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2020 Blog, Blog, Cloud Blog, Featured

Based on AWS recommended best practices, this blog articulates governance and management at scale for customers on cloud security implementation covering the following themes

  • Designing Governance at Scale
  • Governance Automation
  • Preventive Controls
  • Detective Controls
  • Bringing it all together

Need for a matured and effective Cloud Security Governance
To achieve agility, compliance and security customers cannot rely on the manual processes and hence automation plays a key role. This mandates the need for an integrated model called “Governance at Scale” which focuses on Account Management, Security, Compliance Automation, Budget and Cost Management. This model help customers to be on fast track, while ensuring the workloads meet security and compliance requirements. Governance at Scale is an orchestration framework which includes enablement, provisioning and operations.


  • Account Management: Governance at Scale processes streamline account management across multiple AWS accounts and workloads in an organization through centralization, standardization and automation of account maintenance. This can be achieved through policy automation, identity federation and account automation.

  • Security and Compliance Automation: Governance at Scale practices consists of three main goals
    • Identity and Access Automation: Customers can access their workloads based on their roles privileges, as defined by the organizations policies. Access to new services can be added to an OU level and the changes will apply across all cloud accounts on that level.
    • Security Automation: To maintain a secure position at scale, security tasks and compliance assessments also require automation. Automation helps in reduced implementation efforts, as templates ensure that services and projects are secure and compliant by default. Customers can also be more responsive when a policy violation occurs.
    • Policy Enforcement: AWS guidance to achieve Governance at Scale helps you to achieve policy enforcement on AWS Regions, AWS services and resource configurations. Policies enforcement happens at different levels like Region, services and resource configurations and also at an organizational level or the resource level. Enforcement is based on roles, responsibilities and compliance regulations (such as HIPAA, FedRAMP and PCI/DSS).

  • Budget and Cost Management: This framework helps Organizations to proactively make decisions on budget controls and allocation across their organizations and primarily consists of budget planning and enforcement.
    • Budget Planning: This allows allocation and subdivide the available budget from a given funding source appropriately across the company by the financial owners. Financial dashboards provide real-time insights to the decision makers over the lifetime of the funding source.
    • Budget Enforcement: Budget enforcement can happen at each layer, department or project in an organization as these can have different budgetary needs and limits. The governance framework allows the organization for budget assignment and defines the threshold, while monitoring spending in real time and can proactively notify the relevant stakeholders and trigger enforcement actions.

Some of this Intelligent Automation includes

  • Restricting the use of AWS resources to those that cost less than a specified price.
  • Throttle new resource provisioning.
  • Shut down, end or deprovision AWS resources after archiving configurations and data for future use.

Implementing Governance at Scale with Ideal Landing Zone architecture


Key Process and Services to implement Governance at Scale Framework

AWS Control Tower: It is a native service used for setup and governing a secure, compliant, multi-account AWS environment, automated using AWS best practices blueprints. It’s multi-account structure enables aggregated centralised logging, monitoring and operations.

  • Establish and Enable Guardrails: AWS Control Tower includes guardrails, which are high-level policies that provide constant governance. It allows you to adopt original best practices on security across the AWS environment managed by Control Tower.
  • Automate Compliant Account Provisioning: Automate account provision workflow using Account Factory.
  • Centralize Identity and Access: By using AWS SSO, the service can centralize access and identity management which follows the standard best practices.
  • Log Archive Account: The log archive centralizes logs and provides a single source of truth for all the account activities. The account works as a repository for API activity logs and resource configurations from all accounts in the landing zone. It contains the centralized logging for AWS CloudTrail and AWS Config.
  • Audit Account: The audit account is a restricted account. It is designed to provide security and compliance teams read and write access to all accounts in your landing zone. It can be a main account for security services such as Amazon GuardDuty and AWS Security Hub.

Governance Lifecycle with Services: An integrated model covering AWS Config, AWS Systems Manager, Amazon GuardDuty and AWS Security Hub.

These services work together and play a crucial role in the Governance at Scale framework. Together, they allow your customers to

  • Define security rules and compliance requirements.
  • Monitor infrastructure against the rules and requirements.
  • Detect violations.
  • Get notifications in real time.
  • Take action in an effective and rapid manner.

