Research from WinMagic has found that security, management and compliance challenges are impacting the benefits businesses are receiving from using the cloud as their infrastructures become more complex.

Thirty-nine percent reported their infrastructure was more complex since using the cloud, and 53% spend more time on management tasks than they have done previously.

Ninety-eight percent of the 1,029 IT decision maker respondents reported using the cloud, with an average 50% of their infrastructure up in the sky.  More than one third of respondents reported that data is only partially encrypted in the cloud, and 39% admitted to not having unbroken security audit trails across virtual machines in the cloud, leaving them exposed.  

Asked about their top three concerns on future workloads in the cloud, 58% reported security as their top concern, followed by protecting sensitive data from unauthorized access (55%) and the increased complexity of infrastructure (44%).  On average, companies had to use three encryption solutions to protect data across the cloud and on-premises infrastructure, illustrating one of the main ways this complexity emerges.

Responsibility for the regulatory compliance of data is a significant area of confusion, the research said, with only 39% considering themselves ultimately responsible for the compliance of data stored on cloud services. And 20% believed it is solely the responsibility of the cloud service provider, while a further 20% believed they were covered by their cloud service provider’s SLA.

Only one quarter (25%) of respondents have automated tools to ensure compliance rules are not broken.  New legislation, such as the EU General Data Protection Regulation which comes into enforcement in May 2018, will see companies required to carefully manage the encryption, storage, use and sharing of personally identifiable information. 

“The stakes for companies were already high, with data breaches increasing in frequency and scale,” said Mark Hickman, Chief Operating Officer at WinMagic.  “EU GDPR reinforces the care that must be taken with data. The simple fact is that businesses must get the controls in place to manage their data, including taking the strategic decision that anything they would not want to see in the public domain, must be encrypted.”

Expanding infrastructure into the cloud has come at a cost for the majority of companies, with a greater burden on IT teams, the study said. More than half (55%) reported needing to use more management tools since migrating workloads to the cloud, sometimes needing multiple tools for the same task. More than half (53%) reported spending more time on management tasks than ever before. Asked what they would use time saved on management tasks for they said:

  • IT projects needed to support the business (50%)
  • Accelerate projects that are currently stalling (42%)
  • Improving security (36%)

Hickman added, “At its heart, using heterogeneous cloud environments is making it harder for businesses to manage security and compliance, leaving staff firefighting rather than focusing on new projects that will benefit their businesses.  Companies need to think about choosing management tools that are cloud agnostic, and remove complexity.”