hybrid cloud

Should hybrid cloud be included as part of your organisation’s risk management strategies?

The majority of companies now use cloud or hybrid cloud based technologies because of the vast benefits—ease of use and low cost in a relatively safe environment. Business, however, is full of risks, all of which need to be managed carefully. In terms of IT, what should companies include in their risk management strategies to ensure that any potential disaster is minimised?

IT network and architecture design

Creating good IT networks with a solid architecture design, more often that not these days, includes incorporating hybrid cloud solutions. It creates an elastic environment which is relatively straightforward to configure and incorporates the best elements of cloud based and static.

Almost all functions can be met with a hybrid solution, including the user interface, processing, data storage, back up, back end functionality, hosting, development, web content and application functions.

But even the best hybrid networks, with its mixture of cloud based solutions, is not totally without risk.

Business risk

There are several different types of business risk and due to its complexity, IT straddles all of them. This means that paying attention to your organisation’s IT needs in terms of risk is vital to the health and success of the ongoing business.

Financial risk

Financial risk often comes from a sudden expected revenue loss, or high debt levels. Keeping tight control of money flowing in and out of an organisation can mitigate financial risk.

Reputational risk

In the IT sphere, reputational loss can be caused from things such as a data breach not handled correctly or operational issues causing website downtime. Social media needs to be carefully handled also, as reputational damage can occur through negative tweets and reviews.

Strategic risk

Strategic risk incorporates the ability to anticipate change. A thorough business plan may be all very well, but unless an organisation can effectively adapt to change—be that from new technology, new, competitors or shifting customer demand—then the business model is soon outdated and the company will struggle to survive.

In terms of a company’s IT requirements, strategic risk must be assessed from the point of view of emerging technology. While this doesn’t mean jumping on board with every new technological advance, it does mean being aware of digital transformation, building a culture of corporate innovation and within that, the ability to experiment. Much less than this, and new competitors will quickly overtake your organisation’s share of the market.

Compliance risk

Ensuring that your business keeps up with changing laws and new legislature is part of compliance risk. There have been many recent changes on this front in the IT world of late, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU and Notifiable Data Breach Scheme (NDB) Scheme legislation in Australia.

Enacted in 2018, GDPR governs the use and storage of personal data concerning EU citizens. Organisations collecting this data must put in place appropriate technical measures to ensure the highest standards of data protection to ensure compliance to these regulations.

NDB means that organisations are regulated under the Australian Privacy Act 1988 and must notify individuals as well as the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) if a data breach is likely to result in serious harm. Serious harm can be interpreted in different ways such as reputational damage, as well as financial.

Both sets of new legislation can attract some hefty fines if violated, so in managing compliance risk, it’s vital companies stay abreast of recently enacted and upcoming changes to worldwide legislation.

In respect to hybrid cloud solutions, data moves between private and public cloud, making it more difficult to demonstrate and maintain compliance. It’s imperative that both clouds meet the highest of industry standards for data security when handling or storing sensitive  data.

A careful map of what data is stored and where, offering transparency and a detailed overview, aids with risk compliance and cyber security, as well as streamlining processes.

Operational risk

Minimising operational risk means creating strategies to minimise the impact of failed internal systems or processes and impact on an organisation’s day to day operations. This can come from a data breach, hacking, natural disasters or a website host going offline—any event which result in downtime for an organisation, causing revenue loss and reputational damage. Good data management and cyber security are integral to mitigating much operational risk.

Mitigating risk

There are a number of ways to strategically manage risk, particularly those associated with IT and a business’s hybrid cloud environment. It all starts with rigorous risk prevention and assessment which must be ongoing and active at all times.

There are a multitude of other ways to minimise risk, particularly in an operational context. Having adequate network redundancy, as well as redundant copies of data distributed across different hybrid areas, can minimise the damage which occurs when there is an outage in one data centre such as from a DoS (Denial-of-Service) or DDoS (Distributed Denial-of-Service) attack, or general outage.

Diligent and evolving authentication and identity verification are also critical to good security management when integrating public and private cloud environments. A lack of data ownership between clouds can also cause enterprises to lose control over their own data sets, so access control, user management and encryption must be strictly defined for the best security.

However the most important part of strategic risk management and mitigation,is to have a solid, tested disaster recovery plan. This document incorporates a step by step plan to minimise effects of any cyber- or natural disaster, so that the organisation can resume critical operations as soon as possible. It’s the natural next step of any good risk management strategy.

Seamless hybrid cloud management can only be accomplished when everyone knows what is required, with their jobs accompanied by management procedures and policies. Without these guidelines, any network can be compromised, resulting in the risks outlined above.

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