Preparing for Cloud: Pitfalls, Traps, Mistakes, and Minefields

MinefieldAs Cloud matures so does our experience learned from early adopters. New research coming through shows a few of the common mistakes that can occur in Cloud uptake and transition. This is a summary of some of the traps and pitfalls that I’ve read through in the past few weeks.

1. Watch the cost savings

Just like outsourcing Cloud is about a lot more than cost saving. You can save money but it is not easy. Factors that help are things like size. The larger you are, the better discount you are going to attract. If you are in a small country, then buying services from a large international company will save money. Adopting a lot of risk will save money, i.e. the lesser your service levels the lesser the cost, and while that sounds silly, if you have non-critical ICT services chewing up expensive resource operating on a high SLA, then you can drop the service down.

2. Remember that Cloud fails just like everything else

If you look across New Zealand in the past 12 – 24 months I think you will find that every major datacentre provider (and major datacentre) has had some kind of outage. Cloud services are NOT infallible. If you need high availability make sure you build it in up front. Same goes for disaster recovery requirements.

3. It’s still your risk

You can’t leave the management of risk to your Cloud provider. Especially within New Zealand where company directors can be held personable liable for a slew of risk based items that their organisations are responsible for. You can’t legislate out of this and you can’t contract out of this. A Cloud provider’s liability will only stretch so far and often money is the last thing you need when something falls apart. A lot of Cloud providers just love the “Act of God” clause. Understand and manager your risk before you switch or spend the rest of your time waking up at 3am sweating.

4. Auditability

Yes I just invented a new word. Don’t rely, like risk, on the the word of your Cloud provider when it comes to compliance. Make sure that you build into your contracts the ability for, at the very least, a third-party to be able to assess compliance of your Cloud provider with the contracted policies you signed up for. This is particularly key in the area of business resilience and security.

5. Capacity Management

Much like your home broadband (if you live in New Zealand), when you go over what has been assigned it costs you a fortune. Worse, with Cloud, it is very difficult to pull back on what you have consumed, especially storage. Make sure that you have some kind of capacity management and reporting in place so that you can see what it is that you are consuming along with trending. Don’t expect your Cloud provider to manage this for you, why would they? The more you use the more cash they get.

6. Educate yourself

The road to Cloud is not a simple one. Despite the fact that it looks paved with gold, thanks to a new army of educated sales people, it can be a complete road to ruin as some have found. Make sure you understand what Cloud is and what it means for your business. Define it. Study it. Go and see it in action. Put aside time to teach yourself. Look at what has worked and why some have failed.

7. Who’s in charge

Your people have roles and responsibilities. Your Cloud provider has the same. Make sure that they align and make sure that everyone knows what everyone else is doing. If you don’t then you risks not only double-ups and confusion (particularly around admin tasks, which is dangerous) but you also risk gaps.

8. Don’t just rely on the SLA

Every provider will dodge the breaches and under-performance on an SLA like a cat on a hot tin roof. Manage your provider. Manage your liability.

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