Cloud Computing Guidelines From The Information Systems Audit And Control Association
Among the slew of guidelines on cloud computing floating around, the recent one published by industry body Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) has a lot of credibility. Established in 1965, the association has a long history of delivering guidance to its huge membership (more than 95,000 across 190 chapters in 75 countries) of Information Systems professionals and is well positioned to offer advice on the dynamic paradigm of cloud computing.
The whitepaper “Guiding Principles for Cloud Computing Adoption and Use”, available for free download on the ISACA site, offers readers a definition of Cloud Computing (see: Coining the Cloud: An Assessment of Cloud Computing’s Shifty Definition) and broad directions for adoption. According to ISACA, it “describes the nature of cloud computing and areas of pressure that, when not addressed, can increase risk to the enterprise. It also presents six principles for cloud computing adoption and use that can guide management toward more effective cloud implementation and use, reduction of pressure points, and mitigation of potential risk.”
The “guiding principles for adopting and using the cloud,” as mentioned in the paper, are:
ISACA asks companies to “plan for cloud computing as a strategic enabler rather than as an outsourcing arrangement or a technical platform.” They are warned that “viewing it as a replacement for internal technology solutions limits the ability of enterprises to think broadly about how it can support the strategic direction of the enterprise.”
2. Cost benefit
Companies are advised to “evaluate the benefits of cloud acquisition based on a full understanding of the cost of cloud compared with other technology platform business solutions.” Also, cloud adopters are reminded that “the full cost of acquiring and deploying cloud infrastructures, platforms or software services is more than what is represented within the cloud contract and SLA.” Thus, ISACA asks enterprises to conduct a thorough cost–benefit analysis that includes things beyond the obvious.
3. Enterprise risk
Companies are advised to take a “larger picture” view, an “enterprise risk management perspective” in the matter. Rather than treat different risks – issues related to compliance and, in particular, privacy regulations and the export of personal information; and legal issues involving SLAs – as independent, they should be considered in combination.
Companies are asked to “integrate the full extent of capabilities that cloud providers offer with internal resources to provide a comprehensive technical support and delivery solution.” Thus, companies are asked not to abandon in-house talent and assets altogether but to combine them with those provided by cloud vendors for optimum benefit.
Companies should “manage accountabilities by clearly defining internal and provider responsibilities.” According to ISACA, “adopting cloud solutions may break connections among people, technology, the processes that enable technology use, and the enforcement of individual and group accountabilities and responsibilities.” Hence, proper mechanisms should be put in place to address this.
The paper advises that cloud users should “make trust an essential element of cloud solutions, building trust into all business processes that depend on cloud computing.” It says that “Trust is an essential requirement for business applications of technology for internal and external users” and “results from the combined effect of organizational structure, culture, technical architectures, processes and the human factors that facilitate the deployment and use of technology in support of business functions.”
Through this paper, ISACA has provided useful, big-picture suggestions that can help cloud adopters and users nip potential problems in the bud, while maximizing the benefits of going on the cloud. With the strength of peer review backing these assertions, it is great advice to be had for free.
By Sourya Biswas