Is Business As Usual Possible in the Cloud?

8.18.2016 | Dushyanth Nataraj


I am privileged to have been part of two massive IT transformations in my career. At VMware, I partnered with enterprises as they embarked upon a once-in-a-generation transformation to virtual machines and then to the private cloud. I was personally involved in launching the VMware vCloud Director private cloud platform and saw some of the largest enterprises in the world experience tremendous gains in agility and economies of scale.

In my most recent role as an enterprise investor at Norwest Venture Partners, I counseled many startups as they evolved into major enterprise players by taking advantage of low cost public cloud computing resources from AWS, Google and Microsoft, all underpinned by virtualization.

As cloud computing gains wide adoption, it’s obvious enterprises are now just a few clicks away from unprecedented gains in agility and scale. Cloud computing is one of today’s most transformational opportunities for enterprise IT: lower operating costs, improved application performance and increased agility promise a nearly unlimited runway for innovation and scale. It comes as no surprise then that 84% of companies report that their use of cloud is increasing.

What’s not so obvious is how enterprises will manage their new environment alongside their existing behind-the-firewall resources without negating the gains in agility and scale that they’ve come to expect. This, I think, presents the next opportunity for a generational shift in IT.

The benefits of the cloud come with a host of potential pitfalls that must be managed carefully. The migration journey is an arduous and expensive process. Once migration is complete, most existing IT management tools will not only fail to keep up with the resulting endpoint growth acceleration but they will quickly become too brittle and expensive to maintain. To ensure operations can continue efficiently and securely, enterprises must consider a new management and security paradigm for their assets before embarking on a cloud migration.

So where do we start? It’s imperative that organizations are strategic about cloud migration of their enterprise IT operations and endpoint management, specifically in three areas:

  • Identifying the right applications to migrate
  • Closing vulnerabilities before moving into the cloud
  • Implementing a strategy that promotes security for ongoing operations across cloud providers

Inventory and consolidate

Enterprise IT should not only inventory existing systems but also look for opportunities to consolidate before migration. To reduce costs and not bring inefficiencies into the cloud, you must identify software usage and eliminate any that are not currently being used.

To make matters worse, legacy application companies have punitive licensing models, with some specialty software requiring additional licensing for cloud. Oracle, for example, has recently gone to customers with nine-figure claims of unpaid licensing fees. Consider simplifying your infrastructure and updating your systems by:

  • Performing an inventory of hardware and software assets and their usage
  • Consolidating servers and ensure full server utilization to gain efficiencies
  • Distributing new software and required applications and patches to all the machines

Get security hygiene right before moving

Cloud migration has a long list of variables. First, migration is not a one-time activity. And in addition to availability zones inside a single cloud provider, more than half of enterprises also move their workloads into multiple cloud providers. Yet, the biggest opportunity for mistakes lies in the fact that most security and management tools pre-date cloud computing, which has implications that reach far beyond the migration alone. Even simple tasks like knowing what (and how many) machines are connected to the network take days, weeks, or months. More advanced tasks like finding advanced threats can become impossible.

Before migrating to the cloud, identify opportunities to secure the infrastructure, and be sure to assess and contain threats by:

  • Using unmanaged asset scans to proactively monitor for rogue assets and actively deploy endpoint management
  • Scanning endpoints to ensure that vulnerabilities don’t already exist on any endpoints, and investigate and remediate exposures
  • Remediating vulnerabilities and configuration compliance issues on all endpoints

Implement a strategy that promotes security for ongoing operations across cloud providers

With the cloud, there’s no perimeter that you control anymore, which forces a re-imaging of the IT security toolset. Those efficiencies are forcing people to break the mold of traditional security approaches, and with good reason: scaling your endpoints with the cloud means you have also scaled the opportunities for intrusion and data loss. Cloud-based IT requires a dynamic platform to scale and manage this type of environment, one that simultaneously secures and manages your infrastructure so that you can conduct business as usual without slowdowns and outages.

A great example of large enterprise managing cloud adoption is Aon. Aon is one of the leading providers of risk management, reinsurance brokerage and outsourcing services in the world, working with 85% of the Fortune 500. For large companies like Aon, it is becoming increasingly beneficial to leverage the cloud, and Tanium has helped homogenize and consolidate tool sets across disparate computing environments. Tanium provides Aon with a single pane of glass for incident management. In the words of Ryan Gardner, Global Security Services for Aon, “Tanium offers a way for us to provide visibility and telemetry to all of Aon’s data hosting environments.”

Though many companies are making grandiose promises, IT teams should look for a single agent that simplifies their management stack and creates real cost savings while increasing security, speed and agility. With Tanium, customers can ask simple or complex questions about the current state of their cloud and on-premises endpoints. With 15-second responses directly from all their endpoints, they can take immediate actions to secure and manage all their assets – on prem and in the cloud. With Tanium Product Modules, customers can extend the value of Tanium platform by replacing siloed point tools that either will not scale in the cloud or will not work in the cloud environment. Customers can also simplify their management stack and realize cost savings while increasing security, speed and agility with a single agent.

Click here for more information about how the Tanium Endpoint Platform’s 15-second visibility and control can help your organization prepare for cloud migration and help manage assets in a cost effective, low risk and efficient way once in the cloud.

About the Author: Dushyanth Nataraj is Director of Partner Marketing at Tanium. He is responsible for bringing new products to market and for many aspects of IT Operations go-to-market strategy and execution. Prior to Tanium, Dushyanth worked on enterprise investments at Norwest Venture Partners. Before that, he held roles in product marketing, technical marketing and engineering at VMware.