March 8, 2024

Cloud Native Security vs. Third-Party Tools: How to Choose (and Why You Might Not Have To)

Security & Compliance

Your cloud platform probably came with tools to secure and manage the resources you create. We call those cloud-native security tools because they’re proprietary to the vendor you’re using them on. Third-party alternatives, on the other hand, are usually created to be compatible with several cloud provider platforms at once.

Cloud-native security tools that come with Amazon, Microsoft, and Google cloud platforms can be great for securing infrastructure, but they’re limited to the platforms they were created for. They lock you into a specific hosting vendor’s terms and pricing, which can introduce complexity when you’re using more than one cloud. Those are some of the reasons why multi-cloud and hybrid cloud deployments are usually secured and managed by third-party tools or a combination of cloud-native and third-party tools.

In this blog, we’ll review the use cases of cloud-native security tools, compare them to third-party cloud security tools, and explain why it’s not always an either/or decision for managing security in hybrid cloud infrastructure.

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What Do Cloud Security Tools Do?

Cloud security tools protect data, apps, and infrastructure in cloud environments from security threats and vulnerabilities. Examples of tools used for cloud security include access management, encryption, firewalls, compliance, API security, and more.

Organizations use cloud security tools to manage security and compliance across public cloud, private cloud, multi-cloud, and hybrid cloud environments. Generally, you’ll need third-party tools to manage multi-cloud and hybrid resources, because cloud-native tools built by a specific provider will only work on that provider’s platform. (For more on the differences between cloud-native and third-party cloud security tools, read on.)

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Cloud-Native Security Tools vs. Third Party Tools, Compared

Cloud-native security tools integrate easily and can be less expensive to set up, but they can only be used on the platform they came with. Third-party cloud security tools can be used across different cloud vendors but can take specialized knowledge to set up and use.

Security tools provided by cloud vendors can be easier to get started with, but the skills needed to use them don’t typically transfer to other security tools. Some third-party tools take a bit of training to learn, but they let you consolidate vendors by providing a single tool that can be used across multiple cloud providers.

Watch: How Willis Towers Watson + Anheuser-Busch InBev Use Puppet for Secure, Standardized Cloud Provisioning

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Security tools offered by cloud vendors include:

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS): AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), Amazon GuardDuty, AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF)
  • Microsoft Azure: Azure Active Directory (AAD), Azure Security Center, Azure Key Vault
  • Google Cloud Platform (GCP): GCP IAM, Google Cloud Security Command Center (SCC), Google Cloud Armor (WAF)

There are too many third-party tools for cloud security to list, but below is a short list of some popular examples:

  • Cloud IAM tools like Okta and Ping
  • Cloud threat detection and monitoring tools like Splunk
  • Cloud WAF tools like Cloudflare
  • Cloud vulnerability management tools like Tenable
  • Security and compliance configuration enforcement like Puppet Compliance Enforcement

Whether you should use the cloud security tools that come with your cloud vendor or third-party tools that aren’t chained to a specific provider will depend on the needs of your organization. Your team size, your industry, and your tech stack are important factors in choosing the most appropriate tools to secure your cloud computing environment.

That said, a few broad comparisons can be made between cloud-native security tools and third-party offerings. Here’s a table comparing the two types on a number of key features you might need for your cloud security: 

Cloud Security Tool Factor 

Cloud-Native Tool 

Third-Party Tool 

Integration with Cloud Platform 

Integrates seamlessly and leverages platform-specific APIs. 

Can often manage security across multiple cloud providers. May require additional effort to integrate. 


Automatically adjusts to the size and complexity of the environment. 

Scalability may require manual adjustments depending on the tool’s design and architecture. 


Some basic security tools are often included in the cloud service at no extra cost. 

Avoids vendor lock-in and reduces tool sprawl. Licensing fees can be higher for advanced features. 

Advanced Features 

May lack advanced features compared to third-party tools. Well-suited for organizations with simpler security needs. 

Provides more advanced and specialized features with a broader range of capabilities for complex security requirements. 

