Six tough questions for your next IAAS vendor

1. What happens if your cloud computing resources are unavailable?

While questions about disaster recovery and high availability in the cloud will be similar to those asked about your own data center, you need to be a lot more specific when looking to implement or utilize a cloud environment.

IAAS is smart choice for ConnectEDU

SLAs vary widely between providers so you've got to make sure you're clear on the details surrounding guaranteed uptime, and then decide if that works for your business.

2. How (and more importantly where) do you backup data?

In a cloud environment, IT executives need to be confident that their data not only will be replicated but also stored across multiple sites in separate locations to ensure they will still have access to that data in the event of a data center failure or other incident.

3. How do you handle large data migration and what are the costs?

While provisioning a cloud environment takes minutes, populating that cloud with the necessary data is an entirely different story.

For example, if you need to migrate or populate a database to the cloud that is too large to send over the network, you need to consider factors such as additional costs, available data load options, and the process for working with your provider on the migration.

4. What are my network access options - and, more importantly, the restrictions?

One of the biggest benefits of the cloud is being able to access critical data over the Internet from any location. Beyond obvious questions such as whether you can access the cloud from mobile devices is whether the provider can support VPNs or dedicated connections. This is particularly true for organizations like financial services firms that have more stringent rules around access.

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5. My organization must comply with regulations. What are my options for using IaaS?

For some organizations, particularly ones that have to comply with stringent regulations, public cloud IaaS offerings might not make sense.

Ultimately, everything is shared even though it's separate both logically and from a security perspective. For this reason, many CIOs may look to community clouds, which enable companies with similar requirements - for example, two pharmaceutical companies that both must meet strict FDA regulations - to share a cloud and achieve true economies of scale.

6. What's the cost to decommission an IaaS project?

While most cloud providers are upfront about the cost of specific IaaS offerings (for example the cost per megabyte for storage), it is much more difficult to provide a cost for decommissioning - a critical but often forgotten step in the cloud life cycle.

Read more about cloud computing in Network World's Cloud Computing section.

This story, "Six tough questions for your next IAAS vendor" was originally published by Network World.

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