The impulsiveness and uncertainty of multi-cloud environments demand an optimum approach to strong cloud governance. This must be synchronized and compatible with the enterprise’s goals and objectives. Cloud Governance is a system that provides direction to regulate business activities by running risk assessments, evaluating options, and providing security while adhering to data compliance laws. Let us take a deep dive into the ocean of cloud governance framework and comprehend why it is a ‘must’ for enterprises operating on the cloud infrastructure.
- What is the Cloud Governance framework
- Why do enterprises need a cloud governance framework
- What are the key drivers of the Cloud Governance Framework
- How to establish a robust Cloud Governance Framework
- How do you maintain your cloud governance framework
- Pre-defined standards of the cloud governance framework
- Cloud Governance Framework – A path to efficient cloud operations
What is the Cloud Governance framework
For efficient cloud governance, it becomes mandatory for enterprises to design an exclusive framework to leverage the maximum benefits of cloud computing. A cloud governance framework defines enterprise processes, roles, standards, policies for better management and operation of cloud services. It acts as a blueprint for an organization.
Why do enterprises need a cloud governance framework
Enterprises can leverage the benefits of the cloud framework only when it is well planned and properly executed. It takes extensive time and effort in developing and implementing a top-notch cloud governance framework. If designed flawlessly, it yields astonishing benefits in the long run.
- An Optimum Approach to Cloud Workload Management: By using the Cloud Governance framework, enterprises can regulate their data and infrastructure by keeping a track of their cloud operations which in turn minimizes their operational cost and security risks.
Cloud Governance has become a necessity for enterprises and its complexity is exponentially increasing as the number of clouds and projects running on them are growing day by day, thereby increasing the workload.
How do we efficiently manage this workload?
For this, we need a cloud governance framework that effectively manages cloud multi-tenant workload on cloud platforms. For Example, AWS emphasizes promoting multi-tenant architecture which refers to having a single instance of software and infrastructure shared amongst multiple customers within their distinct account rather than having it residing on a single cloud account.
- Helps in barricading shadow IT: With the increasing use of cloud technology in recent years, the problem of shadow IT has become pronounced.
Enterprises must have explicit knowledge about what systems or resources are in use at a certain point in time. A few restrictions need to be applied to monitor the active or inactive resources. Quite often, when the employees are not granted access to even those resources that are essential to do their job, that’s when they resort to shadow IT practices. The problem of shadow IT occurs when any software, device, service, resource, and application is used by an employee within the enterprise outside the knowledge of the IT team.
Here, a robust cloud governance framework can easily manage the request and necessary permission to grant required resource access to the employees of an enterprise.
- Mitigating Compliance Risk: Periodic checks of security and compliance policies must be conducted by enterprises to ensure adherence to the latest data laws.
The cloud governance framework allows you to prepare a compliance list to be strictly followed. Your enterprise’s compliance list must be up-to-date with the latest data and security standards such as GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI.
- Requires Less Manpower: Previously more manpower was required to monitor and manage enterprise activities such as maintaining the list of compliance laws, finance, accounts, data security, etc. using spreadsheets. The cloud governance framework highly reduces the need for manpower.
This framework uses automated tools to prepare compliance policies list, user access management, security alerts and enforces the enterprise to take necessary actions with immediate effect within the compliance and budget constraints.
- Access Management: Unauthorized tampering with sensitive data is a prevalent risk in every enterprise. Hence, it is critical to enhancing the reliability of processes carried out in cloud architecture via access control management.
The cloud governance framework builds the prototype that defines the limitation on who has access to which data and how it can impact your cloud ecosystem.
Lack of data scalability and compatibility: Data scalability and its compatibility with third-party products and software ensure seamless operations in a multi-cloud infrastructure. The ineffective cloud governance due to lack of data liaisoning results in chaos in the cloud.
A sustainable cloud governance framework helps in pertinent data movement by providing enough flexibility with the models of multiple cloud providers; thereby eliminating the distress of unwarranted or fallacious data communication. A substantial cloud governance framework ensures a flexible cloud infrastructure running on the latest technologies and standards while keeping data safe and secure against unauthorized access.
Now, that we know the benefits of the cloud governance framework, let us look at the key drivers of such a robust framework.
What are the key drivers of the Cloud Governance Framework
Compliance and Security Standards Management:
Enterprise security mainly focuses on the following key topics that determine the organization’s security and compliance requirements:
- Risk Assessment
- Identity and Access Management
- Data Encryption and Confidentiality
- Application Security
- Disaster Recovery
The goal of the Cloud Governance Framework is to create a balance between enterprises’ resources, processes and its compliance needs, and potential security threats while adhering to compliance policies.
Several organizations face the situation where the cloud costs go unbridled. It worsens with time if it is not duly managed. 3 key aspects to strong cloud financial management must be taken into consideration:
- Financial strategy denotes the extensive planning of how the cloud will be utilized in the organization.
- Monetary allowance defines the estimated cost associated with cloud operations.
- Cost assessment and prediction sometimes become inconsistent owing to certain unpredictable or unforeseen operations that may show up and result in budget overflows.
It deals with how efficiently services are delivered by cloud resources. It also defines a set of protocols to develop new applications which are executed on the cloud. These protocols include Service Level Agreements (SLAs) used for the distribution of resources. It also includes policies that deal with operations of team management, Identity and access management, computational, network requirements as well as handling tracking and logging requirements.
