If you are unfamiliar with running a business in the cloud, and you attempt to find a straightforward answer to the question “What is cloud governance?”, you could be forgiven for getting confused. We aim to answer the question in terms most people will understand and explain why cloud governance is important.
What is Cloud Governance?
Cloud governance is a defined set of rules and policies that dictates how a specific organization will operate services in the cloud.
Because the cloud is so expensive, cloud governance must consider finance, operations, security and compliance, data management, application performance, assets and configurations, and more to ensure organizations can realize the full benefits of the cloud responsibly and securely.
As more and more organizations adopt the cloud, forethought must be given to how a given organization will effectively and safely use the public cloud. The cloud makes it easier for teams and individuals to deploy assets and provision infrastructure at the press of a button.
This grants agility and new speed to innovation like never before; however, these new benefits of the cloud are accompanied by new risks that cloud governance aims to mitigate.
Benefits of Cloud Governance and why it’s required for cloud computing
Cloud governance helps to unlock the full benefits of the cloud while simultaneously helping to control costs, streamline operations, and mitigate security risks. The very nature of the cloud is fundamentally different from traditional IT in that there are no longer constraints based on hardware and infrastructure.
The cloud can almost infinitely scale, leading to a boon of benefits if properly harnessed but also introducing many potential risks. Mitigating these risks requires a different approach to governing and managing a traditional IT environment, hence the shift to implementing a holistic cloud governance strategy to architect systems and employ proper policies via automation to safely scale in the cloud.
Importance of Cloud Governance
- More optimal utilization of Cloud resources: Cloud governance framework provides a set of rules and regulations that collaborate with the cloud resources. Cloud computing governance enables to use of cloud services optimally. The enterprise can outsource the cloud services. However, external servers should need governing to avoid any embarrassment by data stealing.
- Improved compliance: It is crucial for compliance with relevant laws, regulations, and policies. The cloud governance model should be established in the system so that there can be early detection of any deviation from the rules and regulations.
- Interoperability: The outsourcing or creation of an application with a cloud computing vendor by the enterprise will create difficulty in changing to another computing vendor that has proprietary Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). It will create problems in achieving interoperability of applications between two cloud computing vendors. Therefore, the cloud governance framework provides for reorganizing data or changing the logic in applications. It has standards for the successful implementation of interoperability.
- Threshold Policy: Cloud governance refers to the policy for testing how the program is working, developing, improving, and implementing in the organization. It is a policy that provides for the scalability of a sudden increase in demand that results in additional instances to fill in the market demand.
- Improved agility in supporting business needs: Cloud governance provides agility by providing the latest technology. It is available whenever it is required. This assists in meeting the stakeholder’s and business needs. It improves transparency and understanding of the contribution to the business. All these factors explain cloud governance.
Challenges to Implementing
Many of the challenges to implementing cloud governance revolve around shadow IT, but it’s not the only challenge. Let’s take a look at a few common challenges with cloud computing governance.
- Lack of Buy-In: While a CIO or other decision maker may understand the importance of cloud governance, some of their peers in the C-suite and department managers may not support or prioritize a governance initiative.
- Accountability: In many organizations, there is uncertainty regarding who is accountable for securing and monitoring confidential information in the cloud
- Disconnect between IT and the company: The IT department is often not included in decision-making around cloud usage and many IT leaders are not aware of all the cloud resources being used due to rogue implementations.
- Encryption: While most business leaders understand the importance of encrypting applications, cloud resources and applications often go unencrypted.
- Control: IT leaders often lack the ability to control employee usage of third-party cloud resources and users often deploy cloud apps without proper security training. This can result in third parties accessing sensitive systems.
- Enforcement: While a cloud governance framework may be in place, there is often uncertainty as to who is responsible for enforcing those policies.
Most of these challenges can be addressed with due diligence. Auditing and analyzing the business’s needs and barriers to adoption early in the process will make it easier to create policies that work.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for cloud governance. Different organizations will have different best practices and regulatory requirements that influence their policies. What is clear is that organizations need to take a different approach to managing and govern their cloud compared to traditional IT.
Governance is not a one-time exercise and must be continually monitored and revised to ensure policies are enforced and controls are effective. It can be challenging to monitor, revise, and validate governance policies manually.