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August 28, 2023

The Power of Cloud-Based Data Governance: Ensuring Security and Compliance in the Digital Era

As organizations increasingly turn to the cloud for data storage, processing, and analysis, modernizing their data governance policies becomes an urgent priority. From cost efficiency scalability and centralized management, cloud-based data governance has brought many benefits to the digital era. It’s also brought significant challenges, including cloud security.

To ensure security and compliance in your cloud governance strategy, it’s essential to implement robust access controls, encryption mechanisms, and more. In this post, we’re taking a look at basic data governance principles and walking you through a typical cloud data governance framework. By establishing a structured approach to managing your organization’s data in cloud environments, you can maximize your data assets’ value while minimizing cyber risks and non-compliance.

The Relationship Between Data and the Cloud

Studies suggest there’s been a 40% increase in the use of cloud services for data management. Organizations that invest in cloud governance typically do so to get a better handle on how they collect, store, and use data to drive business decisions and improve outcomes.

There’s no denying that cloud-based capabilities, including SaaS, AI, and machine learning, have become essential for businesses that want to stay competitive. As they increasingly adopt cloud solutions, they must understand how they’re being used, by whom, and for what purposes. Doing so can help them streamline operations and drive growth while maintaining data security. Not doing so can lead to underutilized resources, escalating costs, and data vulnerabilities.

A comprehensive cloud governance strategy ensures optimal utilization, cost-effectiveness, and compliance alignment, empowering your business to more successfully navigate the intricacies inherent in cloud-based technologies. Highly successful initiatives include:

  1. Netflix adopting cloud-based solutions to help it manage vast volumes of data across various systems and geographical systems.
  2. Procter & Gamble employing a cloud framework to manage synchronization issues between its Master Data Management and metadata.

From a data governance POV, the relationship between data and the cloud is symbiotic, with cloud services empowering organizations to harness the full potential of their data while offering scalability, security, and cost-efficiency advantages.

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What is Data Governance in the Cloud?

Cloud-based data governance is the practice of managing and governing data assets in a cloud computing environment. It encompasses everything from data quality and access controls to retention policies and data classification, all executed within the context of cloud services.

For instance, imagine a telecommunications company that provides multiple services like internet connectivity, mobile plans, and cable TV. It collects extensive customer data that often includes browsing history, billing details, and location information. To ensure data privacy compliance under regulations like the GDPR or CCPA, the company adopts a cloud governance approach that includes:

  • Data classification and segmentation
  • Access controls
  • Consent management
  • Location data governance
  • Data anonymization and pseudonymization
  • Data quality management
  • Data retention and deletion policies
  • Cybersecurity and threat detection
  • Data auditing and reporting
  • Vendor and partner compliance

A cloud environment allows our telco company to automate processes, implement dynamic controls, and track their data practices. Other benefits include:

  1. Scalability. As an organization’s data volume grows, the cloud can accommodate higher storage and processing requirements without the need for additional hardware investment.
  2. Cost efficiency. Pay-as-you-go cloud-based solutions mean you only pay for the resources you use. There is typically no significant upfront investment in hardware and software, which is particularly helpful for smaller businesses.
  3. Accessibility. Users can access data from anywhere at any time on any device, facilitating collaboration and remote work.
  4. Flexibility and agility. Cloud-based solutions adapt easily to your organization’s evolving needs, accommodating new data sources, security and compliance regulations, and business requirements much more quickly that traditional on-premises ones.
  5. Integration. APIs and connectors that enable seamless integration with other cloud apps and services allow for more streamlined data workflows.
  6. Centralized data management that improves consistency and mitigates the risks that often come with data silos.
  7. Automation of data classification, tagging, and retention, reduces manual efforts, minimizes errors, and ensures compliance.
  8. Data security and compliance. Established cloud providers offer powerful security measures like encryption, access controls, and monitoring which can be leveraged to enhance data governance and ensure compliance.
  9. Backup and disaster recovery. Cloud platforms generally include built-in backup and disaster recovery capabilities that help organizations maintain data integrity and availability if a breach occurs.
  10. Real-time monitoring and reporting on data usage, quality, and compliance, enabling a business to identify issues promptly and make informed decisions.
  11. Reduced maintenance responsibilities. Cloud providers manage infrastructure maintenance and updates, reducing an internal team’s burden and allowing them to focus on core business activities.
  12. Accelerated implementation. Implementing a cloud-based governance solution is typically faster than setting up an on-premises infrastructure, something that’s particularly helpful for companies that want to achieve rapid improvements in their data management practices.

