Five questions to
ask when signing
a cloud contract

Are you moving your IT to the cloud? Good plan, but it's still nerve-racking to entrust your data to an external partner. This checklist tells you in five steps whether the agreement with your cloud service provider will form a solid basis for your business.

1. Do the cloud services meet my business needs?

Cloud services are not all alike, and cloud service providers certainly don't offer exactly the same service. So before you put your signature on a cloud migration contract, you should first make a summary of the objectives you want to achieve by switching to the cloud. In most cases it involves a combination of shorter time-to-market, time and cost savings, higher productivity, simplifying your IT, more security for your business continuity and gaining a competitive edge, for example by creating more scope for innovation. Draw up a list of priorities based on your business needs and objectives, but also ensure that your cloud contract gives you enough flexibility to adjust the service when your strategy changes. All this means that you shouldn't just be guided by the price tag. Paying a bit more for a managed service provider could create more possibilities and give your business an extra boost, which is after all the ultimate goal.

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2. What are the biggest challenges for me?

Formulating objectives and defining a strategy is one thing, but during implementation you often face obstacles or challenges that complicate your cloud project. It is important that you consider all the relevant aspects beforehand in order to ultimately gain maximum benefit from your new environment. In this regard, here are some important questions to ask your cloud service provider:

  • Security: how reliable is it and who has ultimate responsibility?
  • Which workloads can I move to the cloud? Which would be better off staying put or not transferred for the time being?
  • What is the price tag: is the pricing model scalable and (how much) do I pay for my usage ('pay as you use')?
  • What are the guarantees that my IT environment is always available? Document the agreements about uptime and availability in solid SLAs.
  • Is my own infrastructure already suited to a hybrid cloud environment?

3. Own IT department or external expertise?

You don't usually manage a hybrid cloud environment entirely by yourself. In fact, using an external specialist for management, maintenance and security gives you greater certainty that everything will remain 'up & running'. A cloud service provider has several in-house experts for this work and also ensures their knowledge is up-to-date. Moreover, you have access to the right expertise whenever you need it, without having to worry about recruitment or training. And by outsourcing operational tasks, your own IT staff can focus on strategic projects that increase your company's impact.

4. Do I have control of my IT environment and data?

Be certain to ask your cloud service provider about the situation regarding control of your environment and your business data. With a solid partner, you can choose whether to keep control (partly) in your own hands or to fully outsource to your service provider. In any case, your data will always remain your property, but to be sure you should specify this explicitly in your agreement. Also take a close look at what your contract says about data portability: the transfer of your data, which file format and through which medium. This way you always have control of your data, in the longer term too.

5. Am I in compliance with the GDPR?

Do not forget to read the small print in your contract about the GDPR. In order to make certain that your company is in compliance with the new legislation on the protection of personal data, it is important to make clear agreements with your cloud service provider about the level of security for personal data and who may have access to these data. Your contract must also state that the cloud service provider will notify you immediately if it detects a possible data leak. If you work with a cloud service provider that has its own data centre in Belgium, you will already feel a lot more at ease about the physical storage facilities of all your data – including personal data – and how they are handled. It also makes it much simpler to comply with the different directives and laws.

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