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Canadian Government Releases Comprehensive Guide on Cloud Computing for Canadian Organizations in 2021

The Canadian Centre For Cybersecurity (Cyber Centre) recently released a comprehensive guide on Cloud computing for Canadian organizations. The guide includes everything professional leaders need to know about Cloud computing and we’ve put together a breakdown of the most important take-aways.

Everything You Need to Know About Cloud Computing in Canada – A Comprehensive Guide from the Canadian Government

In the past few months, OnServe has been working in conjunction with the Canadian Centre for Cybersecurity (Cyber Centre) to support its mission of educating Canadian businesses and organizations on all things IT and cybersecurity. Our team of IT professionals shares this mission, so we are constantly trying to connect Canadian professional teams with the concrete resources they need to make informed and strategic decisions about IT for their organizations.

Today, we’re focusing on all things Cloud. Cloud computing has become all the more popular over the past year as countless Canadian businesses try to adapt to an unpredictable business environment. Many professional leaders have come to the conclusion that Cloud computing platforms provide the increased flexibility, scalability, and productivity that they need to remain competitive under any circumstances.

In response to this upsurge in Cloud interest, the Cyber Centre recently released a comprehensive document sharing everything organizational decision-makers need to know about smart and strategic Cloud deployment. The document includes insight and suggestions on all things Cloud, including:

  • A brief background on Cloud computing and different Cloud computing models
  • Reasons why Cloud computing makes sense in today’s business environment
  • The strategic business benefits of using Cloud computing models
  • The potential risks involved when deploying Cloud computing models
  • Tips for implementing Cloud computing models effectively
  • Important Cloud computing security considerations

The document largely focuses on promoting the idea that organizations who are thinking about Cloud migration should consider working with a professional Cloud service provider (CSP). The great thing about partnering with a CSP is that they can help organizations strategically implement and manage accessible and scalable Cloud computing environments while actively mitigating risk. The Cyber Centre emphasizes that partnering with a CSP can provide increased flexibility and enhanced IT resources for busy Canadian organizations.

However, the Cyber Centre also wants to ensure that Canadian organizations are approaching Cloud migration strategically and from an informed perspective. Even with a CSP, organizational leaders are still responsible for protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and secure availability of all IT resources and data. That’s why we’ve decided to break down everything the Cyber Centre has released about Cloud computing in Canada. Our hope is that senior decision-makers for Canadian organizations will use this guide to help them make informed and strategic choices about Cloud migration in 2021.

Breaking Down the Basics: What is Cloud Computing?

Let’s start by providing a little bit of background. What is Cloud computing exactly? It seems no matter where you go or who you talk to these days, everyone is talking about the Cloud. Professional leaders are getting the same questions all the time: have you migrated to the Cloud? If not, when are you planning to? How secure is your Cloud model? Do you have a Cloud service provider (CSP)?

However, despite all these questions, many professional leaders are left wondering – what exactly is the Cloud, why is everyone talking about it, and if it’s so great, how can I get there? We can help. The best way to think about Cloud computing is to think of it as a bunch of companies selling computing power that is deployed entirely through the internet. You know that big server tucked away in a closet at your office? Cloud computing takes all of that technology and computing power and centralizes it virtually on the internet.

This means that Cloud computing allows organizations to store, access, transmit, and edit data while also communicating and collaborating with stakeholders using vital software programs from one central location on the internet. Cloud service providers (CSPs) are the organizations who sell the use of this centralized computing power, host Cloud infrastructures for countless organizations, and help those organizations implement, secure, and manage their Cloud infrastructures consistently.

Why Does Using the Cloud Make Business Sense?

The next question you might be asking yourself is this: why is the Cloud such a smart decision for organizations like mine? In short, why should I get on board with Cloud migration? Isn’t it just a fad? The answer is no – Cloud computing is not just a passing fad. Cloud computing has quickly become a best practice for organizations in all industries. Migrating to the Cloud has the potential to truly transform how your organization gets work done by enabling on-demand access to a centralized collection of flexible, scalable, and high-performance IT resources.

