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Governance can be a confusing topic.  Mostly since it is not well understood.  So, what is governance anyway?

In general terms, Governance refers to a process whereby elements in society wield power, authority, and influence, and enact policies and decisions concerning public life and social upliftment.” … Many of the elements and principles underlying “good government” have become an integral part of the meaning of “governance“.

In the world of Information Technology, good corporate IT Governance has a similar meaning.

The primary goals of IT Governance are to assure that the investments in IT generate business value, and to mitigate the risks that are associated with IT. … Organizations and businesses need a structure or framework to ensure that the IT function is able to sustain the organization’s strategies and objectives.

Governance Framework

Okay, that all sounds fairly straight forward.  But what framework can we make use of to guide our IT Governance?  The above table, that resembles the famed periodic table is an example of a framework.


As the IT world migrates towards a multi-cloud universe, the IT business model is changing dynamically.  Naturally, the IT Governance must change to remain aligned to this new way to conduct business.  The old ways, based upon a centralized, in-house model for governing IT does not scale to match the new diversified, externally sourced multi-cloud environment.  The same can be said for the networks, security, and service management.  Every aspect of the IT world is changing so governance must change to map to this next generation environment.

Most of the IT functions and features remain, but they are performed in very different ways.  This new IT world is federated and not centralized.  Federated means that it is both centralized and distributed at the same time.  It is both out-sourced and often in-sourced simultaneously too.  It is realistic to see not only multi-clouds, but also multiple disparate networks.  With new modular, microservices based solutions wrap in Kubernetes that are expected to coexist and operate harmoniously with older, closed architecture, monolithic, legacy applications, the situation is becoming ultra complex.

Cloud Management - Infographics

Under the higher level view, what are the overarching classic focus topics for IT Governance?  They include:

  1. IT Governance – The Business Case
  2. Performance Measurement
  3. Implementation Roadmap
  4. Communication Strategy and Culture
  5. Capability Maturity and Assessment
  6. Risk Management
  7. Supplier Governance
  8. IT and Audit Working Together and Using CobiT
  9. Information Security Governance
  10. Legal and Regulatory Aspects of IT Governance
  11. Architecture Governance
  12. Managing the IT Investment
  13. Success Factors

IBM IT Governance

One of the larger looming concerns is all about service management in this federated model.  With the advent of cloudlets at the edge of the network fabric that are loosely coupled to the core and diversified cloud based applications, we expect to see customers using some form of content delivery network (CDN) to push the intelligence closer to the edge of the network.  Why?  Because many legacy applications were never designed to tolerate this federated model and may time-out before connections are completed.

When core applications reside on different clouds, with APIs trunking data slices and derived data between them, a myriad of hurtles must be overcome in this new setting.  Some are of these hurtles are technological, such as data rate, security, latency issues, while others are process based, and most are there to facilitate the needs of the end user.

We can never forget that our quest is aimed at servicing the needs of the end user by delighting them with a superior IT experience.  The foundation of this technology and user experience is still the main purpose of meeting the needs of the business.  All IT functions are provided to meet business needs.  Sometimes the business and its needs are forgotten in this magical techie world that we all live in.  But, serving business needs is the actual goal of it all.

IBM Worker

Now, the question is, how will classic IT Governance need to change to adapt to this new multi-cloud paradigm?  A new paradigm that is faced with new business needs for the digital transformation of work.

About the Author:

Michael Martin has more than 35 years of experience in systems design for broadband networks, optical fibre, wireless and digital communications technologies.

He is a Senior Executive with IBM Canada’s Office of the CTO, Global Services. Over the past 14 years with IBM, he has worked in the GBS Global Center of Competency for Energy and Utilities and the GTS Global Center of Excellence for Energy and Utilities. He was previously a founding partner and President of MICAN Communications and before that was President of Comlink Systems Limited and Ensat Broadcast Services, Inc., both divisions of Cygnal Technologies Corporation (CYN: TSX).

Martin currently serves on the Board of Directors for TeraGo Inc (TGO: TSX) and previously served on the Board of Directors for Avante Logixx Inc. (XX: TSX.V). 

He serves as a Member, SCC ISO-IEC JTC 1/SC-41 – Internet of Things and related technologies, ISO – International Organization for Standardization, and as a member of the NIST SP 500-325 Fog Computing Conceptual Model, National Institute of Standards and Technology.

He served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) and on the Board of Advisers of five different Colleges in Ontario.  For 16 years he served on the Board of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Toronto Section. 

He holds three master’s degrees, in business (MBA), communication (MA), and education (MEd). As well, he has diplomas and certifications in business, computer programming, internetworking, project management, media, photography, and communication technology.