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Three Business Integrity Rules For A Hybrid Multi-Cloud World

General Manager of Metallic. Experienced GM and product leader who loves to create and scale disruptive technology products and companies. 

You don’t need me to tell you that the cloud has become central to most organizations’ digital transformations.

Organizations are using public cloud services, signing up for cloud-based SaaS applications, combining the cloud with on-premises infrastructure in hybrid multi-cloud environments and bringing the public cloud on-premises with distributed and edge cloud offerings. Why? Because hybrid multiple cloud environments are essential to their digital transformation efforts and enable them to reduce costs, increase agility and strengthen their resiliency. Given these benefits, it is no wonder that 92% of enterprises today have a multi-cloud strategy, according to Flexara’s recent 2021 State of the Cloud report (via VentureBeat).

Yet while hybrid multi-cloud environments have enabled organizations to accelerate digital transformation, they have brought new challenges. Data sprawl has increased, with data now located on dozens to hundreds of SaaS applications, public clouds, on-premises data centers and appliances, as well as employee laptops, IoT devices and other edge locations.

At the same time, the importance of this data to the integrity of an organization’s business has increased. If it is corrupted, altered, lost, locked or leaked, not only are an organization’s operations likely to grind to a halt, but the organization might find itself paying millions in ransom to cybercriminals, fined by government regulators and see its hard-earned reputation destroyed.

CEOs, CIOs and other business leaders should not expect that they can stop this data sprawl from occurring — doing so would kneecap their digital transformation initiatives. However, by following three simple rules — know where your data is, take responsibility for your data and account for your data’s gravity — you can prevent this sprawl from threatening the integrity of your business.

Know Where Your Data Is

With employees able to spin up cloud services and SaaS applications with a credit card, knowing where all of your organization’s data is and ensuring that it’s secure, in compliance with government regulations and protected from cyberattacks is a constant challenge.

However, even though business leaders find themselves living in a hybrid multi-cloud world, it does not mean that they can’t have visibility into all their data. They can and should ensure that they know about and can classify and manage the data generated by their employees. Doing so does not have to slow these employees down or make them less agile. With the right intelligent data service technologies and processes they can secure a bird’s-eye view of their entire hybrid multi-cloud environment and manage, migrate, use and optimize data across this environment, whatever type of data it is and wherever it is located, all while making their employees more efficient and agile.

Take Responsibility For Your Data 

One of the biggest misconceptions among business leaders today is that, if their data is in the cloud — stored on a cloud service or a SaaS application — they do not have to take responsibility for securing and protecting it.

It is true that, under the shared responsibility model used by most cloud and SaaS providers, the providers are responsible for maintaining and protecting the application’s infrastructure and the application itself. Most major cloud and SaaS providers also have strong security and data availability technologies and processes in place that help them mitigate human error, switch to using infrastructure in other regions to provide resilience during natural disasters, and use offensive and defensive techniques to prevent cyberattacks from disabling their infrastructure and applications. 

However, this shared responsibility model makes customers responsible for securing and protecting the data stored on this infrastructure and in the SaaS applications themselves. And a ransomware attack, malicious internal hack or accidental file deletion can easily lead to this data being altered, locked or lost.

Given this, business leaders need to make sure they not only know where all their data is but also take responsibility for it, ensuring it is properly secured, governed, compliant, backed-up and otherwise protected, whether it is located on-premises in a data center, off-premises in a public cloud or SaaS application, or at the edge on an endpoint.

Account For Your Data’s Gravity 

All other things being equal, the easiest way for business leaders to ensure the business integrity of their data in a hybrid multi-cloud world might be to move all of their data off-premises to the cloud or SaaS applications.

But all things are not equal. Data gravity — in which data and applications are attracted to each other like physical objects — exists. And if your organization has some data that is being generated on-premises or at the edge, it is going to attract other data and applications to it. For example:

On-premises applications, especially new IoT applications, require low latency or fast processing speeds, and this performance can only be achieved by storing and processing it on-premises.

Existing data center applications are working just fine on-premises, and a significant investment would be needed to move to the cloud, in a move that will yield minimal benefits to the organization, if it is done without extensive cloud optimization and refactoring.

Employees continue to store data on their laptops and other endpoints rather than exclusively on SharePoint or other cloud-based file-sharing services.

Rather than fight against data gravity, business leaders need to account for it. Fortunately, new distributed cloud offerings from cloud service providers, SaaS deployments with edge connectors and similar solutions enable these leaders to extend the benefits of the cloud to on-premises. With these solutions, organizations can be “cloud first” and maintain the integrity of their data without moving all their data to a central cloud location.

Achieving Peace Of Mind In A Hybrid Multi-Cloud World

By knowing their data, taking responsibility for their data and accounting for their data’s gravity, businesses can manage the growing complexity of sprawling hybrid multi-cloud and SaaS environments. In doing so, they can achieve the peace of mind that comes with ensuring the integrity of their business while also liberating themselves to do even more amazing things with their data than they had before.

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