Standard enterprise governance guide: Multicloud improvement

This article advances the narrative by adding controls for multicloud adoption.

Advancing the narrative

Microsoft recognizes that customers may adopt multiple clouds for specific purposes. The fictional customer in this guide is no exception. In parallel with their Azure adoption journey, business success has led to the acquisition of a small but complementary business. That business is running all of their IT operations on a different cloud provider.

This article describes how things change when integrating the new organization. For purposes of the narrative, we assume this company has completed each of the governance iterations outlined in this governance guide.

Changes in the current state

In the previous phase of this narrative, the company had begun actively pushing production applications to the cloud through CI/CD pipelines.

Since then, some things have changed that will affect governance:

  • Identity is controlled by an on-premises instance of Active Directory. Hybrid identity is facilitated through replication to Azure Active Directory.
  • IT operations or cloud operations are largely managed by Azure Monitor and related automated processes.
  • Disaster recovery and business continuity is controlled by Azure Recovery Services vaults.
  • Azure Security Center is used to monitor security violations and attacks.
  • Azure Security Center and Azure Monitor are both used to monitor governance of the cloud.
  • Azure Blueprints, Azure Policy, and Azure management groups are used to automate compliance with policy.

Incrementally improve the future state

The goal is to integrate the acquisition company into existing operations wherever possible.

Changes in tangible risks

Business acquisition cost: Acquisition of the new business is estimated to be profitable in approximately five years. Because of the slow rate of return, the board wants to control acquisition costs, as much as possible. There is a risk of cost control and technical integration conflicting with one another.

This business risk can be expanded into a few technical risks:

  • Cloud migration might produce additional acquisition costs.
  • The new environment might not be properly governed, which could result in policy violations.

Incremental improvement of the policy statements

The following changes to policy will help remediate the new risks and guide implementation:

  • All assets in a secondary cloud must be monitored through existing operational management and security monitoring tools.
  • All organization units must be integrated into the existing identity provider.
  • The primary identity provider should govern authentication to assets in the secondary cloud.

Incremental improvement of governance practices

This section of the article will change the governance MVP design to include new Azure policies and an implementation of Azure Cost Management + Billing. Together, these design changes will fulfill the new corporate policy statements.

  1. Connect the networks. This step is executed by the networking and IT security teams, and supported by the cloud governance team. Adding a connection from the MPLS/leased-line provider to the new cloud will integrate networks. Adding routing tables and firewall configurations will control access and traffic between the environments.
  2. Consolidate identity providers. Depending on the workloads being hosted in the secondary cloud, there are a variety of options to identity provider consolidation. The following are a few examples:
    1. For applications that authenticate using OAuth 2, users from Active Directory in the secondary cloud can simply be replicated to the existing Azure AD tenant. This ensures all users can be authenticated in the tenant.
    2. At the other extreme, federation allows OUs to flow into Active Directory on-premises, then into the Azure AD instance.
  3. Add assets to Azure Site Recovery.
    1. Azure Site Recovery was designed from the beginning as a hybrid or multicloud tool.
    2. VMs in the secondary cloud might be able to be protected by the same Azure Site Recovery processes used to protect on-premises assets.
  4. Add assets to Azure Cost Management + Billing.
    1. Azure Cost Management + Billing was designed from the beginning as a multicloud tool.
    2. Virtual machines in the secondary cloud may be compatible with Azure Cost Management + Billing for some cloud providers. Additional costs may apply.
  5. Add assets to Azure Monitor.
    1. Azure Monitor was designed as a hybrid cloud tool from inception.
    2. Virtual machines in the secondary cloud may be compatible with Azure Monitor agents, allowing them to be included in Azure Monitor for operational monitoring.
  6. Adopt governance enforcement tools.
    1. Governance enforcement is cloud-specific.
    2. The corporate policies established in the governance guide are not cloud-specific. While the implementation may vary from cloud to cloud, the policies can be applied to the secondary provider.

Multicloud adoption should be contained to where it is required based on technical needs or specific business requirements. As multicloud adoption grows, so does complexity and security risks.

Conclusion

This series of articles described the incremental development of governance best practices, aligned with the experiences of this fictional company. By starting small, but with the right foundation, the company could move quickly and yet still apply the right amount of governance at the right time. The MVP by itself did not protect the customer. Instead, it created the foundation to manage risks and add protections. From there, layers of governance were applied to remediate tangible risks. The exact journey presented here won't align 100% with the experiences of any reader. Rather, it serves as a pattern for incremental governance. You should mold these best practices to fit your own unique constraints and governance requirements.