30 Apr Defining Cloud Governance and Why It’s Essential
A cloud governance framework and written policies are essential to maintaining security, compliance and performance of a business’s IT environment. In this post we will start by defining cloud governance and then cover some best practices and methodologies for getting started.
What is Cloud Governance?
Cloud governance is a written framework of policies and guidelines a business applies to its use of cloud data and applications. The goal of cloud governance is to optimize cloud resources for network security, continuity, performance and costs. Cloud governance policies affect architecture, deployment, maintenance, operations and usage of cloud technologies.
You may also be interested in: Cloud Enablement – What it is and How to Get Started
Why is Cloud Governance Important?
A cloud governance framework is essential to scaling and driving value from cloud technology by creating a foundation of best practices and consistent processes. A fully-realized cloud governance model will include guidelines for public cloud management, SaaS applications, multi-tenant and dedicated hosting services, as well as in-house networking technology. Because of the growing complexity of today’s hybrid IT environments and self-service acquisition inherent in cloud computing, cloud governance is of growing importance.
5 Benefits of Cloud Computing Governance
- Access Control
IT architecture is sensitive and these days it is easier than ever to implement new technology solutions in the cloud. Because cloud enables end-users to easily acquire new technology, it is important to have written policies. This will protect your technology ecosystem and improve reliability of cloud resources by preventing unskilled or unauthorized users from making changes.
A robust cloud governance framework will not only improve network security and monitoring to mitigate risk, it will help administrators identify vulnerabilities and establish metrics to measure security performance for ongoing improvement.
With a cloud governance model that meets the highest industry standards, businesses ensure that their cloud processes and storage adhere to necessary compliance requirements. Good protocols in place around cloud will also establish traceability and audit readiness for any external guidelines from SOX and SEC regulations to HIPAA and FDA requirements. Frameworks often include compliance review and documentation standards.
- Lowered Costs
With cost optimization policies in place a business sets a standard for managing spend, taking advantage of discounts when possible and automation to reduce costs and control return on investment of resources.
- Mitigate Shadow IT
As we mentioned above, it is easier than ever for business users and departments to circumvent centralized IT shops and implement solutions on their own. We call this shadow IT and it creates security risks and increases spend, sometimes allowing third party providers access to your systems. Written policies and access restrictions will help prevent shadow IT from growing.
Challenges to Implementing Cloud Governance
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 businesses needs and barriers to adoption early in the process will make it easier to create policies that work. Which brings us to our next section…
Setting Cloud Governance Policies
Cloud governance policies should be reviewed regularly by decision makers and third-party experts to ensure they are up-to-date with the latest requirements. In general, cloud governance policies include standards and guidelines for the following:
- Design and architecture of infrastructure
- Network security and performance monitoring
- Security, encryptions and firewall standards
- Programming practices
- Backup and recovery
- Third-party resource management
- User password conventions and authentication
- Application maintenance requirements
- New implementations
In order for a cloud governance framework to provide a clear and complete roadmap, policies should cover four basic areas of IT ecosystems:
- Infrastructure and hardware
- Operating systems
- User activity
A rigorous set of policies and guidelines around cloud governance will help close security loopholes, optimize performance, protect privacy and secure the business against data loss.
How to Implement a Cloud Governance Strategy
As we already mentioned. Due diligence is key. Getting the ball rolling on a cloud governance strategy requires a little up-front leg work to assess the company’s needs, shortcomings and strengths that will impact the success of the initiative. Some early considerations to remember include:
- Who are the key stakeholders in the initiative and what are their concerns, barriers and misgivings?
- Does the company have the expertise and resources to develop a cloud governance model? Would it be more effective to hire a 3rd party consultant?
- Will the company use a cloud governance software solution?
- What cloud resources are already in play, what current systems does the company want to migrate to the cloud and what new resources does the company plan to implement in the cloud?
- What services will be used: public cloud storage and computing, SaaS apps, dedicated hosting, multi-tenant hosting, in-house cloud architecture, or all of the above?
- What security policies are already in place that impact cloud and what policies are missing?
- How will policies be enforced and how will user activity be monitored without violating privacy standards.
- What are the company’s current compliance requirements? How frequent are compliance audits?
- Who will build and maintain architecture?
- Who is accountable—who will be part of the cloud governance team?
3 Phases of Cloud Governance Implementation
There are 3 basic phases to cloud governance framework adoption. They include:
Early Adoption Phase
Mature Adoption Phase
In this stage there is little or no governance in place. This phase is a survey and audit phase in which project leaders will ask the questions listed in the previous section. At the end of this phase, governance teams should start to plan the long-term vision for policies.
Policies should be mapped out in this phase. Scoping for costs and reassessing the working governance model for vulnerabilities and gaps is important during this phase. This is the time when teams should be established and the cloud governance framework is being refined and fine-tuned.
At this stage the cloud governance framework is operational. Automation may be in place to monitor compliance with the new set of policies. Things should be running themselves, but the governance team should still be reevaluating their policies to stay agile, patch holes and meet changing needs.
Why Tailored Hosting is Key in Cloud Governance
With a managed cloud service provider you can hit the ground running as the right hosting provider will already have a rigorous cloud governance model in place. What’s more, they can tailor your hosted cloud environment to meet your exact governance needs in a way that big, one-size-fits-all providers can’t do. Plus with a private hoster you get to maintain control over your systems and data.
Tailored hosting in a dedicated cloud environment is the ideal solution for migrating mission-critical or sensitive systems like financial software, customer/patient management systems, legal software and more.
Ready to learn more about dedicated cloud hosting? Our team has the answers to all your questions.