Cloud Governance: The key to operate cloud services efficiently
Cloud governance is a set of policies that dictates how an organization will operate services in the cloud – Source: Stacklet
Cloud governance is a set of rules and policies that specifies how an organization will operate services in the cloud. The goal of implementing cloud governance is to mitigate risks, ensure data security, and optimize the efficiency of cloud operations.
Why Your Organization Should Focus On Cloud Governance
Whether your organization opt for public cloud or private cloud, cloud governance is vital to enhancing cloud security and operations. A good cloud governance strategy will grease the wheels of the company services along with many following benefits.
Reduces administrative overhead
Without a cloud governance program, organizations would use other manual alternatives, such as using spreadsheets to track cloud accounts, costs, or to manage access and budgets for cloud resources. This is not only inefficient but also poses risks of security breaches.
What cloud governance can do is centralizing the policies and apply them to the entire cloud infrastructure. This gives the organization better management over the cloud costs, services and access approval more timely alert system. If implemented correctly, cloud governance could reduce the risk of non-compliant activities and cut down on unexpected cloud costs.
Cut down on
Shadow IT is the use of systems, devices, software, applications, and services without explicit IT department approval. The reason employees take part in shadow IT is to get the job done more quickly, which can lead to many security and compliance risks.
Cloud governance enables employees to request cloud resources and get authorization in a speedy and convenient manner while complying with the organization’s compliance and budget constraints.
Improves cloud resource management
Cloud governance can categorize cloud systems into individual cloud accounts that represent departments, projects, and cost centers within the organization. This is considered best practice because it helps to track costs, manage access to resources, and mitigate security risks.
Improves cloud security issues
A cloud governance model establishes an effective authentication approach which helps the organization easily map the applications and resources with individuals that have access to sensitive data. This way, organizations will easily monitor and ensure the appropriate security policies are complied with.
A sound cloud management strategy should incorporate several key aspects to optimize the use of cloud services. These aspects influence and, in some cases, constrain each other.
There are 6 key aspects in a cloud governance framework – Source: Security Magazine
Cloud service providers state that cloud services provide more financial benefits than building your own infrastructure. That’s only true if you manage your cloud expenses wisely with diligent policies and reports.
Financial management policies can guide business decisions regarding cloud resources, such as utilizing managed services to reduce operational overhead costs.
Estimating expenses is not easy since the necessary detailed information is often distributed across multiple services. Aggregating the costs across regions, accounts, and different cloud services will give you a better cost estimation.
Developing a plan to gather information to create and track budgets and making use of cost-reporting tools provided by cloud vendors or third-party services can be helpful. It is also recommended to set realistic policies around cost alerts which are triggered when a certain percentage of the budget has been exceeded. If you set alerts like this, it gives you time to adjust infrastructure and service usage timely before things get out of hand.
The main objective of operations management is to regulate how human and computing resources provide cloud services. These are practical steps to follow:
A well-defined operations policy should provide useful information regarding the working process with the operations team, cloud services estimation, ways to monitor and log requirements, identity and access management specifications.
In addition, a clear and well-defined operations management practice can help prevent shadow IT operations from infiltrating the cloud environment. Cost monitoring and performance monitoring can also be beneficial in identifying when cloud resources are used out of normal operating scope.
Security and Compliance Management
Cloud governance involves the security issues regarding to risk assessment, identity and access management, data encryption and key management, application security, and contingency planning.
When creating information security practices, keep in mind the tradeoffs between business priorities and security risks. For instance, to fix all moderate and severe vulnerabilities in the systems, it would require the tech team to shift attention from developing new features to rectifying code vulnerabilities. Therefore, it is important to balance business considerations with the security regulations.
A governance model should be based on existing governance policies and frameworks, including cybersecurity, privacy, and risk management, to save time and effort in implementing new changes. It is also beneficial to make use of security services offered by public cloud providers to reduce the risk of attacks such as data leaks or denial-of-service attacks.
The expanding capacity of data acquisition, storage, and analysis has led to increased difficulty in efficiently managing data. To address the issue of managing data in your organization, it is necessary to establish governance strategies and practices that deliver clear guidance throughout the data’s lifecycle.
To begin with, implementing a data classification system is critical given that all data has different levels of value and security requirements. Highly sensitive and confidential data calls for stronger security measures compared to public data. Cloud data management practices should prioritize data encryption during transport and storage as the default security method. Other controls for data accessibility and modification will vary depending on data classification and functional requirements.
