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Why Businesses Should Migrate to Hybrid Cloud Systems

Cloud structures are a hot topic, discussed from specialists and businessmen all over the world. Cloud computing, the disruptive technology that we know today, is the outcome of technological advancements over many years. It became a powerful tool and an enabler of business success through its attributes in today’s competitive market. Besides, it has also radically improved the way we interact with each other and perform businesses.

Now, the transformation to a „digital business“ by implementing cloud services and platforms is no longer an option – it’s an imperative for the existence and survival of any enterprise.  Organizations of all sizes have already access to more data to guide their decisions than at any point in history, and it’s turned data-access technology into big business. Gartner experts have stated that by 2021, over 75% of midsize and large organizations will have adopted a multicloud or hybrid IT strategy, so it’s important to understand what it is and how enterprises benefit from the hybrid cloud.

The essence of a hybrid cloud

Hybrid cloud computing started its development in 2008 and offers the enterprises incredible customization and security. The foundation of a hybrid cloud model is the combination of private and public cloud infrastructures that allow workloads to move between the two interconnected environments. This mobility between cloud environments gives organizations greater flexibility and agility in their data deployment options. For companies that want to maximize the benefits of both public and private cloud environments, hybrid cloud deployments offer tremendous advantages. Versatile and responsive, hybrid clouds are a popular solution for organizations looking to adopt creative solutions for their IT and computing needs.

Here are the top 6 reasons why business moves to hybrid cloud?

1. Security Compliance

One of the big challenges that many businesses face with hybrid cloud are unauthorized access (both from outsiders and other cloud tenants), visibility and worries about how you respond to incidents. When implemented well, a hybrid cloud security strategy can help provide the right level of security for the right data.  With a hybrid cloud model, however, companies can leverage the security of a private cloud with the power and services of a public cloud. While data stored in a private environment will likely still have to be transmitted to the public cloud for analytics, applications, and other processes, extensive encryption methods can be implemented to ensure this data remains as secure as possible.

A hybrid cloud’s centralized management makes it easier to implement strong technical security measures such as encryption, automation, access control, orchestration, and endpoint security, so you can manage risk effectively. An ideal hybrid solution will also help to support compliance and will offer a suite of helpful security benefits, for instance, system hardening and vulnerability shielding for protected systems.

2. Increased Scalability

Flexibility is critical for growing businesses. A hybrid cloud system provides new tools and data for innovation, ensuring you are no longer constrained by what’s available onsite. Using both private and public cloud solutions increases power and scalability through higher speeds and advanced infrastructure and planning. Resources and workloads can also be easily moved between clouds. As your needs change, you can scale resources up and down, optimising for performance and efficiency.

3. Reduced costs

Cost is a key factor for many organizations considering migrating to the cloud. A hybrid cloud is a great option for companies that want more security and control of their data but need a cost-effective way to scale their operations to meet spikes in demand. The hybrid cloud option means organizations can house their core, business-critical, and sensitive data on their private, on-premise servers while offloading less sensitive data and applications to the public cloud.

Hybrid cloud environments allow businesses to leverage the resources they already have, without the requirement to adopt new tools or splash out on new hardware. When using both a mix of private and public clouds, the upfront costs of installing in-house technology can be removed, or combined with a simple monthly payment, in order to simplify costs.

4. Flexibility

As previously mentioned, solely using private cloud can be very limiting for a business. Increased security means that employees cannot access the private cloud or business functions through unknown devices, limiting their ability to work remotely on the move or from home. This can hinder the productivity of a business, and contrasts with the kind of flexibility a business can achieve with public cloud.

Through a hybrid environment, a public cloud solution can be used for employees who want to share and store data in a form that is accessible from anywhere, whilst a private cloud can host critical security compliant applications. This offers flexibility to businesses looking for both security and mobility, and reduces the need for businesses to invest in a costly in-house infrastructure for their security reliant applications.

5. Increased agility and innovation

The ability to respond automatically to changes in demand is a key factor for innovation and competition. Nowadays, speed to market can build or break a company’s competitive edge. A hybrid cloud model helps organizations increase their speed to market by optimizing IT performance and providing the agility needed to meet changing business requirements.

Due to the fact that companies with a hybrid cloud aren’t limited to their private on-premise infrastructure, they can easily expand their workload on the cloud and more quickly test, prototype, and launch new products.

