How bulletproof is your cloud? Part 3: Stability in a Sea of Change

In part 1 of this series, we looked at how to find a cloud provider that understands your success is the key to its success. In part 2, we covered why your organization and your cloud provider need to be compatible.

Now it’s time to talk about stability.

Adjusting to a Moving Target

The technological landscape is in a state of constant refresh. This means finding a stable place in cyberspace to pin your processes and service might seem like an insurmountable task. The last thing you want to hear after you sign up for a service is that it’s going to change into something you neither need nor desire. Or, worse yet, your vendor is going to cease offering it altogether.

The bad news: You often have limited control over whether the aforementioned will happen to the services you rely on.

The good news: A little legal savvy and research can drop these risks down to a reasonable level.

The reality is, all parts of the cloud services spectrum – from advances in hardware to revisions of software and (to a lesser degree) new managed and professional services offerings – are moving targets. It’s a safe bet the version of cloud service you’re consuming wasn’t around six months ago.

In fact, the provider may not be much older. You can begin to see the trend – constant change equates to “new,” and “new” sometimes comes with baggage in the cloud world.

So what is a cloud consumer to do? After all, there are many reasons why hosting software solutions in the cloud is the way to go.

Successfully Managing Perpetual Newness

First and foremost, we have to understand what “new” entails. If I were to ask you to describe a new car, words like “shiny,” “efficient” and “cutting-edge technology” might come to mind. If I were to ask you to describe a new piece of software, though, you might say things like “unstable,” “buggy” and “no support.”

“New” has the potential to be all of these things – simultaneously exciting and filled with risk. Finally, we have identified something we can quantify and address – risk. If you fear…

…the software, service or platform will crash or become unavailable, make sure you have an uptime/availability SLA in your agreement with the provider

…you will get the run-around from provider support personnel, make sure you have a support response SLA in your agreement

…the service could be hacked and your sensitive data stolen, make sure there are stringent security, access and encryption control requirements detailed in your agreement

Successfully Mitigating Risks

You can see where I’m going with all of this. Contracts and master services agreements are nothing more than risk mitigation roadmaps.

The bottom line: You’ll never take the “new” out of cloud services, but you can take the risk out of the “new.” Stability in the sea of change is nothing more than a few well-placed contract clauses.

My advice: Write out your fears and what-ifs and pull in your legal counsel to help navigate the muddy waters of the contract world. You’ll be happy you did.

We conclude this series by taking a look at how the right cloud platform can help your organization manage industry compliance.

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