Here are the key ways your organization will be transformed by Cloud computing:

  • Optimized Performance – Deploying the Cloud with the support of the right CSP will help your organization more dynamically allocate critical IT resources that support the unique operational needs and goals of your organization. The right Cloud model will help you better handle increased traffic during peak demand periods and will allow you to see an overall optimization of your IT infrastructure. CSPs are constantly working behind the scenes to keep Cloud infrastructures fully monitored, maintained, and managed to ensure optimal performance at all times.
  • Increased Productivity – When working with a Cloud model, your team members will have streamlined access to their files, communication resources, and other critical applications. Cloud computing allows for anywhere, anytime, secure access to organizational IT resources, meaning your team can get work done from wherever they are. Team members will also have an enhanced capability to collaborate in real-time, meaning productivity levels will be higher than ever before.
  • Enhanced Reliability – Migrating to the Cloud allows you to take advantage of a much more reliable and predictable computing environment. Data back-ups, disaster recovery, and business continuity strategies are automated, easier to deploy, and less expensive because Cloud data can be mirrored at multiple sites on the CSPs network.
  • Reduced Cost – Cost-effectiveness doesn’t just come from the enhanced reliability either. Cloud migration helps organizations see a huge reduction in overhead IT costs by eliminating the need to invest in expensive equipment and on-premise software. With Cloud computing, organizations also avoid the costs associated with operating and maintaining their own data centres because the right CSP will take care of all this operational maintenance.

What Kinds of Cloud Service Models are Available?

When it comes to Cloud migration, there are a variety of different Cloud service models that organizations can choose from. There are also a variety of deployment models that organizations can consider. A service model involves the type of Cloud computing you invest in, and a deployment model involves the way your Cloud computing resources are manifested and managed online.

Choosing the right service and deployment model for your organization will depend on your industry, the nature of the data you process, and your unique operational needs. Check out all the options below, and if you’re stuck on which model is right for you, never hesitate to reach out to a team of Canadian Cloud specialists for consultation.

Cloud Service Models

  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS): This is a Cloud service model where your organization purchases the use of specific applications that are hosted by a CSP. In this model, your organization has little to no visibility of the underlying computing infrastructure and you’re really only accessing the software applications you need.
  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS): This is a Cloud service model that your organization creates and uses to run custom applications. However, the CSP provides the facilities required to build, deliver, and support those applications and services. In this model, your organization has a more direct hand in the customized management and maintenance of your Cloud platform as a whole, but the CSP is still in charge of all the equipment needed to make the platform happen.
  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS): This is a Cloud service model that sees your organization access the CSPs fundamental computing hardware and resources (servers, data storage solutions, and networking equipment) and use that equipment to deploy and run all the IT resources your organization needs. In this Cloud service model, you’re not just investing in the use of Cloud applications or simply a more robust Cloud platform – you’re investing in an entire Cloud infrastructure to support your business.

Cloud Deployment Models

  • Public Cloud – Using a public Cloud deployment model means your CSP’s infrastructure and resources are available to the general public over the internet. Under this deployment model, the CSPs infrastructure is completely external to and separate from your organization.
  • Private Cloud – Using a private Cloud deployment model means the Cloud computing infrastructure is operated specifically for one customer only. The Cloud computing environment might be managed by the organization itself or the CSP. It might be located in the organization’s own data centre, or in the Cloud provider’s data centre, depending on the Cloud service model that has been chosen. Under this deployment model, organizations have increased control over their Cloud infrastructure and computing resources. The private Cloud model also provides increased data network privacy and security.
  • Community Cloud – Using a community Cloud deployment model is often used when several organizations have similar privacy, security, and regulatory requirements and would like a shared infrastructure. Under this model, the various organizations use the same Cloud infrastructure provided by a CSP but have access to their own applications and resources within it.
  • Hybrid Cloud – Using a hybrid Cloud deployment model involves the combination of two or more Cloud deployment models (public, private, or community). Under this Cloud deployment model, each Cloud model remains a relatively separate and unique entity but is bound to the others through standardized technology enabling the streamlined portability of applications and data as needed.

