Adopting Cloud computing can save money, you need to avoid the seven deadly sins.

The Cloud provides an increasingly popular way of procuring IT services that offers many benefits including increased flexibility as well as reduced cost. It extends the spectrum of IT service delivery models beyond managed and hosted services to a form that is packaged and commoditized. However - many organizations are sleepwalking into the Cloud. Moving to the Cloud may outsource the provision of the IT service, but it does not outsource the customer’s responsibilities. There are issues that may be forgotten or ignored when adopting the cloud computing.

In medieval times the Christian church created the concept of the seven deadly vices to explain the human weaknesses that lead to sins. These are: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony sometimes known as the seven deadly sins. Of these vices one above all can lead to problems with Cloud computing. The deadly vice of Cloud computing is sloth which leads to inattention to details like:

  • Not knowing you are using the Cloud: it is easy to buy a Cloud service using a credit card – your organization may be using the Cloud without you knowing it. When you buy the Cloud service that way it is likely that you have agreed to the terms and conditions set by the provider and these may not be appropriate for your needs. You should to ensure that there is a proper process for obtaining a Cloud service and that this is followed.
  • Not assuring legal and regulatory compliance: many organizations have invested heavily to ensure that their internal IT systems comply with the legal and regulatory requirements for their type of business. You need to check that if you move these systems into the Cloud that you will not lose this compliance.
  • Not knowing what data is in the cloud: one of the key legal requirements for many organizations is compliance with data privacy laws. These mandate where personally identifiable data can be held and how it must be processed. If you don’t know what data you are moving to the Cloud you could be in trouble. This problem has become more acute because of the explosion in the amount of unstructured data like spread sheets, presentations and documents. It is essential that you identify and classify data you are moving to the Cloud to manage risks and ensure compliance.
  • Not managing identity and access to the cloud: controlling who can access what is even more important when data and applications are accessed via the Internet. Managing identity and access remains the responsibility of the customer when the data and application is moved to the Cloud. The best way to achieve this is through the use of identity federation based on standards like SAML and ADFS.
  • Not managing business continuity and the cloud: organizations adopting the Cloud need to determine the business needs for continuity of any services and/or data being moved to the Cloud. To support this they should have policies, processes and procedures in place to ensure that theses business requirements are met. These involve not only the Cloud Service Provider, but also the customer as well as intermediate infrastructure such as telecommunications and power supplies.
  • Becoming Locked-in to one provider: it is often claimed that the Cloud provides flexibility but how easy is it to change Cloud Service Provider? There are a number of factors that can make changing provider difficult. There may be contractual costs incurred on termination of the service contract. The ownership of the data held in the Cloud may not be clear and return of the data on termination of contract may be costly or slow. When data is returned it may not be in a form that can easily be used or migrated. Cloud services (built using Cloud Platforms, PaaS in particular) may be based on a proprietary architecture and interfaces making it very difficult to migrate to another provider.
  • Not managing your Cloud provider: you need to manage your Cloud provider just like any other outsourced IT service provider. This means defining and agreeing metrics via service level agreements and then making sure that these are achieved. You customer may wish to perform an audit of the provider but it may not be practical for the provider to allow every customer to perform their own audit. Certification of providers by a trusted third party is a way to satisfy this need. However it is important to understand what these service organization controls (SOC) reports cover.