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Ease multi-cloud governance challenges with 5 best practices

Establishing sound multi-cloud governance practices can mitigate challenges and enforce security. Review best practices and tools to help manage costs and risk.

Adopting a multi-cloud model creates more complexity and management challenges for cloud teams. These difficulties affect almost every aspect of the environment, including design, deployment, provisioning, operations, security and governance.

The goal of governance is to ensure that data is consistent and trustworthy and that it doesn't get misused. In a multi-cloud environment, governance issues multiply.

Acquaint yourself with common multi-cloud governance challenges and learn the best practices and tools to navigate complexities.

Common multi-cloud governance challenges

There are many facets to a multi-cloud governance strategy. This is not surprising, given the volume of shared data involved. The following are four of the most common challenges:

  • Security. Multi-cloud governance adds new dimensions to such features as visibility, observability, scanning and reporting. Reduced visibility, due to the different services used, creates security weaknesses. Additionally, access controls vary between providers. Inconsistencies can create vulnerabilities and expose sensitive data.
  • Compliance. Each cloud services provider offers tools, frameworks and documentation to support customers' compliance efforts. However, since every provider is different, enterprises must have a good understanding of how one service integrates with another, as well as how the movement of data from one service to another affects the data.
  • Cost management. Multi-cloud cost management requires FinOps and cloud expertise across your organization's public clouds to accurately account for all costs. Each cloud account consumes costs differently, so there is no true single-pane-of-glass tool that will monitor across clouds.
  • Service-level agreements. Not all SLAs will align with your organization's demands, since there is no standardization. Metrics, restrictions and availability will not be the same between vendors.

5 multi-cloud governance best practices

Follow these best practices to ensure your organization operates a multi-cloud environment optimally and securely.

1. Establish multi-cloud-wide observability

Establish observability practices across your multi-cloud environment. This combats the complexity that multi-cloud brings. Having a cloud management platform will provide a central and standardized interface across your environment that lets your stakeholders access data. This way, logs and metrics can be accessed through dashboards and standardized reporting.

2. Build transparency into cloud costs

Cloud cost transparency requires an organization to implement the right tools to monitor cloud spending across a multi-cloud environment. Cloud management platforms such as CloudBolt, Kion and NCM Cost Governance -- formerly Nutanix Beam -- offer a centralized management and reporting tool over cloud costs. Cloud FinOps tools such as CloudZero and ProsperOps offer the tools, reporting and alerting to best manage overall cloud costs in your multi-cloud environment.

Use tools to achieve multi-cloud governance

Consider these third-party vendor tools for multi-cloud governance.

CloudBolt. This tool provides a management abstraction layer over multi-cloud services through a single catalog interface. The startup has been working with multi-cloud with public sector customers before it became a significant industry trend.

Kion. This tool provides a single-platform offering for automation and orchestration, financial management and compliance. It doesn't abstract the management layer of the public clouds that comprise your multi-cloud environment.

NCM Cost Governance. This tool enables visibility and detailed analytics on cloud consumption patterns across multi-cloud environments. Formerly known as Beam, it uses machine intelligence and recommendation algorithms to analyze workload patterns. It also suggests optimal purchasing decisions by quantifying the potential cost saving of moving from one model to another.

3. Apply automation to support your multi-cloud strategy

Infrastructure as code (IaC) is rising as a best practice for multi-cloud governance because it provides consistency. IaC enables your cloud team to move away from manual processes and use code to manage a multi-cloud environment.

Automation focuses on lowering the complexity of operations and security tasks where it makes business sense. One strategy to consider is to automate security at each stage of your asset lifecycle. A DevSecOps model can give you the processes and tools for this automation approach.

4. Bring multi-cloud management into your DevOps lifecycle

DevOps/DevSecOps toolchains can become powerful tools for multi-cloud governance. Start by moving to a service catalog model that acts as a centralized repository for development tools, integrations and critical cloud services across your multi-cloud environment. Cloud management platforms can alert stakeholders and developers about unused resources and licenses or when a developer might not make the most cost-effective choice for a cloud service.

5. Document your multi-cloud reference architecture and operations

Document your team's jobs and create runbooks, playbooks and multi-cloud reference architecture to help cross-train your teams. Such documentation also helps your organization plan for the future.

Editor's note: Products in this article are based on the author's use of and experiences with the tool(s) or product demonstrations.

Will Kelly is a technology writer, content strategist and marketer. He has written extensively about the cloud, DevOps and enterprise mobility for industry publications and corporate clients and worked on teams introducing DevOps and cloud computing into commercial and public sector enterprises.

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