What Are Some Concrete Benefits of Cloud Computing?

Now that we’ve gone over what Cloud computing is all about, why you might consider it, and the different service and deployment models to choose from, let’s get down to the good stuff. What are the concrete business and organizational benefits of deploying a Cloud computing model?

We’ve already talked a little bit about why Cloud computing makes sense for Canadian organizations. As mentioned, Cloud-based services enable organizations to take advantage of a more robust and streamlined set of capabilities in a way that better mobilizes and streamlines IT resources. Depending on the service and deployment model you choose, the benefits of Cloud computing are truly endless.

Here are some of the leading benefits of migrating to the Cloud provided by the Cyber Centre:

  • Hardware needs and maintenance costs are partially or entirely outsourced to a Cloud service provider.
  • Cloud infrastructure can be quickly and automatically scaled up or down depending on changes to organizational needs or operational demand.
  • Unnecessary resources and features are eliminated on subscription-based Cloud service models where you only pay for what you use.
  • Deployment of IT resources is streamlined and the expensive and time-consuming process of internal procurement, development, and implementation is eliminated entirely.
  • Your IT budget gets slashed because you’re not required to make any investments in the development or maintenance of your software and infrastructure.
  • You clear up space in your office by eliminating the need for clunky server hardware. You also eliminate the costs associated with housing those servers (i.e. electricity, cooling, licensing, maintenance).
  • Your cybersecurity concerns are outsourced to seasoned CSPs who have the expertise and experience necessary to keep your data and network dynamically secured from end-to-end.

OK, But What About Those Cloud Risks You Mentioned?

So far we’ve made a pretty positive case for Cloud migration. There are countless options to choose from and endless benefits to be taken advantage of. We stand by our promotion of the Cloud, but it’s definitely important for us to talk a little bit about the risks involved with Cloud migration too.

Discussing the risks involved in Cloud migration is not an effort to discourage you from Cloud migration. Instead, by learning about potential risks, our hope is that your organization will be better positioned to approach Cloud migration securely and strategically. The Cyber Centre created a list of the most significant Cloud migration risks for organizations to consider. Check them out below.

Here are some of the key risks you should keep in mind when adopting Cloud services:

  • With Cloud migration, you give up direct control over many aspects of IT security and privacy, but your organization is still ultimately accountable for maintaining the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data and network resources. This means choosing a CSP you can trust is critical.
  • If Cloud services are not deployed correctly, it can result in potential violations of non-compliance with legal and regulatory restrictions and requirements. Depending on the nature of your organization, you are likely held to a variety of data and network security regulations either at the industry or national level. It’s important to know what regulations your organization must remain compliant with before you deploy Cloud migration.
  • You should consider the impact associated with migrating and consolidating your organization’s on-premise IT resources. Understand exactly how various resources and processes will be impacted during the migration so you can approach the transition with an informed perspective.
  • Keep in mind that if your organization has long been operating with an on-premise IT environment, the IT professionals in your organization may not be entirely familiar with Cloud-based cybersecurity. Again, this reinforces the need to choose a Cloud-service provider wisely. Have them provide concrete evidence that they are skilled in keeping Cloud deployments dynamically secure.
  • When migrating to the Cloud, the allocation of roles and responsibilities can get confusing. It’s critical to clearly assign and define roles and responsibilities so that potential incidents can be responded to efficiently and effectively.
  • Finally, it’s important to know all the ins-and-outs of your Cloud service and deployment model before you sign on the dotted line. There is the potential for your organization to get locked into a Cloud service arrangement that you don’t want. Make sure to read the fine print to understand the financial obligations your committing to and make sure you maintain your ability to move to another Cloud service provider if that becomes necessary.

