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How Kloudless Provides Competitive Product Advantages for Data Security Companies

Kloudless was built to empower the modern security software solution. From network to SaaS security, software providers are taking advantage of Kloudless’ unrivaled connectivity and detection and remediation tools to protect the data of their customers. We recently wrote about the benefits that security software engineering teams can expect from using Kloudless, but few types of software benefit from the level of product differentiation and competitive advantages that Kloudless offers more so than the Cloud Access Security Broker. (CASB)

Cloud Access Security Brokers are becoming increasingly important to enterprises as these businesses adopt an increasing number of cloud applications and services. Many vendors offer out-of-the-box support for a handful of the top cloud services (like Box, Dropbox, Salesforce, G Suite, Microsoft Office 365), but have not extended native support to “long tail” cloud apps. With enterprises using applications beyond the market leaders, how can a CASB vendor grow revenue and gain a competitive advantage in the market by natively supporting more software integrations?

What is a CASB, and how does it work?

A CASB provides usage visibility, data security, and threat protection for your business’ cloud apps. It can be a cloud or on-premises software service that sits between cloud service providers and their consumers in order to insert the business’ security policies in real-time as activity occurs and resources are accessed.

With enterprises adopting cloud services at an accelerating rate, the need to secure the data and access to these cloud services from users both within and outside the organization is also growing rapidly. Examples of enterprise cloud services include Microsoft Office 365, Box, Salesforce, and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

When compared to securing legacy on-premises software, securing cloud services has two major challenges: awareness and control. Hence, the primary needs driving the growth in demand for CASBs are data loss prevention (DLP), real-time activity monitoring, and increased regulatory and data privacy requirements. Gartner expects that by 2022, over 60% of enterprises will use a CASB to govern some cloud services, up from just 20% in 2018.

$18 Billion – Total Global CASB Market Size by 2023

Markets And Markets, December 2018

Some of the key players in the CASB market include McAfee, Symantec, Netskope, Bitglass, Microsoft, Proofpoint, Cisco, and Palo Alto Networks.

The Proxy approach vs. the API approach

There are two primary CASB deployment modes today: the Proxy approach and the API approach.

A CASB deployed in the Proxy approach is also referred to as “inline.” It sits in the middle of the traffic from end-user to cloud service, checking HTML-based traffic through a gateway. This enables the CASB to take security action in real-time, but it can only secure known users.

The API approach does not sit in the traffic path of end-user to cloud service or cloud service to cloud service. Instead, it uses asynchronous, out-of-band APIs to retrieve cloud service traffic such as user activity, files and objects, and configuration states for the CASB platform to analyze and take the necessary security actions.

While both approaches have their positives and negatives, the API approach enables the tightest integration with the cloud services that the CASB is protecting. It can secure both managed and unmanaged cloud services, leaving no security gaps.

Ultimately an enterprise will require both Proxy and API deployment modes in order to get comprehensive data security coverage. However, given the increase in application adoption across businesses of all sizes, the API approach provides the greatest immediate ROI by offering the most robust security coverage of all cloud apps, regardless of whether they are managed or not.

Application Adoption Requires an API Approach

In Okta’s 2019 Businesses @ Work Report, they found that enterprises have increased their application adoption by 68% over the past four years to a total of 129 apps per company in 2018. Small and Medium Businesses increased at a 38% growth rate to 73 apps per company.

Source: Okta.com

Businesses of all sizes are using an increasing number of applications. This poses an accelerating challenge for CASB vendors and their customers in order to properly provide monitoring and coverage for the data they protect.

From the buyer’s perspective, enterprise IT and InfoSec teams need to build support across business units when selecting a CASB. This includes aligning on not only governance and defined processes (data classification, metadata, labels, etc.), but also generally making sure that the BU’s apps are supported out-of-the-box by the CASB vendor.

For the CASB vendor, this means figuring out how to natively support the cloud applications that customers want. Most vendors offer out-of-the-box integrations for a handful of the top cloud apps. But what if a customer is using a cloud service that is not natively supported?

As a solution for this, some CASB vendors offer an “Any App” connector for their customers to build in support for any cloud application. In their 2018 CASB Magic Quadrant, Gartner notes that modifying a default “Any App” connector or writing a custom plug-in is often complex and requires professional services. Some methods for supporting custom applications are not viable long-term solutions as applications change over time and require a dedicated development team for their upkeep and maintenance.

The best-case scenario for buyers is for CASBs to provide out-of-the-box support for every cloud application and service used in the enterprise. However, it’s very costly for CASB vendors to integrate hundreds of APIs one by one and maintain all the bespoke connections. 

Kloudless is a better way to natively support what the customer needs

Kloudless helps CASB vendors deliver all the integrations that their customers ask for without building and maintaining each one individually. This greatly reduces time-to-market, engineering costs, and the risk of APIs changing in the future. Using our Unified APIs, CASB vendors can code once and integrate many applications at once.

Kloudless provides solutions that are designed for CASB use cases:

  • Activity monitoring – Real-time event notifications via webhooks for user activity (like creating, modifying, or deleting resources) and Audit Events for all users in an organization.
  • Remediation – Access/modify/delete files, folders, and objects with an extensive network of Unified CRUD routes.
  • White-labeled user experience – We built Kloudless to be embedded in your product, so your customers won’t even know we’re there.
  • Self-hosted, on-premises – Run Kloudless privately as Docker containers, OVAs, or AMIs to meet performance and compliance requirements.

Engineering teams at security software providers benefit from a decrease in upkeep and maintenance for the API integrations their applications support, as well as unified data models and routes that make implementation quick and painless. However, the products that these engineers work on are also recipients of a high level of product and competitive advantage. The level of connectivity that Kloudless provides is exactly what their customers need to properly protect data and preserve their peace of mind. Kloudless is the product differentiator that security software companies need to stay ahead of the competition.

To learn more about how Kloudless can help your CASB offering stand out in the market, talk to an expert today!

Published By

David Hallinan

David Hallinan is an Integration Strategist and Head of Content at Kloudless. He enjoys painting, JavaScript, vintage synths, drum machines and forcing his sports allegiances on his children.

View all posts by David Hallinan