Why You Need Azure Cloud Governance

If you’ve migrated to a cloud computing environment, or have adopted one for the first time, you no doubt understand the sheer volume of strategic planning and work that goes into that process.

Once you’ve completed the migration, however, you’ll then want to have an organizational structure in place to ensure you manage your cloud computing appropriately. That’s where you’ll need cloud governance.

One of the most popular tools for cloud infrastructure is Microsoft Azure due to its many capabilities. To get the most out of it, you’ll need to have a cloud governance strategy in place.

Let’s take a closer look at defining what cloud governance is, the capabilities Azure provides you with to navigate it, and why you need it.

What is cloud governance?

When you participate in cloud computing, it means you may be using the cloud for your infrastructure, platform, and/or software needs. That means you’ll want to have a structured approach to managing how you use it.

Governance is that structure. It’s how your business manages and guides its operations – a set of rules that help you stay on track to achieve what you need to achieve. Cloud governance involves a series of rules to help you manage your cloud systems. It creates expectations and standards your users can follow to ensure consistency no matter who is using it.

What should those rules cover? Microsoft defines their “five disciplines of cloud governance,” including:

  • Cost management. This helps you understand how much you’re spending and how to manage those funds for your cloud needs. 
  • Security baseline. Every team has different needs to keep their cloud systems secure. With Azure Cloud, you can set standards that apply across the cloud and easily enforce them.
  • Identity baseline. Maintaining identity requirements across the cloud helps ensure that the right users have the right level of access.
  • Resource consistency. Azure Cloud also helps you configure and manage your resource usage.
  • Deployment acceleration. Ultimately, every development team wants to deploy as quickly as possible without sacrificing service or quality. Azure Cloud Governance supports that while maintaining their standards and requirements along the way.

Why do you need Azure Cloud Governance?

Microsoft Azure Cloud is one of the most comprehensive cloud computing solutions organizations can use. One reason for that is that it has Cloud Governance available as a built-in capability.

Microsoft enables you to set policies for your account that act as “guardrails” for anyone using it as an environment. It offers a full suite of functionalities that allow you to plan, govern, and manage your spending.

When your development team is working within Azure, it’s critical to establish guidelines for them. That ensures everyone is aligned and organized. These guardrails help everyone on your team understand how to work both independently and as a team. Waiting to establish this groundwork can lead to issues later on, as teams try to get acclimated to a set of rules and operational tempo.

According to Microsoft, there are four actions every team should take to establish governance after adopting a cloud framework, including:

  • Establishing a methodology. This is the first action to take – it helps your team develop a foundation for how they plan to govern the cloud, and also begins with a desired end state in mind.
  • Using governance as a benchmark. You can look at where your team is now and where you want to be, understanding how your cloud framework will help you accomplish your mission. This defines the vision you have for your cloud framework.
  • Identify your minimum viable product. To start out, you’ll want to define the “low hanging fruit.” These are the governance tools you can integrate with your team easily, without any major challenges. This is known as a “minimum viable product,” or MVP.
  • Look for opportunities to improve. Once you’ve adopted the cloud and leveled up to add governance, you can now examine how your governance rules are performing and  see where you need to adapt and improve.

What capabilities do you have in Azure Cloud Governance?

Azure Cloud Governance helps you set up the policies your development team will adhere to in their development environment. Here are the abilities you’ll have there:

  • Policy enforcement. Once you’ve set up your rules for governance, you’ll need a place to monitor compliance across Azure.
  • Creating environments.  Azure Blueprints allow you to create the environments you need, with customized tools and policies as well as different levels of access for administrators or users.
  • External rules compliance. Your internal organization may not be the only body with rules you need to follow. If there are external compliance rules you need your team members to adhere to, you can monitor compliance with those as well.
  • Budgetary monitoring. You can also review the amount of funds being spent across your team to ensure you’re staying on budget.

How to build an effective Azure Cloud Governance strategy

To get the most out of Azure Cloud Governance, you’ll want to build a strategy your team can reliably follow. Microsoft offers a detailed playbook on how to build your own organizational strategy. While they go in-depth into each specific step, below are the high-level steps they advocate for:

  • Consult the Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure. This will help you make business decisions that are best for your team and company.
  • Determine which members of your team need access to specific resources with Azure’s access control feature.
  • Use a “resource lock” to prevent any of your team members from inadvertently deleting any of your resources.
  • Engage in tagging to identify and define each of your Azure resources – this will help users understand why they exist and what they’re used for.
  • Use Azure Policy to monitor and define how your users make your individual resources.
  • Tap into the power of Azure Blueprints to govern across more than one Azure license.

Azure Cloud Governance is a powerful tool in helping your users align their work while extracting maximum value out of their Azure usage. Of course, cloud governance is best established alongside a trusted partner who understands how to use IT tools such as this.

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