk about how any of these came into the picture.
The hybrid cloud environment came into the picture to ease the transition of organizations from a completely on-prem environment to a cloud one. Unless an organization was born in the cloud, the aspect of having your data elsewhere did overwhelm security personnel.
It origins from cloud bursting where you had an on-premise environment and used a public cloud environment in case your usage increased above a threshold to ‘burst’ into it.
Hybrid cloud now can be defined as a combination of on-prem, private, and public cloud in one environment with orchestration—which means that the interconnections and interactions between the two different cloud environments are managed to streamline the workflows from both.
In the Hybrid cloud, the multiple environments are streamlined with one infrastructure. Even the ops for hybrid cloud is mostly done natively. Although there are tools to get them under one common structure, the preferred method has been the native approach.
Multi-cloud can very well be called an extension of the hybrid cloud. Multi-cloud is when organizations use multiple public cloud infrastructures from different vendors. This can sometimes include a private cloud as well. But there is no orchestration here. These cloud environments work as separate silos rather than working together towards a common goal.
This kind of environment is especially crucial, considering the diverse needs of different departments and also the need for them to be away from each other’s access. This increases the flexibility of catering to each department separately with a different cloud infrastructure.
So, in short, multi-cloud can be hybrid cloud also, as it can encompass private and public clouds. And hybrid cloud cannot be used interchangeably with multi-cloud.
A multi-cloud environment may leverage AWS for some applications, Google cloud for others, or even utilize the private cloud for some. This reduces dependency on a single vendor and drastically reduces vendor lock-in scenario, wherein you do not have an exit strategy pre-planned from your cloud provider. You are not only stuck with one vendor until a plan is developed but also have to pay a massive cost for switching. This is a very relevant issue with cloud in general, but more so with hybrid cloud. With multi-cloud, you have several vendors. Thus, you could always utilize one or the other, with some amount of planning.
Also, the Cloud Ops for multi-cloud is different from that of the hybrid cloud. They require abstraction layers such as cloud management platforms, cloud service brokers, Docker and Linux containers, or a combination of these. With these, you don’t have to understand the different storage platforms to manage them differently, the Ops tool can give you a unified approach to operate with a single interface.
Why do organizations choose one over the other?
Now that we have established the very core differences between the two, there are several of these differences which customers rely on for selection.
Hybrid cloud gives your IT folks greater flexibility to leverage private cloud. It is indeed the first choice for those dipping their toes in cloud environment as a necessity for digital transformation.
It gives them the comfort of having on-prem infrastructures as well as cloud, for a smooth transition. For aspects like the previously discussed cloud bursting and the privacy concerns addressed with on-prem and private cloud environments, a lot of organizations prefer going hybrid.
The organizations who have been comfortable with managing cloud environments, usually embrace the multi-cloud with much more ease. Apart from vendor lock-in, multi-cloud gives enough flexibility to manage the different privacy, functionalities, geography, and various other parameters that differ for different departments with the allocation of multiple public cloud environments or sometimes even with a combination of a private cloud.
Multi-Cloud also helps reduce the latency in applications. As the data center closest to a request can respond, this saves the time that would generally be needed to cross multiple nodes to serve the end-user.
Hybrid Cloud or Multi-Cloud, how does cybersecurity come into play?
- Treat data with the utmost security
As the data is now beyond traditional environments with a hybrid multi-cloud approach, all the focus and planning must be made on how to keep it safe and secure. When it comes to data, there can be no control gaps, this increases risk, and the repercussions can severely hamper a business—eventually leaving user adoption at bay. Stringent discussions about tools and talent to handle data is the need of the hour.
- With cloud, comes the increased responsibility to encrypt
With data transmission through these cloud infrastructures, it gives scope to a lot of bad actors to carry out several cyber-attacks. Attacks like eavesdropping are not unheard of. To combat this, you can implement effective encryption methods, like, password hashing, all transmission through a TLS layer, and so on.
- Stay compliant, not just for regulation but for security
With multiple cloud environments, it can become challenging to carry out due diligence and demonstrate compliance. You must ensure coordination of industry standards across all cloud providers, which means vendor selection is vital.
- Security management is more crucial than ever
An internet trends report` pointed out that concerns like vendor lock-in are more prevalent for CIOs as compared to security. With multi-cloud solving vendor lock-in, it is more important to manage security across different public cloud environments.
An identity management solution, which unifies all of these accesses, authenticates, and governs in real-time, is what you need. A common unified directory from where identities are created to a common platform to monitor the accesses continuously can uplift your security management beyond encryptions. Along with that, an identity management solution like that of Ilantus’ ensures this monitoring is done diligently with intelligent solutions and risk engines.
Whether you are new to cloud, are considering the hybrid or multi-cloud, your security measures must be well planned out and clear. The regulations that are present today are thoroughly particular about how data is handled in cloud—as they should be, considering today’s threat landscape.
Understanding the difference between the two environments is the first step in making a decision. And cloud isn’t going anywhere but instead evolving into all-cloud. According to Gartner, by 2021, half of the global enterprises will adopt an all-cloud strategy. So don’t just invest all your planning into deciding which cloud environment best suits your needs, create a strategy to secure it as well.