Infrastructure Security for the Cloud Era

Rohit Goyal, Product Marketing Manager, Nutanix
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During this presidential campaign, the candidates debated a new topic that had only recently been elevated to become a matter of national importance—cybersecurity. Email leaks and a virtually endless string of data breaches have amplified the ongoing conversation about this issue, bringing it to the forefront of our national consciousness.

Security is also top of mind for CIOs, who are prioritizing investments to protect their enterprise datacenters from an ever-increasing number of threats and attacks. While security has always been a challenge for IT, it has become even more difficult as enterprises seek to adapt their traditional architecture for new hybrid strategies that bring together the benefits of public cloud and on-premises infrastructure. The datacenter and the threat landscape are simultaneously becoming more complex, requiring enterprises to evolve their traditional, siloed approach to security to be holistic.

  ​Security is also top of mind for CIOs, who are prioritizing investments to protect their enterprise datacenters from an ever-increasing number of threats and attacks 

With the cost of data breaches expected to increase to $2.1 trillion by 2019—nearly four times greater than the cost in 2015—the stakes are high. The impact of hacks and breaches are well-known—financial harm, stolen data, broken customer trust and system downtime—yet it’s still worth talking about the benefits of securing your datacenter, as continued breaches showcase our need for further education around the subject at every level within an organization. Here is how a holistic approach to security can drive value for your company.

Accelerate Revenue

For enterprises, security is not always a primary consideration during the purchasing process for infrastructure. It is often only when they need to support and scale their infrastructure that security enters the equation, creating numerous challenges with application performance and reliability.

Security should be built in, not bolted on, but unfortunately the latter retrofit approach is more common. Because traditional infrastructure was not designed with holistic security, for most infrastructure projects every layer is built with a fragmented view. Once they are ready to be placed into production, hardening is applied independently to each layer. As a result, applications break, requiring security policy adjustments to get applications back up and running, which leave the enterprise datacenter more vulnerable to malware, viruses and attacks.

When evaluating infrastructure options, don’t work with a vendor that makes security an afterthought; prioritize vendors that build it into the platform from day one so that it arrives hardened out of the box. This way the platform is already secure once applications are deployed, ensuring they meet the compliance requirements set forth by the organization. Enterprises can then ramp services quickly and accelerate time to revenue.

Better Manage Risk

One of the most significant burdens placed on IT professionals is keeping track of new vulnerabilities and understanding how they affect their infrastructure. Given that the average cost of a data breach in 2020 will exceed $150 million, the consequences of letting anything slip through the cracks will be devastating.

Staying on top of patches for storage, servers and virtualization is time-consuming because vulnerabilities that affect the entire stack require individual support tickets and lengthy, disruptive upgrades. Administrators are also forced to make difficult decisions due to compatibility concerns, increasing the risk of leaving systems unpatched or unhardened. This starts a dangerous precedent where admins relax security rules, fall out of compliance and open entry points for attackers.

When evaluating infrastructure for a security-conscious environment, consider how much of the heavy lifting will be placed on IT. Vendors know their products best, so they should continually monitor threats in the wild and iterate on patching new threats. Security automation should be always-on, allowing enterprises to remain in compliance with security baselines and freeing IT resources to drive innovation.

Infrastructure with a security-first approach will incorporate security into the product development lifecycle from the start. Enterprises become the beneficiaries of this approach as they can better manage risk to provide consistently responsive service levels for their end customers and secure their ongoing business.

Avoid Overspending

Gartner estimates IT security spending worldwide will reach $81.6 billion in 2016. Overspending on IT security has been a pervasive problem, however. Due to the need to protect multiple layers and the requirements of working with multiple vendors, enterprises with three-tier infrastructure stacks are particularly susceptible to this trap.

Choose infrastructure that makes security efficient. For example, security hardening and compliance is a laborious process for IT admins that can take several months. A hardened by default platform not only shortens this process to minutes, but also reduces the security expertise required, thereby reducing operating expenses. Infrastructure security should reduce the OPEX costs and total cost of infrastructure, allowing enterprises to improve profitability.

Enterprises must evolve their approach to IT security to secure the modern datacenter. Only a holistic approach to securing infrastructure allows enterprises to embrace hybrid strategies with confidence—and reap the resulting benefits.

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