Why preparation is key to securing your cloud migration

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The benefits of big data are real. And with so many businesses looking to migrate their data to the cloud, they want to make sure everything arrives safely and intact. After all, much of this data contains sensitive and proprietary information, and the prospect of moving it from the safety of the corporate firewall to a cloud environment is cause for concern.

Still, as data volumes continue their exponential growth, moving vast sets of structured and unstructured data from the restrictive confines of an on-premise Hadoop deployment to a cloud-based solution will be an inescapable choice for companies looking to stay competitive.

Fortunately, proper preparation is the key to ensuring a smooth and secure transition to the cloud. With that goal in mind, here are some steps your business can take on the preparation side to secure your cloud migration.

Pick your cloud vendor carefully

Data migration to the cloud necessitates a cloud host. And there are a variety of cloud modular solutions to choose from. The key to choosing the right cloud vendor for your organization lies in understanding your big data needs. While price is certainly a consideration, other criteria such as data security and how well the vendor is equipped to carry out the big data storage and analytics tasks that you need are critical.

If data security is your main concern, then vet your vendors accordingly. If you need a vendor that excels at app hosting, make sure that the hosts you are considering excel in that area. If rapid data analytics and reduced time-to-insight are top of mind criteria, then a versatile cloud solution such as Spark as a Service would be worth your consideration. In all cases, make sure that the cloud vendor’s platform conforms to industry and internal compliance standards before entering into a cloud service agreement.

Take baby steps

When it comes to adopting a new and promising technology, the tendency for many companies is to want to jump in with both feet. But adoption typically comes with a learning curve, and cloud adoption is no exception. By nature, data migration to the cloud can often cause some downtime, which could potentially impact the business. The smart approach to mitigate the risk of business disruption is to take small steps, beginning with the migration of apps and data that aren’t classified as sensitive or mission critical. Once the security and reliability of the cloud host have been assessed, the next bigger step of loading more sensitive data into the cloud can be taken.

Get clear on security

When it comes to data security you need to be clear on which security protocols your cloud vendor uses and the degree to which these protocols can ensure that sensitive information remains private. However, if your organization is like most, you won’t be transferring all of your data to the cloud. Some data will remain on your own servers. This means that you now have data in two different environments, not to mention those cloud hosted apps that come with their own security systems.

Multiple data environments can lead to confusion for your IT team---the kind of confusion that wastes valuable time and reduces the productivity of your big data initiative. To solve this data security dilemma you’ll need to get clear on implementing a broad and coordinated security policy with technology and policy management protocols that cover apps in the data center and apps in the cloud.

Be strict with BYOD

Migrating data to the cloud enables employees to collaborate like never before. And with the proliferation of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, more and more businesses are bringing the practice of bring your own device (BYOD) into the workplace to make workforce collaboration even more convenient. 

However, granting employees access to potentially sensitive data and applications in the cloud poses a number of security risks, especially since mobile devices are fast becoming the favoured targets of skilled hackers. Organisations looking to leverage BYOD need to implement and enforce strict protocols for how data may be accessed and used, along with guidelines that clearly spell out which employees have permission to access sensitive data and cloud-based applications on mobile devices, and which employees do not. Like all security technology and protocols, BYOD safeguards should be segregated solely to the IT department to ensure quality security assessment across the organisation.

As technology advances and data volumes grow ever larger, the rush to the cloud by organizations will only intensify. That being said, the migration of data to the cloud cannot be rushed into. By following these and other guidelines, and by exercising careful planning and preparation to ensure a successful and secure data migration to the cloud, organisations stand to reap the many bottom-line benefits that a cloud solution offers.

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Katherine Smith
13 Oct 2016, 10:25 a.m.

Shifting to cloud will enable high level security to an organization, but while moving to cloud we need to focus on some factors that have mentioned above and hence it will enhance businesses to act in a safe mode.

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