Hybrid Cloud Security

As of 2023, over 72% of businesses worldwide have been affected by ransomware attacks. With new attacks seemingly every day and the cost of these attacks on the rise, companies know they can’t afford to joke around about security. Because of this, many are opting to hold on to their mainframe for both its security and reliability. But doing so doesn’t need to hold them back from modernization.

When thinking of digital transformation and modernization, most organizations have the cloud at the top of their minds. Businesses have, in some form or another, been migrating their operations to the cloud for years now, but that doesn’t mean legacy systems suddenly cease to exist. This year alone, organizations worldwide will continue to develop and implement modernization plans, with digital transformation spending estimated to reach $1.6 trillion globally. While new and innovative cloud solutions permeate the market, mainframe infrastructure remains essential to business operations. Today, over 70% of Fortune 500 companies’ data is stored on or derived from the mainframe. The data held in mainframes is an invaluable source of insight for businesses across many industries, including financial services, retail, healthcare, and major government agencies.

Hybrid cloud solutions hold the key to modernization, security, and reliability. A hybrid cloud brings much-needed agility and resiliency that can help businesses stay ahead of the curve regarding innovation. But getting hybrid cloud implementation right isn’t a straightforward task. So, what should companies know when starting down the path to a hybrid cloud? Here are a few things to keep in mind along the way.

A hybrid cloud improves flexibility and scalability to meet customer demand.

In such a competitive world, businesses need to capitalize on every advantage they have. So much potential lies in an organization’s data, much of which can be used to identify opportunities and drive new innovations for customers. But with the problem of data silos looming, it often lives in very disparate locations. This makes deciphering and harnessing that data easier said than done. To truly leverage that data, companies need to not only gather it but also look at it in a way that creates meaningful insights.

Organizations should look for tools that make their data understandable and usable to anyone—from IT staff to business analysts to leadership—while remaining secure. A hybrid cloud infrastructure can bring data together to greatly simplify access to and interpretation of information, no matter the source—making information more scalable in a secure environment to unlock new customer channels and motivations.

A hybrid cloud can unleash new data insights that optimize resources and cut costs.

Over time, digital transformation creates layers of tools and data that end up stacking on top of each other each time a process is updated or a new tech is implemented. So, it’s easy to imagine how, over the course of years, a company’s tech stack can become increasingly complex and bogged down by the sheer weight of those layers—particularly on the mainframe where much of early enterprise modernization has happened.

With hybrid cloud solutions in place, the mainframe no longer needs to be the sole home for all a business’ data storage needs. This is important when you consider that not all data is created equal. Some data can be more effectively and safely utilized in the cloud, while other data is best secured on the mainframe. Moving data into the cloud is also highly cost-effective, reducing the cost of maintaining mainframe systems and freeing up capacity for mission-critical storage. Transferring some of that content into the cloud frees up capacity and greatly reduces strain on the mainframe itself.

With this, businesses also gain the ability to connect their mainframe with the broader organization, enabling more people to utilize that data while keeping security top of mind. Coupling mainframe and cloud technologies in a hybrid approach allows for creating newer interfaces that can demystify aspects of the mainframe for new waves of employees, ensuring that no data goes unnoticed or underutilized.

Hybrid cloud increases security by keeping sensitive data on-premises while unlocking new insights.

Security should always remain top-of-mind when organizations discuss new, modern solutions for their data. A hybrid cloud strategy offers the opportunity to reduce risk associated with sensitive or proprietary data. 

As the mainframe has been opened up with APIs and other tools, it starts to resemble a company’s other tech infrastructure. In that way, the mainframe needs to have some of the same security approaches used as distributed and open systems or cloud services. Specifically, companies need to scan their mainframes for vulnerabilities. Auditors around the world are increasingly asking for proof that mainframes are scanned periodically. This is especially important as we see an increase in the use of open-source tools on the mainframe as part of a modernization strategy. This is a good strategy, and it can also help the mainframe look more like the rest of a company’s IT operation; however, companies still need to make sure they have support contracts in place for the open-source that runs on a client’s mainframe.

Hybrid cloud strategies allow businesses to bring mainframe data into cloud-based analytical tools, generating new value without risking potentially sensitive information. This “best of both worlds” allows enterprises to choose where to place workloads and data based on compliance, audit, policy, or security requirements. While the various environments that make up a hybrid cloud remain unique and separate entities, this distinct—yet connected—architecture is what allows enterprises to run critical workloads in the cloud versus the mainframe. It’s an arrangement that minimizes data exposure and allows enterprises to customize a flexible IT portfolio. 

At a time when every business is looking for ways to gain a competitive edge, hybrid cloud strategies and solutions can hold the answer. There’s no greater asset for enterprises than their own data, and hybrid cloud solutions give them the tools to tap into that potential fully while keeping it secure. Through modernizing, businesses can take advantage of advanced cloud capabilities while continuing to utilize the security and reliability of the mainframe. By eliminating the risks and costly disruptions of “rip and replace” projects, hybrid cloud infrastructure through mainframe modernization has become the preferred approach for mission-critical businesses that need insights from their most important data.

President of Infrastructure Modernization at Rocket Software

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