Why You Should Invest in Managed Cloud Security Services

Cloud adoption throughout all industries has become incredibly pervasive in recent years. With cloud management as a relatively newer concept, business organizations may struggle to understand each aspect that is required to effectively run a cloud environment. One aspect that should be involved at every layer of the cloud is security, yet many organizations fail to implement a strong security system in their cloud until an attack happens and it is too late.

Managed Cloud Security Services

A cloud environment and the controls necessary to orchestrate a robust security and governance platform is not the same as your traditional on-premises environment.

The State of Cloud Security Today

As beneficial as the public cloud is for companies globally today, lack of security in the cloud can be a major issue. A report from Sophos indicated that iMost of these attacks are simply from misconfigurations of these organizations’ cloud security. Thus, the attacks can be prevented if configured and managed properly. Orca Security’s 2020 State of Public Cloud Security Report revealed that 80.7% of organizations have at least one neglected, internet-facing workload – meaning the OS is unsupported or unpatched. Attackers can use one small vulnerability as leverage to move across an organization, which is how most data breaches occur.

Managed cloud security services help lay a strong foundation for security in the cloud that is automated and continuous with 24/7 management. With constant management, threats and attacks are detected before they occur, and your business avoids the repercussions that come with security misconfigurations.

What are managed cloud security services?

Managed cloud security services provide security configurations, automation, 24/7 management, and reporting from an external cloud security provider. If an attack should occur, the result is downtime and the loss of money and data. Additionally, the lack of a well-rounded security system can lead to regulatory compliance challenges.

Monitoring and maintaining strong security requires continuous attention to be effective. Employing a managed security service gives businesses the protection they need while simultaneously providing IT departments with additional time to focus on other business concerns. Redirecting cybersecurity efforts to an external provider not only provides IT departments with flexibility, but also reduces costs compared to handling cybersecurity in house. Managing cybersecurity independently creates costs such as staffing, software licensing, hardware, implementation costs, and management costs. All the costs and management required for effective security can be overwhelming and managed security services takes the weight of maintaining the security of your data off your shoulders.

What are the benefits of using cloud security services?

Implementing strong cloud security may seem like an obvious choice for a business to make, but many businesses may not want to devote the time, resources, or money to building and maintaining a strong cybersecurity system. Investing your resources into cloud security is imperative for your business and pays off in the long run.

Five different benefits resulting from a strong cloud security system include:

  • Automation: Once your configurations have been set up, there is reduced reliance on human intervention. This minimizes time spent managing security while also reducing the risk for error.
  • Efficiency: Cloud services improve the security of your data and maintain regulatory compliance through timely patching and automated updates with less downtime.
  • Safety: Data is well-protected with cloud security due to 24/7 monitoring and real-time threat detection.
  • Proactive Defense: Threats are identified quickly and treated proactively in the cloud should an incident occur.
  • Cost-effective: The cloud requires a unique approach to security. While managed cloud security services can seem costly upfront, they prove to be worthwhile in the long run by utilizing expertise that may not be available in-house. Additionally, cloud security services will ensure the safety of your workloads and data, and prevent the costs associated with a data breach.

2nd Watch Managed Cloud Security

At 2nd Watch, we understand cloud security is important at every step of your cloud journey. 2nd Watch has a dedicated Managed Security Team that monitors your cloud environments 24/7/365, remediating vulnerabilities quickly. Rather than putting security on the backburner, we believe security is a pillar of business, and building it into the foundation of a company is important to meet evolving compliance needs in a cost-effective manner.

Companies just getting started in the cloud can rely on 2nd Watch to get security right for them the first time. Even for companies already established in the cloud, we can take an in-depth look at security and compliance maturity, existing capabilities, and growth trajectory to provide a prescriptive security roadmap. No matter where you are in your cloud journey, we ensure your security is well-integrated into your cloud environments.

At 2nd Watch we are with you from beginning to end, monitoring your security even after implementation. At a glance, our end-to-end services include:

  • Security Review: Ensures the proper safeguards are utilized for your multi-cloud environments with a single point of contact for your security needs. Our security assessment and remediation offering can reveal how your cloud security posture stacks up to industry standards such as CIS, GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA, NIST, PCI DSS, and SOC 2.
  • Environment Monitoring: 24/7/365 multi-cloud monitoring protects against the most recent vulnerabilities.
  • Threat Analysis: Managed Reliability Operations Center (ROC) proactively analyzes and remediates potential threats.
  • Issue Resolution: Identified issues are quickly resolved providing enterprise class and proactive defense.

