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How to Raise Your Cloud Compliance Game to Succeed in a Multi-Cloud Environment

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The multi-cloud model gives choices and flexibility to organizations that a single cloud cannot. As such, organizations find compelling business value in moving to the multi-cloud.

But there’s a downside — the multi-cloud raises management complexity on many fronts. One of the critical areas is cloud regulatory compliance. Research shows that many organizations rank cloud compliance as the biggest basic operational challenge for security ops teams. It’s a bigger problem than a lack of visibility into cloud infrastructure.

CLOUD COMPLIANCE STRATEGIES

Compliance isn’t easy. Cloud computing makes it even harder by submerging applications data and processes in a third party’s infrastructure.

In the multi-cloud model, the compliance challenge gets even murkier. It can put your whole organizational plan at risk because of the interplay of disparate cloud providers.

We have some strategies and tools that can help ease the cloud compliance burden in your multi-cloud environment.

Getting Started

Start by looking at your current compliance models and tools. Organize your approach based on a specific set of targets. And then associate your current organizational practices to each of the targets. This ensures you cover everything you are covering now. Preserve most of your current compliance practices.

Security and regulatory compliance are always the key goals of any organization. But you might want to factor in costs and performance management goals to ensure you protect the multi-cloud business case.

There are multiple independent hosting domains with a multi-cloud environment. There is-one for your data center and one for each cloud. The purpose of multi-cloud compliance planning is to leverage compliance tools in each domain to solve a common goal. IT should know what’s happening in the cloud at any one time and take steps to address any problems.

Note that each cloud provider’s nature and location in your multi-cloud environment can affect cloud regulatory compliance. For instance, having a presence in a particular country usually implies jurisdiction. For this reason, you should be ready to expand your view of the regulations you need to comply with.

As you add more cloud providers, monitoring is one of the key areas of multi-cloud compliance implementation. There are a lot of cloud monitoring tools at your disposal to assist with information collection. Some of these tools conduct log analysis, some use application probes, and others use system probes.

You can use these tools to monitor your in-house data center as well. This gives the organization a unified compliance strategy that most compliance teams would want to see.

Work with Providers

Your relationship with your cloud providers is key to your cloud compliance strategy. Ask your provider the following questions:

  • How autonomous are its cloud domains?
  • Does it treat all hosting domains as independent in parallel environments, or are they a pool of resources?
  • Is it providing a basic, IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) style of hosting, or is it a managed cloud service of some sort?

Using autonomous managed cloud services calls for harmonizing the service contracts’ cloud compliance assurances to make them equivalent. This is the best way to deal with multi-cloud compliance if you want to simplify the technicalities involved.

What if it isn’t possible to harmonize the multi-cloud compliance processes? Then you will need to do it through a management layer built on top of all your hosting domains. Achieving this will be easier if you took a containerized approach to application deployment.

Safely Expose Assets

Illicit connections to application assets in the cloud can compromise information security. As a result, you need to figure out how to expose your assets safely.

Most cloud providers assign internal elements to private IP addresses. They then provide a gateway mechanism to map APIs of any components that are normally accessed externally to public address spaces, such as the Internet or the company VPN.

Here’s how to get networking right:

  • Never expose APIs that you won’t be accessing externally to the hosting domain. Assets you don’t expose don’t need special protection.
  • Provide access security via API brokers or other similar tools when you have an exposed API. This is especially so if it’s exposed to connect with components in other parts of the multi-cloud.
  • Monitor every exposed API explicitly. This will allow you to channel its use and give you leeway to detect any misuse.

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