Maintaining Data Protection in the Cloud

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    Enterprises of all types and sizes are quickly ramping up their cloud presences, despite the fact that key questions regarding their reliability and efficacy remain.

    A leading source of worry is data protection. Once data leaves the safety of the firewall, ensuring both its security and availability becomes largely a matter of trust.

    Many organizations, in fact, are already struggling with the shift from an infrastructure-based protection scheme to a federated or virtual/application-layer solution, even without the cloud. As HP’s Duncan Campbell points out, the increase in data load and the already largely distributed nature of many enterprise data environments, not to mention the introduction of mobile communications, are forcing a rethink when it comes to maintaining access and availability. If you are looking at 20 to 25 percent data growth per year, how much longer will you be able to maintain local protection and security solutions at every remote site and branch office? At some point, the need for an integrated solution that cuts across geographic and infrastructure boundaries becomes evident, which is why the company developed the StoreOnce Backup solution with tools like federated deduplication, autonomic hardware restart and secure erase.

    To extend this kind of functionality across the cloud, however, the company had to shift its focus from loss prevention to loss anticipation, said Art Gilland, SVP and GM of HP’s Enterprise Security Products Division. The result is the new Atalla platform, designed to provide protection across on- and off-premises infrastructure. The system works with both structured and unstructured data, applying the same level of protection to email and health records as sensitive corporate data. As well, it can be augmented with a Cloud Encryption module that enables split-key security for public, private and hybrid environments, along with an Information Protection and Control (IPC) system designed to apply persistent protection over the entire data lifecycle.

    Elsewhere, the need for data protection solutions is starting to produce some M&A activity. Infrascale recently acquired a company called Eversync Solutions, a developer of cloud-connected protection appliances for the enterprise. The move gives Infrascale the ability to devise full-service backup, archiving and DR solutions that span virtually any operating system and public/private/hybrid cloud architecture. In this way, says CEO Ken Shaw, the company can provide a complete protection solution without driving up costs through multiple point solutions.

    A key facet of protection, however, is data classification. Without knowing what sort of data you’re dealing with, the application of an entire range of governance and management policies becomes a nightmare. Companies like Titus Inc. are targeting this need with advanced software that seeks to capture end user knowledge of the data they create and then label it with appropriate metadata. The Titus Classification Suite works across emails, web data, documents, as well as media files, PDFs and the like. The system also provides enhanced integration with McAfee DLP Endpoint and other data loss prevention suites.

    Data is the most valuable enterprise asset these days, so the decision to implement a robust protection solution should be a no-brainer. But extending protection throughout the convoluted architectures that are emerging on the cloud, and in distributed environments in general, will be no easy task.

    One thing is certain: Today’s castle mentality is quickly giving way to a more nuanced, portable approach that itself is evolving as the nature and characteristics of the new data environment become more widely known.

    Arthur Cole
    Arthur Cole
    With more than 20 years of experience in technology journalism, Arthur has written on the rise of everything from the first digital video editing platforms to virtualization, advanced cloud architectures and the Internet of Things. He is a regular contributor to IT Business Edge and Enterprise Networking Planet and provides blog posts and other web content to numerous company web sites in the high-tech and data communications industries.

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