Thinking About The Cloud? 7 Questions To Ask Your Cloud Provider Prior to Signing Their Service Agreement.


January 30, 2014

According to the International Working Group on Cloud Computing Resiliency, 13 major cloud service providers had a total of 568 hours of downtime since 2007. These hours of  downtime had an economic impact amounting to of $71.1 million dollars.

Most cloud contracts contain uptime clauses and credits for missed service levels, however, as an enterprise customer, it’s critical to ask the right questions prior to signing an agreement.

The following are 7 questions to ask your cloud provider to ensure your business is protected:

1.  Is The Cloud Environment Secure and Stable?

Discuss the risk of major outages. How is the cloud structured? What types of physical security measures are in place at the data center? Where is the data center located? If it’s in a location prone to a natural disaster, it’s probably best to look for another cloud provider. Also, consider the data privacy laws in the data center’s location.

2.  Will Your Standard Uptime SLA Meet My Business Requirements?

Some cloud providers offer SLAs with 99.9% uptime, while others offer 99.999%. An SLA with 99.999% uptime will cost more than one with a 99.9% uptime; however, it may be worth the price. There’s a significant difference between the two:

  • 99.9% uptime equals 8.77 hours of downtime per year.
  • 99.999% uptime equals 5.26 minutes of downtime per year.

Evaluate your needs and consider how much downtime is acceptable to ensure your business runs smoothly without reputational damage or major revenue loss.

3.  What’s Included In Your Disaster Recovery Plan?

The cloud provider’s disaster recovery plan is extremely important. Ask about site visits and audits to estimate the vendor’s recovery time and the impact of a potential failure. Does the provider have a reliable process in place? Is the provider’s staff knowledgeable and ready to react under the worst possible conditions? Unfortunately, disasters occur so it’s critical for your business and your cloud provider to be prepared.

4.  How Are The Terms “Uptime” and “Downtime” Defined.  What Do They Actually Mean?

Ask the cloud provider to define uptime and downtime. If systems are working but running too slowly to be efficient for your users, does this count as downtime or uptime? Most cloud providers will have a list of exclusions to their uptime guarantees, such as outages of 15 minutes or less, and emergency situations. Also, ask about the cloud provider’s required maintenance downtime. Make sure you have a clear understanding of their uptime and downtime definitions.

5.  How Often Do You Test Your Disaster Recovery Plan?

A disaster recovery plan alone doesn’t ensure that downtime will be minimized in the unfortunate event of a disaster. The cloud provider must test their plan on a regular basis to ensure the plan is effective. Ask the cloud provider to disclose the results of disaster recovery tests on a regular basis.

6.  Do You Have a Specific Order For Bringing Customers Back Online?

A cloud provider will need to bring hundreds or thousands of customers back online in the event of a disaster. Ask about the order for bringing those customers back online. If you want to be in the front of the line, consider paying extra to ensure your business is brought back online as soon as possible.

7.  Can I Terminate The Contract Without Penalty?

Ask for a clause in the SLA to allow you to terminate without penalty if the cloud provider fails to adhere to the SLA. If the cloud provider fails to provide adequate service, it’s critical to be able to terminate the contract without a penalty. You don’t want to pay for inadequate service for a multi-year commitment.

To learn more about cloud services and how to ensure your data is in the right hands, give us a call at (888) 330-8808 or send us an email. Integris can help you utilize cloud services without risking the security or accessibility of your data.

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