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Cloud Computing is an Integral Part of a Modern IT Strategy

ISACA has launched a certification called Certified in Emerging Technologies (CET), which among other emerging technologies, focuses on Cloud Fundamentals as one of its stackable certificates that makes up the certification.

Geetha-MurugesanGeetha Murugesan, CISA , CGEIT, CRISC , CDPSE, Member of ISACA Emerging Trends Working Group during an interaction with Nitisha from BISinfotech elaborates the strength of cloud computing. She says, ISACA and I believe it is increasingly important for professionals in all fields of information systems and IT to understand the cloud, assess its risks, ensure its security, implement effective governance of its services and providers, and optimize its potential.  She also elaborates ISACA’s special offerings and its future marketing strategies. Here are excerpts

Kindly explain ISACA and your views about cloud computing.

Cloud services and their use have become ubiquitous around the world. The cloud employs a network of remote servers hosted on the internet, rather than a local server or a personal computer, to store, manage, and process data. Companies have seized on cloud as a key enabler to achieve their digital transformation. It has proved vital in helping businesses and people to stay connected and to access vital data and services even when working remotely as so many people did during the global pandemic. Both ISACA and I believe it is increasingly important for professionals in all fields of information systems and IT to understand the cloud, assess its risks, ensure its security, implement effective governance of its services and providers, and optimize its potential. To help professionals do so, ISACA has launched a certification called Certified in Emerging Technologies (CET), which among other emerging technologies, focuses on Cloud Fundamentals as one of its stackable certificates that makes up the certification. They have also created the Certificate of Cloud Auditing Knowledge (CCAK) with Cloud Security Alliance to help professionals address the unique challenges of auditing the cloud so their organizations can reap the full benefits of cloud environments.

How cloud computing is beneficial to your business?

Cloud computing is an integral part of a modern IT strategy. IT saves time and money by increasing productivity, improving collaboration, helps in promoting innovation. There are lots of benefits for small and medium business that a cloud computing solution provides, including data accessibility, consistency of data amongst users, remote access to specialized software, ease of data backup, and cost-optimized solution – pay per user approach.

How does cloud computing ensure data security?

All cloud providers offer a full range of services to manage data security in the Cloud. From infrastructure hardening to threat detection, service providers provide comprehensive services to maximize data security in cloud computing environments. Cloud data security is at different levels, at the data level, the focus is on encryption and access control; at the physical level, the focus is on infrastructure security. It also needs to entail real time monitoring of data access only by authorized users and monitoring security threats.

How to master cloud computing?

Cloud computing requires familiarity with multiple subjects because it is related to many technologies. As a cloud computing professional there are few primary topics one should know:

  • Programming skills – Multiple programming languages including Java, PHP, Python, and .NET, each of which has its own distinct advantages.
  • Familiarity with databases – Databases are used to store and manage data for organisations, and it is crucial to understand their functionality.
  • Basics of cybersecurity and privacy – Cloud service providers and users must make sure that their cloud storage and cloud-based applications remain safe from hackers and other malicious elements. There is a need to understand the fundamentals of cybersecurity to prevent cybersecurity threats, as this will help substantially mitigate the risk of a successful hacking attack.
  • Agile development – Knowledge of Agile development has become widely popular in the last few decades as it allows companies to release many products effectively and efficiently while satisfying the needs of customers/users. Most organisations use agile development methodology for their product development, so familiarity with Agile development principles, terminology, and implementation is a must.
  • Understanding of operating systems – Understanding the basic operations of different operating systems such as Windows, macOS, and Linux is also necessary. Linux is especially important to understand because it’s a widely popular solution among companies for cloud computing implementations.
  • Understanding of virtualization – Virtualization is the process of creating virtual devices, infrastructures, and servers on one computing device. This could entatil creating a virtual, software-based representation of another device such as virtual storage, network, or application. Virtualization helps organisation in reducing operating costs as they can multiply the available software devices without increasing the hardware.
  • Basics of networking – In cloud computing, networking focuses on hosting some or all network resources from the cloud. This includes virtual firewalls, virtual routers, network management software, bandwidth, etc. Understanding the concept of IP addresses is fundamental to learning the advanced concepts of networking. The network in a cloud-based solution allows the user to connect with the cloud services.  Apart from connecting the users to the cloud service, the network also allows the different components of the cloud-based solution (servers and storage nodes) to connect.

Why Cloud Management is increasingly critical to IT Teams?

