It’s no secret that embracing cloud technology is no longer a groundbreaking move; it’s just the next logical step in the IT evolution. Most progressive companies are already riding the high wave of advanced cloud services. Yet, there’s a catch: Maintaining robust governance and ensuring data security is a lot like trying to solve an ever-changing, complex puzzle. Maintaining data security is similar to working on a puzzle that constantly evolves. It requires ongoing attention and adjustments to stay ahead. This field demands a high level of alertness and the ability to quickly adapt to threats and changing regulations.

Stakeholders often fall into the trap of thinking the cloud works just like their familiar on-premise environments. But the reality is, it’s a whole new world up there.

It’s not just about moving to the cloud; it’s about reshaping the way we think about IT governance and security.

Just like an explorer in uncharted territory, we need a new map to navigate this complicated cloud landscape.

The Importance of Cloud Governance

Cloud governance is all about setting up a control center for managing your company’s cloud journey. It involves specific processes, rules, and management strategies that help transition to and maintain a cloud environment. Think of a cloud governance committee as your cloud control team. Their job includes:

  • Designing cloud management processes.
  • Selecting the right tools and vendors.
  • Providing overall supervision.
  • Managing costs.

Effective cloud governance leads to increased productivity, enhanced security, easier compliance with regulations, and, ultimately, improved innovation and business growth.

Risks of Neglected Cloud Governance

That all sounds great, right? But what are the risks if you fail to incorporate governance into your cloud strategy?

Let’s break it down: skipping out on cloud governance is like sailing a ship without a rudder. It’s a risky move that can lead organizations into stormy waters, both reputationally and financially.

Without proper governance, your cloud journey could take a turn for the worse. In the fast-paced world of tech, keeping your ship steady and on course is crucial. That’s why cloud governance isn’t just a “nice to have.” It’s your lifeline to safe and successful digital sailing. Without proper governance, you might encounter:

1. Security Vulnerabilities and Data Breaches

No matter how sophisticated software becomes, there are always bad actors threatening cloud platform security. Cloud governance establishes rules and protections that prevent cybercriminal activity.

2. Unexpected Cost Overruns

Cloud sprawl, the uncontrolled growth in cloud technology spending, occurs when businesses fail to monitor their cloud environment. Duplicate tool purchases across teams can lead to inefficient spending and uncontrolled scaling without proportional value.

For instance, in building automation, if each team chooses a different method, companies end up with dozens of paths to solve the same problem. Multiply this by 10, 20, or 100, and it becomes clear how this can snowball into a much larger problem.

3. Compliance Violations

Playing fast and loose with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (or PCI DSS) can hit your wallet hard. Think fines ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 every month.

When it comes to data security, the stakes are high — even large corporations aren’t immune to the fallout.

Consider the case of the DNA testing company 23andMe. Hackers accessed ancestry data of 6.9 million users, resulting in damage repair costs between $1 million and $2 million for the company. Another example is Managed Care of North America, a provider of dental benefits and services for state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs. This breach affected almost 9 million individuals, with stolen information including names, addresses, Social Security numbers, health insurance details, and government-issued ID numbers.

4. Inefficiencies

Companies that don’t have oversight often struggle to determine priorities and goals and develop strategies. Without a governance committee to implement and oversee processes, your company might miss critical targets and key performance indicators, ultimately leading to a loss of profit.

5. Difficulty Updating Tech

Lack of cloud governance also makes it difficult come time for a technology consolidation or turnover, as each “technology island” has different support needs.

Poor Governance Next Steps

According to a survey of IT professionals and engineers, 86% of respondents said that “enforcing cost, compliance, and security policies tends to be a pivotal inhibitor to cloud adoption.” If you are feeling the effects of poor governance or cloud chaos, you’re in the right place. Here are some practical steps forward:

Create Independent Committees

Shifting to the cloud requires many decisions because, just like any business process, it is constantly changing. To stay optimized, you need an independent committee to own cloud migration and maintenance processes.

Carefully Consider Your Cloud Governance Committee

Cloud governance committees are instrumental in developing and enforcing security protocols, compliance standards, and operational guidelines. As such, cloud experience and knowledge should be a prerequisite for members.

Focus Your Cloud Governance Committee on Specific Objectives

Organizations transferring to the cloud may have existing governance or architecture review boards. Despite the potential overlap, your cloud governance committee must function autonomously or as a sub-committee to ensure key objectives are prioritized.

Get Outside Help

Moving to cloud computing demands considerable expertise and experience, as each organization often adopts a unique approach. Without skilled guidance, you may encounter unexpected and costly setbacks. Seeking external expertise can offer fresh perspectives, moving the business away from the traditional “we’ve always done it this way” mindset.

Implement a Strong Executive Sponsor

A governance committee needs a pragmatic and decisive executive sponsor with authority to enforce decisions. Unless a committee can act, everything they put forward will be suggestions. The goal is for everyone to move quickly in the same direction.

Don’t Wait to Implement Cloud Governance

Many times, we see new leaders brought into organizations to rectify the above issues, when in reality, implementing cloud governance earlier would prevent disruptive financial and organizational overhauls.

Especially for companies under the watchful eye of compliance and regulatory standards, governance isn’t just a good idea — it’s essential. It’s the key to dodging risks and keeping operational performance in top gear. Proper governance is the core component of a well-oiled cloud computing machine.

Aaron Moore

President and CTO

With 32 years of diverse IT expertise, Aaron Moore, now president and chief technology officer at Kinect Consulting, has significantly impacted various industries through his technical and leadership roles. Aaron’s well-rounded tech acumen is evident: He founded a tech startup in 1993, led cloud transformation at World Fuel Services, and held IT positions at E.ON, General Electric, and Electronic Arts. His passion for building products to solve complex problems showcases his profound knack for business-oriented tech solutions across diverse industries.

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