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Five facts about cloud access security brokers

The CASB market is shifting and shaking, which makes it hard for IT decision makers to figure out which solution best suits their needs. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering this protective technology for your cloud services.


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The IT industry is abuzz about cloud access security brokers (CASBs). These are programs and appliances designed to make sure data flowing between a company and its selected cloud services comply with the organization’s security policies, such as requirements for data encryption and access control.

As with any new technology, the CASB market is shifting and shaking, which makes it hard for IT decision makers to figure out which solution best suits their particular situation. If you’re considering this protective technology, have a look at these five essential facts — touchstones for the current state of the CASB landscape.

  1. CASBs speak to both security and budgeting.

TechTarget points out that CASBs allow organizations to ensure everyone using cloud services throughout the enterprise does so in a way that meets the company’s security benchmarks. But the technology also addresses cost-effectiveness. As an IT manager, you can use the CASB to see which cloud services the business uses most and potentially negotiate a lower price for those popular services.

  1. CASBs play rough with others.

In his testing of CASB offerings, Network World’s Tom Henderson found that the software often bumps up against other administrative and security controls that many enterprises already use, such as firewalls and anti-malware systems. It’s important that the CASB you choose is compatible with existing security measures, or the software won’t so much help secure your network traffic as slow it down to a frustrating crawl.

  1. The CASB market is consolidating.

So far this year, two IT security companies have staked claims on CASB providers: Symantec moved to acquire Blue Coat in June and Cisco finalized its purchase of CloudLock in August. In a fast-moving market like this one, it’s hard to know which vendors will last long as independents or as subsidiaries. That means you can’t look to longevity as one of your reasons to choose one CASB provider over another.

  1. The proxy-versus-API question is moot.

Since the technology debuted in 2012, one of the debates in the market revolved around whether it’s better to use a proxy-based CASB or an API-based version. But that dispute is old news. In its Market Guide of Cloud Access Security Brokers, Gartner notes that many CASBs now offer both proxy and API modes of operation, so your options are open.

  1. Most CASBs belong in the cloud.

Another debate focuses on where to install the technology: in the cloud or on premises. According to Gartner, the cloud-based implementation is more popular. That makes sense. After all, CASBs are cloud-focused systems for cloud-leaning organizations. But that isn’t the answer for everyone. As Gartner points out, on-premise implementations are better for companies that have to meet certain data-management regulations. If your organization is in that group, you might have to install your CASB on prem.

Obviously, CASBs are only for organizations that rely on cloud services. But that market is growing. CASB provider Bitglass conducted a survey last year and found that 55 per cent of CIOs take a cloud-first approach to IT and 90 per cent are increasing their spending on security. Those numbers point to a likely explosion of the CASB market. And they suggest that even if you have no need for a CASB today, you probably will in the near future.

Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

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