Multi-Cloud Support 

Support is typically constrained to the cloud vendor for which it was created. 

Designed to work across multiple public and private cloud platforms and on-prem environments, providing flexibility to pursue a multi-cloud or hybrid security strategy. 

Customization Options 

Limited customizability due to ‘cookie-cutter’ tailoring. 

Often customizable to meet security and compliance requirements specific to unique cloud environments. 

Vendor Lock-In 

Tight ecosystem integration means users are subject to provider’s variable terms and conditions. 

Increased flexibility makes it easier to change providers, migrate across clouds, or kick off cloud repatriation effort without sacrificing security. 

Management Overhead 

Native tools may simplify management of individual clouds, butcreates a broad set of tools for cloud security management. Each cloud requires its own experts to manage. 

Single pane of glass for security management across clouds cuts down on tool sprawl and knowledge gaps. Additional training and support contribute to tool expertise that benefits large-scale hybrid IT environments in the long term. 

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Using Cloud-Native Security Tools Alongside Third-Party Options

It’s possible to use the security tools provided by your cloud vendor alongside third-party tools. Using them together can enable a better cloud security strategy.

The “vs.” in the headline is not entirely accurate, as it’s not always an either/or choice between the security tools from your cloud vendor and third-party ones. You can benefit from third-party tools to manage cloud security alongside tools from AWS, Azure, and GCP.

Example: Using AWS CloudFormation + Terraform with Puppet to Secure AWS + GCP Infrastructure

For example, imagine you’ve deployed infrastructure across AWS and GCP, and you need to secure and manage both. You can use Amazon’s and Google’s tools on their respective cloud platforms, but you’ll need to find another solution to enforce consistency between them.

In the scenario above, you could:

  • Provision cloud infrastructure using AWS CloudFormation templates for AWS and Terraform modules for both AWS and GCP.
    • You can use AWS’s proprietary templates along with Terraform’s third-party modules to provision EC2 instances, virtual private clouds (VPCs), security groups, and IAM roles.
  • Configure and manage cloud infrastructure using Puppet infrastructure as code (IaC).
    • Output from AWS CloudFormation and Terraform’s provisioning tools tell Puppet what it needs to know about your desired security configurations.
    • You can also add code to those configurations to specify your unique security and compliance needs – or even automate expert-crafted security baselines using Puppet Compliance Enforcement.
  • Continuously enforce security and compliance using Puppet desired state automation.
    • Once you write Puppet manifests that define the desired configurations of EC2 instances and other resources across clouds, Puppet’s agent-based automation continuously enforces that desired state. Learn about the benefits of agent-based security >>
    • Because Puppet works across cloud providers, it can enforce secure, compliant configurations across your AWS and GCP resources, regardless of whose tooling you used to provision them.

Using proprietary cloud security tools and third-party tools simultaneously lets you take advantage of their combined strengths: The availability of vendor-supplied tools and the advanced features and cross-platform compatibility typically inherent in a third-party solution.

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How Puppet Supports a Hybrid Cloud Security Strategy

Modern DevOps organizations are expected to balance efficiency, agility, and security. Puppet's State of Platform Engineering Reports have found that platform engineering teams are relied on to handle security, with security often built right into the platform. That goes for hybrid cloud environments as well as multi-cloud and infrastructure hosted in data centers.

Hybrid cloud environments can rely on Puppet IaC to continuously enforce a secure and compliant state. It doesn’t matter if you’re on public cloud, private cloud, or even split across public and private cloud with a data center dropped into the mix – Puppet keeps it all consistent, predictable, and auditable with agent-based automation and security configuration management.

Puppet Compliance Enforcement extends the efficiencies of Puppet’s core policy as code (PaC) approach with pre-built blocks of code that automatically implement the most popular security standards out there. By continuously enforcing the latest CIS Benchmark or DISA STIG hardened standards, Puppet Compliance Enforcement gives you a giant leg up in meeting critical internal and external compliance expectations.

Learn more about Puppet Compliance Enforcement at the link below or download a free eBook to learn how IaC and configuration management drive cloud efficiency at scale.


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