The top four cloud challenges and how they can be overcome through visibility 

By John Atkinson, Director, Sales Engineering UK & I, Riverbed

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While cloud adoption was already expanding rapidly before the pandemic, there has been a dramatic spike in cloud activity over the past year as organisations shift to permanent hybrid working models. In fact, a recent report by Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) found revealed that almost half (45%) of organisations now have a cloud-first strategy. Adoption is set to continue throughout 2022, with 55% of enterprise workloads expected to be in a public cloud within 12 months, according to Flexera’s State of The Cloud Report.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as moving to the cloud has many benefits, including more flexibility, increased efficiency, boosted performance, and the potential for innovation and developing new capabilities. Yet, while the cloud promises to bolster businesses’ resiliency in a hybrid working world, most companies have a critical gap in their cloud infrastructure – visibility.

Visibility offers organisations the opportunity to monitor and maximize application productivity before, during, and after cloud migration. Without it, migration to the cloud becomes more complex, and can result in unnecessarily high costs, damages to the end-user experience, and cybersecurity challenges. And in a world where productivity and being able to adapt to rapid changes are critical to business success, it’s time for organisations to proactively resolve challenges by investing in visibility tools. But with so many options out there, the question is – what should a company be looking out for? Here's four key areas you may wish to consider…

1. Where’s the apps at?

Migrating apps to the cloud promises to increase agility and reduce cost yet many organisations have found this to be a challenging step to take. More specifically, 51% of businesses cited understanding app dependencies as the top challenge they face when it comes to cloud migration, according to ESG’s 2021 Technology Spending Intentions Survey. The research also found that the growing complexity and unpredictability of hybrid IT makes it difficult to ensure cloud migration success.

As a result, it’s crucial that IT teams reinstate some level of visibility and control when monitoring performance and ensuring a consistent user experience in the cloud — throughout the migration process and beyond. Robust application and network monitoring tools will enable IT Teams to gain visibility over solving these complex cloud migration challenges. This will empower businesses to tackle these challenges by identifying hidden risks and constraints that could result in performance issues, unexpected delays, and unplanned costs.

2. Costs hidden in plain sight

Despite its rapid growth, there are still plenty of hidden costs and upsells that lie in wait for unsuspecting organisations, making cloud initiatives rather more costly than originally presumed. In fact, according to research from Flexera, organisations struggle to track and control cloud costs, estimating that 30% of cloud spending is wasted.

To tackle this costing crisis, organisations need to turn their attention to cloud flow solutions, which can help identify what’s driving up cloud costs. Cloud flow solutions can highlight the most expensive types of cloud data – so that efficiencies can be identified and acted upon. It enables companies to examine how much traffic is exiting the cloud, the most expensive type of cloud data and the next tier of pricing. Knowing this information will assist businesses in helping them improve planning around where data and applications should reside to gain efficiencies.

3. Empowering the end-user through experience

Cloud plays a central role in the digital business strategy of most enterprises. Yet, it can also complicate the effort to deliver an efficient digital experience. For example, using cloud-based solutions could mean that IT no longer controls the IT infrastructure which several business-critical applications run on. 

Yet, most End User Experience Monitoring solutions can help address these concerns. Research from EMA’s Network Management Megatrends report found that 34% of IT operations say that End User Experience Monitoring is the most important means for measuring success. Therefore, it’s a crucial investment for IT Teams, as it enables them to monitor the impact of application and device performance from the end-user’s point-of-view. This in turn will help organisations deliver a superior end-user experience.

4. Cybersecurity challenges Concerns about cloud security are rising. AWS’ Cloud Security Report revealed that 95% of cybersecurity professionals are extremely to moderately concerned about this, up from 91% in the previous survey. Whilst there’s no doubt that the cloud brings tremendous technology advancement and flexibility, plus it opens new business opportunities for growth, it can also have severe consequences if it’s not secured and controlled properly. The famous saying still applies ‘You can’t secure what you don’t know.’ The main challenge of any cloud is how much the Security Operations Centre (SOC) teams are aware of its architecture, mechanism and users’ access.

For any organisation to achieve greater secure benefits of its cloud investment, SOC teams need to make sure they can see what they need to protect, in form of greater visibility into cloud resources. Security teams should not look at cloud visibility from the cloud platform perspective only but extend that too into the endpoint behaviours and activity.

Having the right visibility will reduce risks, so security teams need to investigate the use of a Network Behavior Analysis Engine (NBAE) which can benchmark abnormal user access behaviours to a baseline and proactively alert on any change due to zero days threats. Cloud access is one of the major concerns and issues to when it comes to cloud deployment since users can be anywhere, so the SOC teams need to stay on top of who’s doing what, when and from where.

In addition, having the right visibility in place speeds up the threat response, as cloud visibility is the first critical milestone in reacting to any type of incidents whether Security or Performance. Coupling visibility and automation together becomes a strong weapon for SOC to speed up incident response via highly granular data gathering and actionable insights.

Cloud adoption is not slowing down, and on a daily basis, more and more organisations are becoming reliant on this technology to enable productivity and ensure future growth. Visibility is therefore more important than ever before, and its forward-thinking companies that invest in such technology that will win in the future.

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