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Infrascale 2021 Predictions: In Light of SUNBURST, Network Security and Cloud Back-Up Tech Will Be on Fire in 2021

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2021.  Read them in this 13th annual series exclusive.

In Light of SUNBURST, Network Security and Cloud Back-Up Tech Will Be on Fire in 2021

By Russ Reeder, CEO, Infrascale

What we don't know about the SolarWinds hack and what we do know about the MSP and cloud landscape will shape readiness for fallout next year

It's fast becoming clear that the SUNBURST hack on SolarWinds, caught because of its trespass into FireEye, is likely the worst cyberattack ever against the U.S. government and against thousands of companies, from Fortune 500 to MSPs serving a myriad of commercial sectors. Striking in March when the U.S. was most vulnerable to pandemic-caused operational shifts and undetected for nine months, the malicious code has created "grave risk to the U.S. federal government, state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, as well as critical infrastructure entities and other private sector organizations," according to the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

Up to 18,000 SolarWinds customers downloaded certain Orion build system updates containing the malware that granted hackers "God-view" access within corrupted networks and parts of managed systems. Some of the largest financial services, telecommunications, and computing companies in the world, thousands of other businesses, and the U.S. Departments of Treasury, Defense, Homeland Security, Commerce, Energy, State, and Health & Human Services are among the infected. The government directives for immediate response by federal agencies are historic.

As the nature of the threat and extent of damage continue to unfold in 2021, containment of primary and secondary fallout - both known and as yet unknown - will take on new urgency next year. Coupled with data from Infrascale's survey of over 1,200 business executives' views on MSPs, some areas of concern are clear.

Scorching Needs: Network Security, Antivirus, and Cloud Backup Tech

Polled in the last quarter of 2020, 59% of executives said that they would need cloud backup services the most in 2021. The next highest areas of need were network security at 50% (including firewalls, VPNs and other tools), and antivirus and malware protection also at 50%.

These numbers will increase even more in 2021 as businesses realize the extent of the network breach and data compromised by SUNBURST. We don't know what we don't know. The scope of the global threat is probably unprecedented. To manage that level of unpredictability, CTOs and CIOs need to imagine the worst will happen sooner rather than later. Robust cloud backup and recovery systems figure among core, preparatory responses. But cloud backup alone won't be enough.

Local Control Highlighted for Disaster Redundancy

AWS's US-EAST-1 cloud data center power failure in August of 2019, lamented by users, led to 7.5% of EC2 instances and EBS volumes becoming unavailable - with some incurring hardware damage that made stored data unrecoverable for customers. It happened on AWS, proving that hosting data only in the cloud or only in one cloud or region is a poor strategy. The catalog of outages in 2020 has driven the point home: Microsoft/Azure in March, September, and October; Google in March and December; Github in April; IBM Cloud in June; Cloudflare in July; Salesforce and Zoom in August; and AWS in November.

So, it's not surprising that a commanding 86% of Infrascale survey respondents consider local control of data, i.e., on-prem data and operations on data, "very important" (57%) or "important" (29%). For many companies, it will continue to be absolutely essential to control data locally, most likely within a larger system of redundancy that includes hybrid and multi-cloud complements. Disaster recovery for extraordinary times means multiple failovers.

Duplication Across Vendors Is Enlightened Strategy

Being ready for anything in 2021 means choosing multiple vendors that use different, though equally secure, approaches to managing data and systems in every part of the pipeline. Concerns will continue to grow over vendor lock-in, as will fear of storing all data in one place. We know that 58% of executives in late 2020 said they have already had explicit conversations with teams about vendor lock-in and ensuring cloud data is not hosted solely with one provider - and that they're worried about the situation. More companies in 2021 will duplicate their data to multiple locations for added safety.

SaaS Application Tech Will Keep Skyrocketing

The bottom line with SaaS application platforms is that they do save enterprises substantial time and money. They feature easy-to-use solutions tailored to different business divisions. When it comes to SaaS application development environments, there's usually no need to stand up infrastructure, and they often leverage visual prototyping, open-source frameworks, model-driven business logic, easy-to-integrate APIs, testing, analytics, fast deployment, and flexible coding options, including low code. An eye-opening 79% of executives reported that they are adopting new SaaS application technology.

The financial industry, in particular, is adopting SaaS application tech more so than other industries (86%). This trend isn't going away. Its trajectory will continue to soar in 2021, but expect leaders that adopt it to demand ironclad security and recovery. Lack of those assurances will be a nonstarter as damage caused by SUNBURST is progressively exposed.

Business Expects AWS, GCP, and Azure to Fight Back With Innovative Brilliance

Our reality in 2021 will be sophisticated, widespread, nation-state cyber warfare, where our public and private sectors will be on the receiving end of larger-scale malicious attacks regularly. We'll look to the big cloud service providers to protect commerce and daily life through unrelenting innovation.

Cloud service providers like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are already viewed as innovators by 58% of executives and as "the best in the business" by 55%. In the new year, they will be under growing pressure to lead and innovate aggressively, especially by finding ways to combat the most skillful, well-funded cyber attacks on the planet.

As major companies continue thorough internal systems reviews and remediation and as SolarWinds, used by some 22,000 MSPs, works with the FBI and cabinet-level departments in the federal government to investigate the SUNBURST attack, expect diversified backup portfolios of computing systems to dominate business concerns.


About the Author

Russ Reeder 

CEO of Infrascale Russ Reeder has more than 25 years of experience in tech, sales, and branding. From programming at Mobil Oil to managing start-up teams and running high-growth global divisions for Fortune 500 giants like Oracle, Russ's high-tech background is rooted in product innovation at scale. Driving customer-centric performance and leveraging deep cloud industry expertise, Reeder led OVHcloud's successful expansion into the U.S. He helped guide the sale of MediaTemple (mt) to GoDaddy, where he remained on the executive management team, working to transform GoDaddy in preparation for its IPO. At Infrascale, Reeder combines leadership in global sales, strategic direction, and operational execution with his core commitment to a diverse, fun, and effective work culture.

Published Monday, January 18, 2021 7:38 AM by David Marshall
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