Anybody unfamiliar with cloud governance could understandably be mystified with online definitions of the term. We attempt to demystify cloud governance and explain why it is important to understand what it is, and how it should be applied in order to avoid problems with cloud costs, asset performance, and security.
In most activities in life, there are rules. When you go to school, there are rules in the classroom. When you drive, you follow the rules of the road. When you play baseball, you respect the umpire’s decision. Not all the rules are great but, when they get broken, things tend to go wrong.
In cloud computing, there are rules relating to data security and privacy, but not for how businesses should operate in the cloud. Therefore, each business has to create its own rules of operation, monitor them, and adjust them as necessary in order to prevent things going wrong.
That, in a nutshell, is cloud governance—only it’s not quite that simple because in the cloud there are a lot of things that can go wrong. Due to the rapidly evolving landscape of the cloud, continuous monitoring and adjusting of the rules is essential for businesses to remain competitive.
Using Cloud Governance to Control Costs
Remember the days when the only IT infrastructure you had to worry about was on-premises? You purchased your equipment, budgeted for its operating costs, and got on with it. Now, with on-demand cloud services and pay-as-you-go pricing, you can spend money faster than a Las Vegas gambler.
Costs spiraling out of control is a common problem in cloud computing and is often caused by departments deploying their own assets in the cloud without authorization or approval. There’s even a name for it—“Shadow IT”—and so common is this event, the term has its own Wikipedia page.
Cloud governance with relation to cost control means getting everybody on the same page and stating “this is what we are going to do, and this is how we are going to do it”. Naturally there may be cases when additional IT resources are required. That’s okay. Just get approval first.
Once the rules to control costs have been agreed, it is important to monitor compliance with them. You want to avoid unpleasant shocks at the end of the month, so it is worth investing in cloud management software that monitors costs and can alert you to costs increasing above the projected budget.
How Cloud Governance can Enhance Performance
The negative consequences of Shadow IT not only relate to costs. Inconsistent approaches to how assets are deployed can result in a lack of interoperability—how computer systems communicate with each other and share information. This can be a big problem in multi-cloud or hybrid cloud environments.
If elements of an application are unable to speak with each other—or need their commands to be translated before they speak with each other—it can affect the end-user experience. If the end-user experience is not satisfactory, there is a lack of incentive for consumers to use them.
Interoperability can also be an obstacle to the future growth of a business. If different departments have deployed their own systems without adequate controls, and standards, it is harder to adopt new business-wide technology. Certainly it will be slower, more expensive, and likely prone to errors.
Cloud governance can resolve these issues in the same way it can control costs. Create the rules, get everybody to agree to them, and then monitor deployment activity to ensure the rules are being complied with. Again, software exists that can automate the monitoring process for you.
Resolving Security Issues with Cloud Governance
Cloud security risks are everywhere—not because the cloud is unsecure, but because some businesses fail to take appropriate precautions to protect their deployments. This is a problem that often originates from the days when on-premises IT infrastructures were protected by a firewall.
Unlike using cloud governance to control costs or enhance performance, resolving security issues is not a topic you need everybody´s agreement on. Identify what assets you have, identify any that have security vulnerabilities, fix them, and then implement rules on future deployments.
These rules should not only be applied to the deployment of assets. They should encompass every element of cloud security from password management to access controls to encryption key management, and be monitored continuously to ensure they are being complied with.
Again software exists to monitor security rules, and not only does it alert you to violations of the rules, the software can be configured to take specific actions such as terminating a Virtual Machine that has been deployed without appropriate security precautions or encrypting unsecured storage volumes.
Cloud Governance is Necessary
Hopefully we have demystified the term “cloud governance” and provided an understanding of why it is necessary. Basically, you need to have rules in order to establish and maintain a secure and optimized cloud environment.