We all want the best service available, for your cloud services this would look like 100% availability, 24 hour service desk, redundant capacity, multiple failovers....you get the picture. But what does your budget allow for?
Once you have decided to "Cloud-source" some or all of your IT services, you need to decide what are your 'must-haves', what would be 'nice to have' and how much you are prepared to pay for these benefits.
These considerations and subsequent negotiations with your cloud provider will form the basis of your Service Level Agreement (SLA). This document will articulate the level of service that is promised to you and the remedies you have if these services levels are not met. The higher the level of service you agree on, the higher the cost will be.
Remember too that there is no "one size fits all" when it comes to SLAs. It is likely that you will need to negotiate seperate SLAs for each service that you outsource to your cloud provider. For example, you may have an SLA for your corporate email service that allows for 100% availability between the hours of 8am and 6pm, but only 75% availability outside of those hours. Perhaps your payroll service is only required two days a month, you may have a very low availability requirement outside of these days, but 100% availability requirement for the critical days each month, with very heavy penalties if this is not met. Work out what really is important and pay for the level of reliablilty and availability you need for each of the outsourced services.
What other things do you need to consider, apart from availability?
Security - what are the security protocols being used to protect your information, both in transit and once it is on the remote server?
Capacity - Is there sufficient space and processing power to adequately run your services? Who makes the decision about when to increase this capacity, and what are the costs associated with each incremental increase in capacity?
Maintenance - when is routine maintenance performed? How much notice will you be given of any extra-ordinary maintenance that needs to be performed?
Location - Where is your data located? Can your provider move it to another location without your prior approval?
Reduncancies - In the event of a server failure, how often is your service backed up? How much data will be likely to be lost if you have to be transfered to a back-up server? Where are the back-up servers located? How often is the back-up and restore process tested?
Data segregation - how is your data seperated from other customers of your Cloud provider?
There is a lot to learn, there are risks but in all probability the risks of having your services in the cloud may be less than running the same services in-house - security is probably the #1 consideration for any cloud provider and there will be multiple levels of security between your information and the outside world.
Come and talk to DataSafe about your Cloud Hosting needs, or just ask us to explain for about it to you.