Cloud Data Governance Framework

A cloud data governance framework is a broad, structured approach to managing, securing, and utilizing data assets in cloud environments. It includes guidelines, policies, processes, and tools that ensure a business’s data is consistently managed and complies with applicable regulations.

Key components include:

  • Data governance policies outlining how data should be gathered, stored, processed, accessed, and shared within the cloud environment.
  • Assigning data stewardship for asset oversight and management, including proper classification, labeling, and governance alignment.
  • A centralized data catalog that provides comprehensive information on available data assets.
  • Strong access controls, authentication, and authorization mechanisms that facilitate data access while maintaining high-level security.
  • Data quality management via data profiling, validation, and cleansing processes that ensure consistency and accuracy of critical data entities.
  • Data lifecycle management, including retention, archiving, and disposal policies based on business needs and regulatory requirements.
  • Compliance and regulatory alignment with GDPR, HIPAA, CCPA, or industry-specific standards.
  • Data lineage and auditing that helps verify data governance policy adherence and detect anomalies.
  • Change management and communication practices that ensure data governance policy updates and modifications are communicated effectively to relevant stakeholders.
  • Training and awareness programs that educate team members on the importance of data governance as well as their roles in the process.
  • Cloud service provider collaboration to ensure security features and compliance certifications are aligned with your organization’s data governance requirements.
  • Continuous improvement and refinement of the framework to accommodate changing business needs and evolving data regulations.

Cloud Governance Implementation Challenges

Common challenges of implementing a cloud governance framework are cloud adoption and security, but there are many others that can threaten successful implementation.

  1. Lack of clarity and alignment can lead to confusion and a lack of direction in governance efforts.
  2. Managing governance across multiple services, platforms, and providers can be daunting, particularly if there are no standardized processes in place.
  3. Shadow IT adoption without proper oversight can make it difficult to enforce governance policies.
  4. Security and compliance risks if proper controls aren’t in place.
  5. Keeping up with new features and updates while maintaining governance can be difficult.
  6. A lack of internal skills and knowledge to effectively implement a cloud-based solution.
  7. Employee resistance to change, especially if the implementation disrupts existing workflows.
  8. Difficulty in striking a balance between business agility and maintaining sufficient control.
  9. Challenges related to integrating third-party vendors.
  10. Escalating costs due to insufficient monitoring.

Lastly, choosing the right tools and technologies to implement cloud governance can be challenging for many organizations as there are now so many options available, each with their own features and limitations.

Choosing a Cloud Data Governance Platform

Data cloud management done right minimizes risks, enhances data security, and enables cloud systems operations for your organization. Not investing in robust cloud governance comes with risks few businesses can afford, including evolving security issues.

Traditional data governance approaches are no longer a match for the ever-changing cloud landscape. Leveraging advanced cloud-based governance solutions ensures complex regulatory compliance and safeguards against potential breaches that could lead to financial, legal, and reputational harm.

Strategically implementing cloud governance helps your organization achieve flexibility and scalability, two vital necessities in today’s fast-paced digital environment. Moreover, it fosters intradepartmental collaboration, provides a comprehensive view of data usage, optimizes resource allocation, and empowers decision-making. In short, embracing cloud governance isn’t just prudent, it’s a revolutionary step toward unlocking the full potential of your data-driven journey.

At Velotix, we understand that governance is complicated. That’s why we’ve designed a powerful cloud-based platform that automates data governance and ensures security and compliance. It helps your organization meet its regulatory requirements with capabilities that automate data flow from request to security recommendations and compliance enforcement.

Contact us today to learn more or book a Velotix demo.

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