January 23, 2013 – Security has long been a top enterprise worry with cloud computing. However, increases in deployments and cuts in budgets will propel the cloud as a top security infrastructure option over the next four years, according to a new assessment from Gartner Research.

Through 2016, Gartner pointed to three prime trends moving more enterprises toward cloud-based security. Sluggish global economic and debt conditions are expected to bring more public cloud infrastructure mandates from U.S. and other government agencies. In turn, Gartner sees this as forcing more cloud providers into standardizing their offerings along security guidelines such as the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, or FedRAMP.

Secondly, operational cost cuts will slowly increase overall IT security enterprise product capabilities to cloud delivery. Within the next three years, Gartner anticipates that 10 percent of security services will be offered in the cloud as more cloud vendors also offer faster implementation times and more and flexible product updates. However, the research firms states that differing cloud maturity rates and risk appetites will keep many enterprises from moving this aspect of enterprise IT into cloud environments.

From a technical standpoint, Gartner forecasts one-fifth of the VPN and firewall market as deployed in a virtual switch hypervisor instead of an appliance by 2015. These virtual switches are “one level of abstraction away” from physical data switch ports, which means less reliance on physical network providers. Gartner Research Director Eric Ahlm wrote that data center operations have been the main source for virtual firewalls to this point, though “a push from the virtual providers to bring their technology to the edge could be a key accelerator to the virtual switch market growth.”

In a statement accompanying its cloud security expectations, Gartner Research Director Ruggero Contu said that cloud popularity is so strong that the cloud “will influence the shape of future security marketplaces.”

"Deployments of virtualization, and its [replacement] of traditional physical hardware platforms, are expected to impact the deployment model of future network security capabilities, which are expected to be based increasingly on virtual security appliances," wrote Contu.

Security typically ranks at or near the top of concerns when it comes to enterprise deployments in the cloud, though some companies of late have made notable moves to utilize the cloud in terms of backup and innovation. At the end of December, the federal government okayed its first vendor as compliant with its FedRAMP cloud security guidelines, with the promise of more vendors and subsequent agency adoption expected to follow.

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