AWS Config: This enables customers to assess, audit and evaluate their AWS configurations in real-time. It also monitors and records AWS resource configurations. It also automates the evaluation of recorded configurations against desired configurations.

AWS Systems Manager: This gives customers visibility with a unified user interface and allows them to control their infrastructure on AWS by automating operational tasks. With AWS Systems Manager, customers can

  • Group resources by application.
  • View operational data for monitoring and troubleshooting and take action on groups of resources.
  • Streamlines resource and application management.
  • Shortens the time to detect and resolve operational issues.
  • Simplifies operations and management of the infrastructure – securely at scale.

Amazon GuardDuty: It protects AWS accounts, workloads and data with intelligent-threat detection, monitoring of malicious activity, unauthorized behavior to protect AWS accounts and the workloads. It uses machine learning, anomaly detection and integrated threat intelligence to identify and prioritize potential threats.
Customers enable GuardDuty from the AWS Management Console, where it analyzes billions of events across multiple AWS data sources, such as AWS CloudTrail Event logs, Amazon VPC flow log and DNS logs. By integrating with Amazon CloudWatch Events, GuardDuty alerts are actionable.

AWS Security Hub: This is the compliance and security center for AWS customers. Security Hub allows customers to centrally view and manage security alerts and automate security checks.
Security Hub automatically runs the account-level configuration and security checks based on AWS best practices and open standards. It consolidates the security findings across accounts and provider products and displays results on the Security Hub console. It also supports integration with Amazon CloudWatch Events. To automate remediation of specific findings, customers can define custom actions to take when a finding is received.


AWS Products Used


With AWS management and governance services, customers can improve their governance control and fast track their business objectives. However, solving these challenges are not straight and simple as many of the customers rely on a traditional IT management process which is manual and not scalable. Also, with lack of clarity on account management without clearly defined processes, they end up with multiple accounts provisioning and tracking becomes inefficient. This can also increase their security and financial risks. In some cases, due to these challenges, customers rely on third party tools or solutions which can further complicate and increase operational challenges.

Relevance Lab can help organizations to build or migrate existing accounts to a secured, compliant, multi account AWS environment enabled with automation to increase both operational and cost efficiency. The transition to this matured Governance at Scale framework can be implemented in four weeks using our specialised competencies, RLCatalyst automation framework and the Governance at Scale handbook.

For more details, please feel free to reach out to marketing@relevancelab.com



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2020 Blog, Blog, Cloud Blog, Featured, RLCatalyst Blog

The adoption of Cloud and DevOps has brought changes in large enterprises around the traditional management methodology of Infra, Middleware and Applications lifecycle. There is a continuous “tension” to achieve the right balance between “security + compliance” vs “agility + flexibility” between Operations and Development teams. For large enterprises with multiple business units and global operations and having distributed assets across multiple cloud providers, these issues are more complex. While there is no “silver bullet” that can solve all these issues, every enterprise needs a broad framework for achieving the right balance.

The broad framework is based on the following criteria:

  • IT teams predominantly define the infrastructure components like images, network designs, security policies, compliance guardrails, standard catalogs etc. based on the organization’s policies and requirements.
  • Application teams have the flexibility to order and consume these components and to manage post provisioning lifecycle specific to their needs.

The challenge being faced by larger enterprises using multiple cloud workloads is the lack of a common orchestration portal to enable application teams to have self-service requests and flexible workflows for managing workload configuration and application deployment lifecycle. The standard Cloud management portals from the major cloud providers have automated most of their internal provisioning processes, yet don’t provide customers system-specific solutions or do workload placement across various public and private clouds. In order to serve the needs of Application groups a portal is needed with following key functionalities.


  • The self-service portal is controlled via role-based access.
  • Standard catalog of items for Infrastructure Management.
  • Flexible workflow for creating a full lifecycle of configurations management.
  • Microservices-based building blocks for consuming “INFRASTRUCTURE AS A CODE” and manage post provisioning lifecycle.
  • Ability to monitor the end to end provisioning lifecycle with proper error handling and interventions when needed.
  • Governance and management post provisioning across multiple workloads and cloud services.