Other solutions we provide include:

Security should be integrated into every layer of your public cloud infrastructure. We can help you achieve that through our comprehensive suite of security services and a team of experts that cares about your success in the cloud. To learn more about our managed cloud security services, visit our Cloud, Compliance, Security, & Business Continuity page or talk to someone directly through our Contact Us page.

-Tessa Foley, Marketing

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Managed Cloud Service: Optimize, Reduce Costs, and Efficiently Achieve your Business Goals

Cloud adoption is becoming more popular across all industries, as it has proven to be reliable, efficient, and more secure as a software service. As cloud adoption increases, companies are faced with the issue of managing these new environments and their operations, ultimately impacting day-to-day business operations. Not only are IT professionals faced with the challenge of juggling their everyday work activities with managing their company’s cloud platforms but must do so in an timely, cost-efficient manner. Often, this requires hiring and training additional IT people—resources that are getting more and more difficult to find.

This is where a managed cloud service provider, like 2nd Watch, comes in.

Managed Cloud Service Provider

What is a Managed Cloud Service Provider?

Managing your cloud operations on your own can seem like a daunting, tedious task that distracts from strategic business goals. A cloud managed service provider (MSP) monitors and maintains your cloud environments relieving IT from the day-to-day cloud operations, ensuring your business operates efficiently. This is not to say IT professionals are incapable of performing these responsibilities, but rather, outsourcing allows the IT professionals within your company to concentrate on the strategic operations of the business. In other words, you do what you do best, and the service provider takes care of the rest.

The alternative to an MSP is hiring and developing within your company the expertise necessary to keep up with the rapidly evolving cloud environment and cloud native technologies. Doing it yourself factors in a hiring process, training, and payroll costs. While possible, maintaining your cloud environments internally might not be the most feasible option in the long run. Additionally, a private cloud environment can be costly and requires your applications are handled internally. Migrating to the public cloud or adopting hybrid cloud model allows companies flexibility, as they allow a service provider either partial or full control of their network infrastructure.

What are Managed Cloud Services?

Managed cloud services are the IT functions you give your service provider to handle, while still allowing you to handle the functions you want. Some examples of the management that service providers offer include:

  • Managed cloud database: A managed database puts some of your company’s most valuable assets and information into the hands of a complete team of experienced Database Administrators (DBAs). DBAs are available 24/7/365 to perform tasks such as database health monitoring, database user management, capacity planning and management, etc.
  • Managed cloud security services: The public cloud has many benefits, but with it also comes security risks. Security management is another important MSP service to consider for your business. A cloud managed service provider can prevent and detect security threats before they occur, while fully optimizing the benefits provided by a cloud environment.
  • Managed cloud optimization: The cloud can be costly, but only as costly as you allow it to be. An MSP can optimize cloud spend through consulting, implementation, tools, reporting services, and remediation.
  • Managed governance & compliance: Without proper governance, your organization can be exposed to security vulnerabilities. Should a disaster occur within your business, such as a cyberattack on a data center, MSPs offer disaster recovery services to minimize recovery downtime and data loss. A managed governance and compliance service with 2nd Watch helps your Chief Security and Compliance Officers maintain visibility and control over your public cloud environment to help achieve on-going, continuous compliance.

At 2nd Watch, our foundational services include a fully managed cloud environment with 24/7/365 support and industry leading SLAs. Our foundational services address the key needs to better manage spend, utilization, and operations.

What are the Benefits of a Cloud Managed Service Provider?

Using a Cloud Managed Service Provider comes with many benefits if you choose the right one.

