What is cloud governance? Principles, Challenges & Implementation Framework

Anwita

Anwita

Jan 16, 2024

What is cloud governance? Principles, Challenges & Implementation Framework

A survey from HashiCorp found that nearly 90% of companies have gone multi-cloud. This figure is testament not only to the cloud’s popularity, but also demonstrates the urgency of establishing firm policies on cloud governance. Implementing cloud governance, however, is easier said than done. It comes with a set of challenges and intricacies. 

Let us understand what cloud governance is, how to implement it, the principles, challenges, and benefits in more detail. 

What is cloud governance?

Cloud governance is an organization’s way of defining and managing the policies or regulations for data that belong to them. This allows users working with sensitive cloud information to do so safely. Cloud governance helps you apply data regulations and simplify security procedures. This is because it is necessary to balance data privacy and security with accountability and business goals, as a cloud computing procedure.

Why you need cloud governance

Flexibility, agility, and accessibility are the key reasons cloud computing adoption is at an all-time high. However, it’s not only pros—the cloud is the agent of chaos. Fortunately, cloud data governance offers a way to bring order out of chaos. Here are five ways it helps organizations:

Business continuity

A critical component of cloud governance are its policies—a set of documents, SOPs, protocol, and practices detailing your processes, practices, and roles. These come in handy if and when your system is breached. Security teams and IT departments can use corporate policies to respond to incidents, investigate breaches, and restore systems to keep everything up and running.

Compliance management

Businesses managing or processing sensitive customer data must adhere to a compliance framework for two reasons – increasing the customer base and adhering to data laws. 

Cloud governance solutions help organizations cater to increasingly stringent requirements of compliance frameworks like HIPAA, SOC 2, GDPR, ISO 27001, and NIST.  It helps you monitor and implement framework requirements like risk assessment, application security, managing risky cloud service providers, and more. 

Shadow IT detection

When employees add a software, tool, or application to the cloud environment without the management’s approval or knowledge, these qualify as shadow IT. Shadow IT adds unprecedented risks to the cloud due to a lack of appropriate supervision. A proper cloud governance framework helps reduce security risks by allowing employees to request admins to implement certain tools.

Resource optimization

Businesses functioning without governance tools commonly suffer from independent systems and low coordination among departments. This results in operational complexities and inconsistent processes. 

Cloud governance models consolidate silos to help organizations ensure accountability of their workloads. The practice improves visibility across functions, better monitoring of activities, and improved utilization of resources.

Also check: 7 Best Compliance Automation Tools in 2024

6 Principles to setup cloud governance framework

Your cloud security governance framework should be set up to cover all aspects and challenges of cloud operations. These include:  

1. Security and compliance 

Security tools help IT teams manage and mitigate incidents. While vendor-managed services are designed to offer the highest level of protection, your internal security team is responsible for fine-tuning the configurations of these systems as per business policies or compliance requirements. For example, controls like access privileges, password management, or logging systems may require more fine-tuning to meet specific business security objectives. 

An important consideration of cloud security governance is maintaining the balance between risk tolerance and compliance obligations. To decide what risk can be accepted and what to be rejected requires substantial administrative intervention.

2. Data management

As cloud complexity and threat sophistication increase, so does the need for effective data management techniques. Your cloud governance policies should clearly define end-to-end data lifecycle policies.

Start by classifying data based on its sensitivity and risk level. Prioritize the data based on the sensitivity and set policies based on the risk score.

Encrypt data using strong keys to protect sensitive data like PII (personally identifiable information).

Automate data lifecycle management using tools like compliance and security solutions or cloud security posture management tools.

Use appropriate technical safeguards like MFA (multi factor authentication), access controls, and DLP (Data Loss Prevention) techniques to ensure data integrity.

3. Cost optimization

Tools are expensive. As are the resources managing them. Maintaining large infrastructures without strategically optimizing people, tools, and processes can stretch your security budget beyond the allocated limit.

Creating a budget, in most cases, is not easy to estimate and turns out to be inaccurate. A common debate among upper management is whether to opt for third-party managed services or build infrastructure. While the right choice depends on a number of business factors, outsourcing is usually the more cost-effective option for businesses. 

