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2024 IT modernization trends

2024 promises to be a pinnacle year for cloud computing. Gartner predicts worldwide cloud spending will rise to $678.8 billion this year, an incredible growth of 20.4%. But the forces driving cloud adoption are beginning to shift. Rather than cloud technology acting to transform organizations, the demand from various sectors is starting to influence cloud offerings themselves.

For instance, as more and more organizations incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) into their workflows, stakeholders seek out public and hybrid cloud solutions that offer a hyper-scalable infrastructure to support AI use. Additionally, complex environments and compliance requirements fuel the growth of “industry cloud” platforms, which are cloud services tailored to the specific data and regulatory needs of industries such as finance, healthcare, and retail. 2024 is poised to be a pivotal year for the growth of industry cloud platforms, with Gartner predicting 70% adoption by 2027, up from a meager 15% in 2023.

However, organizations seeking new ways to modernize their IT operations in 2024 must consider the growing threat landscape that increasingly targets cloud environments. This post reviews these modernization trends and the security technologies emerging to support innovations in enterprise-level IT.

AI and ML will drive cloud spending

Cloud spending has slowed in recent years primarily due to product maturation and organizations working to optimize their IT budgets. However, AI and machine learning (ML) are a shot in the arm for cloud spending. The big cloud providers (AWS, Google, Microsoft) are investing billions to implement AI for various use cases in the Cloud, including customer service, intelligent networking, data analysis, IoT device management, and security deployments.  

Hybrid and multi-cloud adoption

Crackdowns in data compliance regulations make hybrid and multi-cloud deployments much more attractive for enterprises, especially those in highly regulated industries. Multi-clouds, with proper configurations, can also offer increased efficiency, streamlined workflows, and a secure method of generating disaster recovery systems.

Sustainability

More and more, technology providers are listening to consumer demand by prioritizing sustainability efforts. AWS, Google, and Microsoft all plan to become carbon neutral or negative within the next ten years. This shift means that energy efficiency at scale will become progressively more critical. Cloud data centers seek renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. Additionally, cloud providers are deploying AI (in yet another use case) to analyze and optimize energy usage.

Enhanced edge computing and IoT devices

5G technology and other low-latency networking allow edge computing to benefit fully from the Cloud. Organizations can use IoT devices such as cameras and sensors to take advantage of real-time analytics or set up alerts. Use cases include modernized retail stores, intelligent factory floors, and even guest services in the amusement industry.

Learn more: How cloud technology is revolutionizing retail

Rising adoption of industry clouds

Industry clouds (also known as vertical or industry-specific cloud platforms) are an emerging technology field. There is some dispute about what an industry cloud is and is not. Confounding the issue is the overlap between industry clouds and existing cloud services. Initially, industry clouds were niche offerings, but as regulatory bodies continue to tighten compliance rules in an effort to stay ahead of bad actors, the large cloud providers have turned their attention to the space. At CBTS, we highly recommend working with experienced cloud implementation partners to get the most out of an industry-specific cloud service.  

Low-code and no-code development

A shortage in the skilled developer workforce and the rising demand for hyper-specific apps and workflows have led to several low-code and no-code development platforms. We see low-code development as part of the more significant trend toward automation across industries.

Emerging threats

With the renewed focus on cloud computing that the AI revolution has garnered comes new advancements in the threat landscape. According to a recent security survey, over 80% of new security breaches were found in the Cloud. Last year, the Pentagon suffered a devastating data breach from a misconfiguration in their cloud environment that led to more than a terabyte of exposed data.

Additionally, AI allows bad actors to create deep fake voices, recordings, and videos that they can leverage to impersonate high-level users to secure admin privileges. One such breach happened to casino giant MGM when a hacker stole credentials by claiming to be a security team member who needed to reset their password.

Read more: Cybersecurity highlights of 2023

Securing cloud innovations

To address these evolving threats and embrace the advantages of AI and cloud computing advances, security teams are closely following and implementing the latest in the following cloud security technology trends:

  • Zero trust security – Based on government and security industry recommendations, zero trust will become more prevalent in 2024, perhaps becoming the standard for cloud security despite implementation challenges.
  • Cloud-native security – Organizations have become more dependent on cloud technology and must implement cloud-native security tools to protect those assets. We predict greater visibility and further unification of cloud-native security as platforms continue to condense.
  • Cloud security posture management (CSPM) – CSPM will grow in importance over the coming year as the monitoring and remediation tools it offers will be vital in preventing and mitigating the risk of data breaches.
  • Cloud access security broker (CASB) – As environments become more diverse with the increased use of IoT devices and BYOD, CASB—which merges several cloud security technologies—will be essential in maintaining compliance and filling security gaps.
  • Cloud security automation – By automating security alerts—and remediation efforts in some cases—enterprises can stay ahead of bad actors by utilizing machine learning.

Although not strictly a technology trend, training, education, and awareness will also be crucial components of each organization’s security fabric, as a majority of breaches still come from user error and, increasingly, insider threats.

Learn more: How integrated cloud security affects your bottom line

Embracing the next stages of IT modernization

Cloud computing will continue to grow, with an emphasis on expanded AI usage and industry cloud platforms tailored to specific data and regulatory needs. In 2024, spending on AI and machine learning will rise, as will adopting hybrid and multi-cloud solutions, sustainability initiatives, and using low-code and no-code development platforms.

However, the growing threat landscape targeting cloud environments demonstrates the need for security technologies to keep pace with IT innovations. It’s not enough for organizations to innovate. They must also secure their environments at the same pace. CBTS security experts track the emerging threat landscape through partnerships with industry-leading cloud providers and security technology solutions. Additionally, our team can help your organization plan and execute IT modernization projects ranging from application modernization and cloud migration to infrastructure upgrades.

Get in touch with one of our experts to learn more.

Secure cloud networking in 2024 with SASE and SD-WAN

The state of secure networking

Hybrid work is here to stay, but it can lead to some complex environments involving mixes of cloud networking—public, private, and cloud services—especially at the enterprise level. The focus of networking continues to be on securing user data no matter where it “lives”—at the office, at home, or while traveling.

Bad actors seek to take advantage of this complexity and lack of visibility. Advanced and emerging threats continue to target supply chains and businesses of all sizes. For example, so-called Malware as a Service utilizes automation to mass produce distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack products available to amateur hackers. 

Failing to take proactive data and technology security measures puts any organization at risk of those with malintent. And that risk is considerable, as lack of security measures leaves businesses vulnerable to financial disaster and broken brand trust. To help prevent that risk from becoming a reality for our clients, we provide best-in-class secure cloud networking solutions and expertise to ensure your organization stays up to date with evolving network security practices. Secure access service edge (SASE) and secure service edge (SSE) are two evolving secure networking solutions that we often recommend to clients—though there exists some confusion between these technologies and others in determining what the best option is for each client.

The Gartner Hype Cycle, which analyzes current and emerging technology through several phases from breakthrough to mainstream adoption, rates SSE at peak hype and SASE at an extremely low interest level. This rating is in opposition to practice, as SSE and SASE are similar technologies that have a comparable level of market saturation and penetration. A further insight from Gartner reveals a growing interest in managed SASE, which provides the entire life cycle of SASE, from implementation to operations, as a managed service through a single provider. Although, as we will discuss in detail in the next section, approaches to providing this service vary. 

