If you’re planning to move from on-premise hardware and applications to a hosted cloud platform, you need to ask some tough questions before signing a contract. InformationWeek recently published good advice on the subject, given by Matt Cicciari, product marketing manager at Progress Software, who recommends asking:
Where is my data stored? There are differences between private, public, and hybrid clouds, which matter for compliance-laden firms. The other factor is physical location. Proximity generally improves performance, so you should know where your data will live before turning it over.
Who is responsible for my data? You need to understand who from your organization is going to have responsibilities for the day-to-day to activities, which can involve a learning curve, particularly if your previous day-to-day workload involved managing on-site servers and applications. While a good vendor can help relieve an operational burden, it’s important to develop a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities at the outset rather than making assumptions.
What happens if there’s an outage? Read the fine print in the SLA and understand what those guarantees actually cover–there are often exceptions that tend to favor the provider. Also find out how the vendor handles unacceptable outages if they do occur–and how they make good on them. You also need to have your own disaster recovery plan and ask about vendor lock-in and compatibility to ensure there are no restrictions if you want to use a different, secondary provider for backup or other reasons.
What happens if your vendor is acquired or goes under? There’s a big influx of cloud service providers popping up on the West Coast which are being acquired by or merged with other businesses. While younger vendors can have better pricing and customer service, they also have a better chance of experiencing M&A activity or failure. Your agreement should state clearly what happens if there are material changes to the vendor’s business.
Where’s the exit sign? Ask how your data will be returned to you and how quickly. Thirty to 45 days is a reasonable example, but it depends on the type and size of the data. If it’s your ERP system, you may need to trim that down considerably. No matter what the agreed-upon timing is, it should be defined in writing.
Read more at InformationWeek.