6. Improved Customer Experience

We are living in the digital age, where businesses should be customer-centric in order to be competitive against industry disrupters. If a business is not able to adjust to extra demand from customers, there is a risk of losing valuable business. In order to remain competitive and relevant, a business should invest in a cloud system that is flexible, scalable and caters to all their business needs. For example, with a hybrid cloud model, healthcare organizations can interact with patients in real-time and financial institutions have better oversight over a customer’s full financial overview.

Hopefully after reading through the top six advantages of Hybrid Cloud you now have a better perception why it is becoming such a popular choice for IT executives all over the world. Furthermore, just choosing to go hybrid cloud doesn’t mean you are guaranteed these benefits. Depending on your company and its needs and inherent complexities, executing your hybrid cloud vision could be a complex undertaking and the best option is to do it with an experienced partner.

Key Aspects of an Identity Access Management (IAM) Strategy

The components and functionalities of identity and access management bring a lot of benefits to all users who are involved into the organisation’s ecosystem, no matter of the business sector they belong to. Before engaging yourself to an IAM project, it is critical to determine and to have a long-term vision of your IAM strategy. This initiative is much more effective and profitable than having to assemble various solutions that may not be appropriate or not always well integrated.

A clear identity and access management strategy is fundamental for organisations to operate effectively. It will guarantee secure access to the information system, ensure compliance with regulations, reduce a large number of operating risks, improve productivity and the quality of service delivered to users. Many organisations’ failures prove that fact that the lack of expertise and effective identity and access management strategy can led to risky implementations and expensive mistakes. This is the reason why many organizations look for experienced service providers for assistance.

Building an Identity and Access Management Strategy

1. Discovery Is the First Step

The first step in developing an IAM strategy is to gain a thorough understanding of the customer’s current state. This step is crucial, because an accurate picture of an organization’s current state helps to create a more realistic strategy and results in successful project implementation. There are three ways to develop a better understanding of the customers’ current environments, needs, and goals.

  • Understand the How. To better prepare and develop context before beginning a project, you should search for specific artifacts and documents that help understand how the organization functions. That could include any existing IAM policies and procedures, IAM architectural diagrams, relevant audit findings, and an overview of the network and server environments. It is also helpful to get to know the current technology elements: which are the main applications and systems being used, and how they are set up and customized.
  • Understand the Who. Developing a demographic profile of the organization is also very important, i. e – how many users there are, what is their location, and who gets access to what. Viewing the structure of the organization is also essential: who approves access requests, which users are employees or non-employees, and how HR interacts with the existing IAM process.
  • Understand the Why. Understanding the drivers for an organization’s IAM project is pivotal for the project’s success. It ensures that leaders are on the same page about their reasons for investing in IAM, sets clear expectations for the project’s outcomes, and helps champions justify the project internally.

2. From Discovery to Deliverables

When the discovery process is finished, the next step is to conduct an analysis of what you have collected as an information. For some companies, this means a roadmap and a strategy, but others might need a competitive assessment, an IGA recommendation, or advice on the best way to handle role-based access. Here are some examples of the deliverables that can be provided:

  • Architecture. A smart approach is to develop a map that captures how IAM currently functions at the organization and represents all the systems, architecture, tools, users, and connectors. This map should accurately reflect the organization’s environment, processes, patterns, and challenges. On the basis of this “big picture” of the organization’s current state, an architecture that reflects the ideal state could be created.
  • Roadmap. The roadmap describes the actions which companies need to take to get from A to B, and helps companies prioritize these actions and put them in the appropriate order.
  • Tool Recommendations. With a clear understanding of the customer’s requirements and extensive knowledge about the best tools for every situation, the needs to the appropriate vendors could be properly matched.

3. Perform a comprehensive audit

Another significant step is to perform a comprehensive audit of current practices so that you know exactly what types of systems or processes are used by employees to share and transfer information. You may find out that people in your organization are subverting security controls to get their work done. It’s a common issue that can help you build a stronger access management structure.

4. Develop IAM Governance Procedures

It is very important to ensure that risk management and compliance guidelines are followed consistently throughout the company. That could be verified by efficient provisioning and de-provisioning procedures. Besides, the privileged accounts should be handled with care. Compared with accounts for regular users, these accounts can have almost unlimited access to sensitive data, applications, and devices. You should strike a balance between access and security by following the guidelines of least privilege. When users need elevated privileges for a specific task, it is recommended to grant access for a limited time using unique credentials.