Gartner also found that SD-WAN is reaching maturity and steadily moving up the “Slope of Enlightenment” toward the “Plateau of Productivity”. The CBTS team has noticed a trend that many of our clients are beginning to transition from SD-WAN into SASE , using SD-WAN as a foundation for full SASE implementation.

Integrated secure cloud networking technology

A brief refresher on the terminology we will discuss in this post:

  • SD-WAN – Software-defined wide area networking is a well-established networking technology that creates greater reliability and speed by incorporating multiple network transports (Wi-Fi, MPLS, 5G, etc.) to route network traffic.
  • SASE – Secure access service edge essentially combines SD-WAN technology with cloud-first security tools, including CASB, SWG, and next-gen firewalls.
  • SSE – Secure service edge includes the cloud-first security tools without an SD-WAN network.
  • NaaS – Network as a Service (NaaS) is a fully managed networking solution with options for cloud integration, security, switching, Wi-Fi, management, monitoring, and SD-WAN.

The trend toward single-vendor SASE

In recent years, the trend in networking (and computing in general) is streamlining and consolidating various technologies. SASE is no different in that regard, with vendors starting to offer a single-vendor solution encompassing SASE’s many tools and technologies.

However, CBTS maintains that a single-vendor solution is not preferable for every organization. The alternative is to pick and choose the best-of-breed security solutions that make up SASE. This process can be demanding, especially for smaller IT teams. 

The hybrid solution is managed SASE from a provider like CBTS. Managed SASE provides best-of-breed benefits while delivering the single point of contact from a single-vendor SASE vendor. Additionally, CBTS is one of the few vendors offering both single-vendor and managed SASE solutions. 

Learn more: Ten essential benefits of a managed SASE solution

Zero trust

Gartner placed zero trust network access (ZTNA) in the “Slope of Enlightenment” for 2023. SASE and SSE are among the 19 technologies mapped out on the Hype Cycle for Zero Trust. Further, Gartner predicted that by 2026, 10% of large corporations (over $1 billion in revenue) will have a mature zero trust program, representing a 9% growth over the current 1%.

CBTS echoes this prediction and believes that organizations of all sizes will continue to adopt a zero-trust architecture for network access and across the entire IT environment. Zero trust is not any single technology but rather a set of guiding principles that can be used to build a framework across the environment’s various platforms, IT operations, and application security controls. Adherence to a zero-trust framework will grow increasingly important as organizations transition into permanently hybrid environments. 

Learn more: Applying zero trust to reinforce cloud security architecture

Autonomous Digital Experience Management (ADEM)

As networks grow in complexity, managing issues with connection speed, traffic, and applications becomes more challenging, especially with highly distributed workforces that may occupy multiple countries. Digital experience management (DEM) is an emerging discipline that tracks user interactions across an organization’s digital touchpoints—websites, mobile devices, applications, and networks. 

Palo Alto Networks has developed the AI-powered ADEM that works with its SASE solution to help overwhelmed IT teams track issues before trouble tickets start rolling in. Additionally, ADEM can help remediate issues by offering common solutions directly to end-users. For example, a customer experiencing freezing in a video call might receive the prompt to move closer to the Wi-Fi router.

Automation and artificial intelligence

The AI revolution continues to drive innovation across every industry, and AI will drive advances in secure cloud networking well into the future. In addition to ADEM, CBTS sees great potential in automation across cloud networks to simplify and streamline security and traffic routing and help identify and remediate issues. As internet of things (IoT) devices become more mainstream in businesses of all sizes, AI will help secure and manage the traffic from these devices. AI-powered analysis will help organizations mine their data for insights. 

Two technologies to watch as the AI revolution unfolds are AI as a Service (AIaaS) and quantum computing. AIaaS applies the as-a-service model to AI, allowing organizations to deploy a customizable AI across a private cloud without the upfront cost of developing their own artificial intelligence product. Currently, AIaaS is cost-prohibitive because it works only on private clouds. As the technology becomes more affordable, CBTS expects AIaaS to be increasingly utilized.

Quantum computing is still far from commonplace, with only a handful of quantum computers in existence. However, pairing quantum computing technology with AI could lead to some science fiction-like applications. Our CISO, John Bruggeman, provides more insight about quantum computing in his article for Forbes. CBTS predicts that quantum AI will be a trend to watch over the next few years.

Learn more: Machine learning and AI: past to present

CBTS is your partner for future-proof secure networking

Consolidation of SASE solutions, LAN/WLAN infrastructure, automation tools, and security solutions will continue to develop over the next year. These trends will only grow as AI and ADEM networking tools come online to meet the need for efficient and secure networks. Is your organization ready to meet the future of secure networking head-on?

CBTS is renowned for its expertise in project management, complicated deployments, and day-to-day support. CBTS design services guide prioritizing and executing projects over the next three to five years, considering factors like lifecycle management and license expiration. 

Moreover, CBTS is uniquely positioned to help clients stay ahead of the curve in a rapidly evolving industry. Unlike OEMs, whose solutions may become outdated after a few years, CBTS stays vendor-agnostic and evaluates the landscape continuously. This allows our team to create a roadmap for clients that aligns with business needs and helps them stay within the best-of-breed model as technology advances.

Get in touch to learn how you can future proof your secure cloud networks with CBTS.

How integrated cloud security affects your bottom line

What is cloud security?

A recent study found that the global cloud services market is valued at $454 billion and is expected to surpass $2 trillion by 2032. As businesses continue to shift toward cloud integration, security becomes more and more urgent. Even though the Cloud is much more secure than traditional on-premises data centers, vulnerabilities still exist. These vulnerabilities make investing in cloud security services vital.

What exactly is cloud security? Cloud security is a set of tools, frameworks, and protocols to protect data (in motion and at rest) from unauthorized access, theft, or malware threats. Cloud security spans assorted technologies to defend public, private, and multi-cloud environments, whether Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), or Platform as a Service (PaaS).

When configured correctly, cloud-integrated security keeps organizations profitable by defending against the negative ramifications of a data breach, such as losses in paid ransom, reputational damage, regulatory action such as fines or license suspension, as well as guarding end-user data. Like other elements of cloud computing, your security team becomes cost-efficient by switching from the capital expense model to operating expenses. Bills come from small, monthly subscriptions and service fees instead of costly, upfront investments.

Why integrated cloud security is vital

If cloud computing is more secure than on-prem, why worry about it? Gartner calculated that organizations lose an average of $5,600 per minute of downtime experienced from a malware attack. Besides shrinking your attack surface and lowering the likelihood of a breach, cloud security can help maintain business continuity in the event of a successful breach or natural disaster. Data protection services such as managed backup and Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) ensure minimal downtime and maintain data compliance.

The shared responsibility model

Cloud security utilizes the shared responsibility model, in which a cloud service provider (CSP) and the customer share the burden of defending cloud systems. Confusion sometimes arises about who exactly is responsible for what.

There are minor differences between each CSP and which model of cloud you choose: IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, or some combination of all three.

Generally, the cloud service provider is responsible for the security of:

  • Data.
  • User identities.
  • Identity.
  • Physical networks.
  • Servers and storage.
  • Hypervisors.

The customer is responsible for securing the following:

  • Operating systems.
  • Virtual networks.
  • Applications.
  • User data.
  • Operations.
  • People and employees.

