Cloud governance entails the policies, processes, and controls an organization puts in place to ensure the effective and secure management of its cloud resources and services.
Wiz Experts Team
6 min read
What is cloud governance?
Cloud governance entails the policies, processes, and controls an organization puts in place to ensure the effective and secure management of its cloud resources and services. All elements are agreed upon by stakeholders based on previous security history and a risk assessment of the organization’s cloud.
Cloud governance involves:
Optimizing cloud usage
Aligning the allocation of cloud resources with business objectives
Managing potential security risks
Enhancing security and cost efficiency
Assigning cloud monitoring and threat prevention responsibilities
Defining incident response strategies
A good cloud governance framework entails regular audits, policy enforcement, monitoring, and reporting.
While cloud computing offers several operational pros, including automation, cost-effectiveness, and scalability, it also introduces some challenges due to its dynamic and complex nature.
For one, cloud computing involves storing sensitive data and applications on third-party servers, which raises data privacy and regulatory compliance concerns. There are also challenges related to resource usage and allocation, which often lead to unexpected spend.
Cloud governance addresses these and several other complexities by offering the following benefits.
1. Cost control
Organizations traditionally tracked cloud resource usage, spend, and controls (e.g., budgeting, cost allocation, and resource scheduling) using analog spreadsheets; these were often complicated and inaccurate and also often led to budget overruns.
Cloud governance services automate these processes based on organization-specific cost control policies.
2. Security assurance
Cloud governance involves setting up clear security and monitoring strategies for detecting and mitigating potential security threats. It implements comprehensive role and identity-based access controls, lowering the risk of unauthorized cloud deployments by identifying unwanted software or shadow IT.
It also tracks the impact of security strategies implemented, helping you determine when changes/improvements are necessary.
Regulations and industry standards such as PCI-DSS, GDPR, HIPAA, CIS, and NIST mandate organizations to protect sensitive data, enforce data encryption, and monitor data retention.
Cloud governance establishes controls to make sure organizations and cloud service providers (CSPs) meet these requirements; it also facilitates gathering documentary proof of compliance.
4. Improved visibility and efficiency
Cloud governance lets you monitor performance and resource utilization, which in turn allows for informed decision-making, resource optimization, and resolution of performance bottlenecks.
This improves system efficiency.
5. Independence and control
Some CSPs offer proprietary technologies that impede platform-to-platform software and data migration.
Cloud governance helps you take control of your cloud environment because it allows you to proactively evaluate providers and prevents vendor lock-in.
6. Deployment acceleration
Cloud governance incorporates DevOps practices and methodologies to accelerate cloud deployment. This includes using containerization technologies like Docker to package apps and their dependencies, as well as orchestration tools like Kubernetes to streamline the deployment and management of containers.
Deployment acceleration enables you to achieve faster delivery cycles and enhanced agility.
A cloud governance strategy begins with a governance framework made up of well-defined policies. These policies balance employee roles/responsibilities with the need for controlling access to cloud infrastructure and protecting data.
While each governance framework contains certain generic components, covered below, stakeholders must adapt them to their enterprise’s specific use case.
Compliance and risk management
Cloud governance facilitates data retention and deletion, backups, access control, and other data protection measures; this ensures compliance with regulations and industry-specific standards, such as PCI-DSS, GDPR, HIPAA, CIS, and NIST.
Cloud governance also involves balancing cloud control with risk and implementing risk management techniques, e.g., risk avoidance, risk mitigation, and risk transfer for continued cloud protection.
Huge chunks of sensitive data are increasingly stored in the cloud, requiring proper cloud governance. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, there will be some 200 billion terabytes of data stored in the cloud by 2025. To protect this data and ensure its continued availability, cloud governance helps implement:
Data classification strategies
Data retention and disaster recovery
Identity and access management (IAM)
The more resources used, the higher the cost. Cloud governance helps you manage and optimize this expenditure by eliminating idle resources. It implements techniques like:
Rightsizing instances to match workload requirements
Utilizing spot instances for cost-effective computing
Outsourcing necessary services to managed service providers (MSPs)
Leveraging autoscaling to dynamically adjust resources based on demand
By utilizing cost management tools provided by cloud providers or third-party services, you can track and control cloud spend to achieve efficiencies and boost your bottom line.