Some of these benefits include, but are not limited to: 

  • Cost savings: MSPs have experts that know how to efficiently utilize the cloud, so you get the most out of your resources while reducing cloud computing costs.
  • Increased data security: MSPs ensure proper safeguards are utilized while proactively monitoring and preventing potential threats to your security.
  • Increased employee production: With less time spent managing the cloud, your IT managers can focus on the strategic business operations.
  • 24/7/365 management: Not only do MSPs take care of cloud management for you but do so 100% of the time.
  • Overall business improvement: When your cloud infrastructure is managed by a trusted cloud advisor, they can optimize your environments while simultaneously allowing time for you to focus on core business operations. They can also recommend cloud native solutions to further support the business agility required to compete.

Why Our Cloud Management Platform?

With cloud adoption increasing in popularity, choosing a managed cloud service provider to help with this process can be overwhelming. While there are many options, choosing one you can trust is important to the success of your business. 2nd Watch provides multi-cloud management across AWS, Azure, and GCP, and has a special emphasis of putting our customers before the cloud. Additionally, we use industry standard, cloud native tooling to prevent platform lock in.

The solutions we create at 2nd Watch are tailored to your business needs, creating a large and lasting impact on our clients. For example:

  • On average, 2nd Watch saves customers 41% more than if they managed the cloud themselves (based on customer data)
  • Customers experience increased efficiency in launching applications, adding an average 240 hours of productivity per year for your business
  • On average, we save customers 21% more than our competitors

Next Steps

2nd Watch helps customers at every step in their cloud journey, whether that’s cloud adoption or optimizing your current cloud environment to reduce costs. We can effectively manage your cloud, so you don’t have to. Contact us to get the most out of your cloud environment with a managed cloud service provider you can trust.

-Tessa Foley, Marketing

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Cloud Center of Excellence: 3 Foundational Areas with 4 Phases of Maturity

A cloud center of excellence (CCoE) is essential for successful, efficient, and effective cloud implementation across your organization. Although the strategies look different for each business, there are three areas of focus, and four phases of maturity within those areas, that are important markers for any CCoE.

1. Financial Management

As you move to the public cloud and begin accessing the innovation and agility offered, it comes with the potential for budget overruns. Without proper planning and inclusion of financial leaders, you may find you’re not only paying for datacenters, but you’re also racking up large, and growing, public cloud bills. Financial management needs to be centrally governed, but extremely deliberate because it touches hundreds of thousands of places across your organization.

You may think involving finance will be painful but brining all stakeholders to the table equally has proven highly effective. Over the last five years, there’s been a revolution in how finance can effectively engage in cloud and infrastructure management. This emerging model, guided by the CCoE, enables organizations to justify leveraging the cloud, not only based on agility and innovation, but also cost. Increasingly, organizations are achieving both better economics and gaining the ability to do things in the cloud that cannot be done inside datacenters.

2. Operations

To harness the power and scale possible in the cloud, you need to put standards and best practices in place. These often start around configuration – tagging policies, reference architectures, workloads, virtual machines, storage, and performance characteristics. Standardization is a prerequisite to repeatability and is the driving force behind gaining the best ROI from the cloud.

Today, we’re actually seeing that traditional application of the cloud does not yield the best economic benefits available. For decades, we accepted an architectural model where the operating system was central to the way we built, deployed, and managed applications. However, when you look beyond the operating system, whether it’s containers or the rich array of platform services available, you start to see new opportunities that aren’t available inside datacenters.

When you’re not consuming the capital expenditure for the infrastructure you have available to you, and you’re only consuming it when you need it, you can really start to unlock the power of the cloud. There are many more workloads available to take advantage of as well. The more you start to build cloud native, or cloud centric architecture, the more potential you have to maximize financial benefits.

3. Security and Compliance

Cloud speed is fast. Much faster than what’s possible in datacenters. Avoid a potentially fatal breach,  data disruption, or noncompliance penalty with strict security and compliance practices. You should be confident in the tools you implement throughout your organization, especially where the cloud is being managed day to day and changes are being driven. With each change and new instance, make sure you’re following the CCoE recommendations with respect to industry, state, and federal compliance regulations.

4-Phase Cloud Maturity Model

CloudHealth put forward a cloud maturity model based on patterns observed in over 10,000 customer interactions in the cloud. Like a traditional maturity model, the bottom left represents immaturity in the cloud, and the upper right signifies high maturity. Within each of the three foundational areas – financial management, operations, and security and compliance – an organization needs to scale and mature through the following four phases.

