Businesses locked in to ‘captivity cloud’

Published on the 10/10/2023 | Written by Heather Wright

Businesses locked in to ‘captivity cloud’

And losing control of IT and security environments…

Businesses feel they are losing control over their IT and security environments, giving up control to cloud giants such as AWS, Microsoft and Google and becoming locked into proprietary ‘captivity clouds’.

A report by Forrester, commissioned by web performance and security company Cloudflare, suggests that while there are benefits to cloud and software-as-a-service offerings, the hyperscalers are the ones holding the keys to the castle – using them to lock businesses into staying with them and ensuring their cloud is the centre of an organisation’s management universe.

“Captivity clouds will lure you in with one product, and make it near impossible to mix and match competitive offerings across the cloud space.”

While there are undeniably benefits from cloud, the report suggests businesses are becoming locked in with cloud providers, and their application strategies and, with little visibility into back-end practices of the big providers, are being forced to simply place their trust in the providers

Despite there being managed service provider solutions designed to simplify hybrid ecosystems, frictionless interoperability – and indeed, observability – between multiple clouds, and with on-premise systems, remains elusive, even with the APIs provided by cloud providers.

Nearly 40 percent of the almost 450 IT decision makers surveyed globally say they are losing control over their IT and security environments, with 30 percent saying that managing and securing both public cloud environments and data in SaaS environments is significantly more complex today than ever before. 

A lack of cloud interconnectivity undermines enterprise IT and security management. It’s not just about cloud. While it was a key culprit according to those surveyed, the increasing number of applications – often SaaS offerings to support a hybrid workforce – increasing decentralisation of those apps, and the shift to remote/hybrid workforces were also blamed. 

Cloudflare is pointing the finger firmly at hyperscalers, with Mathew Prince, Cloudflare CEO, saying the big clouds have built business models on capturing customer data.

“These captivity clouds will lure you in with one product, and make it near impossible to mix and match competitive offerings across the cloud space,” Prince says. 

Raymond Maisano, head of Cloudflare A/NZ, says the great part of the internet is we don’t know the great apps and services of tomorrow.

“If you are locked into an ecosystem that can only use services from that environment, you lose flexibility and control, and you lose the ability to innovate,” Maisano says.

Of course, Cloudflare has a solution for you in its ‘connectivity cloud’ which it claims is a unified platform of cloud-native services designed to help enterprises regain control over their increasingly complex and sprawling technology and data. 

“Fundamentally, we are a network that makes it easy for you to connect and protect everything,” Prince claims. “We sit atop everything else and connect anything that’s online – whether it’s a cloud, a device, a database, or on-premises hardware – so businesses can escape the grasp of the cloud captors.”

The report notes IT and security teams are now tasked with even more responsibilities to remain productive and compliant while managing the increasingly complex landscape. One third say they’re taking on new responsibilities that weren’t within their scope five years ago, including ensuring regulatory compliance.

The teams see major challenges revolving around managing a growing business landscape while ensuring their team remains productive and secure. Nearly 50 percent of organisations said the growing number and types of users, spanning human, machine and third-party, was one of their top five challenges. Maintaining or improving their team’s productivity, and addressing growing attack surface areas were also key challenges which if not adequately addressed were expected to have a direct impact on the customer experience, productivity and their organisation’s competitive advantage. 

“IT and security teams have been handed a monumental challenge: connect remote teams, on-premises teams and infrastructure, multiple cloud environments, SaaS apps, and more, so they function like a single, secure environment,” says Cloudflare chief product officer, Jen Taylor.

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