Good Advice for Building Private Clouds

Don’t forget to have a service level agreement (SLA) in place, as well as an exit strategy when dealing with cloud providers. That’s the message of a recent article that I read on how to protect your company’s investment in the cloud. Great, timely advice, as companies globally gear up to make 2010 the year of the cloud.

CEOs keep reading about the cloud and inquiring how their CIOs are making plans for the future. So there are a few things that CIOs can do to ensure their companies take advantage of cloud savings and efficiencies, while mitigating risk, too.

One sound piece of advice is to avoid being “dismissive” of cloud trends, advises the article, as business units will go elsewhere for guidance. Second, CIOs should advise business leaders on cloud risks and their strategies to mitigate issues such as security, stability and data privacy issues. Lastly, CIOs need to establish realistic and balanced service-level agreements after deciding to use a cloud service.

Going beyond establishing an SLA, CIOs should create a step-by-step plan that covers assessment to implementation in order to help business managers balance risk, fiscal impact, and flexibility. Good management demands that there be a plan on how to proceed once a decision is made to adopt a cloud approach for software as a service, platform as a service, or infrastructure as a service. Not only that, the plan should spell out what to do if and when things go wrong.

“SLAs are all about recourse and what you can do to protect yourself when bad things happen with your cloud service provider, but SLAs aren’t the only recourse,” says the article. Switching service providers or using internal resources are other possibilities.

Another good move is to keep a close watch on whether your provider is keeping up with their part of the contract. That’s where SLA monitoring comes in. You can hire an independent company that can monitor from the web, and that’s important because even when Cloud computing providers offer some sort of monitoring, there is an inherent conflict of interest – as they are keen to show higher uptime.

On the other hand, monitoring services by independent firms, such as Monitis’ Universal Cloud Monitoring Framework, increases the credibility of cloud computing providers’ claims, which benefits both users and the industry, as a whole.