The many benefits of multi-cloud show that client adoption of multiple cloud platforms offered by hyperscalers like AWS, Azure and Google Cloud is not merely a trend born of pandemic necessity. Huge enterprises and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) alike have flocked to adopt multiple cloud solutions to safeguard against downtime, shop for more competitive services by partnering with more than one provider and scale solutions based on the individual business unit need. In fact, Channel Futures reports that 73% percent of organizations surveyed currently utilize two or more public cloud providers.
However, like all new trends in innovation, there are risks associated with multi-cloud. Even though Security Magazine notes 96% of IT leaders say their organizations view multi-cloud as a strategic priority, the publication also indicates that only 24% of respondents feel that their organizations are investing enough into shoring up security issues associated with multiple clouds.
With that in mind, here are three security issues MSPs must focus on when managing multi-cloud ecosystems for their clients in order to get the most out of their multi-cloud strategy:
Configuration errors–an often overlooked but serious vulnerability
Bad actors are notoriously lazy when it comes to exploiting security vulnerabilities and will apply what’s been working to any new landscape they can possibly exploit. One common security issue MSPs face in the era of multi-cloud are configuration errors, and hackers are aware that all they need to do is probe preexisting defenses for weaknesses and eventually they will get lucky.
In fact, recent research from Sophos shows 70% of organizations have suffered a cloud security incident in the last 12 months. With that in mind, making sure security and privacy settings are configured across each platform should be top priority, even though doing so manually may lead to human error.
Startling new research indicates four in ten organizations lack configuration standards for public cloud, with two in ten still not using best practice security frameworks. Worse still, a majority of organizations (62%) aren’t applying their security frameworks consistently across their whole cloud environment. And only two in ten organizations claim to have a holistic view of how their organization’s security and compliance measures apply across multiple clouds.
This lack of visibility and coherence can undoubtedly lead to configuration errors, with human error compounding the issue of how SysAdmins can ensure everything is configured correctly. One step MSPs can take is to find an automation platform designed to greatly reduce the risk associated with keeping multiple configurations consistent across multiple cloud platforms and APIs.
The challenge of multi-cloud visibility and data security
Since multi-cloud is relatively new, it’s still not common practice for cloud administrators to have a “30,000 foot view” of their entire cloud ecosystem yet, and that’s creating huge security blind spots. In fact, this lack of administrators’ ability to hold a holistic viewpoint of multiple clouds is one of the biggest challenges in today’s cloud landscape, according to Cloud Security Alliance, whose research indicates that the lack of an overview of multiple clouds makes it extremely challenging to proactively detect misconfigurations and security risks.
Once visibility is achieved, data from disparate systems can then be consolidated into one secure place so that MSP client data can be integrated with a cybersecurity solution that ensures applications and systems are always protected to the maximum extent possible.
Simply put, without multi-cloud visibility, no multi-cloud data security strategy can exist, and achieving visibility through manual processes might not even be possible for large enterprises.
More and more, administrators are seeking out software tools designed to provide an overview of their entire multi-cloud architecture and make their jobs less labor-intensive,opting for centrally managed solutions that “extend to the network level,” according to TechTarget.
One of the most common applications and use cases for this kind of software is in tracking the status of SSL/TLS certificates so they are renewed before their expiration leads to downtime, lost profits and reputational damage, “which has happened in well-publicized incidents at organizations ranging from Adobe to Yahoo,” according to IT Brief.
With a “single pane of glass” overview of their entire cloud architecture, MSPs can run their business more smoothly and prevent outages that can lead to downtime and lost profits.
Today’s staffing challenge offers a heydey for cloud experts
As demand for multi-cloud increases across enterprises, it’s imperative that MSPs make investments in upskilling their current teams and hiring cloud security experts to push their businesses into the future of cloud.
There was a shortage of experienced cloud talent before COVID-19, and the pandemic triggered a new wave of demand, according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal. Citing a report from labor and economics research firm Emsi, the article states that annual postings of cloud jobs grew more than 90% between 2017 and 2020.
Additionally, people with strong cloud skills within organizations are always in danger of being poached and average at least two or three strong offers from competitors or larger enterprises, “often with packages worth hundreds of thousands of dollars as well as stock options,” according to studies conducted by the InfoSec community publication DarkReading.
This skills shortage is, according to a HashiCorp survey, holding back the development of cloud programs in nearly every industry, with more than half (57%) of enterprise respondents citing, “shortage of proper skills” as a hindrance to operationalizing multi-cloud at an organizational level, the survey said.
So where can MSPs step in? One way they can help clients shore up this skills gap is by offering their expertise to clients by having a conversation about the cost of IT labor with key stakeholders at the enterprises they serve. In this way, MSPs can share the cost of acquiring a skill across their entire customer base, while simultaneously expanding their service offering to accommodate new clients, in turn.
Final thought: Establishing data sovereignty
When managing multi-cloud ecosystems, data storage and compliance issues related to how that data is stored varies from country to country, so MSPs should be aware of different regional requirements. For instance, APAC countries are particularly serious about how data is stored, but that might differ from how a client operating under GDPR legislature in the EU or UK, or the Patriot Act in the US might handle the same or similar sets of proprietary information.
Again, this is where automation steps in, and MSPs can find a bevy of tools designed to automate compliance-specific data requirements on a state-by-state basis (if operating, for instance, under the data protection laws now in effect in California, New York, Illinois, etc.) as well as internationally. In doing so, MSPs can add value to their client’s business while ensuring their high-demand talent remains properly utilized.
When assessing what MSPs need to do in order to ensure client data is safe and compliant, all signs now point to automation procedures geared towards eradicating rote manual processes that large enterprises might find entirely impossible to conduct otherwise. Many automation tools and services exist in the new multi-cloud landscape designed to shore up gaps in compliance and security in a way that allows a scarcity of cloud talent to operate at their full potential. MSPs should take advantage of these new resources and embrace them fully, if they want to succeed.
About the Author: CloudBlue PSA is the most complete cloud professional services automation (PSA) software on the market. Purpose-built with functionality to simplify every need of MSPs and Professional Services Organisations, CloudBlue PSA introduces a state-of-the-art PSA system built for today’s modern service provider. The platform empowers services organizations to scale recurring channel revenue and diminish operational complexity via its advanced product suite, which includes automated billing and reconciliation, an industry-leading customer support center and network operations center (NOC), real-time profitability analysis, and much more. CloudBlue PSA is available globally. Follow CloudBlue PSA on Twitter, LinkedIn or Website