Hybrid Cloud Adoption Demands a Holistic Cybersecurity Posture

This is the second article in a series of three. The first focused on the importance of making companies more future-proof and how to overcome common obstacles on the road to digitization. We also discuss how modernizing on-premises infrastructure as part of a hybrid cloud approach can be better managed through hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI), enabling modernization that combines the best of old and new.

In this article, we will examine the challenges companies must consider in developing and maintaining a comprehensive security strategy in a hybrid environment.

Talal Alquinawi is Senior Director of Product Marketing at Azure.

Security starts before an attack

Without exception, cybersecurity issues remain a high priority and pose a real threat to organizations. Recent mega-leaks of customer data from well-known companies only serve to underscore the importance of security. Hacked and breached data from workplace sources such as mobile devices and the Internet of Things (IoT), along with a remote and recently disaggregated workforce as a result of COVID-19, have changed the threat landscape. In fact, new demands for security, specifically identity and access management to protect remote workers and critical corporate data, drove significant growth in HCI in the past year.

The vast majority of companies maintain too much data unprotected. Security breaches have the power to disrupt all business, crippling even the most robust organizations. The increasing adoption of cloud-based models brings a new level of concern for many organizations, particularly those just beginning their migration to the cloud.

All of this leads to one conclusion: the need for a comprehensive security strategy for any business considering hybrid cloud adoption.

A multi-layered security strategy

Changing business environments, the use of additional data, and evolving threat scenarios require businesses to embrace a new way of looking at security to support stability, innovation, and growth. Businesses need an integrated and unified approach, along with intelligent threat protection for workloads running in cloud-to-edge environments. Intel and Microsoft are working together to create a chain of trust in hardware and software technology to help protect an organization’s data and applications, no matter where they reside within the hybrid environment.

This multi-layered security strategy integrates Azure Stack HCI software with Intel hardware, where secure core servers provide modern security by relying on the hardware root of trust as a critical component. A secure kernel program provides additional capabilities that represent the device standard to look for when choosing HCI hardware, including firmware sandbox and virtualization-based security (VBS).

Comprehensive security requires multiple angles, including process simplification, advanced protection capabilities, and a proactive defense posture. VBS allows you to isolate critical parts of your system, even protecting it from privileged malware. With Microsoft’s secure core servers, all of these capabilities are enabled, allowing IT and security operations teams to focus where they are needed most.

As layers of security software improve, attackers and those with malicious intent are moving ever lower in search of new vulnerabilities to exploit. Microsoft continues to invest in exploit mitigation technologies that can better take advantage of the available security benefits of advanced hardware. With this in mind, Intel believes that security should start at the lowest possible layer: inside silicon. Intel is helping to establish a chain of trust to protect data in all phases of its life cycle, whether the data is at rest, in flight or in use. This builds on technological innovation in 3rd generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors with a wide range of capabilities, from creating a reliable hardware-based execution environment to memory encryption and separate protection of virtual machines. and data in use, up to crypto acceleration that delivers breakthrough performance. enabling pervasive encryption in the cloud or at the edge.

Security professionals need the ability to directly identify and address threats as they arise in day-to-day operations throughout the organization. Here, Azure Defender offers the broadest resource coverage of any extended detection and response (XDR) technology on the market today, spanning users, devices, applications, virtual machines, SQL databases, IoT and more, all from a single supplier.

Azure Defender protects Azure and hybrid environments and ensures that your cloud infrastructure resources are protected against common threats, such as brute force virtual machines, or attacking storage or SQL injection, or even mitigating threats against containers, the key management service for IoT devices. Azure Defender offers protection for all these resources directly from the Azure experience and extends protection to on-premises and multi-cloud virtual machines and SQL databases using Azure Arc.

Tools to support your mission

Forward-thinking leaders agree that implementing a unified infrastructure across all software and hardware can quickly strengthen an organization’s security posture. However, to reap the full benefit of a secure hybrid cloud approach, companies will need tools to assess the security status of networks, protect workloads, generate security alerts, and make recommendations to remediate attacks and address future ones. Threats, at high speed, in the cloud, with no deployment overhead.

Azure Security Center offers a unified infrastructure security management system that strengthens the security posture of your data centers and provides advanced threat protection in your environments. Organizations can also make use of Azure cloud services for backup and security, without having to implement additional on-premises infrastructure.

Provide companies with a foundation for the future

Consolidation of infrastructure managed in the cloud and delivered in the cloud enables organizations to modernize and prepare investments for the future by adopting a true hybrid cloud infrastructure with total security in mind. If your organization is ready to adopt a comprehensive security strategy for a hybrid environment, learn more about Azure Stack HCI today.

Check out the latest Intel-based HCI Azure Stack systems and new features at Azure.com/HCI. While you’re there, download the software, which Microsoft has made available for a 60-day free trial.

Bio: Talal Alqinawi is Senior Director of Product Marketing for Azure Marketing at Microsoft, where his passion for how cloud and artificial intelligence drive digital transformation influences the company’s cloud marketing and product strategy.


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