It’s never wise to jump into something new without learning about the risks involved. Cloud computing offers a wealth of potential for both empowering businesses and cutting costs, but as a new technology, it’s important for IT leaders to thoroughly understand the cloud’s inherent and specific risks in order to prepare companies for successful deployment.
Assessing the Risks
Risk assessment of any cloud solution should look at the many different varieties of services in the cloud, the differences in providers, and the needs of the given industry.
Specifically, decision-makers should consider these specific risk areas:
Cloud implementation must be carefully planned before deployment. If it’s not, there could be frustrating or devastating problems if existing systems cannot function and communicate with cloud services. Without ensuring full compatibility, businesses could face unforeseen costs for reverting to other systems, fixing the compatibility issues, and losing time that could be spent elsewhere.
Any compliance issues in an organization’s industry or location must be addressed when deploying cloud services. This especially poses an issue when using cloud services located in another country or for organizations with very specific and strict compliance requirements. There are cloud solutions to fit almost all compliance standards, but the issues should be addressed in the planning phase.
Virtual environments create security vulnerability risks for two main reasons: because more data is being transmitted across networks and platforms, and because organizations are housing data in a new physical location. A complete security assessment should precede cloud deployment, and a rigorous security management program should be in place over time. Communication between the company and the service provider is vital to monitoring ongoing security risk.
Some downtime will occur with any service, but the right cloud provider for a given organization will work to develop guidelines and service schedules that do not interfere with regular business. Service should be reliable and supported to mitigate any issue and provide near-perfect uptime.
If your cloud provider changes its service offerings significantly or if it goes bankrupt, will your business be able to move forward? Risk management for cloud services should stress the importance of portability, wherever possible, or a plan for easing the burden of your next big switch. Better yet, the cloud provider should appear positioned to provide service indefinitely.
Vetting Your Options
When you use a relatively new technology like cloud solutions, it can be difficult to assess whether you’re getting your money’s worth and whether your services are in line with what the market has to offer. Until cloud technologies and the market have matured and become more standardized, you should expect to put in some effort to regularly gaze at other providers and options while remembering the work it would take to shift gears.
Growing to Scale
Cloud gives businesses the power to disrupt markets and create new revenue streams. Will your provider be able to grow with you? Cloud services are generally very scalable, but not all providers are equally prepared for the task. Think about your future needs when choosing a provider; you can reduce some risk by being optimistic and finding a provider with robust, diverse services.