Look before you jump into the cloud

Sponsored By: Rogers

The benefits of moving to a cloud computing hosting provider can be enticing – a more resilient IT infrastructure, moving the expense from your capital expenditure budget to your operating expenditure budget and freeing up IT resources to focus on more strategic initiatives, to name just three.

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However, as with any new IT initiative, it’s important to look before you leap. The cloud may not be right for every part of your IT infrastructure, and not every cloud service provider is created equally. Before you sign on the dotted line, carefully consider which of your applications are right for the cloud, and make sure you ask the right questions of your potential hosting partner.

Consider if the cloud is right for you

There’s a lot of buzz around cloud computing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s right for you. There may be some workloads and applications that, for reasons from compliance to peace of mind, it makes more sense to keep in house. Conduct a careful inventory of your IT infrastructure, and carefully consider what you can outsource and what should stay home – Rogers has a professional services group that can help you make this evaluation.

Among the things to consider are if your application usage patterns are predictable – the more predictable, the better suited to the cloud. Even if they can be unpredictable, carrying workloads can be something a service provider can handle better than you, given their dedicated resources and expertise. Do you need a global presence for these applications – if so, make sure your potential provider is equipped to handle it. If you have applications that need access to services within your secure network, would moving the application to the cloud raise complications? Can the hosted model meet your security and regulatory requirements? And does business agility gained justify the disruption to your users and operations that will come with the transition?

Be sure you’re confident in the answers to these questions before you go shopping and sit down to talk turkey with your cloud service provider to be.

Key questions for your cloud service provider to be

Handing over the keys to your business critical systems is not a decision to be taken lightly, so make sure you do your homework and ask some key questions before you sign a contract.

  • Take a careful look at the service level agreement (SLA) and consider if it meets your needs. The proposed SLA won’t be written in stone; it can usually be adjusted upwards — if you’re willing to pay more.
  • Make sure your contract spells out data residency, particularly if you’re in a regulated industry with compliance requirements. Ensure your service provider is transparent about where their data centres are located and where your data will reside and, if necessary, have this included in the contract.
  • The day you decide to move to the cloud should be the day you begin to plan for leaving the cloud. What are the mechanisms for an early termination of the contract, and what are the service provider’s responsibilities and timelines for returning your data to you when the contract comes to an end? This should all be made clear
  • You’re covered if you want to leave, but what if the service provider wants to leave you? Ensure the grounds for early termination are spelled out. Not paying your bill is an obvious one, but other grounds could include breaching acceptable use policies or third-party complaints over intellectual property violations.
  • Ask what level of operational transparency they offer. It’s not enough just to know if the service is up or down. Be sure your service provider will provide you visibility into performance and change management, monitoring and operational management and service-level data integration, to name just a few.

As long as you do your homework and ask the right questions going in – and a quality cloud service provider will be more than willing to address all your concerns — your cloud hosting relationship should be a long and successful one for both parties.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

Sponsored By: Rogers

Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras is a technology journalist with IT World Canada and a member of the IT Business team. He began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada and the channel for Computer Dealer News. His writing has also appeared in the Vancouver Sun & the Ottawa Citizen.