It’s safe to say that cloud computing is definitely amongst the most useful and most profitable technologies out there, depending on each side’s point of view and even thought there are plenty of benefits that businesses and users alike can reap from it, it seems that this technology still bears some risks people need to fully address before considering it.
By being aware of these factors and more, businesses and individuals will have a better understanding of what they’re actually going to sign for. Many companies actually offer these types of services and this means that they all have their very own policy in place in what regards the aspects their service entails, the way the services are offered and so on.
Because of these factors it would only be natural for everyone to start considering carrying out a risk assessment process before handing over any type of control, to their service provider. Recently though, it seems that the Australian Government has actually released a comprehensive guide about cloud computing considerations that will help a lot those who are interested in such services.
The guide is targeted at government agencies mostly, but businesses will also find the guidelines to be pretty relevant for them as well. In the paragraphs below, this article will focus more on the aspects people have to bear in mind when they’re interested in signing for a cloud service.
Awesome explanatory video by Macquarie Telecom, major Australian government data centre service provider.
MT’s Government cloud page:
Service level agreement and privacy agreement
It’s really important to have strong agreements in place, because when they are present, both the provider and the user will be covered and benefit from different types of protection and coverage in certain situations. If problems will appear in the future because of the client or the service provider and saying that the former’s business will be affected by them, the cloud service provider will reimburse the client to make up for the suffered losses.
The good news about solid agreements is that each party will be safeguarded properly and their responsibilities will be outlined in the form of a service level agreement or shortly, SLA.
A rule of thumb people who need these types of services is to make sure they will read the service level agreement very well and understand it as best as possible, before leaving their signature on the contract. There are though plenty of cases when people just won’t be able to understand different aspects of the agreement, case in which they can have an attorney considered to explain to them everything in layman terms. The attorney will guide them throughout the terms of the agreement, ensuring the client is fully aware of what that certain term entails before signing the contract.
Data protection and security
The way data is stored is yet another different and important aspect that needs to be considered, as well as the way the data is secured, because with so many clients considering these services, some will have more sensitive data than others. Everyone who considers these services needs to have peace of mind that the service they go with is reliable and will never pose any dangers to the integrity of their business.
There are also cases when systems may fall, so it’s important for clients to know if the cloud computing service provider has efficient backups in place. Not only that, but the contract should also address mitigations to security and governance risks. There are also cases when cloud computing providers may have a form of access to the user’s data and that is why this aspect should be fully covered in the service level agreement.
Security wise, the service provider needs to backup its servers with the best forms of security available, because in the last few years hacking activities have increased a lot and clients who have sensitive data seem to be the ones mostly targeted. With strong security measures considered, a service provider can remove or greatly diminish these risks, allowing both the provider and client to enjoy a successful and secure collaboration.
There are many companies out there offering these types of services that are not actually located within the country. Users will thus need to be very careful when they sign the contract, because some of them really need to have their files stored in Australia and not overseas. Even more, some users need to have fast access to their data, while also benefitting from great upload speeds. Each client has a certain type of business and this means they also have different needs that the cloud computing plan has to fully address in a secure way.
Before committing, clients have to do some research in regards to where their data is going to be stored. If the data won’t be stored within the country, then people need to find out more about the privacy and security laws of the foreign country, so that they can take a better decision in regards to the company they’d like to contract the cloud computing services from. In the end, every client wants a balance to exist between convenience, security levels and cost.
Regulation and legislation
There is also the issue of personal data storage, meaning that people have to become aware of the legislative and regulatory requirements in this regard, like the Privacy Act of 1988 (http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2012C00414) and the Archives Act of 1983 (http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2012C00025). Because there are plenty of cloud computing service providers that have their servers located outside the country, people will have to learn more about the regulations and legislations of that country and not only those of Australia. For a much better understanding though, it’s best if people will get in touch with a lawyer, because he’ll offer them the level of understanding they need to have peace of mind when signing the contract.
While some countries are very strict about personal data access, others may even have a form of access to the data of their clients, so that is why businesses and individuals need to be aware of this aspect very well before signing the contract. Taking this step, all parties involved will be satisfied with their collaboration.