Why Large Enterprises (Should) Migrate to the Cloud
Why the cloud?
Cloud-based encryption solutions are popular among small enterprises. Rather than purchasing and installing on-premises hardware, cloud solutions only require a license to get started. Sign up for the service, spin up encryption functions. This makes the cloud ideal for organizations that want to get their products to market fast with minimal downtime. But small enterprises aren’t the only ones who need to move fast to stay ahead of competition. Larger enterprises have the same need. Why isn’t cloud migration more common among them?
What’s the holdup?
It all comes down to one thing: inertia. As any IT administrator or system architect knows, the bigger and more complex a system is, the harder it is to change. Large enterprises like retailers, banks, and airlines have by necessity built up cryptographic infrastructures that are both big and complex. They represent a massive investment of time, money, and resources. To make changes to even perfectly managed infrastructures can seem like an enterprise-level challenge.
Related challenges might compound the problem. Multi-vendor setups can make it difficult to integrate new solutions. Distributing infrastructure between different locations and among different business units can strain an organization’s ability to manage and share cryptographic resources.
How to start migrating
Enterprises that migrate to the cloud must consider several different angles.
One of the most important considerations is integration. Where are your business applications running? If your organization runs applications in public cloud providers like AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud Platform (GCP), you’ll need to make sure that your cryptography provider has APIs that make integration quick and simple. If you have applications coded to libraries like Microsoft CNG, KMIP, or PKCS #11, then ideally so will your cryptography provider.
Consolidation is another important consideration. Multi-vendor setups not only require extra integration, they can make managing infrastructure more burdensome. As such, many enterprises tend to prefer single-vendor solutions. An ideal single-vendor solution may provide one platform from which the enterprise can deploy numerous cryptographic use cases.
Cryptographic management is equally important. It can be time consuming to make in-person visits to different server rooms and data centers. In addition to being centralized, the cloud cryptography platform should comprise a range of management functions. These may include monitoring and alerting, automated failover, redundancy, HSM clustering, and more.
On a final note, enterprises who operate globally can’t afford to worry about processing speeds, international compliance regulations, or data residency requirements. Their cloud solution provider needs to have all of that covered already. As such, it’s important to question cloud cryptography vendors about their high-availability offerings, as well as their global data center presence.
Making a decision
No matter the size of an enterprise, their migration process should be as painless as possible. Cloud cryptography providers can make the process much easier with hands-on collaboration. That means extensive support, willingness to provide custom solutions, and in-person assistance if needed. It also means the provider’s platform needs to support all common APIs and cryptographic libraries. Otherwise your organization might be stuck with more back-end work getting your applications and solutions to talk to your cryptographic platform.
Compliance is another thing that cloud cryptography providers should prioritize. Compliance isn’t just about avoiding penalties (although that is often incentive enough). Robust compliance with major standards (such as PCI DSS and FIPS 140-2 Level 3) is necessary to maintain trust among customers and partners. A cloud provider who “gets” compliance will save organizations time and revenue in that regard.
You can also identify a reliable cloud cryptography platform by its uptime and availability. A platform that runs out of multiple data centers in every geographic region worldwide is key. Using a cloud with a global reach delivers high availability, low latency, and effortless compliance with data localization requirements. In short, your cryptographic operations run smoothly 24/7 no matter where you’re doing business.
Turning a big ship
Big organizations are like big ships: they carry a lot of people, a lot of goods, and a lot of technology. Despite their size, they still have to respond to dynamic changes in their environment.
Like a top-of-the-line engine, cloud cryptography helps large enterprises stay agile to swiftly correct their course and arrive at their destination ahead of schedule.