The shift to the cloud is changing how companies think about their IT infrastructure and what they must do to manage it. In the 1980s and 1990s, business applications and data were largely confined within and protected by a local area network (LAN). Securing enterprise information technology at the time consisted of building a castle (the company) with high walls, a deep moat (the firewall), and two points of access to applications: through the front gate (physically walking in the door) or through a secret tunnel such as a virtual private network (VPN). That was it.
The 2000s introduced a significant change. IT transformed from applications and data residing within the castle or firewall to services subscribed to and accessed from the cloud. As a result, the LAN of the 1990s is giving way to the cloud services network of today. Unlike a LAN, a cloud services network powers a federated collection of on-demand services, which are provided by a variety of vendors for a set of highly distributed users.
The on-demand applications and services that comprise a cloud services network enable companies to rapidly deploy powerful capabilities to a broad set of users at very low costs. However, they also introduce challenges associated with securing and controlling users and access, simplifying adoption and scaling of these applications, and providing insight into utilization to ensure the business is optimizing its cloud investments.