Security: On-premise or in the cloud? It is not Black and White

A recent tech debate on Network World featured a discussions over which is better—on-premise security or security in the cloud. My question is, why does it have to be one or the other? Like everything else in life, the answer to this question is gray and in the middle. At Alert Logic, we believe that you need both in-the-cloud and on-premise security to truly protect your IT infrastructure. Obviously, for assets kept in the cloud (and there are more and more moving there every day), having security in the cloud is a must. It is not realistic to think that you can secure data in the cloud from your own premises. While it is unrealistic to think that many organizations are going to move all of their assets to the cloud anytime soon, to ignore the benefits of the cloud and bury your head in the sand while more and more data is moved to the cloud isn’t prudent. The benefits of the cloud mean that you will move some workloads there. Not having a solution to secure those assets is just not reasonable. But there are still doubters in the industry who insist that you can secure data with on-premise solutions only. Part of this is based on a belief that organizations will not move any data or assets worth securing to the cloud; therefore, security in the cloud is not necessary. Another argument by this camp is that with so little control over the cloud, trying to secure it is inherently impossible. So you need cloud security. But having just a cloud solution without an on-premise component will leave you delivering only a small piece of your security needs. Data and infrastructure on-premise need some sort of on-premise security to monitor and control. But even on-premise security can leverage cloud technology to be more scalable, efficient and effective. Security-as-a-Service can scale to provide a higher level of security then most organizations can deliver themselves. Cloud technologies such as virtualization, elasticity, multi-tenant architecture can make even on-premise security better. There are only a few firms that span both sides of this security equation. Alert Logic has cloud security solutions like our Web Application Firewall service, and our in-the-cloud Threat Manager, scanning and security management services. You can even use them in public clouds like AWS, NaviSite, Rackspace, and other major cloud providers. On the other hand, you can also use and we have many customers who do use our Threat Manager, vulnerability manager, log management and managed security for on-premise situations. Security solutions today span a wide range of technologies. Even beyond what Alert Logic offers, technologies like firewall, anti-spam, access control, data encryption, etc. are still part of any company’s cloud or on-premise security solution. The bottom line, though, is that anyone who says you need either on-premise or cloud security is not being realistic. A successful security strategy dictates that you need both.