5. Compliance is a top consideration

Its crucial to ensure that compliance guidelines and risk management are incorporated into the identity management strategy. Privacy management and data access governance is an important aspect of IAM. It controls who is capable of accessing user data and how they can share or use it. This ensured that organizations meet the growing requirements of changing industry and global data privacy regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

6. Add Cloud-based IAM to Your Arsenal

If you are looking to the cloud for greater efficiency and easy scalability, cloud-based identity and access management services can be part of your IAM plan. Identity and Access Management-as-a-Service (IDaaS) simplifies even the most complex user management challenges. These systems exist in environments defined by strict access with regular monitoring and security for both IT and physical assets. Scheduled backups and data recovery plans prevent catastrophic losses. Further, the access control measures are certified to industry standards with frequent audits. You can meet necessary audit requirements by leveraging existing security certifications rather than investing talent and resources within a similar internal plan.

IAM projects are complex, that is why a defined strategy for success is required. Without a good IAM strategy, analysis and planning the projects usually fail. A successful IAM strategy balances security requirements with employee and customer experience and communicates these goals effectively to executives.

PATECCO is your partner through all phases of IAM strategy: Our practice is to work closely with your technology management and business leaders and to consult you for the sequence of projects needed to make your strategy a reality. Whether you would like to implement a new IAM strategy or update an old one,our consultants can offer their professional support to successfully build up your IAM strategy.

Eight Reasons Why Insurance Companies Should Move to Cloud

The Insurance and financial services industry is in a state of continual transformation. Rapidly evolving customer expectations, rice of digital platforms and increasing regulatory demand and Data privacy, requires a swift response from Insurance companies to ensure profitable sustenance. To function effectively in a customer-driven environment, business agility has emerged as a key imperative for all industries including Insurance. Cloud is disruptive technology that can help organisations gain the required agility as they strive to reduce costs, drive innovation and streamline operations. Cloud eliminates the need for heavy infrastructure investments and offers flexible operating models which enables the business to enhance its agility and increase its market responsiveness.

Recent threats and frequent cybercrimes have provoked the insurance sector, dealing with large amounts of sensitive data, to be at the forefront of integrating cloud technology into their digital eco system. It enables insurers to reuse their IT resources more efficiently, reducing the cost of acquiring and maintaining infrastructure. Cloud based platforms, storage and applications change the way of creating and delivering their products and services, managing risks and claims, collaborating with partners, and communicating with customers, agents and brokers.

The main reasons why insurance companies use Cloud-based solutions include different factors such as security and flexibility, rapid provisioning, better asset visibility, and robust data governance facilities. But that’s not all – let’s have a look at some of the top reasons for of cloud adoption in the insurance industry:

1. Improving operational efficiency and performance

Private cloud improves the operational efficiency and performance of the insurers by ensuring data security and accessibility to its employees in low risk and efficient way. While public cloud helps insurers to reduce cost by ensuring the availability of data and services to the customers and external networks. Cloud is much more than infrastructure, insurers are now exploring the levels to which cloud can lead to. Starting from infrastructure to platform to process, cloud expands its opportunities in business process solutions such as claims and expenses processing, managing a whole business process unlike traditional BPO.

2. Improving speed to market

Having in mind the greater pressure to reduce the time to market for new products and services, insurers can use insurance-based cloud computing solutions to deliver greater IT agility and shorter project implementation time. Cloud‑based benefit enrolment systems can thoroughly automate the enrolment process to support real-time pricing and validation of eligibility, allowing insurers to deliver a more convenient and personalized way to shop for benefits.

3. Faster Deployment

Unlike the traditional IT services Cloud computing takes a short time for deployment. It allows businesses to leverage their services and functionalities in a short time. Cloud has more than sufficient resources available at its disposal to allow for multiple tenants in the shared environment. These resources are always scalable.

4. Simplified Access

Simplified access is one of the most vital reasons of using the cloud-based system. The insurance companies, while leveraging the cloud-based solutions, could gain immense benefits. With Identity and Access Management, the companies can enjoy a single sign-on facility that makes the working easier and simpler. Furthermore, all the user’s access rights are controlled by their status and as soon as someone leaves the organization, his or her accessing rights are be removed automatically.

