How To Find Research Topics For PhD in Cloud Security

Cloud security is a collection of procedures and technology designed to address external and internal threats to business security. Organizations need cloud security as they move toward their digital transformation strategy and incorporate cloud-based tools and services as part of their infrastructure.

The terms digital transformation and cloud migration have been used regularly in enterprise settings over recent years. While both phrases can mean different things to different organizations, each is driven by a common denominator: the need for change.

As enterprises embrace these concepts and move toward optimizing their operational approach, new challenges arise when balancing productivity levels and security. While more modern technologies help organizations advance capabilities outside the confines of on-premise infrastructure, transitioning primarily to cloud-based environments can have several implications if not done securely.

Striking the right balance requires an understanding of how modern-day enterprises can benefit from the use of interconnected cloud technologies while deploying the best cloud security practices.

What is cloud computing?

The “cloud” or, more specifically, “cloud computing” refers to the process of accessing resources, software, and databases over the Internet and outside the confines of local hardware restrictions. This technology gives organizations flexibility when scaling their operations by offloading a portion, or majority, of their infrastructure management to third-party hosting providers.

The most common and widely adopted cloud computing services are:

  1. IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service): A hybrid approach, where organizations can manage some of their data and applications on-premise while relying on cloud providers to manage servers, hardware, networking, virtualization, and storage needs.
  2. PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service): Gives organizations the ability to streamline their application development and delivery by providing a custom application framework that automatically manages operating systems, software updates, storage, and supporting infrastructure in the cloud.
  3. SaaS (Software-as-a-Service): Cloud-based software hosted online and typically available on a subscription basis. Third-party providers manage all potential technical issues, such as data, middleware, servers, and storage, minimizing IT resource expenditures and streamlining maintenance and support functions.

How To Find Good PhD Research Topics?

I think one of the most challenging parts of a doctoral program is picking a feasible, interesting and completable PhD Research Topic. All too often PhD students get through coursework (if their program requires it) and comprehensive exams and may fail to advance with identifying a topic for their doctoral research, or if a topic is chosen not see the degree through to completion.

Here are a few key suggestions for how to select a PhD research topic (of course the exact process will vary by one’s discipline, university, advisors, geographic location and one’s particular areas of interest/skills).

  • Use your coursework to develop and test out research ideas – If one has coursework to complete before advancing to the research stage, using coursework to explore research ideas, conduct literature reviews, test out methodologies is invaluable. Ideally by the time one completes coursework you might have parts of your dissertation developed, particularly the proposal, perhaps the literature review and a good start to your methodology.
  • Experiment and write, explore, write, vision – One of the challenges I ran into while in my doctoral program is I had a wide range of interests and had a hard time picking a single area to focus my research and writing. One approach I found very helpful was to write out my ideas in short paragraphs and/or do visual drawings of what a particular research endeavor might involve. Getting ideas from your head to pen and paper (or keyboard) helps tremendously.
  • Pick something feasible – Too many people try to make their PhD their life’s work. For almost all people, the doctoral degree is a step in a (hopefully long) career of research or practice. Instead of feeling pressure to pick something that will change the world (not that this is a bad idea), find something that is actually doable within a reasonable amount of time.
  • Leverage the power of your committee – If you a good job of selecting your doctoral advisors and committee, the members will hopefully be useful guides to narrowing down potential topics. They can help you (in my case they were great) helping you think about gaps in the field worth exploring, improving one’s methodology, and developing a doable research project. Of course it is also possible to have a committee that makes your academic life a miserable experience.
  • Your Peers – In my own case, while faculty were helpful, I found intensive work with peers to be even more valuable. Some colleagues and I setup support groups where we met monthly and shared/suppored each other with our work. This was essential in making progress, getting feedback on our respective ideas, learning from each other’s successes and challenges. Too many doctoral candidates fail to harness the power of their peers.
  • Read other dissertations – One of the things I found helpful to demystify the research process was to read (or more likely skim) other completed dissertations. This helped me with getting ideas of what others did for their research in my field, insights on methodology, understanding a realistic scope of a literature review, etc.
  • Match the methods to the research – Make sure the methodology you use matches the goals and structure of your research. If you need help improving your methodology do it early.
  • Come up with a Data Analysis Plan – This should be part of one’s research methodology. But make sure that you understand the approach and any technological tools one will use to aid in the research. For example in my cases I did about 60 semi-structured interviews, along with a detailed review of archives and other literature. To aid with the analysis of my interviews I used a qualitative analysis program called ATLAS.ti: The Qualitative Data Analysis & Research Software (there are many others). It took me some time (a few weeks) to really learn how to use the software but as I dived into my research the program helped greatly in making sense of the data.
  • Start Presenting at Conferences – In my opinion too many people wait till they have a done product to present at conferences. I presented at numerous conferences during my degree and even though my research wasn’t complete, it was an invaluable experience in moving ahead. Plus at one conference I was invited to submit a paper which was published based on my initial findings (before I had dived into deep analysis) which was a wonderful insight.
  • Keep the End Goal in Mind – The goal of all the research is to finish, finish, finish. Yes helping the world, or one’s field is great, making a contribution to academia, but the best dissertation is a done dissertation (it doesn’t have to be perfect but good enough).

Leave a Comment