A global pandemic has fundamentally changed human behavior. Where we go, the products we consume, how we consume them, the supply chains that deliver them and the way we work and interact with each other has all been altered. To suit stay-at-home and quarantine orders, reliance on digital means has increased dramatically. As of April 2020, Pew Research Center reports that roughly half of surveyed U.S. adults (53 percent) say the internet has been essential for them during the pandemic, while other reports observe that compared to March 2019, the daily average in-home data usage has increased by 38 percent in March 2020. Naturally, as a result of this disruption and increased virtual dependence, businesses and their digital transformations have become hyper accelerated.

Redefining the future of how and where work gets done through a newly remote workforce has meant that large corporations are shifting toward Artificial Intelligence (AI) for business automation processes and insights and increasing their focus on constructing the enterprise cloud as a business platform. These two trends are tightly interrelated, in that AI-driven businesses motivate enterprise cloud adoption. Yet, at the core of cloud is one key process: governance. The policies and procedures through which the cloud is operated can be the difference between cloud success and failure, and in this era of disruption, it can be the difference between keeping ahead of the curve and getting left behind entirely.

The enterprise cloud is the future of not just corporate computing, but corporate survival, offering speed, agility, AI, business continuity, disaster recovery and beyond. In short, the enterprise cloud is the solution to the post-COVID-19 new normal, and in order to meet the needs of the new normal, a cloud driven by automated governance is key.

 

Automated Governance: The Answer to Lingering Questions

Cloud-based services and technologies promise increased speed and corporate agility thanks to access to instantaneous compute capacity and an ever-increasing range of development tools. Yet, underlying cloud infrastructure lacks comprehensive visibility, and it often undergoes upgrades without informing enterprise customers or tenants. Lack of cloud infrastructure visibility within an application’s dependency map creates a lack of trust and confidence, and management becomes difficult because you can’t effectively manage what you can’t measure or see. Furthermore, a lack of visibility can mean compromised compliance without the organisation’s knowledge.

Enterprises need a way to ensure that every element of the cloud deployment pipeline is protected and compliant, even as demands expand and the speed at which results are required increases. This is the role of automated cloud governance, or rather, an automated process for tracking governance throughout the software delivery process. Automated cloud governance provides the tools that enable the shared responsibility model that has been talked about but not yet implemented on a large scale. However, before wide-scale realisation is reached, there are many considerations to navigate.

For example, when it comes to deploying strong cloud governance, three steps should be kept in mind. The first is outlining the cloud strategy, which means understanding individualised compliance and regulatory needs of the data involved and defining and documenting appropriate control practices. Next comes the operation and monitoring phase, ensuring independent verification of controls can be performed, providing visibility and transparency into third-party consumption and more. Finally, the audit and evidence stage is reached, which involves creating a historical inventory of cloud controls, provenance and applicability scope, as well as a history of raw service consumption, usage and configuration with internal identity linkage.

To simplify the process, a cloud governance policy should provide for abstractions that can help guide implementations independently and manage the complexity of cloud computing environments. Not planning for any abstraction between implementations and policies means thousands of separate guidelines would exist, making the environment nearly unmanageable. Policy that is separate from the implementation simplifies everything because it enables the implementations to be backed by the policy instead of being directly tied to it.

Resources that discuss aspects of automated cloud governance like those above and outline deployment models are key for ensuring the IT and business world understand how to bring the associated benefits to fruition. The process of discussing and educating the market will be key to ensuring the cloud can evolve to meet the needs of the new world.

 

Continuing on the Problem Solving Continuum

In the ongoing recovery from the pandemic, organisations have realised that business and digital strategy are synonymous. A result of this is a keen need for a model that increases secure cloud consumption through automated cloud governance.

While the variability of the cloud makes it difficult to track and maintain management and operational aspects, strong governance in hybrid and multi-cloud computing is achievable — but questions still remain. As the automated cloud governance model gains traction, the next questions to be answered involve understanding how much infrastructure stays on-premises, how private data centers should be deconstructed and more.