Phase 1: Visibility

Maturity starts at the most basic level by gaining visibility into your current architecture. Visibility gives you the connective tissue necessary to make smart decisions – although it doesn’t actually make those decisions obvious to you. First, know what you’re running, why you’re running it, and the cost. Then, analyze how it aligns with your organization from a business perspective.

Phase 2: Optimization

The goal here is all around optimization within each of the three areas. In regards to financial management and operations, you need to size a workload appropriately to support demand, but without going over capacity. In the case of security, optimization is proactively monitoring all of the hundreds of thousands of changes that occur across the organization each day. The strategy and tools you use to optimize must be in accordance with the best practices in your standards and policies.

Phase 3: Governance and Automation

In this phase you’re moving away from just pushing out dashboards, notification alerts, or reports to stakeholders. Now, it’s about strategically monitoring for the ideal state of workloads and applications in your business services. How do you automate the outcomes you want? The goal is to keep it in the optimum state all the time, or nearly all the time, without manual tasks and the risks of human error.

Phase 4: Business Integration

This is the ultimate state where the cloud gets integrated with your enterprise dashboards and service catalogue, and everything is connected across the organization. You’re no longer focused on the destination of the cloud. Instead, the cloud is just part of how you transact business.

As you move through each phase, establish measurements of cloud maturity using KPIs and simple metrics. Enlist the help of a partner like 2nd Watch that can provide expertise, automation, and software so you can achieve better business outcomes regardless of your cloud goals. Contact Us to understand how our cloud optimization services are maximizing returns.

-Chris Garvey, EVP of Product

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Building Your Cloud Center of Excellence

You’ve migrated to the cloud and are using cloud services within your own team, but how do you scale that across the organization? A Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) is the best way to scale your usage of the cloud across multiple teams, especially when navigating organizational complexity.

What is a CCoE?

A Cloud Center of Excellence, or CCoE, is a group of cross functional business leaders who collaboratively drive the best practices and standards that govern the cloud implementation strategy across their organization – developed in response to changes in the cloud. Pre-cloud, all of our infrastructure, usage, and deployments of applications were controlled by central IT. Typically, the IT department both made the infrastructure and applications available and had control over management. Now, in the post-cloud world, management in large enterprises is occurring in hundreds or thousands of places across the organization – rather than solely in central IT. Today’s cloud moves at a pace much faster than what we saw inside traditional datacenters, and that speed requires a new governance.

This seismic shift in responsibility and business-wide impact has brought both agility and innovation across organizations, but it can also introduce a fair amount of risk. A CCoE is a way to manage that risk with clear strategy development, governance, and buy-in from the top down. Utilizing stakeholders from finance and operations, architecture and security, a CCoE does not dictate or control cloud implementation, but uses best practices and standards throughout the organization to make cloud management more effective.

Getting started with a CCoE

First and foremost, a CCoE cannot start without recognizing the need for it. If you’re scaling in the public cloud, and you do not require and reinforce best practices and standards, you will hit a wall. Without a CCoE, there will be a tipping point at which that easy agility and innovation you received leveraging the public cloud suddenly turns against you. A CCoE is not a discretionary mechanism, it’s actually a prerequisite to scaling in the cloud successfully.

Once you know the significance and meaning of your CCoE, you can adapt it to the needs of your business and the state of your maturity. You need a clear understanding of both how you’re currently using the cloud, as well as how you want to use it going forward.

In doing that, you also need to set appropriate expectations. Over time, what you need and expect from a CCoE will change. Based on size, market, goals, compliance regulations, stakeholder input, etc., the job of a CCoE is to manage cloud implementation while avoiding risk. The key to a successful CCoE is balancing providing agility, innovation, and all the potential benefits of the cloud in a way that does not adversely impact your team’s ability to get things done. Even though the CCoE is driving strategy from the top, your employees need the freedom to make day-to-day management decisions, provision what they need and want, and use the agility provided by the cloud to be creative. It’s a fluid process much different from the rigid infrastructure planning of rack and stack used a decade ago.

Create an ongoing process with returns by partnering with a company who knows what you need not only today, but in the future. The right partner will provide the products, people and services that enable you to be successful. With all the complexity going on in the cloud, it’s extremely difficult to navigate and scale without an experienced expert.

