AJ Thompson, CCO at Northdoor plc
30 September 2020
The pandemic has changed the way most companies operate on a day-to-day basis. Cloud adoption has allowed many companies to continue to operate during this period. Indeed, IDC reported in June that spending on cloud infrastructure increased during the first quarter of 2020 by 2.2% as the pandemic began to take hold around the globe. On the face of it not a huge increase, however, in the same report IDC shows that there had been a 16.3% decline in spending on non-cloud related IT investments. As IT budgets shrunk in the face of a global pandemic, investment in cloud continued to rise highlighting its importance and increased visibility amongst key decision makers.
With many workforces now working remotely or at least undertaking a hybrid model, cloud-based solutions have played a huge role in helping organisations continue to work effectively. The acceleration of cloud trends have meant that many companies are adopting technology that might have been proposed for five years, if considered at all. Much of this technology has had to be implemented in a very short amount of time to ensure that there was no gap in service and that companies could continue operating.
The speed of adoption has however, also brought about some challenges, and in amongst the positivity of quick adoption and the abandonment of convoluted procurement processes, companies need to ensure that they are aware of and dealing with such issues.
One of the main issues is compliance. With so many companies moving much of their infrastructure to the cloud quickly, there has been in many cases little consideration to the impact that has on the company’s ability to adhere to various regulations. For example, Deloitte believe that many companies that have ‘rushed’ to the cloud have failed to adjust their accounting practises to remain in-line with regulations. This stands to reason, when tech suddenly accelerates all too often compliance and regulation is left behind, especially at a time when a company’s major priority is to ensure business continuity.
How quickly companies will catch up with their adherence issues remains to be seen, and to an extent that is going to be driven by how effective those organisations managing compliance chase and prosecute non-adherence.
Any sudden mass increase in the use of technology coupled with a global pandemic was always going to increase the security risk. The nature of the pandemic and how it has forced workforces to work outside of the corporate environment, and all of the security that accompanies that (corporate firewalls, email scanners etc), has meant that cybercriminals have upped the ante in terms of targeting vulnerable sectors (including universities and healthcare).
Giving home networks and personal laptops access to corporate networks through the cloud has allowed business continuity, but it has also opened the door for cybercriminals to gain access to sensitive data. However, homeworking and cloud access has not been the only cause of an increase in security risks.
As companies take on more cloud based solutions inevitably the levels of complexity of IT environments also increase. In turn visibility becomes more challenging. Of course, for any company migrating to the cloud the issues around visibility and security are always key consideration. However, in the ‘rush’ to implement new cloud solutions during the pandemic there has been little focus on security, with the need to ensure business continuity the main priority. As the threat from cybercriminals increases in numbers and sophistication, all companies that had urgently implemented cloud based solutions need to go back and check for vulnerabilities and security risks.
So, whilst the huge acceleration in cloud adoption is undoubtedly a positive for companies, the need now to take time to consider the ramifications of such quick implementation is crucial. Getting a hold on where data lies, how secure it is and whether it adheres to regulations will allow companies to ensure that their use of the cloud is a positive one.
Working with trusted partners to deliver cloud solutions in a secure, effective and compliant manner is how many companies are overcoming these challenges. With IT departments under real pressure to deliver quickly, bringing in experts that can provide the services needed, whilst ensuring the security and compliance issues are dealt with at the time helps ease of mind for an already overworked IT team.