The significance of secure data sharing could not be more evident within the overall IT industry. Security remains the single most important question mark that still causes doubt about cloud computing, especially in regulated verticals such as the financial, government and science sectors.
For an increasing number of enterprises, private clouds and new-generation security are the best ways to handle data- and file-sharing.
A recent survey by Palmer Research and eWEEK publisher QuinStreet reported that 65 percent of respondents currently use or plan to use a private cloud deployment model for internal purposes or for application inside value chains. Thirty-six percent of respondents say they are now running a private cloud, with 29 percent planning to use a private cloud. Those are big numbers at this early stage, and there are good reasons for them.
Private clouds enable businesses to take advantage of the efficiency of cloud computing without exposing their data and applications to those outside the organization—or, if they choose, their value chains of resellers and contractors. These private systems are the ones being marketed hardest by cloud infrastructure providers such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Cisco Systems, Oracle, EMC/VMware, Dell and others.
We’re seeing private cloud services slowly but steadily replacing former in-office functions, such as employee recruiting management, testing and development of software, travel and expense management, and employee benefit management. Value-chain transactions, retail sales and credit-related business deals are increasing through private clouds because the security quotient is much higher than it is when using conventional means.
Meanwhile, the increased consumerization of IT and the popularity of BYOD practices are jeopardizing the security and integrity of enterprise data that is not accessed through private cloud systems. Seeking an easy way to share files across smart phones, tablets and desktops, employees often use free public cloud file-sharing services that lack rigorous security and audit controls. These services are prone to security outages, and they lack the centralized monitoring and control features that IT and security teams need for keeping data safe and demonstrating compliance.
Mitigating Shared Data Security in Brave New World of BYOD
Why Private Clouds Are Getting Traction
This is a central reason more private clouds than previously expected are being planned, budgeted for and built: the security for data sharing, the management of applications running in virtual machines and the storage of sensitive business data is much tighter when it’s all enclosed in a secure cloud. If the enterprise has tight control over all its internal networks, even if employees use their own devices, then data-sharing problems are cut way down.
Forward-thinking companies such as San Francisco-based CloudPassage are providing new-generation automated security services that think for themselves in fighting off threats to data- and file-sharing applications.
For example, CloudPassage’s frontline product, Halo Netsec, is unique when it comes to securing cloud services because it enables administrators to build a perimeter defense without having to worry about the physical network. Thus, it secures everything from the endpoint to the virtual server, even if that traffic is passing over a public Internet—or even from private to hybrid cloud.
This can prove very important for administrators, especially when managing cloud services, because those administrators have no control or management capabilities for the public portion of cloud communications.
Halo NetSec works by running a small security daemon (3MB) on a virtual server, which handles communications across CloudPassage’s computing grid, through which all traffic passes on its way from the endpoint to the host, and vice versa. The small footprint of the security daemon makes it easy to set it up on a virtual server, without affecting performance—and, in most cases, associated hosting costs.
For businesses that may have plans for installing a private cloud to handle secure business transactions and communications but aren’t quite there yet, there are several respected providers of secure file-transfer software for that particular purpose. They include Varonis, OwnCloud, Novell, Symantec, EMC Syncplicity, Accellion and Acronis.
Popular online storage and collaboration services Box and Dropbox have greatly improved their security schemes in the last couple of years.