One of the first things a young lawyer learns is “Never ask a question in the courtroom that you don’t already know the answer.”
Now put yourself in the conference room with your CEO. Topic of discussion: The Cloud. You’re boss will be taking the opposite approach of a lawyer; they’ll be asking you a lot of questions that they don’t know the answer to.
Will you be prepared to answer all of your boss’s questions about how cloud services can help his company? It won’t take much to get up to speed especially if you use the following questions and answers as your guide:
1. What are we sending up to this cloud?
The purpose of utilizing any type of cloud services is to cut costs and offload data to improve the functionality of a company’s IT resources. To achieve those goals you’ll need to identify which are your company’s best applications to migrate to the cloud. These should be the ones that aren’t a technological burden such as email, payroll applications and types of customer relation management (CRM). Any customized applications that a company uses are best kept “in-house.”
2. How are we saving money?
There will always be an ROI question and it might be hard to quantify in the early stages of cloud use. However, when the goal is to minimize your IT applications costs, you should know those numbers and can compare the savings you’ll be achieving by offloading some of your company’s resources to a third-party cloud service.
Armed with that information will let you quickly get to the bottom line. There is also the cost of increased internal productivity that can be achieved when your company’s computer network is operating more efficiently.
3. How are we choosing the right vendor?
As with any type of IT question you’ll want to assure your CEO that you’re picking the best cloud vendor based on their performance, reliability and security. This falls under the adage “You get what you pay for.”
A small cloud vendor might be offering competitive pricing packages but could have limited storage capabilities. A bigger company might have stellar security protections but they’re hard to reach when you have a question. You need to find the perfect fit for your needs which is probably somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. If the question of vendor is still on the table, you should be well versed in at least three potential picks.
4. How safe will our data be in the cloud?
Next to cost, this will be the big issue for your boss. You should have already investigated your potential cloud vendors to find out issues around data security, accessing applications, managing access and making sure you’ll be in compliance with any type of federal regulations that might apply to your business practices.
This is especially true for ecommerce sites. Researching your vendor should not only include the answer to those types of questions but also a practical approach to examining that vendor’s actual facilities. Where and how they’ve set up their operation will tell you a lot about their trust worthiness.
5. How does moving data to the cloud impact government regulations?
If your company is regulated by certain levels of the government then you’ll need to insure that utilizing cloud technology will keep you in compliance such as HIPAA. This is a new and rapidly changing area of ecommerce but there are already guidelines set forth about third-party service providers. There might be a need for an extra level of data encryption before you can migrate data. Additionally, there could be other restrictions with regard to server location in terms of what country they are operating out of. Do your homework.
6. Will our company be sharing this cloud space?
The majority of dependable cloud service providers offer businesses the option of a shared or dedicated infrastructure. With the shared infrastructure the costs are lower. On the other hand, the dedicated infrastructure offers an added layer of privacy and control. Which of those factors would be more important for your company?
7. Who controls the data in the cloud?
A cloud service provider builds their success upon their reputation. That goes hand in hand with the level of data security they will provide for your company. However, just because you are using a cloud service doesn’t mean you can abdicate your own company’s responsibility. Ultimately, you are in charge of your customers’ privacy.
About The Guest Author: Alex Chadwick is a freelance writer specializing in information technology and business topics. He is also an IT professional at All Covered, providing real-world experience that allows him to cut through the hype and address topics that are relevant in the business world.
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