Chris Hill, Barracuda

By Chris Hill, RVP Public Cloud at Barracuda Networks 

While cloud security has matured hugely in recent years, many companies have not yet taken that final step to a fully integrated, fully secure cloud platform. 

For most organisations, the COVID-19 pandemic and the rush to home working have accelerated rather than changed the direction of IT strategy. 

The vast majority of companies have got to grips with cloud infrastructure and secured it. This is partly because there is a lot of knowledge that can be carried over from securing on-premises infrastructure. With cloud, you need a firewall – just as you do for the office network. You’ve got the right protections in place, you’re running regular checks on your applications and their various APIs. You also understand the shared responsibility model: the major vendors ensure the infrastructure is secure, while you make sure the applications you’re putting there are secure. 

Many organisations are now rushing to secure their endpoints too – your homeworkers’ PCs and laptops must be locked down and fully protected. And staff need to be trained, with regular refreshers, on the latest spear-phishing and other threats that have all increased during the pandemic and the subsequent shift to home working. 

Building secure, fast links 

But what about the bit in the middle? How do you get data, user requests and everything else from one part of your estate to the other? The missing middle is increasingly coming into focus as organisations recognise it as a potential weak spot – just as the bad guys do. 

Old technologies that pre-date the internet, such as leased lines, are not up to the job. Issues of security and latency can undermine and weaken your whole cloud strategy. 

Solving the conundrum is tricky but various new technologies can help. The difficulty for organisations is that these don’t map onto their existing understanding or skill sets of traditional networks. 

But it’s not just a technology issue: connectivity offerings today don’t just come from the usual network providers such as telcos. A recent study shows that 50% of customers are sourcing their connectivity needs directly from their cloud provider, adding to the complexity of the subject. 

Secure Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (Secure SD WAN) solutions can fix the networking challenge and the security challenge. They also ease the management challenge with functionality that allows you to set bandwidth and security controls, traffic optimisation and prioritising, and network monitoring all from a simple, central interface. All of which provides an extra layer of security with cost savings. 

Integrating SD-WAN into the cloud 

Recent innovations in this area include third-party SD-WAN solutions (such as Barracuda’s CloudGen WAN) being natively built on Microsoft Azure, allowing customers to easily connect from any location to the Microsoft Global Network via Azure Virtual WAN. This will allow any organisation to get the most out of its cloud investment without adding latency or opening the door to security threats. 

Security is always at the forefront of every project, and is no different, if the desired goal is to build a secure automated Cloud-based network. By using zero-touch deployment, Microsoft vWAN and Secure SD-WAN services deployed directly from the cloud will enable organisations to deploy SASE solutions on their own terms 

Chris Hill is RVP Public Cloud at Barracuda Networks