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Cloud automation and compliance: Can you have it both ways?

JudyGoldman

By Arthur Cole

Enterprises burdened with regulations and compliance are consistently faced with the prospect of being hit with fines and penalties when something goes wrong. Cloud automation is one way of easing that burden.

An automated system is usually a more ordered system, so as long as all relevant rules and regulations are programmed into ongoing processes, violations should be few and far between. At the same time, automation can more easily accommodate the vagaries that exist between jurisdictions, allowing workflows and their overarching data environments to function across larger geographic areas.

A key component in any automation stack is the incorporation of repeatable or "productized" services. Rather than customizing functions for a given process (as is the current practice), an automated environment stresses commodity services that can be applied to multiple processes. In this way, the service and its constituent functions can be employed under clearly defined operational parameters and in pursuit of measurable, strategic objectives. This also makes it easier to provision services for multiple users, as found in multi-tenant cloud environments, and to harness various services for more complex processes and applications.

Automating workplace rulesCloud_automation_and_compliance_Can_you_have_it_both_ways.jpg

The advantages this brings to maintaining compliance are clear. In areas as diverse as payments processing and human relations, automation reduces the mistakes that lead to violations and makes it easier to analyze data activities to ensure standards are being met. As Cliff Stevenson, principal analyst of workforce management at Brandon Hall Group notes, human capital management (HCM) is usually one of the first areas to be automated because its value can be directly quantified by both the time and effort needed to maintain compliance and the ability to limit the scope of non-compliance—thus, the enterprise's risk exposure. At the same time, automation can provide greater uniformity in wages, benefits, scheduling, and a host of other workplace facets that might otherwise lead to equal employment opportunity violations.

Cloud automation also helps in the most unpleasant of tasks: the compliance audit. As former Bank of America systems architect Kristian Nelson noted recently, an automated environment is not only a predictable environment, but a highly visible one as well. These are crucial aspects for compliance because they help determine when and how processes can become non-compliant long before they reach that state, and it makes it easier for operators to peer into the inner workings of systems and architectures to assess their operating characteristics. In this way, organizations face fewer and less onerous compliance audits, plus a diminished risk that non-compliance will go undetected to the point where it starts to impact application performance and customer satisfaction.

Cloud automation and data sovereignty

Yet another advantage to automation is the way in which it helps multinationals navigate the labyrinth of rules and regulations that exist in regions with multiple independent states. A prime example is Europe, in which even nations within the European Union maintain their own regulatory schemes, particularly when it comes to data sovereignty. This forces organizations to maintain multiple storage, encryption, and other control mechanisms within each state, which places quite a burden on data managers who must meet these obligations in the presence of increasingly dynamic workflows. But since many of these functions are repeatable, they can be performed easily by an automated cloud stack that's tailored specifically for the jurisdiction it serves.

Business regulations have long been seen as a necessary evil in free-market economic models—necessary because they provide critical consumer and competitive protections, but burdensome because of the cost and complexity of compliance.

Under an automated cloud framework, however, the burden is greatly diminished—at least from the human data manager's perspective—and the necessity of individual regulations can be more accurately assessed according to measurable goals and objectives. Ultimately, this should produce a more vibrant, productive data environment that's both prosperous and orderly.

To learn more about keeping compliant in the cloud, read about HPE's solutions for IT operations compliance.

Judy-Anne Goldman
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About the Author

JudyGoldman

My work with HPE's Enterprise.nxt team gives me a way to share my passion for emerging technology. I love connecting people to innovation, and sharing stories that help others engage with and understand the world around them. I'm a digital nomad, often found traveling with my micro companion KC, a 10-pound mini Dachshund.

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