5. Advancing business growth

Cloud-based services offer the users a more holistic view and help them to understand consumer needs better. Cloud-based solutions can provide better social listening and higher conversion rates from opportunity to sale through targeted campaign management and improved opportunity and lead engagement models. This could result in higher cross-sell, upsell and retention rates. Cloud can also enhance the claims experience by providing better service and better communication with end customers.

6. Driving customer centricity

In addition, cloud technologies drive customer centricity with data unification, allow products and services reach market faster and improve the renewal process with external systems. Insurance brokers have the opportunity to embed broker management system modules to advise insurance to customers through various websites and portals. Cloud based collaborative tools allow advisors to answer questions on products and services round the clock and independent of geography. Besides, it encourages unified interactions within the distribution channel.

7. Effective Innovation

Nowadays every insurance company wants to innovate and offer new things to outpower other agencies. In such a situation, cloud-based solutions could help them to stand out from the competitive market by fitting and meeting the emerging needs of the customers. Furthermore, with the cloud-based systems, the insurers could quickly test and deploy new technologies and robust solutions very efficiently.

8. Streamlined Operations

Thanks to the reliable features and functionalities, Cloud-based solutions help the insurance agencies to reduce their overhead costs and streamline their business operations. The insurers could seamlessly free up the room in their budget and could help the employees to focus on other vital things. Whether you the insurers virtually communicate with their customers, or deploy new systems, cloud computing always makes sure that all these functions are quicker and more comfortable.

As a conclusion, we can say that cloud computing has become an essential aspect of the global environment, because it helps the companies to secure not only their data from breaches and cyber thefts but also provides flexibility in managing that valuable data. With cloud computing, the insurers could seamlessly identify new trends and could deploy new systems satisfying the emerging customer needs.

How Does Cloud Computing Benefit the Insurance Industry?

Insurance companies are a High-Value target to hackers. The reason is the multiple vulnerabilities included in the insurance provider data. They could be customer portals, credit card transactions, insider threats, external hackers (credential acquisition), Big data warehousing and applications, cloud data storage and more. Some of the insurance companies use outdated or not reliable security solutions which very often leads to cyber criminals’ attack with serious consequences for the company.  As a result, Insurance companies become more and more willing about cloud adoption and instead of asking ask “why”, they make plans about “when and how”.  

Several factors provoke the insurance companies to move their applications and data into the cloud as they reassess their business opportunities. These factors include the need for enhanced agility, the need for technology operating efficiencies and the opportunity of reducing infrastructure costs. For insurers navigating a complex risk, regulatory landscape and adoption of cloud comes with multiple challenges of data privacy, architecture, system interfaces and IT security. All that could be handled with a Cloud solution which offers rapid provisioning, clear visibility of assets, robust data governance and a seamless mix of delivery models.

The advantage of moving to Cloud for Insurance Companies

When we talk about Cloud computing, it is not enough to justify its implementation only in terms of cost and effort. Moving to the cloud changes the overall operation of the enterprise. It creates new ways of operating, creates value for the clients and makes your business grow faster.

When deploying and implementing cloud computing solutions, insurance companies could better drive revenue, improve collaboration, gain customer insight and reduce time to market for products. But that’s not everything: there are several other key strategic benefits that would change the way of work and connections in insurance companies.

Benefit #1: Fast Deployment

Cloud computing offers rapid deployment allowing businesses to be ready to take advantage of it in short order. Cloud has enough resources available at its disposal to allow for multiple tenants in the shared environment. These resources are always scalable.

Benefit #2: Higher Productivity and Collaboration

Cloud computing can help insurers provide their agents, brokers and partners with a common, unified platform. It allows them to easily gain access to real-time data and at the same time increases the productivity.

Benefit # 4: Business Growth and Progress

Cloud systems help insurers to deploy new business models, which are more customer oriented. A cloud-based solution offers better understanding of the customers’ needs and successfully develops the services to meet them.

Benefit # 5: Become more innovative

Insurance companies all over the world are in a constant competition to innovate and offer new things on the market. That’s why insurers need to make sure that their application portfolios meet the emerging needs of the customers. Thanks to the Cloud system, they can test and deploy new technologies and that helps them to better collaborate and to develop new products and services.

Benefit #6: Optimized Risk Management

Cloud allows you to integrate risk data, risk assessments and risk indicators within its environment. That allows insurance companies to protect their data against data breaches and data theft.

