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Maintaining Security Compliance in the Hybrid Cloud

Enterprises have identified the hybrid cloud as the ideal IT operating model. Now, how do they keep their data safe across cloud borders? (Pssst: they use Xi Beam.)

By Vijay Rayapati

For the past two years, IT professionals around the globe have selected the hybrid cloud as their ideal IT operating model in surveys conducted by U.K.-based researcher Vanson Bourne for Nutanix[1]. A hybrid cloud comprises some private and some public cloud infrastructure, with a measure of integration between the two environments.

Enterprise IT teams say they like the hybrid setup because they can choose the best IT infrastructure for each of their business applications and then move workloads around as their requirements change. In fact, both Vanson Bourne and IDC research show that enterprises are already migrating some components of workloads off of public clouds to on-premises infrastructure[2] and, in doing so, are creating increasingly hybrid environments.

At the same time, however, enterprises also maintain that security is the biggest factor driving their future cloud strategies[3]. That means that IT’s longstanding and delicate balancing act between flexibility and security is becoming that much harder.

Competing Goals

It’s not surprising that security is top of mind across businesses. Cyber threats continue to escalate, driving investment in continuous monitoring and automated threat identification and remediation systems. In addition, sweeping privacy legislation, led by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), is placing additional burdens on corporate data governance programs in Europe, the U.S., and other world economies.

However, trying to maintain the dueling goals of a highly dynamic IT environment and a tighter-than-ever security posture could land your enterprise in a pickle. How can you continue to ensure compliance with increasingly strict corporate data governance and security policies if applications and data are frequently moving back and forth across cloud borders? Having multiple environments to secure causes an added level of complexity that, if improperly managed, can create holes in your cloud defenses.

It’s not a job for the faint of heart. First and foremost, if you’re embracing the hybrid cloud, you’ll have to move away from what have likely been fairly static security configurations. Today’s complex cloud environment requires smarter and more automated systems that can detect changes and adjust as necessary to continue proper policy enforcement. So how do you make the move?

The Right Tool for the Job

As with many of life’s challenges, the answer lies in having the right tool for the job. At a minimum, you need complete visibility into your on-premises and public cloud environments. The public cloud providers, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform, provide tools for managing, securing, and automating compliance within their own clouds. These tools work well if you operate exclusively in that one environment.

But for organizations increasingly running hybrid clouds, it’s unwieldy—and, by association, error-prone and insecure—to juggle different tools to monitor the many variables of each resource in each cloud. Instead, as companies straddle multiple private and public cloud environments, their management and orchestration systems need to do the same.

Enter Xi Beam by Nutanix

This situation is exactly what our cloud governance product called Xi beam was created to address. Beam opens up a unified portal into all your private and public cloud environments. It gives you a holistic view of what you’re using, how cloud resources are configured, and what actions you need to take to run workloads more securely in hybrid clouds. In short, with Beam, you can finally get control over the best-of-both-worlds hybrid environment without compromising on the security, compliance, and data governance side of things.

You can use Beam to prevent security blind spots that may have been caused by misconfigured cloud resources. Beam helps you establish a security baseline, detect deviations from the baseline and take the necessary remediation actions (either automatically or user initiated) to ensure your applications and workloads remain secure in a hybrid cloud. Beam provides 550+ out-of-the-box security audits to ensure compliance with internal security policies and external regulatory security mandates, such as HIPAA, PCI-DSS in retail, NIST, GDPR and more.

It’s an Always-On World

Compliance has become an always-on necessity. For that, you need a measure of automation to continually check whether the ever-changing cloud service and resource configurations remain adherent to your security governance framework. Static set-and-forget IT configurations are no longer up to the task.

Instead, be on the lookout for cross-cloud visibility, compliance checks, policy enforcement, and threat monitoring capabilities. You can get all of these capabilities with Xi Beam, which delivers:

• Complete visibility across cloud borders into hybrid cloud security posture.
• Real-time detection of security vulnerabilities such as open TCP/UDP ports, unencrypted data, storage buckets with global permissions, etc.
• Policy-based automated remediation to fix those security vulnerabilities at an enterprise scale.

The research indicates that you’re likely to end up with a hybrid IT environment, with apps and data both on prem and in a public cloud. It’s imperative to make sure that your cloud management and security policy-enforcement tools work consistently across those environments too. With that said, I’d like to give you an opportunity to experience how Beam can directly impact your bottom line. If you’re interested, enjoy a free 14-day trial of the platform to test it out. What do you have to lose?

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[1] Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Index Report, 2018 and 2019
[2] Nutanix 2019 Enterprise Cloud Index Report and IDC 2018 Cloud and AI Adoption Survey
[3] Nutanix 2019 Enterprise Cloud Index Report