Cloud sprawl is a common problem and solving it delivers significant benefits for the organisation, including:

  • Unified view of cost and IT utilization: When a cloud environment is properly managed, IT and business leaders have a comprehensive view of IT assets, including cloud services and software. This, in turn, helps organizations use these tools more effectively and efficiently. In a well-managed environment, IT staff can accurately track spending and historical trends, and can also attribute resource costs to specific departments, projects, or applications, which aids with budgeting and enhances overall utilization.
  • Minimize the risk of data loss: Any action taken to reduce the risk of a data leak or other successful cyberattack has the potential to save an enormous sum of money. Effective cloud management practices bolster security and reduce the number of vulnerabilities that could be exposed to malicious outsiders. Reining in cloud sprawl also ensures that configurations meet enterprise standards, that data is properly secured, and that operational continuity is maintained.
  • Cut down on wasted IT spending: Effective cloud management helps organizations get rid of unneeded cloud expenses and optimize cloud resources, resulting in better results for less money.

The right cloud management platform helps IT infrastructure managers to understand resource needs as well as assign resources using a single, consolidated interface. Since resource utilization can be tracked in real time, IT teams can take calculated decisions around cost and resource allocation.

What is cloud misconfiguration and how will it affect your business?

Cloud misconfiguration can be defined as any errors, glitches or gaps in a cloud environment that can leave an organisation exposed to risk. This cloud security risk could come in the form of data breaches, cloud breaches, insider threats or external bad actors who leverage vulnerabilities to gain access to the network. Cloud misconfigurations can cause system outages, unwanted downtime, or security risks. Causes can include overly complex environments, insufficient security practice knowledge, and human error due to manual processes.

Kindly highlight specific areas of cloud computing that are likely to witness an uptick in 2022?

Cloud will continue to grow and evolve with new use cases. Augmenting the abilities of remote and hybridized workforces will remain a key trend, but there will be ongoing innovation in cloud and data centres. As per Gartner, cloud computing infrastructure is the backbone of the delivery pipeline of just about every digital service, from social media and streaming entertainment to connected cars and autonomous internet of things (IoT) infrastructure. New or upcoming ultra-fast networks like 5G and Wi-Fi 6E don’t just mean more data will be streamed from the cloud; they mean new types of data can be streamed. The explosion in the availability of cloud gaming platforms, such as Google’s Stadia and Amazon Luna, will see increasing levels of investment over the course of 2022. Also the arrival of cloud virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) should lead to smaller and cheaper headsets. Cloud technology essentially makes every other technology lighter, faster, and more accessible from a customer point of view and this fact will be a key driver in the migration of more services to cloud platform.

  • Sustainability is increasingly a driver of cloud innovation: Every responsible business understands that it has a part to play in tackling the challenges of climate change. In tech, this often centres on reducing the energy usage associated with increasingly powerful computing engines, larger digital storage requirements, and the energy costs of providing 24/7 “always-on” infrastructure services to customers. Most of the tech giants will spend 2022 implementing measures and innovations aimed at helping them achieve their net-zero carbon aspirations.
  • Hybrid cloud: Today, companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and IBM (the biggest cloud providers) are expanding their rollout of “hybrid” models that adopt a best-of-both-worlds approach. Data that needs to be quickly and frequently accessed, perhaps by customers, can be kept on public AWS or Azure servers and accessed through tools, applications, and dashboards. More sensitive or mission-critical data can be kept on private servers where access can be monitored, and it can be processed using proprietary applications. Another driving force behind the growth in popularity of hybrid cloud is that many companies are growing past their first forays into cloud computing, and having established the benefits, are looking for additional use cases. This has resulted in many companies finding themselves in a “multi-cloud” environment, using several services sometimes from several different suppliers.
  • Artificial intelligence in cloud computing: Machine learning platforms require huge processing power and data bandwidth for training and processing data, and cloud datacentres make this available to anyone. Most of the “everyday” AI seen all around us – from Google Search to Instagram filters – lives in the cloud, and technology that routes traffic from data centres to our devices and manages storage infrastructure is built on machine learning. The development and evolution of cloud and AI are inextricably interwoven, and this will only become truer during 2022 and beyond. Strong trends in AI will be “creative” algorithms – generative machine learning that can create anything from art to synthetic data to train more AIs – as well as language modeling – increasing the accuracy with machines can understand human languages. Cloud computing will certainly play a key role in delivering these services to users as well as building the infrastructure to deliver them.
  • The Rise of serverless: Serverless cloud is a relatively new concept that is gaining traction in the market from providers including Amazon (AWS Lambda), Microsoft (Azure Functions), and IBM Cloud Functions. Sometimes referred to as “functions-as-a-service,” it means organizations aren’t tied into leasing servers or paying for fixed amounts of storage or bandwidth. It promises a truly pay-as-you-go service where the infrastructure scales invisibly as an application requires it.