Relevance Lab has come up with a microservices-based automation solution which automates enterprise multi-cloud provisioning, pre and post, provisioning workflows, workload management, mandatory policies, configurations, and security controls. The end to end provisioning is automated and made seamless to the user by integrating with ServiceNow, Domain server, configuration servers and various cloud services. There are multiple microservices developed to handle each stage of the automation, making it highly flexible to extend to any cloud resources.

The building blocks of the framework are as shown here:


The IAAC which is maintained in a source code repository can have the cloud templates for a variety of resources.


Resource Platform Automated Process
Compute – VM/Server VMWare, AWS, Azure, GCP Automated provisioning of VMs and the backup VMs
Compute – DB Server VMWare, AWS, Azure, GCP Automated provisioning of the DB servers and Backup servers – Oracle, PostgresSQL, MSSQL, MySQL, SAP
Compute – HA and DR VMWare, AWS, Azure, GCP Automated provisioning of HA and DR servers
Compute – Application Stack AWS, Azure Automated Provisioning of Application stack using CFTs and ARM templates
Network – VPC AWS, Azure, GCP Automated provisioning of VPCs and subnets
Storage AWS, Azure, GCP Automated provisioning of S3 buckets or Blob storage
Storage – Gateways AWS Automated provisioning of storage gateways
DNS Server AWS, Azure Automated provisioning of DNS servers


Getting Started with Hybrid Cloud Automation – Our recommendations:

  • Generate standard cloud catalogue and create reusable automated workflows for processes such as approval and access control.
  • To optimize the management of resources, limit the number of blueprints. Specific features can be provisioned in a modular fashion in the base image.
  • Use configuration management tool like Chef/Puppet/Ansible to install various management agents.
  • Use “INFRASTRUCTURE AS A CODE” principle to provision infrastructure in an agile fashion. It needs tools like Github, Jenkins and any configuration management tool.

Benefits:

  • Significantly reduce the Operations cost by reducing the manual effort and proactive monitoring services using a single platform.
  • Reduced time to market for new cloud services by enabling a single-click deployment of cloud services.

For more details, please feel free to reach out to marketing@relevancelab.com


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2020 Blog, Blog, Cloud Blog, command blog, Featured

For Large Enterprise and SMBs with multiple AWS accounts, monitoring and managing multi-accounts is a huge challenge as these are managed across multiple teams running too few hundreds in some organizations.


AWS Control Tower helps Organizations set up, manage, monitor, and govern a secured multi-account using AWS best practices.



Benefits of AWS Control Tower:


  • Automate the setup of multiple AWS environments in few clicks with AWS best practices
  • Enforce governance and compliance using guardrails
  • Centralized logging and policy management
  • Simplified workflows for standardized account provisioning
  • Perform Security Audits using Identity & Access Management

Features of AWS Control Tower:


a) AWS Control Tower automates the setup of a new landing zone which includes,


  • Creating a multi-account environment using AWS Organizations
  • Identity management using AWS Single Sign-On (SSO) default directory
  • Federated access to accounts using AWS SSO
  • Centralized logging from AWS CloudTrail, and AWS Config stored in Amazon S3
  • Enable cross-account security audits using AWS IAM and AWS SSO

b) Account Factory


  • This helps to automate the provisioning of new accounts in the organization.
  • A configurable account template that helps to standardize the provisioning of new accounts with pre-approved account configurations.

c) Guardrails


  • Pre-bundled governance rules for security, operations, and compliance which can be applied to Organization Units or a specific group of accounts.
  • Preventive Guardrails – Prevent policy violations through enforcement. Implemented using AWS CloudFormation and Service Control Policies
  • Detective Guardrails – Detect policy violations and alert in the dashboard using AWS Config rules

d) 3 types of Guidance (Applied on Guardrails)


  • Mandatory Guardrails – Always Enforced. Enabled by default on landing zone creation.
  • Strongly recommended Guardrails – Enforce best practices for wel-architected, multi-account environments. Not enabled by default on landing zone creation.
  • Elective guardrails – To track actions that are restricted. Not enabled by default on landing zone creation.

e) Dashboard


  • Gives complete visibility of the AWS Environment
  • Can view the number of OUs (Organization Units) and accounts provisioned
  • Guardrails enabled
  • Check the list of non-compliant resources based on guardrails enabled.