Note that network security is the customer’s responsibility in IaaS.

Customer vs Googles responsibility for IaaS, PaaS and SaaS

Benefits of cloud security

  • Lower costs – Cloud data security can lower costs and reduce administrative burden.
  • Cost-efficiency – Cloud-integrated security helps to shift spending models from CapEx to OpEx, resulting in cost savings.
  • Greater visibility – Robust security measures for cloud data offer insights into the internal operations of your cloud environment, such as identifying data assets and their location, monitoring user activity, and tracking the type of data being accessed.
  • Backups and recovery – Cloud data security offers automated and standardized backup solutions, freeing your teams from monitoring manual backups and troubleshooting problems.
  • Cloud data compliance – Effective cloud data security programs ensure conformity with data compliance laws and regulations by monitoring data storage, access, processing, and protection.
  • Data encryption – Cloud service providers implement advanced encryption for securing sensitive data in transit and at rest.
  • Advanced incident detection and response – Cloud providers invest in cutting-edge AI technologies and security analytics to quickly identify and respond to security incidents.

Challenges of implementing cloud security

Unlike the digital security models of the past, the Cloud does not have a defined perimeter. The castle-and-moat model, in which a firewall is established around a data center, is ineffective for the Cloud because each point of presence (PoP), application, and network represents potential weak points.

Other challenges to cloud security include:

  • Lack of visibility – Without proper implementation, some companies struggle to locate all their data and applications and identify their assets.
  • Less control – As data and applications are hosted on third-party infrastructure, companies have less control over how data is accessed and shared.
  • Confusion over shared responsibility – Organizations and CSPs share security responsibilities, which can lead to vulnerabilities if the roles are unclear.
  • Malware and ransomware – Sensitive data stored in the Cloud is a tempting target for cybercriminals, especially companies with extended supply chain connections.
  • Compliance regulations – Increasingly, regulators like HIPAA, the FTC, and the SEC are cracking down on data compliance rules, including how soon an organization must report a data breach.
  • Misconfigurations Misconfigurations and human error continue to be a leading cause of catastrophic data breaches.

Guiding frameworks and pillars of cloud security

Known as the CIA triad, cloud data security follows the same guidelines as information security:

  • Data confidentiality – Sensitive data should only be accessed by authorized users.
  • Data integrity – Data is accurate and free from tampering or sabotage.
  • Data availability – Data is continuously available to verified users.

A data breach violates one or more of these tenets. The CIA triad is a valuable tool security professionals utilize in organizational risk assessment. Additionally, the NIST has created another assessment tool, the Five Pillars of Cybersecurity. They include:

  • Identify.
  • Protect.
  • Detect.
  • Respond.
  • Recover.

At CBTS, we build on this assessment tool and define our own six pillars of cloud security:

  1. Security assessments.
  2. Cloud monitoring and management.
  3. Managed backup.
  4. Disaster recovery.
  5. Patch management.
  6. Cloud security posture management.

Learn more: The six pillars of cloud security

Yet another framework that guides cloud security is zero trust. The concept of zero trust in cloud security was introduced in 2010 by Forrester. It emphasizes not trusting anyone or anything within or outside the network. Instead, everything needs to be authorized, inspected, and secured. Zero trust promotes a least privileged governance strategy and requires developers to fortify web-facing applications properly. Micro-segmentation is also used to create secure zones and traffic between them.

Key cloud-integrated security technologies

  • Disaster recovery and backup – Properly configured and tested disaster recovery minimizes downtime in case of a breach or disruption from a natural disaster or other causes.
  • Threat detection – AI-powered XDR and SIEM seek out and destroy threats before they have a chance to create a breach.
  • Data loss prevention (DLP) – DLP solutions help organizations classify and protect sensitive data by identifying policy violations and enforcing remediation through alerts, encryption, and other protective actions.
  • Cloud security posture management (CSPM) – Addresses misconfigurations and limited visibility by deploying automation for continuous monitoring and increased visibility.
  • Cloud access security broker (CASB) – A tool that bridges the gap between cloud service consumers and providers. It extends security controls from on-premises infrastructure to the Cloud, enforcing security, compliance, and governance policies for cloud applications. CASB can be hosted either on-prem or in the Cloud.
  • Identity and access management (IAM) – This feature merges multi-factor authentication (MFA) and user access policies, restricting data access to verified users.
  • Vulnerability and penetration testing – Identifies potential weaknesses or exploits to improve security postures.
  • Micro-segmentation – This feature divides cloud deployments into distinct security segments—from the network level down to the individual workload level—mitigating damage in the event of a successful attack.
  • Next-generation firewalls – Secure workloads by deploying advanced firewall capabilities at the network edge, such as intrusion prevention, deep packet inspection, application control, and encrypted traffic analysis, for comprehensive threat detection and prevention.

Seeking out a security partner

No single technology or solution fully encompasses integrated cloud security. The key is appropriately implementing and integrating cloud security tools and creating greater efficiencies between them for the most robust security posture possible. Even with the enhanced security offered by CSPs, your organization needs to fully understand where it’s protected in service-level agreements (SLAs) and where potential vulnerabilities lie. The best way to do so is to partner with an experienced cloud security vendor.

With years of experience managing enterprise data centers on-prem and in the Cloud, CBTS delivers the latest technologies in managed cloud security services and backup solutions. Our team maintains relationships with top CSPs and security providers to offer comprehensive protection against cyberattacks and downtime. At CBTS, we strive to understand your unique business challenges and provide the necessary expertise, training, and certifications to protect your business from data breaches, theft, and other common causes of system outages.

Get in touch

The six pillars of cloud security strategy

Aiming for zero trust

A key driver of cloud security strategy is the move toward zero trust. Zero trust is a framework that guides how networks handle user traffic, devices, and requests by assuming all network operations are malicious until proven benevolent with proper authentication and verification.

The goalposts and strategies behind cloud security are constantly changing and responding to emerging threats. However, zero trust principles are still driving the steps organizations take in security operations. If zero trust is a roof, then it is supported by six pillars: security assessments and testing, cloud monitoring and management, managed backup (BaaS), disaster recovery (DRaaS), patch management, and cloud security posture management (CPSM).

Each pillar supports the ultimate goal of zero trust. Every individual pillar can be approached as a step in the process or pursued simultaneously. This post outlines the strategies and tools behind each pillar.

The pillars of cloud security strategy

1. Security assessments

Moving operations, applications, and systems to the Cloud grants many benefits to your organization: higher scalability, organizational agility, and improved customer service, among others. However, with benefits also come security risks due to the expanded attack surface. Every user identification, application, and device endangers the health and safety of your network by providing a potential entry point for cybercriminals. IT teams often need help knowing where to start.

Fortunately, security assessments from CBTS provide a valuable tool in prioritizing security efforts. CBTS evaluates any “as a Service” product (IaaS, SaaS, PaaS, etc.) with a cloud security assessment that leads customers through sixteen categories, including

  • Identity access management (IAM).
  • Data center security.
  • Change control procedures and configuration monitoring.
  • Data security.
  • Infrastructure management.
  • Vulnerability management.
  • Supply chain security.
  • Interoperability.
  • Governance and compliance.
  • Business continuity.
  • Key management and encryption.

