Considerations for every type of cloud implementation

Considerations for every type of cloud implementation

Preparing to Surf the Clouds

Like any technology, it’s important to plan for cloud computing. See “Key Questions” for a list of questions that you need to be able to answer before going into a cloud, regardless of whether it is private, hybrid or public.

First, you’ll need to analyze all existing processes and determine what can be automated. In particular, full provisioning automation requires that approvals can be delegated in order to remove manual approval steps. Once that’s done it’s important to identify security and compliance needs for the applications and data. Different countries have different privacy laws, so it’s important to understand how those might impact you. The locations where data is stored must be taken into consideration in terms of privacy laws, jurisdiction and so on.

You’ll also want to ask who the provider uses for the various functions to support you and what access they will have to your data and applications. Probably the two key questions clients haven’t been asking are around exit strategies and what the service-level agreement (SLA) really covers. For the SLA, it’s important to read the fine print and ensure that every component in your cloud is included. If it only covers the Web servers but not the data, then the SLA has no teeth. You also need to ensure it’s clear what’s meant by an outage in the SLA.

Exit strategy is another critical issue. When moving into a cloud you need to plan for what happens if the cloud provider has legal problems, goes insolvent, has financial problems, gets broken into or just decides to get out of the business. At least four cloud providers have decided to get out of the business in the last year, so this isn’t a remote possibility. A good exit strategy should cover how you get your data back in a format you can use and how you plan to replace those applications that are in the cloud, especially if you didn’t write them or are in an SaaS environment. There have been some significant cloud outages or shutdowns in the past three years, so it’s important to look into these issues.

Cloud Takeaways

Cloud computing offers considerable savings, especially once you migrate to hybrid and public clouds. However, it’s important to be able to answer some key questions and properly plan for the worst case. Remember: Putting something in the cloud doesn’t mitigate your responsibility for it. It doesn’t go over well with compliance organizations when you try to explain, “The cloud ate your data.”

Jaqui Lynch is an independent consultant, focusing on enterprise architecture, performance and delivery on Power Systems with AIX and Linux.

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