Cloud Governance: Why It Is Critical for the Success of Cloud Adoption?
According to a 2020 report by Gartner, 99% of the vulnerabilities exploited by cybercriminals will be known to industry professionals for at least one year.
The report, although disturbing, is not shocking by any measure. Delays in update implementation, poor patch management policies, and the absence of adequate security policies within organizations have contributed to the proliferation of cyberattacks for years. With the corporate IT migrating to the cloud, it is now carrying these systemic faults and limitations along with it.
And, it’s not all about security and compliance. The promise of the cloud continues to be agility, flexibility, and responsiveness, among others. Organizations can extract these benefits only when their cloud policies are designed to leverage the cloud’s advantages. This is why cloud governance is the need of the hour.
What is Cloud Governance?
To put it in simple terms, cloud governance is a framework that establishes the principles, policies, and processes that direct the access, utilization, and monitoring of cloud resources.
An effective cloud governance framework answers 3 critical questions:
1. How to do things efficiently? (Operational efficiency)
2. How to do them securely? (Security and Compliance)
3. How to extract maximum value from cloud resources? (ROI and resource optimization)
Some organizations do not have a dedicated cloud governance policy because they apply traditional IT governance policies to their cloud. This approach works against their cloud adoption goals and prevents them from extracting maximum benefits from their cloud strategy.
Here’s what a traditional IT governance policy looks like:
User Request >> Manager Approval >> IT Approval >> Provisioning
This centralized decision-making process does not complement the inherently decentralized and highly flexible nature of the cloud. The cloud demands a more agile decision-making process that eliminates bureaucracy and empowers cloud users. It demands something like this:
User Request >> Validation Against Policies and Budget >> Access Grant
By implementing streamlined cloud governance policies, as shown in the above example, organizations can expedite and even automate, in many cases, cloud resource provisioning decisions while simultaneously ensuring the highest security and compliance requirements.
In fact, a robust cloud governance policy has become critical to the success of cloud adoption.
Importance of Cloud Governance for the Success of Cloud Adoption
The objective of cloud governance is not to limit access to cloud resources but to streamline it and manage it more efficiently. An intelligently-designed cloud governance policy lays the foundation for the success of your cloud adoption. Here’s how:
Alignment with Organization’s Objectives
The absence of a cloud governance framework usually means that an alternate governance policy, typically a more centralized one, exists. Such a centralized approach inhibits fast decision-making, which works against the organizational goals like agility and flexibility in adding new revenue streams, expanding to new markets, reducing time-to-market, and so on. It impedes the company’s responsiveness against the market dynamics, giving the competition more room to meet the customer needs.
A comprehensive cloud governance framework complements an organization’s goals without compromising their resource utilization objectives.
Better Management of Cloud Resources
Cloud service providers recommend their customers to move their multiple-tenant workloads that reside in a single account to different cloud accounts. This allows organizations to offer precise control to users for only the workloads that are relevant to them.
Such a siloed management of access drastically limits the financial and security fallout resulting from an issue — be it a technical issue or a security issue. As it’s almost impossible to avoid either of them entirely, it would be smart on the part of businesses to minimize the fallout resulting from them.
Prevent Budget Overruns Without Compromising Scalability
Extreme scalability is perhaps the most significant advantage offered by the cloud. The ability to scale up and down your IT resources to match the varying market demands is a game changer in seasonal industries and for high-growth businesses.
However, unfettered provisioning of cloud resources can blow up your budget. That doesn’t mean that every cloud resource provisioning decision must be forwarded to the CTO. A proper cloud governance policy can enforce hard limits on budget utilization at the technology level, thereby enabling all users to utilize cloud resources in tandem with the cloud governance policies without exceeding those limits.
Reduce Security Risks
Educating cloud users in cloud security is a vital step in reducing the incidences of security breaches. However, it’s impossible to maintain vigilance at all times and this is why 95% of all cloud breaches can be directly traced to human errors. By reducing the reliance on human employees for ensuring cloud security, cloud governance significantly improves your security posture against online threats.
The new and emerging cyberthreats necessitate that businesses rethink their approach to cloud security, data protection, consumer privacy protection, and user authentication. A cloud governance policy can configure and manage the security protocols and tailor them to the business’s needs — whether it’s authenticating access or filtering traffic.
Reduce Compliance Risks
Besides security, cloud governance also addresses compliance challenges. A capable third-party cloud governance solution can keep all your sensitive corporate data private, in compliance with the HIPAA and FedRAMP guidelines.
This is especially relevant for businesses that cater to customers in international markets, such as the EU, where the GDPR (or other data protection law) considerations impose stricter customer data privacy and security compliance requirements on businesses.
Curb Shadow IT
A complex cloud governance policy drives the organizational users away from the cloud and into the lap of shadow IT. Every time the staff is stalled or stymied in their attempts to access cloud resources to perform their tasks, they look for alternate solutions. And, whenever corporate data is stored or used on third-party solutions without the IT department’s oversight, it increases the risks and spends for the organization.
A streamlined cloud governance framework makes it easy for the staff to gain access to the cloud resources they need to perform their job efficiently and effectively.
Improves Reliability, Productivity, and Accountability
You do not need to track and monitor cloud resource usage in real-time to ensure compliance with organizational policies. A suitable cloud governance solution can automate these tasks and bring down the labor costs as well.
A full-fledged cloud governance solution allows businesses to enforce checks, balances, and guardrails that control everything from cloud access to its utilization. You won’t have to take any follow-up actions every time you receive an alert. Instead, these follow-up actions can be automated. Besides the obvious benefits of time and costs savings resulting from the saved labor, there’s the added benefit that the newly freed-up staff can focus on mission-critical activities like product development, cost reduction, and revenue generation.
Make Rapid Innovation a Reality
One of the critical factors that make the cloud such an attractive prospect for software businesses is that it drastically improves the time-to-market. Of course, cloud is only the infrastructure; the success of cloud adoption lies in the complete transformation of organizational processes.
More and more software development businesses are taking to DevOps, a service delivery model that accelerates the ability of organizations to release new patches, features, and products. DevOps relies heavily on horizontal scaling, cohesive responsibility, and overlapping roles. An effective cloud governance strategy defines the processes for skills-to-role mapping, task automation, deployment, testing, rollback, and other processes, thereby reducing the risks of failure.
Makes Financial Governance Hassle-free
Profit maximization strategies can be classified into two groups — cost-reduction measures and revenue-improvement measures. Businesses make their routine operational decisions based on their overall profit-maximization goals by tracking the key performance indicators (KPIs). However, they do not always have access to the data they need for such decision-making. Thankfully, this is not the case for the cloud.
The cloud makes it possible for businesses to combine their KPIs with the real-time costs and ROIs delivered by the cloud resources to evaluable their economic benefits. Indeed, a cloud governance solution gives enterprises the level of granular insight they need to take a matrixed approach to such evaluations. It gives them better control over their cloud strategy.
Enterprises are moving from the on-premises environment to hybrid and cloud environments at a breakneck pace. However, not all of them have been able to achieve their cloud adoption goals. A startling 54% of the cloud users report that they are yet to realize the cost-reduction goals, while 72% of them have not realized their time-to-market objectives. Clearly, the success of cloud adoption is not uniform across the board. Somewhere in their cloud transformation journeys, they have hit roadblocks that continue to prevent them from realizing their goals.
We have identified some of the common challenges that businesses face when moving to the cloud and how an effective cloud governance framework can help them overcome them. A robust cloud governance policy allows companies to streamline and standardize cloud resources access, management, and utilization while ensuring cost optimization, compliance, and security.