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What is a Distributed Cloud Architecture? Top 4 Security Considerations

Posted on January 10th, 2022

By 2025, there will be more than 100 zettabytes of data stored in the cloud – that’s a lot of data! With more applications needing to process a significant amount of data in real-time, there is a shift in demand for distributed cloud and edge computing. Fortunately, the distributed cloud brings many impressive benefits to organizations – generating immense cost savings, greater scalability, and reaching resource-intensive business demands.

Distributed cloud is the next generation of cloud computing with competitive advantages that are hard to ignore. However, there are still some security issues to consider. This post will discuss what distributed cloud architecture is, how it works, the benefits, and security considerations that you need to know.

What is a distributed cloud architecture?

Distributed cloud architecture is a public cloud computing service that can run a public cloud infrastructure in multiple locations. It can be on-premises, in a cloud provider's data center, or even in a third-party data center - but all are managed from a single control panel. With this centrally-managed distribution of public cloud services, organizations can deploy and run applications in a mix of cloud environments. In doing so, organizations can better meet their requirements.

Historically, when you leverage a public cloud provider, your data is housed in a massive centralized data center monitored by a whole IT team. However, with billions of connected devices collecting data today, a centralized cloud data center oftentimes result in network congestion and poor network efficiencies.

Fortunately, distributed cloud architecture provides the best foundation for edge computing because servers and applications run closer to where data is created. Edge computing features smaller, more agile interconnected data centers to spread across multiple locations – driving that processing horsepower closer to IoT devices to cut down on the congestion.

How do distributed clouds work?

Distributed computing allows application components to spread across different networks while still communicating with one another – improving computing efficiency and application performance. However, distributed cloud computing takes that to a whole new level by allocating a public cloud provider’s entire compute stack to different locations depending on specific needs.

Distributed cloud architecture leverages micro-cloud satellites in order to extend the provider’s centralized cloud while retaining control over the operations, governance, data security, and updates of the entire distributed infrastructure. A distributed cloud architecture also allows the customer to access and manage the centralized cloud services and geographically-distributed satellites all on one control plane.

Benefits of a distributed cloud architecture

Without a doubt, there are major benefits to adopting the distributed cloud architecture. Let’s take a closer look at the advantages it can have on your business.

Efficient, cost-effective scalability

It can be costly and time-consuming to expand a data center or build out new data center locations. Distributed cloud empowers organizations to expand existing infrastructure and edge locations without the need for physical build-outs. In doing so, organizations can quickly develop and deploy in any environment without bringing on additional tools or personnel.

Better regulatory compliance

Data privacy regulations restrict a user's personal information (PI) to travel outside their country of residence. With a distributed cloud architecture, organizations can easily process personal information (PI) in each user’s country, thus adhering to data privacy guidelines.

Fast content delivery

A content delivery network (a distributed host of servers that work together to deliver Internet content) can be deployed on a distributed cloud to improve delivery speed. In particular, the distributed cloud can store and deliver video content from locations closer to end-users in order to enhance the user experience.

IoT, (AI) and machine learning applications

Nowadays, most applications can't wait for data to travel from the central data center and back because they rely on real-time data analysis. Examples would be smart home security systems, wearable fitness trackers, self-driving cars, voice assistants, and more. Fortunately, distributed cloud and edge computing deliver the low latency that these applications need.

Top 4 security considerations for a distributed cloud architecture

Many organizations place their trust in cloud computing. 48% of organizations store their most classified and important data on the cloud, making the cloud data center an enticing target for any hackers.

Here are the top 4 considerations you should know to secure your distributed cloud architecture.

1. Visibility

It’s critical to map out every asset and dependency that compose the distributed cloud infrastructure to improve visibility into your distributed cloud environments. In doing so, you can improve overall cloud management and keep your security posture in tip-top shape. Rather than mapping out the cloud architecture by hand, organizations should employ industry-standard tools that achieve the same results with low costs and zero human errors.

2. Scalability of security systems

Due to the scalability nature of cloud computing, organizations can get into the habit of scaling too much without considering the security implications. A data breach is bound to happen when an organization's security measures cannot keep up with how their cloud environment is growing. For that reason, it is critical to consider the scalability of their security systems first before expanding cloud environments. It is also important to integrate security applications into your cloud environments to effectively maintain security posture.

3. Employ automation

As the number of applications and dependencies rapidly grows, organizations can't effectively manage their cloud environments by hand. This makes the sensitive data stored on the cloud even more vulnerable. Without a doubt, automation will be your lifesaver. Therefore, employing automation will save you time and resources so you can focus more on higher-level strategic work and cybersecurity efforts.

4. Review cloud governance policies

It is recommended that organizations review and update their governance policies to better prepare for the cloud-first economy. You should consider building a governance-specific team that has expertise in dealing with data and customer laws. With regulations constantly changing, it’s crucial to continuously monitor compliance with legal regulations and keep an eye on the latest updates in the data privacy space.

How SecurityScorecard can help

Despite several benefits, distributed cloud architecture doesn’t always make business easier. From a security standpoint, distributed architecture across multiple environments can make it more difficult to monitor and identify potential vulnerabilities. Proactive cybersecurity measures are needed to combat cloud security challenges that arise down the road.

With SecurityScorecard’s Security Ratings, organizations can confidently monitor and oversee the security of their distributed cloud environments – empowering leadership to make well-informed decisions about how security controls can be improved. Get your free score now.

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