Clouds on the Horizon

CloudCloud computing is here. Companies like Amazon, AT&T and Google are knee deep in it.

Cloud computing has these typical characteristics:

  • Services can be quickly deployed
  • Very little start up costs
  • Usage based model
  • Services can be scaled accordingly
  • Service can be customized

When you engage in cloud services, you are paying for three service levels:

  • Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
  • Platform as a service (PaaS)
  • Software as a service (SaaS)

Like any new product to market, standards are still being developed. You should be aware of the following when discussing with vendors:

  • Service levels – Be clear about your SLAs, response times, data protection, and recovery times.
  • Privacy – Hosting your data with an outside vendor is problematic. If you are concerned about this then you should not engage in cloud services..
  • Compliance – Review your regulations and make sure you are in compliance. Engage your auditors if you are not 100% sure.
  • Data ownership – Who owns the data once in the cloud? Get your legal department involved.
  • Data mobility – Can you share data among different providers? How do you get your data back? What happens when the contract is terminated?

If your firm is exploring cloud computing you should weigh the risks against the rewards both in the short term and long term. Get your business, legal, and audit teams involved early on to help make decisions and address issues. Good luck…