Cloud connectivity is rising as an advantage of modern data center colocation services. As more businesses implement cloud technologies, the network challenges that come with the cloud are becoming more acute. In response, data center services providers are deploying specialized connectivity services that resolve the specific issues created by the cloud.
Colocation providers are an ideal fit here as they are able to provide robust interconnects between data centers and directly connect with cloud configurations. While the performance gains here are substantial, the idea of directly connecting to the cloud may also raise some security red flags. The good news is that leading colocation providers are already developing solutions to these concerns.
Looking at the Cloud Connectivity Problem
Performance is a key issue when it comes to cloud connectivity. Depending on WAN systems and the internet at large leaves organizations scrambling to get enough bandwidth to support data-rich apps and services. Direct cloud connectivity overcomes this by using data center interconnects and similar colocation network assets to drive a huge increase in performance and bandwidth potential. This resolves the performance problem, but the various risks of connecting directly to cloud configurations – especially when those setups are sharing resources between users and relying on the internet for some connections – can seem daunting.
"Data encryption is often billed as a security cure-all."
Three tactics leading colocation providers are using to overcome these risks are:
Data encryption is often billed as a security cure-all, and while this may be a bit of an exaggeration, encrypting all data in transit does provide a key layer of security when connecting directly with the cloud. Using encryption for cloud connectivity ensures organizations can:
- Preserve data security if an unauthorized user gets into the cloud network.
- Make data unidentifiable if users access the cloud through an insecure public network.
Establishing an encrypted environment keeps data safe both in transit and in storage, creating an operational climate in which the security strategy does not have a single point of failure. The key is to not rely on encryption as your primary security strategy, but instead incorporate it as one of the tools in a multi-faceted data protection plan.
2. Network and Account Monitoring
User authentication is often the weakest point in a cloud security strategy. You may be able to control your infrastructure and underlying security systems, but you can't control how well end users protect their passwords. If one employee lets a username or password fall into the hands of an attacker, that individual will now have access to your cloud and can use that authorization to get to sensitive data.
Avoiding direct connections to the cloud can, at times, limit an organization's risk because various network and data segregation strategies will keep an unauthorized user from getting deep into your systems. Going with a direct cloud connection isn't a death toll here, however, as organizations can use network and account monitoring to identify user behavior and pin down any unusual activity that may be a sign that an account has been compromised. Furthermore, cloud connectivity solutions will often use software-defined network principles to provide some data segregation within a direct cloud connection.
Effectively monitoring user behaviors allows organizations to enforce password and other authentication policies while also identifying any suspicious activity before data can be compromised. Throw in the core infrastructure of a virtualized direct cloud connection and companies are left with a security setup strong enough to overcome any of the qualms that may come with a direct cloud link.
3. App- and Software-Level Protections
Providing safeguards at the app and software layers of is critical when providing a direct connection to the cloud. For example, using app-level intrusion detection plays a vital role in protecting against DDoS attacks. Furthermore, different applications will require specialized security functionality that must be considered to ensure a direct network link remains secure. Email, for instance, depends on anti-spam tools.
Using firewalls, antivirus programs and similar tools are all critical components of the a data protection strategy, and businesses that leverage these software-based tools establish a solid baseline for security. It can be tempting to use advanced technologies and neglect the importance of classic tools such as firewalls and antivirus, but companies embracing cloud connectivity need this foundation as they work to keep data safe.
Colocation providers offer the combination of physical and virtual security methods companies need to connect directly with the cloud without taking on risk. This results in a climate in which organizations can take full advantage of the performance benefits that colocation providers can offer in a responsible way.