Additionally, CBTS offers cloud-specific penetration testing that simulates a malicious attack. Unlike regular penetration testing, cloud penetration testing requires expertise. Penetration tests identify weak points in a public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud environment and provide feedback for hardening the defense posture and budget justifications for increasing security spending. Testing can be scheduled as a one-time event or regularly recurring.

2. Cloud monitoring and management

CBTS Managed Cloud services monitor, fix, and optimize any aspect of your cloud operations, including:

  • Compute.
  • Voice.
  • Security.
  • Networking.
  • Backup (see next section).

Get help with one area of your operations, or completely outsource cloud management. Either way, CBTS has the expertise to guide, monitor, and protect your IT infrastructure.

Read more: Nine compelling benefits of a CBTS managed cloud environment

3. Managed backup

With the increased speed and access that the Cloud provides also comes an increase in customer demand. Organizations cannot afford to lose sensitive data or have extended service outages. Managed backup provides secondary storage in an offsite IT environment. Meticulously monitored and tested, managed backup helps your organization maintain customer service standards and business continuity.

Learn more: Why your backup solution is crucial to defending your organization from ransomware

4. Disaster recovery

Traditional data recovery has several disadvantages—potential duplicate costs, physical storage and space concerns, and slow deployment speeds. In contrast, DRaaS is a flexible, quickly deployed service that allows your organization to recover as soon as possible in the case of a malware attack, data leak, natural disaster, or other service interruptions.

Learn more: Best practices for disaster recovery success

5. Patch Management

It’s easy to see why patching sometimes falls by the wayside: it’s a time suck for small IT teams and causes fear of system downtime—additionally, the sheer number of patches to be applied monthly is overwhelming. According to a Ponemon Institute report, “40% of IT security respondents say a remote workforce has made it difficult to deliver necessary security updates and patches”.

CBTS offers patch management for both cloud and on-premises IT environments. Beyond applications, our security teams install updates for databases, containers, virtual machines, microservices, and other cloud systems. Our team also provides patch testing in a duplicate environment and phased patch installation to minimize the risk of system downtime. Our security experts offer up-to-date advice on governance and compliance issues, helping you to patch smarter, not harder.

6. Cloud security posture management (CSPM)

Misconfigurations and limited visibility are two of the most significant obstacles to a hardened security posture. Cloud security posture management from CBTS addresses both issues by utilizing best-in-class solutions tailored to your organization’s unique security needs. Additionally, CSPM deploys automation for continuous monitoring and increased visibility.

Other benefits of posture management include:

  • Unified dashboard into multi-cloud environments.
  • Automated remediation.
  • Pre-built compliance packs for leading governance frameworks.
  • Weekly reports and comparisons to industry benchmarks.

Putting together the pieces of cloud security

CBTS employs some of the best security professionals in the industry. Expertly designed cloud security strategy—paired with deep partnerships with leading vendors—uniquely positions CBTS to help your organization on the road to zero trust. Rather than promoting any one vendor or solution, CBTS follows a vendor-agnostic, best-of-breed approach that matches the right tool with the right situation.

Our team can guide you no matter what stage of the security journey to zero trust your organization is at. Contact one of our experts to learn more about integrating the pillars of cloud security strategy into a robust defensive posture.

Nine powerful security benefits of the Cloud

What is cloud security?

Cloud security” is a blanket term for the protocols, frameworks, and tools that protect cloud resources. This protection covers data, infrastructure, networks, applications, and end-user credentials. The need for properly implemented cloud security is greater than ever. Gartner predicts 70% of all digital workloads will be in a public cloud by 2025. However, the Cloud is not without risk. Sensitive data storage and interconnected systems make clouds an attractive target for bad actors.

In the age of rapid IT evolution and steep pressure to keep up, the benefits of cloud security outweigh the risks as long as security tools are correctly configured, monitored, and controlled.

Types of cloud environments

There are four categories of cloud environments, each with its advantages and drawbacks.

Public

Companies that use a public cloud utilize global third-party vendors that offer storage, networking, and other cloud services to the public. Public clouds, such as Azure, AWS, and so on, are often shared among millions of users.

Private

Alternately, private clouds are owned and managed by a single organization. In this instance, the organization is entirely responsible for the defense of the private cloud (unlike public clouds, which use a shared responsibility model in which the vendor takes on much of the security responsibilities). Private clouds are more secure than public clouds but can be cost-prohibitive and resource-heavy to set up and maintain. Average users of private clouds include government agencies, financial services firms, and any organization with particular data sensitivity concerns.

Hybrid

An organization may combine public and private clouds to get the best-of-breed services for individual departments while keeping data transferable between the multiple clouds. This arrangement allows sophisticated users such as a DevOps team to maintain strict security without sacrificing scalability.

Multi-cloud

Some companies choose to use multiple public clouds. This solution is valuable for optimizing costs, maximizing availability, and managing compliance.

The four primary cloud service models include:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS) – Applications accessed via the Internet or cloud.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – Virtualized infrastructure such as a server or other traditional physical infrastructure.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS) – Developer tools for creating, testing, and deploying cloud-native applications.
  • Function as a Service (FaaS) – Individual functions such as microservices that organizations can quickly activate on an as-needed basis.

Challenges to cloud security

Cloud environments benefit from greater security than on-premises data centers. Gartner predicts that by 2025, user error will cause 99% of security breaches—rather than cloud vendor failure. However, that doesn’t mean that cloud security is risk-free. Organizations migrating to the cloud may face one or all the following challenges:

  • Compliance: Governments and regulators across the globe are increasingly demanding more robust data protection controls, such as authentication and encryption. Maintaining the latest compliance rules requires extensive knowledge, resources, and upkeep.
  • A complex threat landscape: Bad actors continue attacking organizations of all sizes with increasingly elaborate schemes and automated toolsets such as Malware as a Service. Although safer than traditional security, cloud security is not immune to data breaches.
  • Misconfigured systems: Organizations must properly implement cloud security at multiple levels—application, platform, server, database, framework, and code. Because of this complexity, it’s understandable why misconfigurations are so common. The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) reports that 90% of apps they inspected had some form of misconfiguration. Along with user error, misconfigurations are one of the primary causes of data breaches.

Benefits of cloud security

Organizations can overcome these challenges by enlisting a cloud security provider such as CBTS. The benefits of working with a cloud security partner include:

1. Cost efficiency

One of the core shifts that cloud computing brings is a movement away from CapEx to OpEx. No longer will your organization need to invest in dedicated hardware for an on-prem data center; that expense is now owned by the cloud service provider. A cloud security partner benefits your organization by saving you time and resources—correctly implementing security tools, eliminating unnecessary redundancies, and providing security experts.

2. Scalability

Cloud security scales with demand. Companies can quickly add and deploy additional security services as needed, especially with the guidance of a security partner. Additionally, automation enables real-time scaling to ramp up or down during high-traffic periods.

3. Agility in distributed environments

Network edge security solutions such as SD-WAN, SSE, and SASE are critical when deploying hybrid work models. Choosing a suitable cloud security model for your organization can significantly increase adaptability and reduce the time it takes to bring new branches online while securing user identifications, access, and device traffic.

4. Improved customer service through continuous availability

Customers demand access to services 24/7, whether online or via mobile apps. Cloud security provides the visibility necessary to monitor the threat landscape at all layers (app, platform, network, etc.) around the clock and prevent downtime.