Performance is indirectly related to the monitoring of infrastructure and resources that handle the operational workload at a given point in time. Optimum utilization of resources and infrastructure propels the enterprise towards invincible growth and productivity.
This is the biggest challenge for cloud service providers. The cloud governance framework defines the data transactions within the cloud infrastructure. It must be able to maintain different levels of data sensitivity by defining data classification policy. It also entails robust data encryption or data masking to reduce the risk of data theft.
Now that we have gone through the key drivers of a framework, let us look at the steps to establish a robust cloud governance framework that optimizes and aligns with all the resources within and outside the organization.
How to establish a robust Cloud Governance Framework
The following steps facilitate establishing an efficient cloud governance framework:
Identifying business parameters:
The first and foremost task is to evaluate enterprise goals and their growth possibilities by doing a thorough analysis of how the adoption of the cloud can help in its growth. Evaluating enterprise goals includes the study of the overall budget, a stack of software and resources which are currently in use, and security policies required for cloud operation.
Defining best-in-class strategy:
An optimum strategy that comprises KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) is the next step toward establishing a robust cloud framework. KPIs denote an enterprise’s performance against its objectives. Stakeholders act as decision-makers who ensure smooth synchronization between an enterprise and cloud infrastructure.
Reviewing and mapping the cloud computing services with the existing enterprise processes, and then identifying the gaps and filling them to meet the new cloud computing governance.
Preparing a list of the requisite resources for adopting new cloud computing services. Keeping the current digital state up-to-date by ensuring proper coordination among people, processes, and technology.
Designing a cloud architecture prototype:
Every structure begins with designing a basic prototype that embraces systematic planning for automation, fault-tolerance principle, security risks, and their measures, and keeping human intervention at a bare minimum. So is the case with cloud architecture. A well-organized cloud framework helps in bridging the gap between complex business operations and their cloud-based solutions.
Monitoring compliance policies at regular intervals ensures a strong harmony between the enterprise structure and cloud framework. Once you have established a robust cloud governance framework, you just can’t sit back and relax with a cup of coffee as there may be challenges with data or policy variations.
So, let’s see in brief, how the framework should be realigned in a timely fashion to eliminate such challenges.
How do you maintain your cloud governance framework
Once a strong cloud governance framework is designed, your IT team becomes familiar and they learn how to run it. But this is not a one-shot game that should be left alone once done.
A universal truth is that change is inevitable. Policy updates happen pretty frequently to adopt new cloud services pertaining to data management, compliance management, security management, and access management. These policies must be reviewed by the decision-makers and third-party experts. To summarize, cloud governance policies include protocols and standards for the following:
- Designing Architectural Prototype
- Performance Monitoring
- Network Security
- User Access Management
- Backup and Recovery Management
- Application Maintenance
- Adoption to new services
- Third-party Resource Management
To achieve successful cloud operations, your cloud framework must be able to adapt to changes as and when they come up and your cloud strategies must be realigned as you move forward. Enterprises must run periodic checks at various stages of the cloud's operational processes before the deployment of new services.
Also, at times, designing and developing a custom cloud governance framework may prove to be burdensome and cost-inefficient for some enterprises. There can be many limitations, shortcomings, loopholes, or flaws that may hinder enterprises’ growth.
Such enterprises need not worry at all since a bunch of pre-defined cloud governance frameworks is available in the cloud industry. They have been designed to give a hand to the smaller organizations to at least curtail their operational and financial risks if not completely evicted.
Keeping this issue in mind, enterprises also have an option to choose amongst the following pre-defined cloud governance frameworks that aid in wiping out generic risks thereby facilitating seamless cloud operations.
Pre-defined standards of the cloud governance framework
COBIT: It stands for Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies. It is in essence, a modified approach that emphasizes interrelating an enterprise's goal with the IT industry. It is a predefined governance standard framework established by Information Systems Audit and Control Association that enables enterprises to manage IT operations. COBIT framework primarily focuses on the following directive principles:
- Fulfilling stakeholders requirements
- Scope of the Enterprise
- Providing a single integrated approach to enterprises
- Making enterprises stand aloof from governance
ITIL: It stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library. It is the most widely used framework in the tech world. It helps enterprises to manage their IT services. The service components of ITIL are as follows:
- Service Strategy: It helps in updating and managing configuration items as per enterprise requirements.
- Service design: It helps in designing IT services according to the enterprise structure.
- Service Transition: This service determines and eradicates the risk factors by systematic planning in an enterprise.
- Service Operation: This facility entails consistent support tasks like data backups or 24/7 customer support service. These tasks are recursive.
- Continuous Service Upgradation: This service takes into account the generated KPIs (key performance Indicators) and their progressive transformation with problems. Accordingly, it performs the necessary analysis to solve the problem and create an optimized final proposal.
Cloud Governance Framework – A path to efficient cloud operations
When organizations adopt a cloud governance framework, they optimize Operations, Security, Cost, Access, and Resources that facilitate efficient single or multi-cloud infrastructure management. Each driver of the cloud governance framework contributes to efficient cloud operations.
You can learn more about “Cloud Cost Optimization” in relation to the other cloud governance elements (operations, security, access controls, and resource) in our next article.