Hybrid cloud computing security: Real life tales

Mixed IT infrastructures, including cloud and non-cloud systems, will be the norm at many companies for many years. Learn about key cloud security concerns and solutions from three early cloud users.

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"The data we have in-house has a very high privacy requirement, so we would have to be absolutely sure that the websites themselves and the pipe between us and the sites is secure" before being able to seriously consider using the cloud for healthcare data, Landgrave says.

Some organizations adopting cloud computing need to figure out how to knit together cloud and non-cloud environments seamlessly so that there's no negative impact on IT services to employees and customers.

Schumacher uses integration tools from several vendors to help meld cloud and non-cloud processes, Menefee says. "The key is to be able to have a couple of options to choose from and to ensure that the cloud providers as well as on-premise solutions have strong APIs and Web services available," he says. (Read more about securing APIs in SaaS, PaaS and IaaS: A security checklist for cloud models.)

The company uses integration products from Cast Iron and Boomi for workflow integrations between hosted and SaaS services. "The integration tools allow us to manage data at the field level with active directory security controls," Menefee says. Single sign-on enables the company to leverage two environments with different sets of users to ensure they're active. "SSO also brings value because users have a single user name [and] password," he says. "This prevents users from writing their authentication information on sticky notes and leaving them in desk drawers. We work closely with our end users on identity- and password-management best practices."

Rawlings has no need to integrate its cloud and non-cloud environments. "The processes are totally different, they have no need to interact," Landgrave says. "In the future, given the way we partition work, the way we would use the cloud is to expand processing," so data integration would still not be a concern.

The only major integration issue Morris School District has had to deal with is transitioning from its current student-management system to the new cloud-based application. So far the move has gone smoothly, McDade says, thanks to working closely with the cloud provider.

"If [integration] is done efficiently and effectively with a strong partner with a solid track record, it can be accomplished without too much stress," he says.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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