What is Cloud Governance? 

As organizations migrate to the cloud, they need visibility over every cloud platform, application, service, and user. Cloud governance is a set of rules or controls used to manage user access, compliance, and reduce security risk across your multi-cloud environment. Cloud governance should include discovering, modeling, managing and governing access to all applications, resources and data across your cloud infrastructure.

Cloud Governance Challenges

Cloud platforms enable organizations to free up budget and increase investment opportunities because of their ability to quickly stand-up new infrastructure and an elastic consumption model that provides capacity on demand. However, when establishing or migrating critical workloads to cloud platforms one thing that must not be overlooked is the need for identity governance to ensure a secure, compliant and efficient infrastructure. There are three main obstacles organizations using multi-cloud environments need to overcome.

  1. Lack of visibility. There’s no easy way to look across cloud platforms to discover who and what is out there at any given time. Understanding how they relate to each other is even more challenging – but is key to developing the right access policies.
  2. The difficulty of federated access. Lack of visibility also impedes your ability to know who has what cloud access from your enterprise system of record, such as Active Directory.
  3. Monitoring and governing use. Even if organizations could get eyes on users, workloads, and access; there’s no easy way to determine if that access is appropriate, authorized or even used.

Best practices in automation of identity governance can help organizations overcome these obstacles.

Cloud Governance Best Practices

Moving to the cloud opens companies up to data exposure, security and compliance violations and other threats. This is why visibility and control are vital for governing access to cloud resources. Here are three cloud governance best practices that help strengthen your cloud infrastructure.

  1. Gain visibility across your cloud infrastructure
  2. Manage federated access
  3. Tighten Identity Governance

1. Gaining Comprehensive Visibility

Discovery of who is accessing what across a multi-cloud environment requires two things:

  • A complete picture of user access by tying individual cloud access to managed identities.
  • A comprehensive understanding of the underlying data access models across the different cloud platforms to fully understand all access paths between users and objects.

It’s not just a question of being able to discover who and what is out there in any cloud platform used. You want to be able to discover the relationships between them. Advanced automation technologies today are enabling comprehensive visibility across the entire multi-cloud environment.

2. Managing Federated Access to the Cloud

A best practice recommended by cloud vendors is to leverage existing enterprise directory structures to provide federated user access to the cloud. The goal is to avoid the headache of manually maintaining the lifecycle of a separate identity for cloud users when they already have an account in your enterprise system of record, such as Active Directory.

Lack of visibility across a multi-cloud environment exponentially raises the level of difficulty in achieving this goal. You never have a complete picture of what enterprise directory groups are mapped to what cloud roles and the access those cloud roles provide. Without that end-to-end visibility, you can’t effectively manage cloud access.

3. Tightening Identity Governance Throughout the Cloud Environment

Automation is fundamental to the success of governing access across multi-cloud environments. It starts with automating the creation of policies that govern identity in a multi-cloud environment. Monitoring the enforcement of these policies and guidelines needs to be constant in dynamic multi-cloud environments, with the ability to quickly generate alerts when violations are detected. 

Enforcing least privilege practices, including the identification of excess and unused access, is critical to ensure that each user has the right-sized access to do their job—no more, no less.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning can further automate identity governance. Activity and usage data can be analyzed and “learned” to create or adjust policies enabling identity governance to be self-learning and data driven.

Finally, you need integration between the cloud access management solution you are using for your cloud infrastructure with your central identity management solution to support identity lifecycle management tasks such as certifications, access requests, advanced policy roles, audit reporting, and provisioning.

Check Out SailPoint Cloud Governance Solution

SailPoint Cloud Governance gives you a comprehensive view of access across IaaS, SaaS and on-premises applications and data. From a single dashboard, our AI insights help you make faster, more informed access decisions, detect potential risks and easily enforce access policies for all users.

Find out how SailPoint can help your organization.

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