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Stepping Into the Cloud? Here Are the Questions You Need Answered

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Stepping Into the Cloud? Here Are the Questions You Need Answered

If you're venturing into the cloud, who's responsible for the data? What kind of uptime are you guaranteed? Here are some helpful hints you should keep in mind.

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Services based on the cloud computing model are gaining more and more importance and changing considerably the way companies used to manage their data. Some see it as a practical solution for automatic storage, others a way to guard against data loss, and others, the way to have constant access to their data. Cloud computing can be considerable as one of smart beneficial adoption for companies, such as storage on demand, cost savings and multiple servers etc. 

Studies have revealed that over half of companies adopting cloud computing resources have significant improvements in their productivity, plus, studies conducted by the Cloud Industry Forum shows that 90% of UK and European companies run at least two cloud services. However, it is not enough to register with a provider and to migrate data on a remote server and then passively enjoy the savings. Certainly, the cloud has its advantages, but companies must learn about cloud transition challenges before taking any further step in its direction.

A cloud failure is a good example of a critical problem that any organization may face when operating cloud services. Cloud failures can make data inaccessible for companies or can even be a cause of valuable data loss. As a business, what can you do to prevent data loss? And what questions entrepreneurs should ask before choosing any cloud solution? Here below is a list of important you must ask any cloud vendor before signing the contract! 

Responsibility for Data

Who is responsible for my data? Although data centers belong to the provider of cloud services, the ultimate responsibility of the stored data will usually be attached to the client. Therefore, if data is lost for X reasons, this will certainly be the company, not the provider, who will be held accountable.

Availability

Does your cloud solution allow access 24/7/365? Your company operates in real time and is based on your computer data: customer files, emails, accounting and important administrative documents. In case of a disaster, such as, computer crash, virus, or damaged hard drive, you won’t have enough time to save all your documents and files before the economic damage and data loss impacts you.

You’ll be happy to know that cloud is the ideal solution allowing you access to your data anywhere anytime... right? Before outsourcing your data in the cloud, check its availability rate. In other words, what's the number of hours or days of maximum uptime guaranteed by your cloud provider?

Any break, whatever its duration, can result in a loss of money for the company. This availability rate is a percentage, and it is the third figure AFTER the decimal point that matters. A guaranteed uptime of 99.9% may sound interesting on paper, but on the whole year, this can leave you with a service downtime of about nine hours without violating its obligations. A guarantee of 99.999% instead will turn in equivalent to only five minutes of downtime per year. So we advise you to avoid hosting below 99.995% of the year.

What's Their Backup Plan?

In case of a natural disaster, can your cloud provider immediately save your data without any loss? You must ask cloud provider what type of restitution method will be implemented upon the occurrence of such incidents. Can you recover all your files upon request? How quickly and what format? Insist your provider that you get ALL of your data on demand, whatever the reason, within a reasonable time and in a format your servers can read! Of course, most cloud services include a backup by default. It remains important, however, to carefully consider the provider’s backup policies by checking the data retention time (this allows you to recover your data as it was at a particular time).

Privacy and Security

Sure, your data is “in the cloud,” but where exactly? Don't let anyone play with your data privacy! To guarantee your data confidentiality, check in which country they are hosted. The jurisdiction of certain countries allows their different services to have a free access to your data. Therefore, if you host your data in Europe, America, or Asia, you are not subject to the same legislation. The Privacy Shield (“Personal Data Protection Shield”), the agreement regulates the use of personal data of European citizens by companies on American soil, was validated on July 8 but leaves many gray areas in practice.

What are the security measures in place to protect your data? All cloud providers have invested in higher or lower security measures to protect against external attacks. Do not hesitate to meet your future cloud service technical service and to ask them directly about security measures.

Support

What level of support is available? One of the most important points when choosing a cloud partner, it is the level of service it offers, also called the SLA (Service Level Agreement). Small businesses will be more dependent on advice and expert assistance on such matters. Big organizations have the possibility to set up a public or private solution and manage it alone, which is too complex and time-consuming for small structures.

Firms depending on this type of technical assistance need to determine what kind technical input they can reasonably expect from their cloud service provider. This assistance will focus mainly on maintenance and automatic updates of data. The choice of supplier is, therefore, essential for this aspect, which could make the difference between a successful deployment and rollout and a big loss, where the customer is unable to take advantage of the tools at their disposal.

Read the Fine Print

What about the general conditions? Of course, companies should take enough time to read the small print at the bottom of the contract, as they often contain essential clauses that could have important implications later on. For example, a standard contract often will state the level of compensation that a client can benefit if the service guarantees are not met, as well as information about data recovery procedures. The contract should also explain what happens to the data of the company at the end of a contract. The last thing a customer needs to know is that the supplier has not totally erased its data at the end of the contract, which can be a cause of potential threats.

If you have asked yourself these questions and you got all your answers, then you are on the right path for a successful cloud project and finding a serious supplier with whom you can maintain good relationship for years, knowing that your data will be safe and always available when you need it.

Learn how moving from a traditional, on-premises delivery model to a cloud-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS) strategy is a high-stakes, bet-the-company game for independent software vendors. Brought to you in partnership with NuoDB.

Topics:
cloud ,cloud computing ,cloud providers ,data loss

Published at DZone with permission of Aisha Javed. See the original article here.

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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