Laying the Foundation for Cloud

Mike Talbert
I was recently reading this article from Forbes discussing how Standard Bank, Africa’s largest financial group will be moving their operations into Amazon Web Services. This got me thinking how only two years ago financial institutions had a big aversion to do anything “cloud” let alone shift their entire operations into a public cloud provider.
I remember quite a few conversations where it was stated matter-of-factly that they were never going to adopt “cloud” as a part of their strategy… how times have changed.
These same companies are now embracing cloud technologies as a part of their overall operations. Some are starting to leverage cloud purely as a part of their BCDR strategy while others are moving their applications and other production workloads into the public cloud.
The pros of cloud are now starting to outweigh the perceived cons. For businesses, such as banks, that want to remain competitive, cloud must be a part of their strategy.

Benefits of Cloud for businesses

  • Higher efficiency 
  • Reduced costs
  • Better user experience 
They achieve this by hosting their applications in data centers across the world, which places the data closer to the users using mobile applications that are developed and hosted natively in PaaS offerings provided by Azure and AWS.
One of the biggest reasons that has limited cloud adoption in our customer base is security. The fear is that you cannot be as secure in the cloud as you can be if you maintain your data and applications in a private data center. Cloud services have always been thought of as not secure and organizations were fearful of putting their data in someone else’s data center.
Security is always a very valid concern no matter where your data and applications reside, however, designed and implemented correctly public cloud is just as secure as on premise environments, it just looks a little different.
There are many security platforms on the market now built from the ground up with the cloud in mind that provides continuous monitoring and uses machine learning to detect anomalies and automate incident response. These platforms can tie directly into on-premise security solutions giving a holistic view and providing protection of an organization's environment that stretches from on-premise to the cloud.
Next to security, connectivity has been the other challenge. In the past connectivity to cloud environments has been complicated and sometimes expensive if you required high throughput from your on-premise environment which required expensive, direct connections through a cloud exchange.
The complexity piece of this is being addressed with SD-WAN solutions that simplify that connectivity by treating cloud environments as just another site in the SD-WAN fabric. The cost aspect of this is driven by bandwidth requirements, in part due to applications having bits and pieces in the cloud and on-premise.
An application front end in the cloud required more bandwidth to the backend databases living in an on-premise environment. As businesses shift to an all-cloud model, all parts of the applications reside in the cloud lessening the need for expensive, high-bandwidth circuits.
To be successful you must design security and connectivity into your cloud solution from the ground up. All too often we see cloud environments built on an unstable foundation. This typically began by someone in IT setting up a VPN connection and spinning up a server or two with no real security and network strategy in mind. From there, the environment grew one application at a time to a point where the foundation crumbled and the entire environment had to be redesigned causing unneeded downtime and many sleepless nights.
As with building anything, a proper foundation needs to be laid. With any cloud solution, proper security and network design are an integral part of that foundation.
Mike Talbert

Solutions Engineer