According to you, what will be the future of cloud computing in 2022 and beyond?

Cloud computing is powerful and expansive and will continue to grow in the future and provide many benefits. Cloud computing is extremely cost-effective, and companies can use it for their growth. The future of cloud computing is bright and will provide benefits to both the host and the customer.

Five trends that are likely to shape the future of the public cloud in 2022.

The learnings of the past two years have proved the importance of flexibility and adaptability during this period of uncertainty during the pandemic. Operational agility will remain as the focus while facing the pandemic and ongoing issues involving supply chain issues and cybercrime.

  • Digital inclusion – Organizations and governments across the globe are committed to a digital future. To keep up the commitment, connectivity and infrastructure for a modern connected world need to be funded. However, there are some challenges that remain in getting homes and schools connected in rural and underdeveloped countries. Fiber connectivity and rollout of 5 G mobile network will keep organizations adapting to new working practices and flexible ways of working.
  • Cybersecurity as a priority—Governments worldwide are looking at cyber strategy to help organisations operate with confidence. This cyber strategy looks at the cyber ecosystem, and in investing in people, skills, and technologies. This will help organisations build a resilient digital economy which prevents system outages, minimises losses and maximises the economic benefits. With the focus on cyber security,there will be a rise in spend on AI and automation technologies. Furthermore, to ensure the applications and data held within cloud and data centre solutions are better protected, implementing a zero-trust approach will be high on all business agendas for the next 12 months. With the greater adoption of cloud technologies, continued remote working, and the increasing cost of preventing cyber threats, only organisations who can access external expertise and advanced cyber security solutions will be able to meet these challenges. 
  • Increase spends on Cloud—Gartner predicts that globally, end-user spending on public cloud services is expected to exceed $480 billion in 2022. A move to public cloud will improve operational efficiency and agility, especially if you consider the supply chain issues causing long wait times for hardware from global vendors – currently at around eight months. These delays are untenable for organisations with rapidly growing storage needs. The immediacy of cloud as an alternative solution is one reason why we are likely to see even more rapid adoption in 2022.  Throughout 2021 there was a big shift of critical enterprise applications to the cloud, even in the most risk-averse of organisations. This trend will continue to accelerate throughout 2022 as more organisations look to modernise their infrastructure. Organisations see now as the time to transform to cloud models to future-proof their investments.
  • Moving towards newer technologies like 5G and Edge—The convergence of different technologies will be driven by digital transformation and the large push for 5G, as well as the fusing of the Edge with AI. The Edge is a distributed computing paradigm that brings computation and data storage closer to the source of data. The digital infrastructure required to support this will rely on fast and efficient connectivity that effectively uses IoT and automation.
  • Meeting Sustainability—For businesses to meet sustainability goals e.g., the COP26 target for Net Zero by 2050, organisations ultimately need to move away from private data centres. McKinsey research shows that data centres have been known to emit a massive 80 mega tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. With high carbon emissions, companies will need to reassess their energy consumption to avoid large fines in the future. Hyperscalers such as Amazon and Microsoft can increase their investment in data centres and implement environmentally sustainable strategies due to their scale, and ongoing investment in research and development. For example, Microsoft has been researching a large data centre in the sea in Scotland that runs well on what most land-based data centres consider an unreliable grid. Underwater data centres have proven that fewer parts need changing, and the cool water stops the machinery from overheating. In addition, their grid is supplied by 100% wind and solar energies. Many smaller organisations will need to take the same sustainable steps next year, which is why a move to Public Cloud and third-party hosted data centres can immediately boost sustainability goals. Some reports suggest migrations to the Cloud can reduce CO2 emissions by 59 million tons per year which equates to taking 22 million cars off the road.

Kindly share your future marketing strategy.

ISACA will continue to provide IT audit, security and risk professionals worldwide with the resources, education and credentialing they need to keep up with the changing cloud landscape and be able to help their organizations realize the full potential of cloud environments. This includes providing the right tools for professionals to address the unique challenges of auditing the cloud, ensuring the right controls for confidentiality, integrity and accessibility and mitigating risks and costs of audit management and non-compliance. ISACA will also continue to share best practices around effective cloud management through its global community, through events, trainings and online forums where professionals can engage together to work through issues and discuss the latest trends and tactics.


Nitisha Dubey

I am a Journalist with a post graduate degree in Journalism & Mass Communication. I love reading non-fiction books, exploring different destinations and varieties of cuisines. Biographies and historical movies are few favourites.

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