A well defined finance management policy helps you cut down operational cost throughout for all factors – people, processes, and tools. Cloud governance tools harmonize these factors in a way that helps businesses prioritize their objectives without exceeding the budget. For example, you can configure your evidence collecting system only to capture data required to pass audit checks so that it does not result in a cloud resource sprawl.

4. Operation management

Operations involves coordinating people and processes to keep everything moving with little hassle. Some operations management good practices are: 

Define policies and rules on how cloud-based systems and applications should operate

Define rules and create policies around access control for sensitive information

Put SLAs (service-level agreements) wherever applicable for internal resources and external stakeholders

5. Asset management

Organizations often juggle a bunch of cloud resources, and sometimes, developers set up virtual machines (VMs) on the cloud for quick needs but often forget to switch them off. While this is no big deal for one or two, when it comes to big clusters or pricey cloud services, you need a bit more order. 

This is where Infrastructure as Code (IaC) comes in. Instead of manually starting and stopping things, IaC lets you describe what your digital space needs for your application to run smoothly. IaC also keeps an eye on your setup. If something’s off, like a few VMs malfunctioning, IaC sorts it out automatically. 

When it comes to passwords and encryption keys, you should configure it in the strongest way possible. Instead of entering login details directly into scripts which is not always the safest method, use secure spots like centralized repositories to store these secrets.

6. Performance management

Performance management is the process of optimizing resources, systems, and tools to the fullest capacity. Doing so helps you boost performance while efficiently utilizing resources within your cloud infrastructure. Performance management involves:

  • Set up your system so that it will send alerts in case certain tools do not respond as they should.
  • Always observe your system performance and controls to detect holes and glitches
  • Manage system workload with Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). That puts the onus of managing the workload onto the service provider. But there is a price to pay – you lose full transparency and accessibility of the vendor.

Challenges in cloud governance implementation

There are also challenges in the cloud governance modules.

Cloud adoption: Businesses often switch over to new tools and procedures in order to solve their operational problems. However, the sudden change usually presents a new set of problems such as a lack of skills void to operate the tools and no foresight into price considerations in making such a shift.

Security: No matter how good your cloud journey is, there will probably be security incidents along the way. And if you don’t have an effective cloud governance framework establishing a set of best practices and risk management recommendations for your security teams, then your security teams will not know what to do and when to say no.

Automation: As a rule, cloud deployments increase workload complexity and become an obstacle to scaling. This is because these additional resources and cloud workloads are not automated. Managing cloud infrastructure manually creates silos, slows down the time taken to complete an activity, and creates inefficiencies throughout the cycle. 

Easy Automated Risk Insights

Conclusion

Getting the cloud under control is a problem in itself. Yet running the daily business, maintaining compliance and carrying out policy isn’t a walk in the park. And getting it done manually is another challenge altogether. Thankfully there is a solution to this headache – Sprinto. 

Sprinto constantly watches your system for activities non-compliant with policies, automates repetitive tasks and informs your security department to act against risks located in the cloud. It is well thought out, powerful, and automated machinery that does the heavy lifting for your team. 

It helps you manage policies, mitigate risks with precision, and trigger alerts whenever anything falls out of compliance. 

Furthermore, it includes a training module for employees to make sure you manage your cloud without lifting a finger. Talk to our experts today.

FAQs

What are the six principles of cloud governance?

The principles of cloud governance include security, compliance, data management, cost optimization, operational efficiency, asset management, and performance management. 

What are the common challenges of cloud governance?

Managing a cloud environment comes with challenges like adapting to a sudden shift in cloud processes, overcoming security incidents, and automating the cloud ecosystem. 

What is the difference between cloud governance and cloud management?

Cloud governance sets the rules; cloud management follows them. Governance decides policies and compliance, while management executes tasks like resource allocation. Think of governance as the game plan and management as playing by the rules.

Anwita

Anwita

Anwita is a cybersecurity enthusiast and veteran blogger all rolled into one. Her love for everything cybersecurity started her journey into the world compliance. With multiple certifications on cybersecurity under her belt, she aims to simplify complex security related topics for all audiences. She loves to read nonfiction, listen to progressive rock, and watches sitcoms on the weekends.

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