The Microsoft approach to cloud transparency – Part IV – The benefits of standardized frameworks

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This entry is part of a wonderful series, Microsoft Cloud Transparency»

As we mentioned last week, thank you for coming back for the exciting Part IV of The Microsoft approach to cloud transparency

The Microsoft approach to cloud transparency

Using the Cloud Security Alliance’s Security, Trust & Assurance Registry (STAR)


Part IV – The benefits of standardized frameworks

Generally, core competencies of organizations that adopt cloud computing do not include the deployment and management of cloud computing technologies. Because of the potential common and cloud-specific risks, organizations frequently rely on outside consulting firms and cloud providers’ lengthy RFP responses to evaluate risk for their specific cloud deployment needs.

Those responses must be evaluated by experienced cloud professionals, in addition to internal risk experts, to ascertain the true risk to the organization. This risk assessment should include a determination of the risk that derives from adopting these technologies and how to best mitigate that risk.

The cloud deployment partner selection exercise frequently takes place in a climate of intense business pressure to reduce costs and to increase flexibility. In such a climate, a drawn-out risk management process may be seen as an inhibitor, rather than an enabler, of business goals.

Best practices

Some of the unease and complexity involved in selecting a cloud provider can be alleviated by using a common controls framework. Such a framework should consider not only best practices in information security, but also include a true understanding and evaluation of cloud-specific deployment considerations and risks. In addition, such a framework should address much of the cost involved in the evaluation of alternate solutions and help to significantly manage risk that must otherwise be considered.

In using a well thought-out controls framework, organizations can avoid most of the costs related to engaging outside expertise for selecting an appropriate cloud provider, and rely instead on combined efforts that represent years of expertise in the field.



A cloud-specific controls framework such as the Cloud Controls Matrix (CCM) reduces the risk of an organization failing to consider important factors when selecting a cloud provider. The risk is further mitigated by relying on the cumulative knowledge of industry experts who created the framework, and taking advantage of the efforts of many organizations, groups, and experts in a thoughtfully laid-out form. In addition, an effective industry framework will be regularly updated to take account of changes in maturing technologies, based on the experiences of experts who have reviewed many different approaches.


For organizations that do not have detailed knowledge about the different ways that cloud providers can develop or configure their offerings, reviewing a fully developed framework can provide insight into how to compare similar offerings and distinguish between providers. A framework can also help determine whether a specific service offering meets or exceeds compliance requirements and/or relevant standards.

Audit and knowledge base

Using an industry-accepted framework provides a means to review documentation about why and how decisions were made and to know which factors were given more weight and why. Understanding how a decision was made can provide a basis of knowledge for decision making in future efforts, especially when personnel changes cause the people who made the original decision to no longer be available.


Come back next week for Part V!


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