After weighing the pros and cons of outsourcing to a strategic sourcing firm, many enterprises surmise that getting expert advice on a specific industry is exactly the type of guidance they need. Public authorities typically seek such assistance when diving into territory they may not be familiar with, such as cloud computing.
Getting in the cloud down under
The technology promises to offer organizations scalable storage, more flexible application access and greater operational versatility. However, with so many hosting companies to choose from (meaning a disparate array of service level agreements), it can be difficult for governments with no prior experience with the cloud to know what they're getting into. According to FutureGov, the Australian government is set to construct a panel to spearhead and guide the cloud services procurement process in response to the country's "cloud-first" policy.
The idea of forming the whole-of-government body was conceptualized by officials at Australia's Commission of Audit, which noted that a separate organization was needed to review the viability, capability and expenses associated with using large-scale cloud service providers. As national public authorities typically handle sensitive information, finding a cloud hosting business with adequate security credentials is essential to Australia's operation.
Knowing what to ask
For other governments or private entities looking to capitalize on the benefits associated with cloud computing, separate companies specializing in supplier relationship management could be consulted. E-procurement features can also be leveraged to scrutinize a CSP's reputation, as well as what the provider has to offer. Kim Shandrow, a contributor to Entrepreneur, named several questions executives should ask a cloud company before finalizing an investment:
- "What is your pricing structure?" Organizations should be able to comprehend how they're going to be billed upfront and on a monthly basis. If any uncertainty remains, then the prospective relationships either need to be abandoned or reevaluated.
- "How secure is your cloud?" Firewalls, anti-virus detection, multifactor use authentication, data encryption and regular security audits must be implemented. No expenses should be spared in regard to database and network protection.
- "What happens if I lose my data?" A CSP must possess a sound, validated means of backing up its clients' information. Also, it's important for executives to be cognizant of which entity is at fault in the event data is lost or stolen - was it the CSP's poor infrastructure or in-house mistakes?
Business process outsourcing firms can provide extra assistance to those venturing into the somewhat unfamiliar cloud technology territory.