Steps to setup AWS CT:


Setting up a Control Tower on a new account is relatively simpler when compared to setting it up on an existing account. Once Control Tower is set up, the landing zone should have the following.


  • 2 Organizational Units
  • 3 accounts, a master account and isolated accounts for log archive and security audit
  • 20 preventive guardrails to enforce policies
  • 2 detective guardrails to detect config violations


The next step is to create a new Organizational unit and then create a new account using the account factory and map it to the OU that was created. Once this is done, you can start setting up your resources and any non-compliance starts reflecting in the Noncompliant resources’ dashboard. In addition to this, any deviation to the standard AWS best practices would be reflected in the dashboard.


Conclusion:


With many of the organizations opting for and using AWS cloud services, AWS Control Tower with the centralized management service offers the simplest way to set up and govern multiple AWS accounts securely through beneficial features and established best practices. Provisioning new AWS accounts are as simple as clicking a few buttons while agreeing to the organization’s requirements and policies. Relevance Lab can help your organization to build AWS Control Tower and migrate your existing accounts to Control Tower. For a demo of Control Tower usage in your organization click here. For more details please reach out to marketing@relevancelab.com


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2020 Blog, Blog, Cloud Blog, command blog

The industry has witnessed a remarkable evolution in Cloud, Virtualization, and Networking over the last decade. From a futuristic perspective, enterprises should structure the cloud including account creation, management of cloud; and provide VPC (Virtual Private Cloud) scalability and optimize network connectivity model for clouds.


Relevance Lab focuses on optimizing network connectivity model using AWS VPC and services. We are one of the premium partners of AWS and with our extensive experiense in cloud engineering including Account Management, AWS VPC and Services, VPC peering and On-premises connectivity. In this blog, we wil cover a more significant aspect of connectivity.


As an initial step, we help our customers optimize account management, including policies, billing, structuring the accounts and automate account and policy creations with pre-built templates. Thereby we help leverage AWS Control tower and landing zone.


Distributed Cloud Network and Scalability Challenges


As the AWS cloud Infrastructure and applications are distributed across the globe including North America, South America, Europe, China, Asia Pacific, South Africa, and the Middle East, it brings in much-anticipated scalability issues. Hense, we bring in the best practices while designing the cloud network, including:


  • Allocate VPC networks for each region; make sure this does not overlap with On-premises and across VPC peering.
  • Subnet sizes are permanent and cannot change, leave ample room for future growth.
  • Create EC2 instance growth chart considering your Organization, Customer, and partner’s requirements and their Global distribution. Forecast for the next few years.
  • Adapt to the Route scalability supported by AWS

AWS Backbone provides you private connectivity to AWS services, and hense no traffic leaves the backbone, and it avoids the need to set up NAT gateway to connect to the services from On-premises. This brings in enhanced security and cost-effectiveness.


Amazon S3 and DynamoDB services are the services supported behind Gateway Endpoint, and these are freely available to provision.


VPC Peering is the simplest and secure way to connect between two VPCs, and one VPC cannot transit the traffic for other VPCs. The number of peering requirements is very high among the enterprises due to these design challenges, and it grows as the VPC scales. hense, we suggest the VPC peering connectivity model if the number of VPC’s are limited to 10.


On-premises connectivity models for cloud – Our Approach


The traditional connectivity model which connects site-to-site VPN between VGW (Virtual Private Gateway) and Customer gateway provides lesser bandwidth, less elastic and cannot scale.


A direct connect gateway may be used to aggregate VPC’s across geographies. Relevance Labs recommends introducing a transit gateway between VGW and Direct Connect Gateway. This provides a hub and spoke design for connecting VPCs and on-premises datacentre or enterprise offices. TGW can aggregate thousands of VPCs within a region, and it can work across AWS accounts. If VPCs across multiple geographies are to be connected, TGW can be placed for each region. This option allows you to connect between the on-premises Data Center and up to three TGWs spanning across regions; each of them can aggregate thousands of VPCs.



This model allows connecting to the colocation facility between VPC & Customer Data Center and provides bandwidth up to 40 Gig through link aggregation.


Relevance Lab is evaluating the latest features and helping the Global Customers to migrate to this distributed cloud model which can provide high Scalability and bandwidth along with cost optimization and security.


For more information feel free to contact marketing@relevancelab.com


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