Data Governance’s Significance in Cloud Environment

Cloud Data Governance

Share This Post

Data is the driving fuel for organizations to stay ahead of the competition. Transforming data into analytical insights provides organizations with ideas to innovate and redesign their business strategy. The widespread adoption of cloud technologies has exponentially increased the source point of business data leading to a rise in analytics usage by today’s business. However, the success of solid data transformation and analytics processes lies on strong data governance. Data governance plays a critical role in breaking down data silos, improving collaboration among various departments, driving innovation, and raising quality of data. 


Importance of Data Governance in Cloud Environment 


Cloud opens up organizations to share data internationally but along with this comes the compliance regulations of different countries which put stringent regulations on transferring data beyond borders. Lack of established governance principles can lead to breach of data or failure to maintain regulatory policies leading to hefty fines. Data governance sets up clear rules relating to the access and ownership of data, bettering the security posture of organization on the cloud. Along with this data governance also ensures quality maintenance and proper usage of data. It prevents data contamination with errors and safeguards privacy by blocking unauthorized users.  


All this is implemented through standards and policies created for data and enforced by a responsible data governance team. The data governance team consists of a steering committee and a group of data stewards responsible for maintaining a high-quality data program.  


Scope of Data Governance in Cloud 


Data governance policies are laid down to cover certain security and privacy aspects of data. Following are some of the topics data governance deals with: 


Information Classification 


Data needs to be categorized and segregated on the basis of sensitivity of information it caries. Information classification, within the context of data governance, is the process of organizing and labeling your data based on its sensitivity, importance, and regulatory requirements. Information classification helps identify and prioritize security measures for sensitive data like financial records or customer information and ensures compliance on the cloud as per ISO/IEC 27001:2022 


Information Management Policies 


Information management policies lays downs guidelines in terms of information access and sharing based on SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS cloud model. They serve as an important cornerstone of data governance and as an important organization tool for controlling data on the cloud.  


Location and Jurisdiction Specific Policies 


This data governance policy is set based on the local compliance rules of where the cloud datacenter is physically located, government policy on access to data, and sharing of data across borders. 




Privacy assessment in cloud involves identifying PII data, conducting Privacy Impact Assessment, and implementing relevant privacy controls to ensure data governance on cloud. 


Contractual Controls 


This involves identifying areas of establishing legal agreement and setting clear expectations and obligations regarding data handling practices when dealing with third parties. This involves drafting Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs), Data Sharing Agreements, Service Level Agreements (SLAs), and Cloud Service Agreements (CSAs). 


Security Controls  


Security control is a key cornerstone of data governance. Security control policies of data governance include setting up encryption standards, enforcing strong password complexity requirements, and a clear plan for identifying, containing, and recovering from data security incidents. 


Benefits of Data Governance on Cloud 


Data governance is a crucial part of your data strategy while storing data on cloud. It secures your organizational data and improves the quality of your data. Following are some of the benefits of maintaining a good data governance policy: 


Data Security and Privacy 


Businesses on cloud treat data security and privacy as a key criterion. Breach of data can be catastrophic to the goodwill of the company and incur hefty penalties causing loss of revenue. Data privacy is of paramount importance for organizations that collect personal data like healthcare records and financial statements. Data governance framework ensures authorized access to data and enforcement of data security and privacy. 


Enhanced Collaboration and Data Sharing 


Data governance policies aim at centralizing and organizing company’s data breaking down information silos leading to democratization of data. This in turn makes data sharing easy and keeps all parties in collaboration at the same time. An important part of this service is to identify data stewards across departments who ensure their data is consistent, accurate, and aligned with the rest of the organization’s data policies. 


Data Quality and Integrity 


Data governance entails quality and integrity of data by ensuring the accuracy and consistency of data across all applications and systems. Data standards and structures in a data governance framework is defined making all departments follow the same format and language for data analysis mitigating risk of data misinterpretation. Data stewards ensure the accuracy of data coming from their department. Governance also involves tracking the data lineage from where it originated to its ultimate destination keeping a record of all the changes throughout the data lifecycle. As a result, creation of any issues from data can be easily tracked to its root cause. 


Regulatory Compliance 


Businesses must abide by regulatory compliances regarding handling of sensitive data to survive. Regulations can be country or region-specific regulatory compliances like GDPR or industry-specific ones like HIPAA for healthcare. Data governance framework sets policies and procedures to ensure that these regulations are followed. Auto-compliance tools are leveraged to ensure the maintenance of these industry-specific regulations. 


Common Challenges of Data Governance on Cloud 


Data governance is a complex exercise, and its complexity increases all the more when intended for a cloud environment. Cloud data is stored in different kind of storage and is also multiple teams across the organization in different countries can access it. These differences from on-premise data infrastructure leads to some significant challenges in data governance implementation on cloud. 



Rapidly changing data may lead to dumping of data in data storage and data lakes without proper structure and classification. This may eventually lead to bundle of disorganized, intertwined data creating data swamp from where data becomes irretrievable due to the sheer volume. Sensitive data in data swamp will be difficult to extract safely without knowing exactly where they are.  


Cloud-based data may have multiple authorization and establishing data ownership might get difficult. Since one person is not in charge of cloud data this can further lead to conflicting authorization making it very difficult to access data quickly. 


Sharing of data across different departments is one of the benefits of cloud-based storage. However, this can turn around as a major security threat. 


Data security is a complex landscape and the sheer volume and diverseness of data being managed on cloud manifolds the responsibility. This sometimes leads to a labyrinth of security protocols exercised by different teams and leads to a very complex data security framework. 


Implementing Data Governance on the Cloud 

Implementing cloud data governance is vital for a successful cloud data migration and what ensues. Among several cloud data governance platforms to choose from it demands a bit planning and strategy to choose the one that fulfills your data governance strategy and is implemented seamlessly within the existing cloud environment. Here are some things you should observe: 


Research Your Cloud Provider 


If you are yet to migrate your data to the cloud check if your prospective provider has some built-in governance and compliance measures. Your provider should maintain a transparent security and privacy policies outlining their data management policies. For already migrated databases check with your provider what data governance measures have been implemented.  


Build Your Own Data Governance Strategy 


Build your own data governance strategy if you have already moved your data to the cloud. Set your clear guidelines for data usage, sharing, access, and ownership keeping compliance with the industry standards and regulations. Create a role based access control system. Laying guidelines is only the first part, ensure that all your users are aware of your data governance policies and understands. Inform your cloud service provider about your internal data governance policy to get it integrated within the provider’s existing framework. 


Monitor Data Usage 


Monitor your data usage on a regular basis. Your might take help of cloud based monitoring tools like AWS CloudWatch. Conduct thorough data usage audits highlighting the users of data, the usage, and investigate for errors in the process. 


Stay up to Date 


Your data governance policy should adhere to the latest industry regulations and compliance standards. It should incorporate the latest practices to keep data safe from evolving threats in a fast-changing cyber security landscape.  




Cloud data governance isn’t just about managing data; it’s about empowering your organization to make better decisions, faster. Cloud-based data governance empowers your organization to transform data into a strategic asset through enhanced data quality, streamlined operations, better discoverability, and high security and compliance. 


Data Governance on Cloud

More To Explore