Will Data Governance Slow Down Or Accelerate Cloud Adoption?

Recently I outlined Five Ways to Avoid a Cloud Data Disaster. Well, according to recent Ponomen Institute research, ”Nearly three out of four (73 percent) respondents say that adoption of cloud-based applications will have a significant impact on end users’ ability to circumvent existing access policies.” Are we on the verge of something cataclysmic or is there an opportunity lurking in this potential crisis?

Dave Linthicum wrote another stellar blog post last week based on this study called, “Sneaking around IT to get to the cloud.” He referred to the problem as Technological Infidelity: Departments are sick of waiting for development and deployment of core business applications or infrastructure services, and they’re going directly to a cloud computing provider to get what they need.” And according to the Ponomen research, he’s right:

37 percent – say business unit managers in their organizations are responsible for end-user access requests to information resources, up 8 percent from 2008. Conversely, information technology and security personnel saw their overall responsibility drop 2 percent to 23 percent in the 2010 study.”

So my question is whether or not it’s possible for improved data access controls and IT governance to actually accelerate adoption of cloud-based applications, platforms, and infrastructure.  Here are some ideas that might help IT organizations get their arms around the growing adoption of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications (which by design deliver end-user self service), while ensuring they’re delivering timely, relevant and trustworthy data:

  1. Articulate the value of a Data Integration Competency Center to the line of business
  2. Consider Lean Integration
  3. Take Baby Steps Towards Master Data Management

These steps will clearly help the IT organization improve data access controls and governance, but how will they actually help you embrace cloud computing, you ask? Here’s how:

  1. The Shared Services Model of an ICC, or integration center of expertise (COE) is structured in such a way that help you, define processes, standardize architecture, and maintain a centralized team for shared work. Most development work occurs in the distributed lines of business.” As this is where most of the SaaS application adoption and initial implementations are taking place today, the Shared Services approach is definitely worth considering.
  2. A key tenant of Lean Integration is agility. I hear this type of statement every day from line-of-business managers: “Once we got a taste for the speed and flexibility of SaaS applications like Salesforce.com, we couldn’t go back to the old world of a change request taking 3 months!” Well, what if you could allow the business to solve simple integration problems themselves without direct IT involvement through Cloud Services? At the same time IT could maintain even better control because the business’ actions are fully audited and logged, and their activities fall within the bounds of what is prescribed by IT.
  3. Given that the majority of SaaS applications contain customer data, which is now off premise and being managed by the business, the problem of data fragmentation is getting worse and demand for a comprehensive approach to MDM has grown. But as Dr. Walid el Abed noted in this post, “Only those organizations with an effective data strategy embedded within the business strategy will be able to turn data into a real competitive advantage, deliver short and longer term value and ensure business success and sustainability.”

With the rapid growth of Cloud Computing (adoption is set to double by 2012 in the UK) there’s no denying this disruptive change is resulting in some interesting political dynamics between business and IT. Now’s the time for the IT organization to collaborate with the business (and vice versa) to ensure that the right approach to data access, integration, and governance will ensure that the short and long-term benefits of the cloud are achieved.

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