5. Streamlined security

By consolidating enterprise security into a centralized location, your team and security partner can easily monitor data, applications, user endpoints, and devices from a single-pane-of-glass perspective. These concentrated controls also simplify company-wide deployments of patches and the implementation of disaster recovery protocols.

Learn more: Build a successful patch management program with these best practices

6. Advanced threat detection

Ransomware, distributed denial of service (DDoS), and social engineering attacks routinely target organizations in every sector. Your organization can stay ahead of the threat landscape by deploying automated extended threat detection (XDR) and other cloud-based antivirus tools.

7. Easier compliance management

While compliance is a routine concern in highly regulated industries such as healthcare or finance, data compliance rules from the GDPR (and other regulators) are expanding into other sectors, such as retail, to better protect consumer data. The CBTS security team stays on top of the latest compliance regulations. Our experts can help you adopt compliant governance frameworks such as zero trust.

8. Secure backups and disaster recovery

Cloud systems make creating redundancies and backups faster and much more affordable. In the event of a service outage caused by a data breach or natural disaster, disaster recovery as a service allows organizations to get back up and running in a fraction of the time compared to traditional tape-based recovery systems.

Learn more: Data protection and managed backup for secure cloud organizations

9. Segmentation

By limiting user and device permissions, a segmented network prevents hackers from gaining unauthorized access, even if they manage a successful breach.

How does cloud security work?

The responsibility for securing the Cloud is split between the user and the vendor for organizations to maximize the benefits of cloud security. The cloud vendor secures their infrastructure, networks, and servers, and the customer is responsible for securing their apps, data, and access.

One of the main goals of cloud security is achieving zero trust—every request, user ID, and access request must be verified and authenticated. To move toward this goal, CBTS guides our customers through the process of adopting the six pillars of cloud security:

  1. Security assessments and testing.
  2. Cloud monitoring and management.
  3. Managed backup (BaaS).
  4. Disaster recovery (DRaaS).
  5. Patch management.
  6. Cloud security posture management (CPSM).

Choosing a cloud security partner

The increasingly complex threat landscape drives home the need for robust cloud security. A single data breach could cost an organization millions of dollars in legal fees, ransoms, and lost customer loyalty. All it takes for one or more misconfigurations to slip by an overworked IT security manager to expose the sensitive data of thousands, perhaps millions of end users.

Your organization needs a security partner that is engaged and monitoring the current threat landscape. CBTS’ services stand apart from the competition.

  • We are vendor agnostic. By remaining agnostic, CBTS guides our clients to the best solutions for their unique environments and helps prevent vendor lock.
  • We provide expert guidance at every step. Our security experts guide your team through industry best practices and frameworks such as zero trust, strong password creation, MFA, compliance requirements, and security awareness training.

Get in touch to enjoy the benefits of correctly configured cloud security.

Applying zero trust to reinforce cloud security architecture

If you work in any form of information technology, you will have been bombarded with products that claim to deliver zero trust, with most zero trust vendors providing tools and capabilities that help secure end-user compute environments.

What you may not be aware of is how to employ zero trust philosophy when developing your cloud security architecture. This short post is designed to widen the understanding of what the zero trust philosophy is—and what it is not—by demonstrating how it can be used to build out a cloud security architecture as part of a modern cloud-native application deployment.

Given that you do not manage or configure the underlying platform in a cloud environment, you have two broad choices to make when deploying applications on the public cloud. The first is to implicitly trust the vendor as part of the shared responsibility model. The second—and my preferred—approach is to treat the cloud platform as an untrusted entity and build out the cloud security architecture based on zero trust philosophies.

The foundations of effective zero trust

Before we get started on what that cloud security architecture might look like, we need a common understanding of the core tenants of zero trust. These can be summarized as not trusting anything and explicitly authorizing each and every connection. While NIST defines seven tenants, I prefer to simplify and group them into the following six principles:

  1. Require explicit authorization for all communications, system, and data access requests for users, services, and devices. Never assume trust based on location or device attributes.
  2. Use a dynamic access policy using contextual information such as (but not limited to): the end-user device type, health of the device, data sensitivity, the individual, the location, and the current threat environment when authorizing access.
  3. Verify trust of both sender and receiver; ideally use the Mutual TLS (mTLS) protocol or other approaches.
  4. Encrypt all data (at rest and in transit).
  5. Segment and control network access.
  6. Continuously monitor the integrity and security posture of all connected resources with telemetry to identify indicators of compromise.

In effect, zero trust introduces an identity-based access model in addition to the traditional network-centric security model. Note that no single component, function, or product can implement zero trust. Rather, they must be combined to collectively achieve zero trusts goals and outcomes. Please do remember that in addition to the above zero trust principles, you should not forget other established security architecture principles and approaches, including, but not limited to:

  • Defining reusable patterns.
  • Defense in depth.
  • Minimizing attack surface area.
  • Following the principle of least privilege.
  • Deploying segmentation to reduce blast radius damage.
  • Designing for failure.
  • Testing prior to deployment.
  • Assuming a breach, i.e., an attacker is already on your network.

Read more: Three transformative ways zero trust will benefit your enterprise

How does this work with my cloud security architecture?

So now you have a set of principles. How do you use those to build out a robust and resilient cloud security architecture for a modern application? I have used an AWS example in the figure below; you will find that Google and Azure have similar capabilities.

In this example, Amazon Cognito and AWS Single Sign-On powered by AWS-IAM services enable authorization and authentication of all operations. In some cases, there will be a need for static secrets, perhaps to link to the orchestration or repository tooling. These can be secured in a Secrets Manager, called on by application invocation and rotated frequently, following the dynamic access policy principle.

Any data transmission is achieved using the mTLS protocol which itself will require certificates issued by Certificate Manager. Any service connection must have a short time to live of the order 5-30 minutes. This ensures all resource-to-resource access is authorized and authenticated and any certificate compromise has limited impact.

The three-tier application is segmented north-south and east-west using security groups and ACLs. In addition, external Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) services such as S3 and Aurora are presented over private network endpoints to reduce the attack surface and ensure segmentation. Data is encrypted at rest using AWS CMK service with customer provided and managed key material.

Finally, the last zero trust principle of monitoring everything is achieved using GuardDuty and CloudWatch with rules written to adjust access on receipt of high threat determination.

As I have shown, this deployment model treats the AWS platform as untrusted and—using the six principles—builds out an effective and resilient cloud security architecture.

In summary, zero trust philosophies give form to function

By creating a set of architectural principles derived from the zero trust philosophy and applying them to the simple three-tier web application, we have demonstrated how to use a zero trust philosophy to create a robust and secure service running on an untrusted platform. You can apply this same technique to any system or service development to embed security into your digital transformation agenda, be it at the initial concept stage or during system hardening and or threat modeling.

For more reading and a view on how to scale this model out to complex microservices architectures using a service mesh, see the newly released NIST Special publication: A Zero Trust Architecture Model for Access Control in Cloud-Native Applications in Multi-Location Environments

Read more: Data-Directed Security: How zero trust fits into enterprise data security

Transform the user experience with a cloud-based contact center

In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, businesses continually seek ways to improve customer satisfaction and employee engagement. The cloud-based contact center has emerged as a transformative solution that streamlines communication, enhances customer interactions, and empowers employees to deliver exceptional service.

Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) is a model that allows an organization to transform its communications operations without costly investments in new infrastructure by taking advantage of cloud technology. This post explores the benefits of adopting a cloud contact center for customers and employees.

Convenience and omnichannel communication

Cloud-based contact centers have revolutionized customer communication by offering diverse channels for interaction. Gone are the days when customers were limited to a single mode of communication. With the advent of cloud contact centers, organizations can now seamlessly engage with customers across multiple channels, including:

  • Voice.
  • E-mail.
  • Chat.
  • Social media.
  • SMS/MMS.

This multifaceted approach allows customers to connect through their preferred channel, ensuring a convenient and personalized experience.

One of the primary benefits of adopting a cloud contact center is its accessibility. Customers can connect with your business anywhere, anytime, without geographical restrictions. Whether on the go, at home, or in the office, customers can easily reach your team and get the assistance they need.

Catering to customer preferences

Customers today have diverse preferences when it comes to communication. Some may prefer the immediacy of voice calls, while others lean towards written communication through e-mail or chat. Additionally, the younger demographic tends to embrace social media for interactions. And customers from outside the U.S. may prefer to use WhatsApp. By providing a variety of channels, cloud contact centers acknowledge these varying preferences, ensuring that customers can engage in the way they feel most comfortable.

Read more: How CXsync is transforming small and midsize businesses through cloud-based contact centers

Analytics and AI

Cloud-based analytics empower customer support agents with valuable insights into customer behavior, preferences, and past interactions. Analytics provide context about the customer’s previous interactions and preferences, allowing agents to anticipate their needs proactively. Access to a customer’s interaction record reduces the time spent gathering information, thus enabling agents to focus on finding swift and practical solutions. This data-driven approach allows agents to understand customer needs better and tailor their responses accordingly.

Agents can rapidly access relevant information to address customer queries and issues with AI assistance. Contact centers with advanced natural language processing (NLP) capabilities can provide agents with information based on the interaction, eliminating the need for agents to search knowledge bases. This advanced search functionality ensures agents have the most relevant and accurate answers to customer inquiries. NLP tools can “listen” to customer calls, “read” text of customer interaction transcripts, and flag potential areas for agents to address.

Also read: Future-proof your contact center with cloud-based tools from Five9 and CBTS

Transforming employee experience with cloud-based contact center

Adopting cloud contact centers has brought about a paradigm shift in how employees work. With the capability to work from home or any location with Internet access, employees experience a newfound sense of flexibility and autonomy. This transformative change benefits the workforce and leads to a happier, more motivated, and more productive team.

A pressing concern across all industries, but especially within customer service, is the prevalence of staff shortages. Shifting to a cloud-based contact center improves the work-life balance of customer service agents and increases employee retention. The cloud contact center’s remote capabilities liberate employees from the constraints of a physical office. They can choose where they work, whether in the comfort of their home, a co-working space, or even while traveling. This flexibility in work arrangements allows employees to structure their workday to suit their needs and preferences. A healthy work-life balance reduces stress, prevents burnout, and promotes overall well-being.

Additionally, a cloud-based contact center generates a more collaborative environment for agents and the entire contact center staff. Managers and administrators enjoy greater oversight of operations and have more tools to support agents. For example, AI can be configured to run quality assurance programs, both in real-time and post-interaction. The quality assurance tool points out areas for improvement for the agent and can escalate potential issues to management. Administrators monitor operations in real time and can redistribute call queues on the fly to lower customer wait times. Additionally, both managers and administrators can listen to calls without disrupting calls already in progress.

Read more: Top ten benefits of integrating your cloud-based contact center with UCaaS

CBTS contact center delivery

CBTS delivers communications solutions based on three pillars:

  • Technology.
  • Processes.
  • People.

Without aligning these three areas, a cloud-based contact center implementation will not succeed fully or achieve its potential in revitalizing your organization’s communications. The CBTS team first listens to what our customers are trying to accomplish and then advises them on the best methods to achieve those results.

Embracing a cloud contact center solution can transform your customer experience by providing accessibility, personalization, and efficient issue resolution. Simultaneously, it empowers employees with flexibility, collaboration, and data insights, enhancing productivity and engagement. By carefully assessing your business needs, selecting the right provider, and prioritizing training and monitoring, you can successfully implement a cloud contact center to revolutionize your business’s communication and performance.

Contact us to learn how CBTS can help you implement or refine your cloud-based contact center solution.

Download the e-book: CBTS CXsync improves user experience at every stage

Seven ways to achieve cloud optimization during mergers and acquisitions

M&As are an ideal time for optimizing your company’s cloud usage.

The urgency of cloud optimization during business restructuring

Business restructuring events like mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures are an ideal time to pursue cloud optimization. Forbes reports that over 30% of an organization’s cloud spending is wasted on unused or underused resources. Beyond looking for redundant costs, organizations should evaluate application performance, network reliability, security, and other vital factors to improve organizational agility in the Cloud. Additionally, a streamlined cloud environment boosts the productivity of developers and employees in general. CBTS provides cloud guidance to help you make the most of your newly merged (or divested) IT environment.

There are several common obstacles to achieving cloud efficiency, including:

  • Lack of visibility into unused systems or resources
  • Legacy applications and infrastructure
  • Lack of automated resource tracking tools

This post will review the categories of cloud efficiencies to consider during restructuring, and some of the tools that can help achieve optimum results.

Types of optimization

Cost

Pricing for cloud services tends to be complicated, with variables like demand, time, and location affecting the cost of the same services across regions. Overspending can quickly become a concern in an inefficient cloud environment. To side-step this issue, many organizations implement a multi-cloud solution that maximizes cost benefits by picking and choosing the lowest rates and appropriate services across multiple cloud vendors.

However, there are two downsides to this approach:

  1. Your organization may miss out on volume discounts from a single vendor.
  2. Your company may incur additional charges in moving data between cloud vendors.

Cloud providers offer built-in tools that can monitor your usage and spending. But cloud vendors stop short of advising you on how to optimize costs. The experts at CBTS can advise your organization on building an effective and efficient cloud strategy.

Operational

There are many hurdles to operationally efficient cloud computing, such as:

  • Legacy applications and architecture.
  • Inefficient, non-integrated tools.
  • Out-of-date applications that are not regularly patched.
  • Unauthorized application installation and usage (aka shadow IT).

Shifting away from legacy applications or on-premises infrastructure can significantly increase productivity by embracing cloud-native development and deployment. Streamlined, integrated, and secure applications go a long way in maintaining efficiencies. Keeping those applications up to date with regular patch management ensures your users enjoy the latest application features with secured vulnerabilities.

Performance

Maintaining the performance of a cloud environment is complicated, relying on many factors, including cloud architecture, network traffic and latency, and the type of cloud service utilized. For example, in some cases, serverless computing may perform faster than a traditional virtual machine (VM). Also, updating code bases to function in a cloud-native environment can drastically improve performance speeds but may be a costly and lengthy undertaking.

Reliability

Lost data is the bane of any IT department; cloud computing is no different from on-premises computing in that regard. Many cloud service providers offer geo-redundant instances to back up enterprise data. However, deploying multiple workload instances across a region can quickly lead to overspending.

In this case, working with a third-party provider like CBTS is best to implement a robust and affordable Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) solution.

