Cloud-ward bound: How Australian organisations can soar smartly and safely into the as-a-service sphere

by Budd Ilic, ANZ Country Manager, Zscaler

Credit: ID 115990186 © Mungkorn Lasonthi | Dreamstime.com

It’s arguable that, in 2019, two types of enterprises exist: those that have implemented an enterprise-wide cloud transformation and those that will be implementing one very soon.

The as-a-service revolution continues to gather steam in Australia. Spending on public cloud services was predicted to reach AU$4.6 billion last year, according to Gartner, up a healthy 18.5 percent over the previous year. Globally, cloud spending was forecast to reach US$186.4 billion during the same period.

Software as a service was expected to comprise the lion’s share of this spending in Australia, reaching AU$2.6 billion, with platform, business process, infrastructure and cloud management, and security accounting for the remainder.

For many Australian enterprises, investing in software as a service is no longer a luxury. It has become a business imperative as the pressure to cut capital expenditures, increase productivity and reduce costs to remain competitive in the face of challenging economic conditions continues to increase.

But while migrating applications from the data centre to the cloud can sound routine, it is not always a simple undertaking for those organisations that value the integrity of their systems and the security of the sensitive business and customer information they contain.

And, in 2019, this focus on security should be top of mind for all Australian companies.

Stringent new laws effective since February 2018 allow Australia’s national privacy watchdog, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, to impose stiff penalties on organisations that fail to safeguard customer data in their possession.

With all of this in mind, here are some tips for organisations looking to transition to the cloud smoothly and safely in 2019-20.

Pulling together

Cloud migration should be about more than merely dispensing with the data centre in favour of an offsite infrastructure and applications for hire. A cloud transformation program should represent an opportunity to review business processes and implement collaborative technologies and applications that enable employees to share ideas and information, irrespective of their physical location. CIOs who treat it as such are likely to generate a significant productivity dividend, along with the reduced capital expenditure bill that comes standard with the cloud model.

Managing mobility

The adoption of a cloud infrastructure model often prompts an increase in mobile computing across the enterprise. Ensuring devices are secured is an imperative for Australian organisations that experience this phenomenon. Bring your own device (BYOD), already an accepted practice in many Australia workplaces, can complicate the issue. While enterprises can benefit from reduced hardware costs and the increased productivity of a flexible workforce, it’s incumbent upon them to secure all devices used to access internal and cloud-based applications. Access policies that are applied irrespective of device, location and application should be implemented as part of the migration program.

Securing connections

A company’s cloud computing model is only as good as the connections employees are able to use to access the core systems now being hosted offsite. Software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) technology can be used to create safe, direct-to-internet connections that enable critical applications to be prioritised ahead of more “recreationally focused” ones.

The end goal should be a seamless – and secure – user experience that optimises the multitude of traffic and connection types present in most Australian enterprises today.

Transitioning safely

The case for switching from a data centre-driven model to the public cloud has already been proven, at least for organisations that value accessibility, productivity, flexibility and cost effectiveness. It’s a smart move – provided cybersecurity remains a priority in the new environment. Integral to any cloud migration program should be the implementation of a unified cloud security solution that safeguards internet traffic and remote access points. The object should be to maintain constant visibility of all network traffic so rogue requests can be identified and neutralised in seconds, regardless of the user, location or device.

Time to act

Adopting a cloud-first strategy is no longer a pioneering move for Australian organisations. It’s now par for the course, and 2019 is likely to see the mass migration continue to accelerate. Organisations joining the caravan must make cybersecurity an integral component of their transition, if they are to reap the promised economic benefits without compromising the integrity of their core systems and data. 

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