Talking to Your Cloud Vendor about Data

You’re thinking about using some of the data services in the cloud. Before you sign the contract, remember that data (especially your company’s data) is a precious asset and you need to treat it as such.

In addition to issues surrounding security and privacy of your data that we cover earlier in the chapter, we recommend asking your potential vendor about the following topics:

✓ Data integrity: What controls do you have to ensure the integrity of my data? For example, are there controls to make sure that all data input to any system or application is complete, accurate, and reasonable? What about any processing controls to make sure that data processing is accurate? And, there also need to be output controls in place to ensure that any output from any system, application, or process can be verified and trusted. This dovetails with the next bullet about any specific compliance issues that your particular industry might have.

✓ Compliance: You are probably aware of any compliance issues particular to your industry. Obviously, you need to make sure that your provider can comply with these regulations.

✓ Loss of data: What provisions are in the contract if the provider does something to your data (loses it because of improper backup and recovery procedures, for instance)? If the contract says that your monthly fee is simply waived, you need to ask some more questions.

✓ Business continuity plans: What happens if your cloud vendor’s data center goes down? What business continuity plans does your provider have in place: How long will it take the provider to get your data back up and running? For example, a SaaS vendor might tell you that they back up data every day, but it might take several days to get the backup onto systems in another facility. Does this meet your business imperatives?

✓ Uptime: Your provider might tell you that you will be able to access your data 99.999 percent of the time — however, read the contract. Does this uptime include scheduled maintenance?

✓ Data storage costs: Pay-as-you-go and no-capital-purchase options sound great, but read the fine print. For example, how much will it cost to move your data into the cloud? What about other hidden integration costs? How much will it cost to store your data? You should do your own calculations so you’re not caught off guard. Find out how the provider charges for data storage. Some providers offer a tiered pricing structure. Others offer pricing based on server capacity.

✓ Contract termination: How will data be returned if the contract is terminated? If you’re using a SaaS provider and it has created data for you too, will any of that get turned over to you? You need to ask yourself if this is an issue. Some companies just want the data destroyed. Understand how your provider would destroy your data to make sure that it isn’t floating around in the cloud.

✓ Data ownership: Who owns your data after it goes into the cloud? Some service providers might want to take your data, merge it with other data, and do some analysis.

✓ Switching vendors: If you create applications with one cloud vendor and then decide to move to another vendor, how difficult will it be to move your data? In other words, how interoperable are the services? Some of these vendors may have proprietary APIs and it might be costly to switch. You need to know this before you enter into an agreement.

Source of Information : cloud computing for dummies 2010 retail ebook distribution


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