Cloud Computing provides an effective way to access servers, storage, databases and a broad set of application services over the internet. Services are typically offered via a subscription instead of a purchase or lease. While there are terrific benefits to implementing a cloud computing model, consider these caveats as you begin your cloud evaluation process.
Your Internet Bandwidth
Think of your internet connection as a pipe. Instead of carrying water, it’s carrying digital data. If your pipe is too narrow for the large volume of data it needs to carry, the data may not go through fast enough. As you move more of your applications and infrastructure to the cloud, that means that you will transmit and received a greater volume of data over your internet connection. You need to determine the internet bandwidth needed when you move to the cloud. Then, compare that to your current bandwidth. If your current internet bandwidth cannot accommodate your anticipated cloud services implementation, you will need to increase your internet bandwidth.
Don't Put All of Your Eggs in One Basket
Consider multiple service providers for similar services. That is especially true for data storage. Once you select a cloud service provider to host your primary data and applications, select a different service provider (or an internal solution) to manage your data backups. If you hire one provider for both, and access to that provider goes down or if they go out of business, you have lost all of your applications and data, as well as your backup data. If the application service provider goes out of business and your backup data is with another service provider, it will be easier to recover from that type of service disruption.
Service Level Agreements
Since some of the responsibility to support your applications and infrastructure will move out of your own facility (it will be with your cloud service providers), you may lose some level of control and timing when you need to address urgent situations. A service level agreement (SLA) identifies the types and timing of services you will receive from the service providers, plus any costs. Review and understand the vprovider's SLA. If the SLA stated in the service provider's contract does not meet your service and support needs, draft an amendment to the SLA to meet your needs before your engage the service provider.
Understand who will be responsible to manage access to the contracted cloud services. For servers and user access to infrastructure, that is often a network administrator. If you will contract that with the service provider, review the supporting process to ensure that it meets your needs. For example, make sure you know how long the service provider take to add or remove a user account, or add a server or storage. In addition, make sure you understand who is responsible to manage threat deterrents. A cloud service facility may ensure that their server farm environment is protected from viruses and malware. Don't assume that your contracted implementation on their servers has the same protection by default.
Some cloud service providers may require scheduled down time for maintenance. This is more typical with application service providers than infrastructure service providers. Request the maintenance schedule and notification process from the service providers before you engage with them. Make sure that it meets your required service access time.
Contract Renewal Costs
Limit your contract renewal cost in your current contract. It is likely that at the end of a term contract that the service provider will increase your recurring subscription cost when you need to renew the contract. Place a clause in the contract that limits the increase in a contract renewal to a set percentage for each year of the original agreement. For example, set a 3% limit per year of term. When it will be time to renew your current 3 year contract, you can budget that the new subscription will not exceed 9% of your current cost.
Make sure you know why you're considering cloud computing before you start shopping around. Define your cloud computing goals. Then, align those goals by creating a service provider model that suits your needs and gives you adequate protection. Doing so will ensure you mitigate any concerns or caveats you may have as you plan a cloud services strategy.