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Bridging the Divide Between IT Security & IT Operations By @BillBerutti | @CloudExpo #Cloud

In today’s cloud-driven environment, business opportunities, challenges and competitive threats are emerging at breakneck speed

Closing the Gap: Bridging the Divide Between IT Security & IT Operations Is Critical in a Cloud Environment

After the deluge of data breaches in 2014 and more emerging every day, security is without a doubt a top strategic initiative for just about every enterprise in 2015. Along with top-notch security, it is imperative for organizations - particularly cloud-driven ones - to also have leading operations tools in place to manage the availability and reliability of their infrastructure. Consider these statistics: more than 80 percent of attacks target known vulnerabilities and 79 percent of vulnerabilities have patches available on the day of the attack's disclosure. It's shocking then to realize that it takes 193 days on average to resolve the average vulnerability. Clearly, something needs fixing. The gap between IT security and IT operations teams needs closing.

In today's connected and cloud-driven environment, business opportunities, challenges and competitive threats are all emerging at breakneck speed. Keeping up with the rapid deployment of new applications and ensuring proper compliance is mandatory. At the same time, risk is expanding exponentially with each update or change to business critical infrastructure. Yet alongside all this change and risk, there is great potential for information technology (IT) to partner with the business and deliver rapid value and contribute immediately and directly to competitive advantage.

To respond to these rapidly shifting dynamics and security challenges appropriately, IT organizations need to accelerate their own security and operations efforts. Tasks such as systems management, security management, IT service management and application performance management remain vital, to be sure. But the historical ways of managing these efforts will not suffice in today's real-time world. With IT environments now so dynamic - comprised of public, private and hybrid clouds, virtualized and heterogeneous platforms - relying on manual efforts makes it difficult for IT teams to keep the lights on. Because of these complex IT environments, it makes it extraordinarily difficult to quickly address changing business opportunities and challenges.

Managing these efforts in such a manual, disjointed and ad hoc manner is not only unsustainable, it's dangerous. With regard to security, compliance and innovation, being too slow results in breaches, failed audits and missed opportunities. When a virus emerges that leverages a zero-day exploit, IT organizations must respond immediately. Of course, the longer an organization's infrastructure remains unpatched, the longer the business is exposed. Today's enterprises struggle under the weight of breaches, suffering grave brand damage, lawsuits, fines and lost revenue and profits. Moreover, if IT continues to operate as a bottleneck, lines of business will continue to deepen their reliance on shadow IT, which only further elevates business risk.

Against this backdrop, it's clear that compliance can never be a "one and done" affair. No longer is it permissible to treat scheduled audits, the date for a new release of a mandate to take effect, and other urgent deadline jobs as discrete events. Once that one audit is done, for example, another crops up to take its place. What's needed is to build repeatable, automated and efficient ongoing processes, because the results of last quarter's audit may say little about the business' current compliance posture. Compliance, like financial performance, quality initiatives, and rigorous customer service enhancement programs, is now a core, strategic part of the business. When organizations discard these one-off, deadline-driven approaches, they can instead embrace a longer term, more strategic approach.

To address these challenges facing businesses today, organizations are best served taking a comprehensive, policy-based and automated approach to compliance. Here are some tips to keep in mind when adopting such an approach:

  • Provision with compliance in mind. Up-front provisioning of servers, databases and other elements should be done with a strong focus on compliance. Ideally, organizations establish capabilities such as unattended installations, whether those are based on scripts, images or templates.
  • Orchestrate change for continuous compliance. By automating compliance and establishing process automation that spans infrastructure ranging from applications, to platforms and tools, IT teams can get the upper hand. By leveraging integrated capabilities that incorporate automation with IT service management, enterprises can allow IT personnel to put in place automated change management procedures.
  • Create smart policies for cloud, servers and databases. By taking advantage of automated discovery and contextual intelligence, these improved policies are based on vendor patch information, industry and corporate best practices, compliance requirements, as well as others.
  • Make vulnerability scans actionable. By adding a level of reaction to vulnerability scans, it provides IT operations teams with contextual insights needed not only to remediate quickly, but also to help them prioritize and schedule the remediation to ensure minimal business disruption.
  • Automate remediation for known vulnerabilities. Automated remediation should be scheduled or triggered on demand, without the need for labor-intensive scripts.

With the steady drumbeat of cyberattacks and devastating breaches - whether in entertainment, financial services, healthcare or other industries - it's apparent that the gap that now exists between IT security and IT operations teams is dangerously wide. It is too risky to bet that the cost of not patching and remaining 100 percent compliant will outweigh the likelihood of a potentially devastating cyberattack. Many IT operations are already saddled with too many manual efforts, and this inability to accelerate the pace of operations can cost organizations immeasurably. If IT takes too long to provision, configure or update infrastructure services, the business is exposed and at risk. Automation liberates IT to optimize resources and boost efficiencies, cut costs and improve quality of service. Most important, intelligent compliance and automation, and closing the Sec-Ops gap will deepen the trust that organizations have with both their internal and external customers, safeguarding their brand, bottom line and reputation.

More Stories By Bill Berutti

Bill Berutti is the president of the Performance & Availability product line and president of the Cloud Management/Data Center Automation product line for BMC Software, Inc.

Prior to joining BMC, he was a member of the management team at PTC where he was executive vice president of the Service Lifecycle Management (SLM) business unit, the company’s fastest growing business. As general manager of SLM, he doubled the size of the business over two years through both organic and acquired growth. His 17-year career at PTC also included senior leadership roles as head of PTC’s first business unit as well as in corporate development, marketing and sales. He began his career at Wallace Computer Services where he was a successful sales leader.

Berutti holds a bachelor of science in business administration from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and he is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Finance for Senior Executives program. He served as a board member of City Year Boston from 2003 to 2012, and he is an alumni volunteer for Miami University.

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