The growing shift to cloud computing can deliver significant value—but most enterprises have little knowledge of the perils of transferring IT decision-making away from technology specialists to business unit leaders.

Eliminating oversight and governance from cloud computing decisions can create significant risk to organisations, effectively undermining any benefits of moving to the cloud and, at the same time, potentially creating serious issues for organisations.

Only through proper governance and management can cloud computing achieve its potential for organisations. To help enterprises manage the potential pressure points that begin to surface when cloud computing strategies diverge from internally provided IT services or traditional outsourced arrangements, here is a guide to 6 key cloud computing principles:

1. The Enablement Principle

Plan for cloud computing as a strategic enabler, rather than as an outsourcing arrangement or technical platform.

2. The Cost/Benefit Principle

Evaluate the benefits of cloud acquisition based on a full understanding of the costs of cloud compared with the costs of other technology platform business solutions.

3. The Enterprise Risk Principle

Take an enterprise risk management (ERM) perspective to manage the adoption and use of cloud.

4. The Capability Principle

Integrate the full extent of capabilities that cloud providers offer with internal resources to provide a comprehensive technical support and delivery solution.

5. The Accountability Principle

Manage accountabilities by clearly defining internal and provider responsibilities.

6. The Trust Principle

Make trust an essential part of cloud solutions, building trust into all business processes that depend on cloud computing.

Cloud computing presents a unique opportunity for enterprises—and is particularly a game-changer for small and medium enterprises because its availability means that technology infrastructure is not the market differentiator it has been in the past. These principles will enable enterprises to experience the value that cloud can provide and help ensure that internal and external users can trust cloud solutions.

These principles help people make a proper business case and assess the current cloud computing arrangements to help ensure nothing is missed. Moreover, these principles are valid for any organisation, independent of size, industry or geography.

The ultimate goal is to support organisations in their cloud computing endeavors, with a proper eye for the big picture. I strongly recommend anyone involved in cloud computing to use these guiding principles to determine if improvements can still be made in the approach and usage.