Read more: Seven tips and tricks to manage disaster recovery solutions for the Cloud

Security

Security in cloud environments is a double-edged sword. While cloud storage and networks are vastly more secure than their on-premises counterparts, cloud computing also has exponentially more points of presence (PoP) that a bad actor could manipulate. Establishing and maintaining air-tight security ensures your organization does not suffer from service disruptions and other potential consequences of a data breach or malware attack.

Learn more: Focusing on security in digital transformation

Cloud optimization tools and techniques

1. Vendor tools

As previously mentioned, major cloud providers offer various built-in tools to analyze usage and spending. Even a close read of a monthly bill can provide insights into potential redundancies and overspending. CBTS, as a third-party managed cloud provider, is vendor agnostic. This lets us objectively advise and analyze vendor tools and reports and make recommendations that balance cost with performance and other cloud optimization factors. 

2. Application modernization and cloud migration

Aging legacy applications and hardware can lead to ingrained inefficiencies. The only solution is to migrate applications, systems, and processes to the Cloud. Identifying how much and when to migrate are vital considerations that must also be balanced with budget concerns.

CBTS experts specialize in application modernization and cloud migration. Whether fully refactoring an application, performing a lift and shift migration, or implementing microservices or containers, CBTS has the experience and skill to guide your organization through modernization.

Read more: CBTS application modernization services bring your company into the digital age

3. Right-sizing cloud services

Right-sizing is essentially a fancy way of saying that the services should match the need. Your IT team (or managed service partner) can match workloads with the proper instances or service levels by assessing your cloud usage. Right-sizing is essential to cloud optimization because it impacts both performance and cost efficiency. However, it requires consistent monitoring to ensure cloud utilization does not exceed or fall far below previously established levels.

4. Spot instances

Cloud service providers sometimes offer “spot instances”—extra computing services offered at a discount over on-demand pricing. Spot instances can save money but are inconvenient because the provider can interrupt the resource if demand surges, and the resource can be reallocated with little or no notice, offering less autonomy.

Spot instances are best for non-critical workloads that can be interrupted without significant consequences. However, with advanced automation, even urgent workloads can utilize spot instances with minimal interruption.

5. Reserved instances

If spot instances are like a clearance rack, reserved instances are comparable to the savings enjoyed buying in bulk. By agreeing to a long-term commitment to use select services for one or more years, your organization can see up to 75% savings. Reserved instances work well for routine workloads that will stay relatively the same over time.

6. Eliminating or merging unused resources

Identifying and eliminating unused resources from your organization’s cloud environment is crucial to maintaining cost efficiency and maximizing performance. These resources might include idle instances, unused storage volumes, or expired system snapshots.

Monitoring tools and system audits can help identify areas to eliminate unnecessary workloads. Also, you can allocate idle resources where they are most needed by utilizing auto-scaling and load-balancing solutions.

7. Investing in security

Ensuring service availability is a vital component of an optimized cloud environment. Investing in next-gen security tools is necessary to keep your systems running smoothly. A data breach can cost an organization millions of dollars in litigation, malware ransoms, compliance fines, and reputational damage. Working with an experienced security partner can fortify your security perimeter, mitigate damage in the case of a successful attack, and help you navigate rapidly changing compliance regulations.

Choosing a cloud optimization partner

The simplest way to optimize your cloud or multi-cloud environment is to enlist the help of an experienced managed cloud services provider. CBTS has operated data centers and managed cloud projects for over thirty years. During a merger or acquisition, numerous priorities will come across your desk, making it hard to focus and easy to lose track of the big picture.

CBTS provides dedicated project managers to oversee your cloud modernization or optimization project. Get in touch to learn more.

Cloud-based solutions to streamline mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures

Besides the standard factors business leaders must consider during M&A, technology can make or break a deal. Cloud technology offers a convenient solution to many of these common challenges.

Why most mergers fail

According to McKinsey, 10% of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are canceled yearly. Additionally, numerous studies show that between 70% and 90% of mergers fail in the long term. It’s apparent why. The task of merging cultures, finances, and growth philosophies is difficult enough. Factor in the challenge of combining technology stacks, and the obstacles seem insurmountable. A survey in the Harvard Business Review found that 71% of company leaders found technology integration a determining factor of the success of M&A.

Despite the risks, many organizations take on the odds of a merger or acquisition to become more efficient, resourceful, and, ultimately, profitable. Up to date, cloud-enabled systems can be an attractive prospect for potential buyers, and conversely, legacy infrastructure can be a sticking point. Mid-merger, some companies may discover security vulnerabilities or incompatible systems. Should an organization go through the divestment process, it must do so safely while protecting the sensitive data of all parties involved.

Cloud-based solutions solve these core issues of M&A in several essential ways. Technology integration is streamlined once both companies operate in the Cloud. Security, storage, and collaboration can all be seamlessly tied together.

This post will explore the role of the Cloud in mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures. (Note that this article uses the term M&A to represent mergers and acquisitions, and divestitures are implied when this abbreviation is used.)

When to migrate to cloud-based systems and solutions

  • Pre-merger: Optimized cloud systems make your business an attractive prospect for companies seeking to acquire or merge. If your company is the buyer, cloud technology simplifies tech integration with another company.
  • Mid-merger: During a merger, every system is evaluated. This time of change and restructuring makes for an ideal moment to analyze and deeply rethink systems, operations, and technology processes. It can be the perfect moment to modernize and migrate operations.
  • Post-merger: Ideally, an organization would have completed its migration to cloud-based solutions before or during M&As, but it can occur at any point. Additionally, the Cloud can help ensure a seamless and secure transition during a divestiture.

How to stack the odds in your favor

The Cloud is key to overcoming the technological obstacles that stand in the way of a successful merger or acquisition. Some of the advantages of cloud technology, as it relates to M&A, include:

  • Transition IT spending from CapEx to OpEx. Infrastructure, hardware, and even code increasingly “live” in the Cloud. By embracing cloud-based solutions, IT teams no longer need to spend large chunks of budget on new hardware (cloud providers handle that). Instead, IT spending becomes an operating expense based on affordable monthly service fees based on consumption or subscriptions.
  • Access to cutting-edge technology. Among the unique selling points of cloud providers is their ability to improve the technological agility of their client base continuously. Cloud providers constantly implement the latest advances in AI, security, and collaboration to improve customer experience.
  • Ideal for hybrid environments. Before the Cloud, M&A often meant physically linking or moving hardware between physical data center spaces. Now, the Cloud streamlines and simplifies the process of merging each layer of each company’s technology stack. What’s more, employees can work and interact from any time zone with cloud-based unified communications solutions (which can significantly speed up the overall timeline of an M&A).
  • Improved security. Not only is the Cloud faster than legacy equivalents, but it is also inherently more secure. Cloud security experts have greater visibility into the emerging threat landscape and next-gen tools to stamp out those threats as they arise. Cloud tools also aid in securing supply chains.
  • Highly scalable. In the past, adding a new application to a workflow meant installing it on hundreds, if not thousands, of individual computers or devices. Today, an IT team can batch-install apps via cloud admin controls, or employees can simply log in to cloud-based platforms. In the Cloud, security, patching, and vulnerability  management services scale up or down as necessary.
  • Speedier technology integration. The most critical benefit of cloud-based solutions in an M&A scenario is that it speeds up the integration of technology workflows. Vital systems such as e-mail, scheduling tools, directories, and contact centers can rapidly sync and integrate, especially if both parties are already cloud-enabled.
  • Blended communication and collaboration. Cloud collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams Voice and Webex Calling can be merged with traditional telephone systems to create a more efficient, collaborative, and secure comm system across the newly merged organization.

