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The adoption of Cloud defence is just beginning.
Cloud is a computing paradigm that delivers services via the internet. Information security is essential to any Cloud initiative and should not be viewed as a necessary evil nor simply a firewall issue. When information security goes bad, it has a big impact on business processes and operations. This risk is not solely related to the Cloud paradigm, but is related to the way the information is consumed across the defence process.
Cloud value case is to reduce the cost of IT estates, but there is a risk that this cost will reappear in the integration or security layers as compliance costs increase and integration becomes more complex. Moreover, the cost may be felt in time as projects are delayed due to the paradigm shift in Cloud, integration and security.
Integration is the key IT enabler, connecting all areas of defence, its forces, suppliers and partners. With more data, functions and operations in deployed and non-deployed environments, the understanding of the 'business information' flows is a core capability in reducing cost and delivering effect. The main issues include:
The Software as a Service (SaaS) provider will have exposed only a limited number of standard entry and exit points for information. The cost of integration and process support will increase where bespoke touch-points are required;
Understanding the 'security risk' of Cloud integration is a must: treating 'interfaces' as business services with active policy management can help provide the requisite assurance and transactional visibility;
Understanding 'who' and 'where' the user's data is controlled as part of compliance is a must;
If integration and security are to be done well (regardless of Cloud), upfront architecture, design and planning coupled with strong through-life governance are a prerequisite. The question of Cloud computing in defence is one of 'when, not if'. Understanding how to provide and consume data and information in Cloud and non-Cloud environments starts with sound architectures and results in slick and secure integration.