2nd Watch Cloud Advisory Services include a Cloud Readiness Assessment to evaluate your current IT estate, as well as a Cloud Migration Cost Assessment that estimates costs across various cloud providers. As a trusted advisor, we’re here to answer key questions, define strategy, manage change, and provide impartial advice on a wide range of issues critical to successful cloud modernization. Contact Us to see how we can make your CCoE an organizational success.

-Chris Garvey, EVP of Product

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Top 10 Cloud Optimization Best Practices

Cloud optimization is a continuous process specific to a company’s goals, but there are some staple best practices all optimization projects should follow. Here are our top 10.

1. Begin with the end in mind.

Business leaders and stakeholders throughout the organization should know exactly what they’re trying to achieve with a cloud optimization project. Additionally, this goal should be revisited on a regular basis to make sure you remain on track to achievement. Create measures to gauge success at different points and follow the agreed upon order of operations to complete the process.

2. Create structure around governance and responsibility.

Overprovisioning is one of the most common issues adding unnecessary costs to your bottom line. Implement specific and regulated structure around governance and responsibility for all teams involved in optimization to control any unnecessary provisioning. Check in regularly to make sure teams are following the structure and you only have the tools you need and are actively using.

3. Get all the data you need.

Cloud optimization is a data-driven exercise. To be successful, you need insight into a range of data pieces. Not only do you need to identify what data you need and be able to get it, but you also need to know what data you’re missing and figure out how to get it. Collaborate with internal teams to make sure essential data isn’t siloed or already being collected. Additionally, regularly clean and validate data to ensure reliability for data-based decision making.

4. Implement tagging practices.

To best utilize the data you have, organizing and maintaining it with strict tagging practices in necessary. Implement a system that works from more than just a technical standpoint. You can also use tagging to launch instances, control your auto parking methodology, or in scheduling. Tagging helps you understand the data and see what is driving spend. Whether it’s an environment tag, owner tag, or application tag, tagging provides clarity into spend, which is the         key to optimization.

5. Gain visibility into spend.

Tagging is one way to see where your spend is going, but it’s not the only way required. Manage accounts regularly to make sure inactive accounts aren’t continuing to be billed. Set up an internal mechanism to review with your app teams and hold them accountable. It can be as simple as a dashboard with tagging grading, as long as it lets the data speak for itself.

6. Hire the right technical expertise.

Get more out of your optimization with the right technical expertise on your internal team. Savvy technicians should work alongside the business teams to drive the goals of optimization throughout the process. Without collaboration between these departments, you risk moving in differing directions with multiple end goals in mind. For example, one team might be acting with performance or a technical aspect in mind without realizing the implication on optimization. Partnering with optimization experts can also keep teams aligned and moving toward the same goal.

7. Select the right tools and stick with them.

Tools are a part of the optimization process, but they can’t solve problems alone. Additionally, there are an abundance of tools to choose from, many of which have similar functionality and outcomes. Find the right tools for your goals, facilitate adoption, and give them the time and data necessary to produce results. Don’t get distracted by every new, shiny tool available and the “tool champions” fighting for one over another. Avoid the costs of overprovisioning by checking usage regularly and maintaining the governance structure established throughout your teams.

8. Make sure your tools are working.

Never assume a tool or a process you’ve put in place is working. In fact, it’s better to assume it’s not working and consistently check its efficiency. This regular practice of confirming the tools you have are both useful and being used will help you avoid overprovisioning and unnecessary spending. For tools to be effective and serve their purpose, you need enough visibility to determine how the tool is contributing to your overall end goal.

9. Empower someone to drive the process.

The number one call to action for anyone diving into optimization is to appoint a leader. Without someone specific, qualified, and active in managing the project with each stakeholder and team involved, you won’t accomplish your goals. Empower this leader internally to gain the respect and attention necessary for employees to understand the importance of continuous optimization and contribute on their part.

10. Partner with experts.

Finding the right partner to help you optimize efficiently and effectively will make the process easier at every turn. Bringing in an external driver who has the know-how and experience to consult on strategy through implementation, management, and replication is a smart move with fast results.

