Can the Enterprise Really Govern the Cloud?

    The enterprise has come to accept the fact that it cannot exert direct control over cloud infrastructure, but it does have a lot of influence when it comes to governing its resource consumption and data management. All the more surprising, then, that more organizations are not building the necessary mechanisms to ensure that what happens in the cloud does not stay in the cloud.

    According to a recent study by Propeller Insights, the state of enterprise cloud infrastructure governance is extremely poor. The firm polled more than 300 IT professionals and found that 28 percent are not confident that their cloud infrastructure is secure, while 62 percent say they rely on manual reviews before new resources are provisioned. And a startling 42 percent report they have no governance processes in place at all. It seems that the key challenge in fostering greater governance is that it is widely seen as a detriment to innovation, followed by the fact that many organizations are already struggling to oversee their own internal infrastructure, so why should they expect to do better in the cloud?

    There also seems to be a broad disconnect between what top executives view as strong governance and what mid-level managers are seeing. CloudCheckr’s recent 2017 Cloud Management Report noted that while 43 percent of executives express confidence in the visibility and control of public resources, only 16 percent of managers and users feel the same. The report draws two possible conclusions from these results: that executives are lacking key information that would cause them to reassess risk, or they are underestimating the level of investment needed to meet strategic goals.

    The challenge becomes even greater as the enterprise transitions from single-cloud to multi-cloud environments. BMC released a survey recently that revealed upwards of 40 percent of IT decision-makers do not know how much they are spending on cloud services, while more than three-quarters are hoping that intelligent management platforms will help to reach greater cost-efficiencies. However, BMC offers a word of caution when it comes to the cloud: Increased data collection and analysis may, in fact, point to non-cloud solutions as the ideal fit for certain applications.

    Cloud governance solutions are starting to hit the market, of course, but it is unclear whether any one provider will be able to deliver on an all-in-one, end-to-end platform or even if the enterprise would be willing to rely on a single provider for such an important function. Increasingly, cloud providers, particularly those catering to key industry verticals, are offering their own governance packages. CloudHealth, for one, recently unveiled a new policy engine that allows users to optimize infrastructure around their unique requirements. In this way, health organizations can craft their own control mechanisms using internal policy mandates and reference architectures, while at the same time accessing best practices that have proven effective elsewhere. Ultimately, the company says it can deliver policy solutions for key metrics such as cost, availability, security, performance and usage.

    Of course, perfect optimization is a chimera when it comes to advanced data environments. The most efficient use of resources will always be dependent on sometimes highly subjective expectations as to the best way of achieving a goal.

    But it is also fair to say that many organizations have allowed cloud infrastructure to blossom largely according to the whims of business users who tend to make decisions based on their own personal or parochial needs rather than those of the enterprise at large. This can be dangerous not just from a cost/efficiency perspective but in terms of data security and availability as well.

    Proper governance has the ability to balance the desire for greater productivity and innovation with the need for cohesive, cost-effective and secure data operations, but this is best accomplished as a strategic initiative, not just a simple platform deployment.

    And as with any strategy, it’s best to know where you want to end up before you start on the journey.

    Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.

    Arthur Cole
    Arthur Cole
    With more than 20 years of experience in technology journalism, Arthur has written on the rise of everything from the first digital video editing platforms to virtualization, advanced cloud architectures and the Internet of Things. He is a regular contributor to IT Business Edge and Enterprise Networking Planet and provides blog posts and other web content to numerous company web sites in the high-tech and data communications industries.

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