Not All Clouds are Equal: The Three Types of Enterprise Cloud

Cloud Security

Written by Michael Higashi


There comes a point in the enterprise’s journey to the cloud 3_types_enterprise_cloudwhen what once seemed like a relatively straightforward endeavor may seem to spiral out of control, complexity piling on top of complexity until the idea of secure cloud adoption seems nearly out of reach. It’s at that point that you may need to pull back and re-evaluate the direction your organization is headed and what steps you’re taking to get there. There are three distinct types of enterprise cloud, each with its own challenges and demands, and figuring out which of those apply to you can get your cloud transition back on track.

Type 1: Core Business Process Apps

Core business process apps, such as CRM, ITSM, and ERP solutions, are the most critical of your cloud assets—and, luckily for you, typically among the easiest to secure. The majority of the data in applications like these will be in traditional, structured formats. Your key requirements in this arena will be to:

  • Understand your regulatory compliance needs
  • Protect data deemed sensitive according to legal and internal policies
  • Preserve the business functionality of your cloud-based core business applications

Type 2: Corporate-Sanctioned Collaboration Apps

Of course, an enterprise’s move to the cloud likely won’t stop at the core business applications at the heart of the organization’s operations. An entire ecosystem of collaboration applications exists around those operations, facilitating the transfer of data, notes, messages, files, and attachments from worker to worker and team to team. These applications present a greater challenge when it comes to cloud data security, since they deal primarily in unstructured forms of data. With corporate-sanctioned collaboration applications, your top tasks will be:

  • Understanding how information workers use collaboration applications
  • Integrating Data Loss Prevention (DLP) technologies and enforcing DLP policies
  • Monitoring user activity and detecting anomalous behavior

Type 3: Non-sanctioned applications—”Shadow IT”

Now we’re coming to the crux of the enterprise cloud migration challenge: the cloud migration that’s been going on behind IT’s back and right under corporate’s nose. Non-sanctioned applications, usually referred to as “shadow IT,” are all the cloud applications adopted by enterprise information workers for business purposes, without IT’s knowledge and approval. Keeping shadow IT under control is critical to enterprise cloud data security. To do so, you’ll have to:

  • Discover shadow IT applications in use
  • Evaluate the risks of those applications
  • Enable the applications that provide business value without compromising security, and shut down all the rest

As you unravel the complexities of your organization’s cloud migration, take a moment to consider which category each of your cloud applications or challenges fits. Having a clear understanding of what kind of challenges you face and what kinds of measures you must take to address those challenges will go a long way towards enabling a safe transition to the cloud, no matter how many applications you’re migrating.

Ready to learn more about the three types of enterprise cloud and how to secure each one? Download our free white paper, “CIO’s Guide to Enterprise Cloud Adoption,” today.