The “cloud” can mean so many things to different people. Depending on who you ask, it could mean SaaS ( software as a service ) running Salesforce in the cloud but another person may say it's running servers on AWS. The definition of cloud can be cloudy but the transition to cloud is the same regardless of what your putting there.
When you make that decision to transition the cloud, having a plan or tool kit is useful. It’s very similar to an upgrade or deployment plan that I recently blogged about last month on Geek Speak called BACK TO BASICS TO HAVE A SUCCESSFUL UPGRADE. The same concept of project planning can be applied to transitioning to the cloud, with some minor tweaks and details to add.
Building you own “Cloud” Avengers…
If you want a smooth transition, it’s always best to get all the players involved from the start. Yes, that means networking, server team, application team and Security. I would say getting security involved from the start is key because they can shoot down plans because of not meeting some compliance standard, which then delays your transition. However, with security involved from the start means that you’re planning the right way from the start and will have a less likely chance of security delaying your project. Getting everyone together, including the business (if applicable), gives everyone a chance to air out their grievances about the cloud and work together to make it a success.
“Cloud” Avengers assemble…
Now that you have your basic “Cloud” avengers core team built there are some common things that you should really ask with every cloud plan.
Disaster Recovery - What is the DR plan for my cloud? If it is an application that is being moved to cloud, what are the DR plans for this application. Does the provider have DR plans for when their datacenter or servers decided to take a break and stop working? Are their DR plans for internet outages or DNS outages?
Backups - You should also be asking what are my back up options what is my recovery time if I need a restore. Lawsuits are common so how would an E-discovery situation be handled would be a question to ask. Where are the backups retained and for how long? How do you request data to be restored? Do the backup policies meet your in house policies?
Data retention – Something overlooked is data retention. How long does it stay in the cloud? Each industry and business is different with different data retention periods so you will need to see if they meet your requirements. If there are deferring data retention periods, how does it impact your polices in house? Sometimes this may involve working your legal and compliance teams to come up with the best solution. E-discovery could also impact data retention periods so best to talk to the legal and compliance teams to make sure you are safe.
Data security - We all want to make sure our data secure so this should a standard question to ask. How is remote access handled and how easy can someone request access to the data. Is it as simple as sending an email or filling out the form? Does the provider have other means of authenticating that the correct person is requesting the data access? If you are running servers in the cloud you will want to know how the datacenters are secured. You will also want to know how the data is protected from antivirus if you are using SaaS and what are the remediation plans if data is compromised.
Back -out Plan - If you are planning to transition to the cloud you should also have a back out plan. Sometimes you may find out it’s not all rainbows and sunny skies in the cloud and decide to come back to land. Asking the provider what are your options for backing out of the cloud is a good question to ask upfront because depending on your options this could impact your plan. You should also find out if there additional costs or fees for backing out. Something else that should also be asked is what happens if I want to leave the cloud and come back on premise what happens to my data and backups (if any existed). How has the data and can you get that back or does it get swallowed up by the cloud?
The cloud is the way of the future. As we move more and more data to the cloud, it may become less foggy. Until then plan as much as you can and ask all the questions you can ( even the stupid ones).