2nd Watch takes a holistic approach to cloud optimization with a team of experienced data scientists and architects who help you maximize performance and returns on your cloud assets. Are you ready to start saving? Let us help you define your optimization strategy to meet your business needs and maximize your results. Contact Us to take the next step in your cloud journey.

-Willy Sennott, Optimization Practice Manager

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Ten Years In: Enterprise DevOps Evolves

DevOps has undergone significant changes since the trend began more than a decade ago. No longer limited to a grassroots movement among ‘cowboy’ developers, DevOps has become synonymous with enterprise software releases. In our Voice of the Enterprise: DevOps, Workloads and Key Projects 2020 survey, we found that 90% of companies that had deployed applications to production in the last year had adopted DevOps across some teams (55%) or entirely across the IT organization (40%). Another 9% were in discovery phases or PoC with their DevOps implementation, leaving only a tiny fraction of respondents reporting no adoption of DevOps.

DevOps is driven by the need for faster releases, more efficient IT operations and flexibility to respond to changes in the market, whether technical such as the advent of cloud-native technologies, or other, such as the Covid-19 pandemic. Still, one of the biggest drivers of the trend and a primary reason DevOps has become part and parcel of enterprise software development and deployment is adoption from the top-down. IT management and executive leadership are increasingly interested and involved in DevOps deployments, often because it is a critical part of cloud migration, digital transformation and other key initiatives. Most organizations also report that their DevOps implementation is managed or sanctioned by the organization, in line with the departure from shadowy IT DevOps deployments of 5 or 10 years ago toward approved deployments that meet policy, security and compliance requirements.

Another significant change in DevOps is the growing role of business objectives and outcomes. Organizations are measuring and proving their DevOps success not only using technical metrics such as quality (47%) and application performance (44%), but also business metrics such as customer satisfaction (also 44%), according to our VotE DevOps study. We also see line-of-business managers among important stakeholders in DevOps beyond developers and IT operators. The increased focus and priority on business also often translates to a different view on DevOps and IT operations in general. While IT administration has traditionally been a budget spending item with a focus on total cost of ownership (TCO), today’s enterprises are increasingly viewing DevOps and IT ops as a competitive advantage that will bring return on investment (ROI).

Another significant aspect of DevOps today is the stakeholder spread. Our surveys have consistently highlighted how security, leadership, traditional IT administrators and business/product managers play an increasingly important role in DevOps, in addition to software developers and IT operations teams. As DevOps spreads to more teams and applications within an organization, it is more likely to pull in these and other key stakeholders, including finance or compliance, among others. We also see additional people and teams, such as those in sales and marketing or human relations, becoming more integral to enterprise DevOps as the trend continues to evolve.

The prominence of security among primary DevOps stakeholders is indicative of the rapidly evolving DevSecOps trend, whereby security elements are integrated into DevOps workflows. Our data highlights how a growing number of DevOps releases include security elements, with 64% of companies indicating they do include security elements in 2020, compare to 53% in 2019. DevSecOps is being driven mainly by changing attitudes among software developers, who are increasingly less likely to think the security will slow them down and more likely to tie security to quality, which is something they care about. Software security vendors have also worked to make security tooling such as API firewalls, vulnerability scanning and software composition analysis (SCA) more integrated and automated so they really don’t slow down developers. Finally, the frequency of high-profile security incidents and breaches remind everyone of the need to reduce risk as much as possible.

Another change in DevOps is an increasing awareness and appreciation of not just technology challenges, but also cultural aspects. Our data indicates top cultural challenges of DevOps include overcoming resistance to change, competing/conflicting priorities and resources, promoting communication and demonstrating equity of benefits/costs. By aligning objectives, priorities and desired outcomes, teams can better address these cultural challenges to succeed and spread their DevOps implementations. This is also where we’ve seen cross-discipline experience – in development, in IT operations, in security, etc. – can be integral to addressing cultural issues.

If you haven’t yet begun your own DevOps Transformation, 2nd Watch takes an interesting approach you can consider. Their DevOps Transformation process begins with a complete assessment and strategy measuring your current software development and operational maturity, using the CALMS model, and developing a strategy for where and how to apply DevOps approaches

Jay Lyman, Senior Research Analyst, Cloud Native and Applied Infrastructure & DevOps at 451 Research, part of S&P Global Market Intelligence

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