Governance policies guide personnel in identifying ways to protect and manage data based on its classification throughout its lifecycle. This includes setting protocols on how long to keep data before it is transferred to low-cost archival systems. Manual management of data throughout its lifecycle is impractical, given the challenges of scaling and prone to human errors. Instead, data management tools provided by cloud providers can help automate data movement to different storage systems or delete data that is no longer needed.
Ensuring efficient delivery of IT services and effective cloud infrastructure usage is the primary goal of performance management in cloud computing.
Different applications have various performance metrics, such as the time it takes to retrieve data, load webpages, or make API calls, the number of database transactions within a set duration, and the number of connected users. Alerts should also be set up to notify application managers and support teams whenever there is a service failure.
Infrastructure monitoring is vitally important in controlling cloud costs. The cloud’s scalability and resource management capability permit us to align resource utilization to workloads, avoiding unutilized resources. Utilizing cloud provider’s autoscaling features alongside monitoring tools can help dynamically and effectively allocate cloud resources to meet requirements at any given time.
Asset and Configuration Management
Organizations often struggle to maintain a diverse collection of cloud infrastructure resources that stay within their intended deployment parameters. This can happen when developers and cloud engineers manually deploy a VM for one-off needs and forget to turn it off, which could lead to severe repercussions. To avoid this, teams should depend on structured procedures to deploy large clusters or implement high-cost cloud services.
Using infrastructure as code (IaC) is a proven method to manage infrastructure efficiently. Rather than having cloud engineers set up and stop resources, IaC specifies what is needed to operate or deploy within your environment to support your application. The IaC application is capable of monitoring the state of the infrastructure. If it strays from the desired state due to an issue like VM failures, it can be automatically brought back to the desired state.
Configuration management is also vital for organizations, as it helps them to manage sensitive data such as encryption keys and credentials better. Use centralized repositories instead of unreliable practices, such as putting login credentials in scripts or programs where they could be visible to unauthorized users with access to the script.
Disciplines Of Cloud Governance
Besides the 6 aspects mentioned above about the framework, these guiding principles are the guiding stars for cloud governance.
Compliance with policies and standards
Cloud usage standards should be consistent with the regulations used by your organization and other companies in the same industry.
Alignment with business objectives
Cloud governance should facilitate the implementation of business objectives.
All users of the cloud infrastructure and other stakeholders should comply with the regulations and policies altogether for cloud governance to be implemented effectively.
All changes to the cloud environment must be implemented in a consistent and standardized manner. Besides, make sure people across teams and relevant stakeholders can learn about these changes.
You need to build dashboards and monitor metrics to respond to events in the cloud timely and dynamically.
Cloud Governance Implementation Challenges
Even though implementing cloud governance is indispensable for organizations operating cloud services, there are some challenges that can hinder the implementation process.
Monitoring Cloud Services
Organizations face a significant problem in determining the security performance and hazards of cloud services due to the absence of established metrics. Metrics can be used by executives to assess adherence to security policies and make rapid decisions on risk mitigation and performance improvements. Lacking of metrics makes it difficult for executives to obtain real insight into potential cloud risks. This challenge has an impact on other issues, such as the absence of a quantitative measurement metric for exploitable device vulnerabilities in the cloud, which can indicate the level of danger posed by those vulnerabilities.
Managing cloud security is a necessity for businesses to ensure they achieve their objectives and avoid data compromise. Without a framework or policies in place, potential risks of cloud security are prone to happen.
Governance of cloud security is indispensable as it provides a framework that explicitly addresses the issues above and helps businesses to take better control of their security posture.
High Level Of Investment
Cloud computing adoption has many challenges in terms of high investment costs. This expense can be data center investments and vendor lock-in. For starters, you can do the cost analysis for migrating from on-premises data centers to the cloud.
Governing data in the cloud can alleviate the burden of the company infrastructure, but it poses some information security challenges. If there are data breaches or system vulnerabilities, then sensitive data will be at stake. As a consequence, make sure to strengthen the security measures when implementing data governance strategies.
The proper planning and management of aspects such as asset deployment, system integration, and data security are the key objectives of cloud governance. Its ultimate aim is to ensure the efficacy of cloud computing. Make sure to invest in cloud governance to benefit in the long run.