The use of cloud computing by organizations is on the rise. According to 451 Research, organizations will spend over a third of their IT budgets on cloud hosting and services in 2017, up from 28% in 2016. The increasing demand is driven by the many benefits cloud computing can provide to businesses, such as eliminating the costs of maintaining expensive IT infrastructure on-site.
For enterprises that are seeking to shift from internal to cloud-based IT services, good governance is critical when they make the move. Good governance simply means organizations following a set of measures or policies to ensure they make the most of cloud computing and minimize the risks. Here's a list of four measures businesses should take to achieve good governance when they decide to embrace cloud technologies.
When businesses transfer their data to the cloud, it becomes susceptible to being breached by hackers and cybercriminals. To lower the risk of unauthorized actors accessing this data, various security procedures should be taken when the data is moved to the cloud. These include encrypting the data, or placing particularly sensitive data in a private cloud rather than a public one. A private cloud segregates the sensitive data of an organization from all other data, making it harder to reach.
Business leaders need to have plans in place in the event that their cloud service fails and goes offline, which could have catastrophic consequences on the operation of a business. Contingency steps are required to minimize the impact of such a scenario. One step is to keep a copy of critical data and services on local IT infrastructure, so that core aspects of the business can continue to function if cloud services are not available.
Cloud data centers which store data could be based anywhere in the world. But certain types of data are not allowed to be transferred to certain countries, due to data privacy and sovereignty laws. This is especially true for data related to strongly regulated sectors such as finance or health. Businesses are advised to seek legal advice before entering a cloud arrangement, to ensure their data is not transferred to a data center in a country where that data may be unlawful.
The most important measure of all is choosing a reliable cloud provider. A reliable provider will help a business achieve good governance. This is because a good provider will offer data encryption or private cloud functionality to keep data secure. A good provider will further have its own contingency plans in place for moments of failure, such as disaster recovery mechanisms that get services and data back online straightaway. A good cloud provider will also offer geographic flexibility, meaning that they will allow enterprises to transfer their data to jurisdictions where that data does not contravene any laws.
To find a good provider, businesses should consider factors such as client testimonials about the provider's performance, how long the provider has been operating as well as the company's financial stability. Certification should also be taken into consideration. Most international cloud companies are certified and audited for reliability. However, this is not always the case with Chinese providers. Therefore if a business is seeking a Chinese cloud company, they should check to see whether that company has been awarded any globally-recognized certifications concerning their reliability.
The allure of cloud computing is great, and businesses may be tempted to jump in immediately without accounting for the risks. Such recklessness is asking for trouble, since a hasty and uninformed utilization of cloud computing could affect the very survival of a business. It often takes a long time (even years) to transfer data to a cloud computing service. If the service subsequently develops issues which have not been accounted for and the data becomes impaired, years of investment are potentially wasted. This is why good governance, achieved through the measures described above, is vital to ensure that cloud computing can be harnessed to help a business grow rather than put it in danger.
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