The Unified Cloud

Throughout the history of cloud computing, 2006 was a momentous year.

In 2006 Amazon Web Services released S3, the first pay per GB storage service. By August, they released  EC2, allowing you to spin up a server and pay by the hour in the cloud.

In the decade that has followed, AWS has emerged as the 800-pound gorilla of cloud computing with a run rate of over 14 billion.

However, platforms like Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and others are gaining ground.

When talking to our Trend Micro clients, we have seen how a multi-cloud approach is now being adopted. This new way of thinking continues to defy the practices cloud brokers once considered to be the only route for optimal performance in cloud services.

At one point, multi-cloud was seen as the lowest-common-denominator. That was true if you were looking for feature parity and portability between the platforms… you simply couldn’t leverage the advanced service innovations if you took a cloud neutral stance.

But the current multi-cloud strategy we are seeing, is around best-fit per application. 

For instance, I may select AWS for advanced services like Lex (Conversational interface for your applications), or Google for a unique data services like Big Query or Cloud Spanner, a globally consistent relational database. However, I may also be drawn to Azure for Power BI or HockeyApp, a novel way to develop, distribute and beta-test mobile apps.

One thing the cloud computing industry no longer lacks for is choice and diversity. Customers I have talked to have taken advantage and embraced this diversity, as an alternative to the former one cloud approach. This trend is not only limited to Trend Micro customers either. According to a recent SecureWorld poll, 68% of respondents use more than one cloud platform.

I’m calling this approach to cloud computing the Unified Cloud. With a multitude of services spanning cloud platforms, an organization can leverage specializations and still form an overall cloud.

You can also look at this as a “cloud of clouds”, as our friends at BT have coined. Your environment becomes a collection of services on the best-fit platforms, synergistically working together to create a whole environment greater than the sum of its individual parts.

Of course, this is Simply Security, so how does this impact information security?

As you adopt more services and platforms into your company’s unified cloud, you need a consistent way of managing policy and monitoring the status. This includes both the tool chain and unified security processes, so your already overworked security teams are not doing 2-5x the work.

We believe security needs to embrace platform diversity and support flexibility within the cloud. Unified security is the future. You and your team should be able to form a single and secure entity by placing security within every point of your range of service usage with consistent processes and policies to back it up.

In the decade since the cloud came into being, multi-cloud has evolved to become the leading approach to computing. Treating it as a unified cloud is the most effective path to success.

If you have questions or comments, please post them below or follow me on Twitter: @justin_foster.

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