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20 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR CLOUD COMPUTING PROVIDER, BEFORE YOU SIGN

Let’s face it — technology-centric issues such as uptime, scalability and security are complicated to deal with, and many non-tech business leaders don’t want to hear about them. Many non-tech leaders — and tech executives for that matter — consider one of the attractions of the cloud is its promise to relieve them of having to think too hard about these burdens. However, if you are thinking of handing over responsibility for these crucial elements to a cloud provider, think twice, think three times.

Unfortunately, when it comes to dealing with the cloud services market, “the customer is rarely right,” Sullivan states. “What enterprises hope to achieve with cloud services is increased agility, higher service levels, cost reduction, and reduced complexity. But what they get is poor support, cost overruns, noisy neighbors, rogue IT and degraded security.”That’s the advice of Ntirety’s Michael Corey and VMware’s Don Sullivan, who cast skepticism on public cloud providers’ promises to take care of their customers’ needs. Speaking at the recent Data Summit in New York, they pointed out that big public cloud services tend to “dodge liability” when it comes to issues customers encounter from downtime or lost data. Plus, cloud providers paper these issues over very effectively in the fine print in contracts and statements.

Enterprise cloud users need to take steps up front in the relationship to ensure that their needs will be taken care of in the event of problems. I like the way Corey and Sullivan described the the idea of shared responsibility: “when they are down, it should hurt them as much as it hurts you.” They provided the following checklist to follow before signing on with a cloud provider, and urge enterprises to ask the following questions before signing on the dotted line:

Engagement Model

1. Can you provide at least three blind references?

2. Can you state our business problem?

Flexibility

3. Can I add and delete services as needed?

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