Also read: CBTS application modernization services bring your company into the digital age

Potential obstacles to cloud migration

Merging or divesting operations have many moving pieces. Overburdened and newly restructured IT teams may be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work that needs to get done in a cloud migration in general and when melding IT operations specifically. Modernizing mission-critical applications, identifying and securing vulnerabilities, and debugging integrated workflows are just a few of the tasks they must accomplish in a relatively short timeframe and on a limited budget.

Securing supply chains

Each vendor represented among the supply chains of the two companies that are joining (or divesting) represents the risk of a data breach. The slightest overlooked vulnerability can result in a catastrophic ransomware attack with the potential to cascade through both newly linked supply chains.

Combatting the risk of data exposure is comprised of two main strategies:

  • Identifying and closing security gaps (proactive approach).
  • Deploying a robust Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) system (reactive approach).

The proactive approach involves implementing next-gen security tools to seek and destroy malware threats, as well as good security hygiene, such as following password best practices. Additionally, implementing security protocols—like zero trust networking access (ZTNA) in conjunction with SD-WAN or SASE tools and encrypted storage solutions such as data lakes—provides maximum defense for your organization and each company linked to yours via supply chains.

The reactive approach ensures that your systems can be back up and running as soon as possible in case of a successful malware attack or natural disaster.

Learn more: Seven tips and tricks to manage disaster recovery solutions for the Cloud

Managing cloud migration or optimization during M&As

While cutting costs during an expensive process like a merger can be tempting, businesses that navigate technological integration without expert guidance soon become overwhelmed. The odds are already against a successful acquisition. Seeking out experienced cloud professionals can help your organization stack the deck in its favor.

CBTS has 30+ years of experience managing data centers and developing cloud environments. Our engineers and project managers have successfully guided hundreds of organizations through the cloud adoption and optimization process. The team offers customized cloud offerings from communication to security to application modernization.

Get in touch to learn how CBTS can smooth the technology transition in an M&A process.

Tips for a secure cloud migration using AWS managed services

While there are several viable public cloud platforms, AWS has been recognized by Gartner as a quadrant leader for 12 years in a row. AWS is a robust public cloud option that Gartner recognizes as having a very promising future. CBTS offers AWS managed services to position companies of all sizes as leaders in innovation and bolster their capabilities.

Because AWS has a vast and complex portfolio of cloud offerings, the challenge for most companies will not be in adopting AWS but in optimizing and refining AWS to conform to their existing systems. CBTS is an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner. With over 80 unique certifications, our AWS engineers and architects are qualified to ensure the success of migration or cloud-native workloads.

But what exactly is involved in migration? What are the best practices? How can your team best prepare?

Why consider AWS managed services?

Paired with the holistic management techniques from CBTS, managed AWS cloud services are a powerful tool that reinvigorates workflows and systems throughout your organization.

Volume

AWS provides more enterprise cloud resources than any other provider currently on the market. Surveys from IT leaders frequently demonstrate that AWS is regarded as a leader in cloud infrastructure and Platform as a Service (PaaS).

Diversity

AWS services companies of every size across industries. Small businesses, startups, midsize companies, and large enterprises rely on AWS for cloud services.

Experience

AWS is among the oldest cloud service providers—with a stellar reputation, not only as a cloud services provider but as a complete digital ecosystem provider.

Benefits of AWS managed services

Migration to managed AWS public cloud services provides many transformational benefits:

  • Cost efficiency. Shift from CapEx to OpEx and utilize a-la-carte service offerings.
  • Innovation. Access cutting-edge technology and emerging AI-powered tools.
  • Efficiency. Streamline workflows with cloud-based collaboration tools.
  • Backup and disaster recovery. Automatic backups and cloud-enabled Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS).
  • Security. Access next-gen threat prevention tools.
  • Reliable infrastructure and access. Maximize uptime through robust, geo-redundant systems.
  • Compliance support. CBTS compliance experts help you manage data compliance and governance pitfalls.
  • Centralized control. Monitor and assess company-wide systems through a customized admin single-pane-of-glass dashboard.
  • Learn more: AWS cloud solutions: Paving the road to digital transformation

    The CBTS approach

    CBTS provides solutions for organizations at each stage of digital transformation by leveraging proven frameworks.

    Tier 1: Foundation

    The initial tier is ideally suited for organizations transitioning from an on-premises data center to the Cloud. Additionally, these companies might need support when migrating from a VMware environment to AWS via a “lift and shift” modernization. Tier 1 is an excellent choice for companies that need flexibility and want to maintain as much control of their digital ecosystem as possible.

    Tier 2: Advanced

    The advanced tier provides optimization support for organizations already utilizing the Cloud. CBTS AWS architects and engineers assess the client’s current infrastructure and make recommendations on how to incorporate cloud-native deployments. Additionally, the CBTS team aids the client in optimizing billing and visibility into utilization.

    Tier 3: PaaS/DevOps

    Building on the previous tiers, Tier 3 supports Platform as a Service and DevOps transformations. This tier is suited for organizations looking to speed development with automation tools. Additionally, containers and serverless computing maximize the options for developers seeking to speed up time-to-market and implement continuous deployment.

    Also read: Get ahead by moving mission-critical applications to the Cloud

    AWS Well-Architected Framework

    The Well-Architected Framework lays out key concepts, design principles, and best practices for optimizing workloads with AWS. AWS uses the Well-Architected Framework to support cloud architects and promote a higher standard of cloud delivery. AWS provides a consistent approach, built around six pillars:

    • Operational excellence: Add value to business processes and continuously improve monitoring and system performance.
    • Security: Secure all systems, data, and digital assets while maintaining optimum performance. Risk assessments should be conducted regularly, especially during migrations.
    • Reliability: Customers should be able to access their systems as much as possible, and partners are responsible for minimizing outages, with contingencies in place to address outages caused by malware, hardware failure, or operator error.
    • Performance: Constantly assess and allocate workload resources to ensure maximum efficiency.
    • Cost efficiency: Correctly managing workload resources ensures that costs remain aligned with technology budgets and that unnecessary costs are not accrued.
    • Sustainability: Minimize footprints across economic, environmental, and societal spheres through maximized efficiency in all resources and systems.

    Why CBTS?

    Over several decades, CBTS refined the cloud adoption process that hundreds of satisfied customers have vetted:

    • Assess: Our team of elite AWS engineers will help you fully understand your current data environment, assess data risks, and plan a successful migration.
    • Design: Our team maps out well-architected solutions using the previously discussed AWS pillars.
    • Migrate/build: At this point, the CBTS engineers migrate selected applications, systems, or infrastructure to the newly designed cloud or deploy cloud-native solutions.
    • Manage: Last but not least, our team can take over the management of cloud ops and free your IT team up for mission-critical projects.

    CBTS is a turnkey AWS managed services partner. A deep understanding of cloud-native and industry-standard tools allows us to maximize resources for each AWS workload, and we offer round-the-clock support with our 24x7x365 tech support helpline or chat.

    Get in touch today to learn more about how CBTS can guide your AWS managed services journey.