August 15, 2018

Tackling Governance in a Multi-Cloud Environment

by: Align


The implementation of a multi-cloud strategy occurs when companies turn to multiple cloud providers to take advantage of various cloud offerings. Combining the functionality of cloud services from different providers help businesses remain flexible in meeting workload requirements, while not only preventing vendor lock-in but providing a means of redundancy. In discussing the multi-cloud strategy, it’s necessary to distinguish it from that of the hybrid cloud. While hybrid entails the mixing of private and public cloud environments, hybrid does not inherently span providers. Multi-cloud is often an enabler of hybrid-cloud, but they are indeed two distinct strategies. Being that multi-cloud does span providers, it may ultimately prove to be more complicated in achieving an effective governance strategy.


While a multi-cloud strategy can increase productivity, such a disparate technical landscape can open the floodgates for risk and negate those multi-cloud benefits. The fact that the cloud is so agile by nature and that resources can be provisioned and deployed on the fly, it becomes very easy for cloud environments to exist with no governance whatsoever. Without enforced management, companies often realize too late that they’ve run up an exorbitant cloud bill, that storage is suddenly dangerously low, or that cloud resources are improperly utilized. In this case, governance must be established retroactively. Working to mitigating risk across your multi-cloud environment is a daunting task, but standardizing cloud governance can help you to gain clarity within a complex infrastructure.

Abstraction and Tagging

The fact that the multi-cloud spans providers can make it difficult to unify your environment and gain visibility. A stepping stone to establishing a common thread in the environment is to utilize a consistent tagging methodology to identify assets. Without proper, standardized tagging it becomes impossible to correlate data with assets to ensure that they follow established cloud policies. The use of abstraction is key to creating tags that will be applicable across environments, making it simpler to ensure policy adherence. Identifying assets by their least common denominator will make them much easier to govern. 

Policy Areas

Policies that will set the groundwork for effective multi-cloud management are comprehensive in addressing the protection, monitoring and control of data, user roles and applications. The following are crucial areas in which firm policies should be defined:

  • Access management to determine who can access what and where.
  • Security to closely monitor resources and cloud accounts to ensure that users are not using expired passwords or SSL certificates have not expired.
  • Operations and resource utilization monitoring to identify resources that may require configuration changes or may be deleted to optimize usage.
  • Capacity to check cloud storage that has been used against the allocated cloud storage.
  • Cost tracking so you don’t wind up overspending on under-utilized resources.

Automated policies to govern these areas that contain baked-in user permissions, paired with the self-service model of the cloud can empower IT teams and developers to provision their own cloud systems. Removing the need for developers to request cloud resources will not only reduce help desk tickets but will remove delays on the development side and contribute to enterprise agility.

Cloud Center of Excellence 

In addition to standardized policies and procedures, many companies are establishing Cloud Centers of Excellence (CCoE). A CCoE is a team of cloud experts who will manage your cloud strategy, governance and best practices. This team codifies how the cloud strategy is built and executed across an organization. Creating a CCoE will further contribute to the institutionalization of cloud policies and best practices.

Shared Responsibility

While the responsibilities of mitigating risk in the cloud ultimately fall equally on both cloud service providers and their customers, cloud governance is unique to each organization. The onus is on cloud customers to assess their own organizational needs and processes to effectively tailor their cloud policies to their internal requirements. To learn more about cloud governance, contact an Align managed cloud expert today for a free consultation.

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