Eliminating Blind Spots – Why Visibility is Key

Holistic management tools and new shared responsibility models can help organizations gain transparency in a multi-cloud environment.

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IBM and IDG Content

As organizations head down the inevitable path to a multi-cloud world, they increase the chances for visibility gaps, subjecting the enterprise to undue risk and undermining the potential benefits of increased agility and optimization.

According to an exclusive IDG Research survey, managing complexity is the most difficult challenge of a multi-cloud environment. While the majority of organizations surveyed were positive, if not practical, about the growing trend of shadow IT groups engaging cloud providers on their own, many acknowledged that a multi-cloud architecture makes it more difficult to manage risk.

In addition, some respondents are grappling with the complexity of governance, while others were unsure how to effectively initiate a unified management strategy in an increasingly varied, multi-cloud landscape.

“The primary concerns have to do with security risks and how to provide governance,” explains René Bostic, technical vice president, IBM Cloud, North America. “Every IT department makes decisions on how things are going to be configured and rolled out, thus they might be looking at blind spots because they’re not involved in some decisions.”

One of the more common gaps rests with the assumption that every cloud provider operates under the same set of service level agreements (SLAs) or adheres to a consistent set of security standards and support policies. For example, an IT organization might expect a certain protocol in the event of a data breach or cyber incident (like being notified of the problem) or a particular response time when a system goes down, regardless of where a workflow or application resides. If the policies and practices of every cloud provider in the multi-cloud mix aren’t consistent and codified, IT organizations can be left unprepared or unaware, which increases exposure to dangerous security threats or results in inadequate performance.

Solving the Visibility Issue

To avoid those gaps, IT organizations need to work with partners to define clear benchmarks for response time and performance and agree to standard processes for problem mitigation. In fact, 14% of respondents to the IDG survey said that partnerships are critical to addressing the complexities of multi-cloud environments. Another 10% said a third-party could help automate workloads and policies across multiple clouds, which in turn could close many of the visibility gaps.

“It needs to be part of a shared responsibility model,” says Nataraj Nagaratnam, distinguished engineer, IBM’s CTO cloud security & director, cloud security services. Nagaratnam acknowledges, however, that companies are still relatively immature in defining and facilitating these types of partnerships.

Beyond rewriting the rules with providers, IT organizations also need to invest in management tools that are specifically architected to provide visibility across multiple cloud platforms. In that way, they can benefit from a single pane of glass that provides transparency and controls across multiple clouds along with a management layer for optimizing services, identifying security threats, and understanding how services are being used.

With that level of intelligence and cross-platform controls, organizations not only zero in on transparency, but can leverage multi-cloud management to optimize their IT spend.” Says Bostic: “It enables organizations to take the cost overruns resulting from shadow IT and redirect them to initiatives where they matter.”

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