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Today, the majority of enterprise organizations have at least part of their data in a cloud-based model. This article will help you understand the popular hybrid cloud architectures and what your business needs to know to build and deploy this kind of mixed approach to your IT infrastructure.

The cloud redefined

The cloud is no longer the youthful challenger; nearly 70% of all enterprise organizations in the U.S. now have mission-critical data and workflows there. The benefits of scalability, lower cost, and higher security are still the same, but what has changed is the sheer volume of applications and architectures that can now be handled as on-demand services accessed through the internet. From software as a service (SaaS) to infrastructure as a service (IaaS), private clouds, and hybrid models that make the best of private and public solutions, companies now have a plethora of choices for their IT solutions.

Traditional managed services have also evolved with cloud models. Managed service providers now develop and deploy multi-cloud and hybrid models that help companies improve operations. These technology pros are as flexible as the cloud, offering a selection of outsourcing models that can parallel internal IT teams or provide full service when no internal resources are available.

Today, there are public, private, and hybrid clouds. The hybrid cloud represents the perfect middle ground between shared internet services in the public arena and the higher-cost private cloud services that are still potentially a single point of failure for a large enterprise. Hybrid models bake redundancy directly into the cloud services paradigm, building services on both a private and public cloud. Why is the hybrid cloud growing in popularity, and what do organizations need to know about these models?

Building a better (hybrid) mousetrap

Building the perfect hybrid cloud for your business is all about your current and future business needs. The process must start with an understanding of the applications you have today, the business case use models for the future, and how your applications must evolve to meet the changing needs of the company.

Companies considering hybrid cloud models should consider what is the right mix of on-premises and off-premises computing and storage. They must understand how these resources are managed on a daily basis and what resources (human or technology) are needed to meet those requirements. They must also carefully consider the total cost of supporting the public cloud portion of a hybrid model. Finally, they need to determine what steps will be necessary and what the timeline will be for moving from one on-premises data center to another, either in the cloud or on-site.

Creating a decision framework that maps the right workload to the right platform is important. Your organization should develop technical and financial modeling for each end-user application. You must carefully monitor usage costs and automate to cut labor costs when possible. In addition, you should consider modernizing or upgrading the workloads and applications that will remain on-site so that you can eventually take advantage of the agility and speed of the cloud.

Is the hybrid cloud right for your business?

The biggest benefit of the hybrid cloud lies in its flexibility; you can use multiple cloud providers or the services of a single company. Either way, there is more safety in a mixed model. Compliance rules alone would argue for a private cloud model — but some business applications do not fall under these restrictions and could be placed in a non-private and potentially less expensive service.

The beauty of hybrid models is the flexibility that comes from a non-homogeneous solution. Talk to the Windsor Group about the best solution to solve the challenges of your business problems. Together, we can create a cloud solution that will help you sustain long-term competitive advantage for your enterprise

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Preventable security breaches cost American companies millions annually. Most C-suite execs are well aware of the risks of data insecurity simply because some of the biggest names in commerce are making the news for all the wrong reasons. Big companies with big internal IT teams, from Google to Uber to Marriott, have all had highly publicized data breaches in the past year. If these companies can experience a cyber hack, where does that leave your business?

Increasingly, companies are turning to outsourced security teams to protect their data infrastructures. But what should you look for in a security team, whether outsourced or in-house?

Today’s security imperative

IT leaders now have choices that go beyond the selection of hardware and software to prevent a security breach. But hiring internal security experts has grown increasingly difficult in today’s low unemployment market. That’s why many CIOs are selecting outsourced security teams for the expertise and perspective that come with a 360-degree external view of your business. An outsourced team can supplement existing IT staff, freeing them up to stay focused on growing your business.

Ironically, outsourcing security can actually create security risks. You must therefore ask yourself what an outsourced IT security team would bring to the company that an internal team couldn’t provide.

Can companies improve IT security by outsourcing, or does outsourcing heighten the risk? How can outsourced partnerships support your existing technology teams?

Selecting a managed IT security partner

Enterprise organizations aren’t the only companies concerned with outsourced cybersecurity; small to mid-sized organizations that are less likely to hire a full-time team are also looking at outsourced IT security options. As our networks have grown more complex, so too have the efforts of hackers to infiltrate them. But finding the right security partners can make a big difference.

Here are some crucial considerations when selecting an outsourced security partner:

  • Different businesses have varying security needs, so look for IT security firms that have a proven track record with your business model and the systems you use.
  • Verify that they have a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), and talk to them about their plans for advancing your company's information security initiatives.
  • Look for continuous compliance monitoring and regular audits by regulators, national quality assurance groups, and third-party accounting firms for compliance with NIST, ISO, PCI, FISMA, HIPAA, and more.
  • They should have a 24/7/365 Security Operations Center, providing real-time event analysis and response.

Look for external experts with established teams of Security Operations Center (SOC) analysts, SIEM engineers, incident response, forensics, tools experts, and pen testers, which signals that these firms regularly use state-of-the-art tools, facilities, and processes. The firm should keep up to date with the latest threats and adjust their response accordingly to mitigate the risk, while also being comfortable with your existing tools.

Now that you understand what to look for in technical expertise, let’s discuss the day-to-day stewardship of your IT security and the relationship you should have with an outsourced vendor.

Managing the relationship with your security firm

If your organization seeks the support of a cybersecurity partner, take the time up front to develop a service level agreement (SLA) that defines specific roles and responsibilities between your team and the outsourced expert. Then, work together to mitigate risk by fully integrating the partner into behind-the-scenes strategies and up-front security monitoring.

Make sure you understand who your IT team is and what processes are in place for reaching teams after hours and on holidays. Select an outsource partner that you feel comfortable letting work with other business partners or even customers. Cybersecurity is a partnership between IT and your various business units. Finding the right outsourced partner means that the unique security needs of each of these end users will be supported.

Is IT security outsourcing right for your business? Increasingly, small, mid- and enterprise-level businesses are seeking these partnerships. If your team is worried about the state of your company data, talk to the Windsor Group about taking IT security to a different level.

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