To manage the vast workload in the cloud and streamline operations, organizations must adopt cloud governance automation and orchestration techniques. The top among these are infrastructure as code (IaC) and continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines.
IaC enables consistent and scalable cloud resource management and deployment using code. CI/CD pipelines automate the software development lifecycle, making it faster and more reliable.
Cloud operations management also includes leveraging monitoring tools, alerting mechanisms, log management, and incident response strategies for operational excellence and swift troubleshooting.
Government and industry experts have established several models that set standards for how organizations work in the cloud. These governance models help you establish policies, procedures, and controls to guarantee compliance, security, and effective management of cloud services.
COBIT (Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies), a governance framework from the ISACA (Information Systems Audit and Control Association), helps organizations establish clear policies, implement effective controls, and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.
The most recent iteration of the framework, COBIT 2019, highlights design factors and maturity models that enterprises must consider, providing them with a governance workflow tool kit and outlining 40 processes for effective cloud governance.
COBIT also offers governance and compliance certifications, including the COBIT Bridge Certification, COBIT 2019 Foundation Certificate exam, COBIT 2019 Design & Implementation exam, and NIST compliance with COBIT 2019.
ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) offers guidelines for IT service management. It’s centered around making sure IT services help achieve business goals, ensuring service quality and availability.
ITIL offers organizations principles and processes for managing cloud services throughout their lifecycle, including strategy, design, transitions, operations, and continuous improvement. The most recent version, ITIL 4, promotes cloud governance by outlining best practices related to ITIL strategy and policy implementation, monitoring enterprises’ governance implementations, and regularly reviewing governance policies to make sure they’re up-to-date in today’s dynamic cloud landscape.
ITIL also offers certification for compliant organizations and trained IT professionals.
ISO/IEC 38500 & ISO/IEC 27017
These models were developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
ISO/IEC 38500 emphasizes the role of senior management in governing IT and ensures that IT is aligned with the organization's strategies and objectives. Its purpose is to bolster the efficacy of IT.
ISO/IEC 27017 focuses specifically on cloud services and provides information security controls and implementation guidelines for both CSPs and their customers.
ISO-compliant organizations can obtain certifications that demonstrate cloud governance implementation, boost customer trust, and help them gain a competitive advantage.
To establish effective cloud governance, you will need to take the following actions.
1. Implement centralized monitoring
Gaining end-to-end visibility into your cloud resources is key to understanding what is going on in your cloud environment. You can achieve full visibility with centralized monitoring tools that provide:
Interactive monitoring dashboards
Activity log and security metrics collection
Automated severity-based alerting capabilities
2. Automate your workflows
Using automation technologies like CI/CD, IaC, configuration management tools, and orchestration frameworks is key to streamlining repetitive tasks and workflows in cloud governance.
It also ups your organization’s efficiency by inhibiting the possibility of manual errors and allowing you to handle other tasks.
3. Cultivate a culture of cloud accountability
Establish mechanisms for tracking and enforcing cloud usage policies and standards. This involves implementing and monitoring access control mechanisms, user provisioning processes, and robust IAM solutions to ensure accountability and adherence to governance policies.
4. Train and educate employees
Consistently train and educate employees to expand their knowledge (and skills) bank related to cloud governance. This helps employees understand and follow best practices, security protocols, and compliance requirements when working with cloud resources.
5. Regularly review governance policies
The cloud landscape is constantly evolving. So make sure to regularly review and update governance policies to adapt to changes in technology and industry standards.
This enables you to address new vulnerabilities, emerging threats, and compliance requirements. It also helps you manage risks associated with cloud adoption, such as service disruptions and vendor lock-in.
6. Limit external exposure
Implement security measures such as virtual private clouds (VPCs), firewalls, and intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS) to limit exposure to the external environment. This protects your cloud infrastructure and data from being compromised, including unauthorized access and data breaches.
By establishing cloud governance and following its best practices, you will effectively manage and secure your organization's cloud resources, guarantee compliance, and align your cloud strategies with business objectives.
Choosing solutions that assist you in achieving effective cloud governance is vital.
Wiz is a comprehensive security solution that takes over the security role, letting you focus on production without compromising security. With Wiz, you gain a clear understanding of your cloud environment, allowing you to assess and ensure regulatory compliance, identify potential vulnerabilities, and enhance your overall security posture.
To see firsthand how Wiz can boost your organization’s cloud governance efforts, schedule a demo with us today.
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