In a previous post, I asked, “Is Your Business Ready for the Cloud?” Five key issues were detailed to assist midsize businesses before making the decision to move to the cloud.
But once your leadership and IT teams make the decision to move data to the cloud, your next step should be to sign a vendor agreement with your cloud provider. Don’t move forward without having your leadership and IT teams review the agreement in its entirety, and even better, include your legal team in the review process.
According to the IBM Center for Applied Insights:
“By 2016, cloud computing will matter more to business leaders than to those in IT. According to a recent study conducted by the IBM Center for Applied Insights, cloud’s importance to business users is expected to grow to 72 percent, exceeding its importance to IT users at a mere 58 percent.
While it may not generate the same breathless excitement it once did when the technology first emerged, “The Cloud” has undoubtedly become ubiquitous. As the technology matures and lingering security concerns dissipate, even the most conservative businesses have jumped on the cloud bandwagon. According to a study released in 2013 by the IBM Institute for Business Value, 64 percent of CIOs plan to invest in cloud over the next few years.
And as cloud technology continues to mature, how companies use cloud will also continue to evolve. What was once primarily used for cutting costs is growing into so much more. Today’s companies are increasingly looking to the cloud to not only improve efficiency, but also to innovate and create.”
What was once only for storage now includes the following technologies:
 SaaS = Software-as-a-Service: using a product such as an Office-like suite of software in the cloud environment.
 IaaS = Infrastructure-as-a-Service: a form of cloud computing that provides virtualized resources over the Internet. The definition includes such offerings as virtual server space, network connections, bandwidth, IP addresses, and load balancers.
 PaaS = Platform-as-a-Service: a service that can be defined as a computing platform that allows the creation of web applications quickly and easily.
 DRaaS = Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service: businesses that do not have the time or resources to manage a disaster recovery plan and regular service can outsource this process.
As you review a cloud computing agreement, also known as the service level agreement (SLA), make sure to ask these five critical questions and listen, really listen to the responses:
 What happens if there is a data breach?
 What procedures are in place to mitigate a data breach?
 How quickly do you handle credential changes, for example, when an employee is promoted, hired, or fired?
 Do the terms of the SLA reflect an understanding of compliance regulations when it comes to physical data storage requirements? For example, depending on industry and regulations (healthcare, financial, etc.), data may sometimes have to be stored within the state where business is conducted.
 What security measures does the cloud vendor put in place to protect its data and data centers? This means physical security as well as internal, electronic, and web facing.
So, has your business moved to the cloud yet, and if yes, what was your best cloud story, good or bad? Since others can learn from your experiences, please chime in.
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