Benefit #7: Cost effectiveness

Insurance companies are also concerned about their regular expenses. The theory that Cloud is expensive is completely denied by the fact that Cloud computing can help insurers save a great amount of money which they can invest in better marketing activities or in the execution of specific insurance plans. That’s the reason why we say that Cloud ensures efficiency and flexibility.

Benefit #8: Simplified access with Single Sign-On

PATECCO has IAM consulting capabilities that can help insurance companies gain the benefits of moving to a cloud environment. Identity and Access Management supports single sign-on (SSO) and leverages protocols to integrate with enterprise’s cloud ecosystem. The IAM tools can also simplify the partner access. All user log-ins and activities are precisely managed and when an employee at your partner’s organization leaves, you should not worry about whether they still have access to your application. All access rights are strictly provided or removed according to the user status.

Cloud Computing is no more considered as a specific term in the business sphere. It’s more often regarded as a mandatory initiative and activity. As the number of breaches increases, more and more insurance companies start using the cloud technologies which defenitely changed the face of the insurance industry. Cloud computing is the first step of the insurance firms’ digital transition – from ordinary to modern insurance software. The adoption of cloud computing is beneficial not only for the insurance companies, but for their customers, as well. It efficiently encourages collaboration, communication, improves the security and productivity.

6 Steps for Higher Security and Compliance in the Cloud

Nowadays the cloud industry is growing more due to its widespread adoption. But the more it’s growing, the more questions arise whether the cloud is secure. People are thinking about risks such as financial losses, lawsuits or losing the company’s reputation and even future progress. That’s why managing compliance has always been a challenge for IT companies. Today’s business environment requires cloud providers who are proficient in ensuring high level of security and who offer comprehensive cloud services at a much lower cost.

But let’s go back to the question – is cloud more secure? No doubt, yes! Almost all data stored in the cloud is encrypted, so the users need a key to decrypt the information. Business should take care more of the question how the data is accessed than – where it is stored.

As a cloud service provider PATECCO shares its best practices in six steps, ensuring better security and compliance:

1. Create an end-to-end security and compliance framework 

It’s important to create compliance framework, allowing to view, assess and manage all risks, security, and compliance for the cloud environment. Thanks to the instant access to a compliance infrastructure you can download all the certifications and audit reports you need to demonstrate compliance to your own stakeholders.

2. Create Authentication tools

Authentication, also called identity and access control, gives people permission to access different systems and documents according to their role. With cloud providers, implement multi-factor authentication which is more secure process than single sign-on. It requires a verification code that is texted to the users’ phone, or a link in an email that they have to click.

3. Ensure Encryption

Encryption means systematically scrambling of data so that nobody can read it unless having the code key to unscramble it. What needs to be done is to set up virtual networks which are not accessible to anyone within your company and all the traffic between machines in the cloud is securely encrypted. Let’s take for example Office 365’s service encryption. Office 365 offers customer-managed encryption capabilities, allowing you to have greater control over the protection of your sensitive data.

 4. Enforce privacy policies

Privacy and protection of personally identifiable information (PII) is gaining importance across the globe, often involving laws and regulations relating to the acquisition, storage, and use of PII. It is critical that privacy requirements be adequately addressed in the cloud service agreement. If not, the cloud service customer should consider seeking a different provider or not placing sensitive data in the cloud service. For example, customers that wish to place health information subject to the United States HIPAA regulation into a cloud service, must find a cloud service provider that will sign a HIPAA business associate agreement.

Step 5: Assess the security provisions for cloud applications

Companies should proactively protect their business-critical applications from external and internal threats throughout their entire life cycle, from design to implementation to production. Clearly defined security policies and processes are essential to ensure the applications are enabling the business rather than introducing additional risk. In order to protect an application from various types of breaches it is important to understand the application security policy considerations based on the different cloud deployment models.

When developing and deploying applications in a cloud environment, it is critical that customers realize they may forfeit some control and should design their cloud applications with these considerations in mind.

6. Audit and ensure proper reporting of operational and business processes

Offering tools for monitoring what’s going on with your infrastructure and application is quite useful. You can look at relevant log data from your applications or systems to see who’s doing what or if there were any threats. With the cloud, you can go in any time and pull down any number of pre-configured reports.

It’s essential that security controls encompass not only the cloud services themselves, but also the management interfaces offered to customers. Incident Reporting and Incident Handling process that meets the needs of the customer should also be available in the Cloud System.