Cloud Conversations: Before Heading to the Cloud, Ask Yourself These Six Questions

Anymore, everybody is talking about cloud computing and its potential to drive gains in IT efficiency and flexibility. So why aren’t more organizations actually moving applications to cloud environments? In a word: uncertainties. 

Most of all, people are concerned about application and data security in the cloud. But there are many other overarching questions that also need to be addressed before moving to a cloud. Let’s look at six of these intertwined questions.

1. What applications are right for the cloud? While this doesn’t sound like a security question, it really is. In selecting applications, begin by considering the sensitivity of the application and how close it is to your company’s core competency. For example, you might outsource expense reports to a third-party service provider, while keeping your core data and applications in your private cloud, where you have greater control over them.

2. Are the right policies in place? You must be comfortable with the service provider’s policies on security, availability, disaster recovery, and performance. Whether you’re working with an internal or external provider, these policies should be spelled out clearly in service-level agreements (SLAs).

3. How will my data be protected? Before moving sensitive data to an external cloud, you need to be sure that your cloud provider has rock-solid, verifiable security in place. In addition, you will want to encrypt the data you place in the cloud. And even then, you might want to keep your most highly sensitive data within the walls of your own data center, where you can assume full responsibility for its protection.

4. What happens when an application goes down? Applications in high demand should be placed in compute pools with automated recovery policies to enable best availability. With this approach, a down server shouldn’t mean a down application. Instead, the compute pool just shifts the workload to another platform.

5. What does my application connect to, and how will it connect? When an application is moved to a cloud environment, there’s a good chance it will need to connect back to your corporate environment. You need to understand how that will work. And you need assurances that your network traffic won’t be visible to others who share the same cloud, and vice versa.

6. What are my storage requirements? When you place your data in a server provider’s storage systems, you need to be sure the provider can meet your data security, availability, performance, and backup requirements.

There are, of course, other questions that need to be asked as well. But this is at least a starting point for your cloud preparations.