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How to Talk to Your Cloud Computing Vendor about Data

6 of 6 in Series: The Essentials of Managing Data in Cloud Computing

You’re thinking about using some of the data services available for cloud computing. Before you sign the contract, remember that data (especially your company’s data) is a precious asset and you need to treat it as such.

In addition to bringing up issues surrounding security and privacy of your data, ask your potential vendor about the following topics:

  • Data integrity: What controls do you have to ensure the integrity of my data? For example, are there controls to make sure that all data input to any system or application is complete, accurate, and reasonable? What about any processing controls to make sure that data processing is accurate? And, there also need to be output controls in place to ensure that any output from any system, application, or process can be verified and trusted.

  • Compliance: You are probably aware of any compliance issues particular to your industry. Obviously, you need to make sure that your provider can comply with these regulations.

  • Loss of data: What provisions are in the contract if the provider does something to your data (loses it because of improper backup and recovery procedures, for instance)? If the contract says that your monthly fee is simply waived, you need to ask some more questions.

  • Business continuity plans: What happens if your cloud vendor’s data center goes down? What business continuity plans does your provider have in place: How long will it take the provider to get your data back up and running?

  • Uptime: Your provider might tell you that you will be able to access your data 99.999 percent of the time — however, read the contract. Does this uptime include scheduled maintenance?

  • Data storage costs: Pay-as-you-go and no-capital-purchase options sound great, but read the fine print. For example, how much will it cost to move your data into the cloud? What about other hidden integration costs? How much will it cost to store your data? You should do your own calculations so you’re not caught off guard.

  • Contract termination: How will data be returned if the contract is terminated? If you’re using a Software as a Service (SaaS) provider and it has created data for you too, will any of that get turned over to you?

  • Data ownership: Who owns your data after it goes into the cloud? Some service providers might want to take your data, merge it with other data, and do some analysis.

  • Switching vendors: If you create applications with one cloud vendor and then decide to move to another vendor, how difficult will it be to move your data?

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