Tips for Implementing Cloud Services Strategically

Now that you know all the important risk-mitigation considerations to make before approaching Cloud migration, let’s discuss some tips that will help ensure a smooth and strategic transition for your organization. No matter the size of your organization or the industry you’re in, you need to adopt a structured and risk-averse approach to Cloud migration. Your Cloud migration strategy should account for the ways in which you hope to use the Cloud to support organizational goals and operational needs.

Here are some tips about Cloud implementation provided by the Cyber Centre:

  • Start by taking an IT inventory. Assess all the existing investments your organization has in software, hardware, and IT support. Make deliberate and concrete considerations about the value that will be gained by having access to new features and functionalities in the Cloud. The goal here is to really imagine the ways in which your organization will be transformed by migrating to the Cloud.
  • Take stock of your data situation. What kind of data does your organization work with? What level of data sensitivity are you dealing with? This will help you identify what kind of data security measures are required and will help you determine how data should be stored in the Cloud to ensure compliance and confidentiality are upheld.
  • Create service level agreements that clearly define roles, responsibilities, and requirements. This is an easy way to outline standards for measuring CSP performance and will help you set financial penalties for underperformance or failing to meet clearly defined obligations.
  • Carefully review and manage all the security controls that are implemented to protect Cloud service assets including web application gateways, network security groups, and security control baselines.
  • Make use of the variety of Cloud computing informational resources provided by the Candian Centre for Cybersecurity. An informed perspective is the only way to go when it comes to Cloud migration. The more you know, the better positioned you’ll be to make informed and strategic choices throughout the migration process. You can find the Cyber Centre’s informative resources here.
  • Finally, it’s a great idea to conduct a variety of initial meetings and consultations with a CSP before the migration begins. Ask them to provide recommendations and also ask them to provide security certifications to ensure they have the Cloud posture required to support your organization’s data and networking security needs. Finding the right team of Cloud specialists can really make all the difference in the Cloud implementation process.

Some Final Words of Cloud Security Advice

Data Residency Considerations 

When it comes to security in the Cloud, your top priority should be the protection of your business data. In order to make sure you know that your data remains secure, it’s important to make considerations about data residency. Data residency refers to the geographical location where your data is stored. Depending on the nature of your organization and the regulatory compliance requirements you adhere to, your data residency location will vary.

Data residency is especially important when it comes to the storage, access, and transmission of personal information. Different countries have different requirements for protecting personal information. That’s why it’s critical that your organization ensures that your CSP adheres to all necessary data residency requirements.

It’s also worthwhile to note that the Cyber Centre recommends that all sensitive data – including account and security information – is stored within Canada and not beyond the national borders.

CSP IT Security Assessment Program 

If you’re looking for ways to ensure that your CSP has the security posture your organization requires, you can take advantage of the Cyber Centre’s CSP IT Security Assessment Program. Through the program, the team of Cyber Centre IT specialists will evaluate your CSPs security processes and controls against a baseline set of recommended security standards.

It’s important to note, however, that while the program will review the CSP’s existing security processes, resources, and controls, it’s still up to your organization to determine the unique security standards you require. You also retain the final decision-making power about whether or not the CSP is positioned to meet your security requirements. Your organization will receive summary supports from the assessment conducted by the CSP IT Security Assessment Program to help inform your final decision. You can learn more about the program here.

Ready to Migrate to the Cloud? OnServe Can Provide Strategic Consultation!

We hope the resources we’ve shared from the Cyber Centre have given you all the information you need to make an informed decision about Cloud migration. If your organization is looking for Cloud migration support in Canada, OnServe can provide the consultation and guidance you need. We’ll walk you through the entire process and can even serve as your reliable and security-focused CSP. If your organization needs Cloud migration support, reach out to the team of Cloud specialists from OnServe anytime.

Give us a call anytime at (613) 634-8125, or visit our website at www.onserve.ca for more information about our Cloud migration and management support services.