I’ve had a draft of this article for over two years but I didn’t want you to think I’ve gone completely mad. Yes, the cloud offers many advantages. But, what if the cloud you choose ends up not fitting your needs. What is your exit strategy? Cloud vendors make it easy to hop-on with data migration tools and the like. But what about when it’s time to leave the cloud? Don’t think this is an issue? What if you had been a user of Nirvanix, who in October filed Chapter 11. Nirvanix gave it’s customer 15 days to get their content before shutting down.
The biggest thing to remember is that when we move to the cloud we put the responsibility of our data in someone else’s hands. But it is our data. When that data is transactional, you may think that it’s life is short. But just because the solution is in the cloud doesn’t mean you don’t have retention and records requirements. What does your cloud vendor do to make sure this is the case?
Like many vendors, Cloud vendors make it easy to get your data into the cloud. Often it is using their services, but what’s your option to get data out of the cloud. We know this would be a huge task if you were to move off of the vendor’s cloud. But what about the common task of pulling reports for an audit. How easily can you collect those reports from the cloud and make them accessible to the auditor?
Then there is the system itself. It is common place for many vendors to add source code rights into software deals. Giving the customer rights to the source coded if for some reason the vendor is no longer available to maintain the software. With off-the-shelf software cases you had a running software package and the source code offers the ability to make changes if needed. With a cloud solution, source code is nice but you may still need the running system. You may have only one choice, re-building in-house. Suddenly you may find yourself not only having to purchase a new software solution but also the hardware required to run it.
Clouds at their core are nothing new. Similar vendor strategies have existed; hosting, application service providers, time-sharing, etc. And core software principals still exist. Your best strategy is to keep up with what your vendor is doing. Knowing how your vendor is doing will help to keep you from being surprised. Vendors go out of business, get acquired, no longer meet your needs, or fail against the competition but if you can see this coming maybe you can make some change.