Cloud computing in Australia: the SAQs you should ask before moving to the cloud

Posted by: Schepisi - Friday, November 14, 2014

No, that’s not a typo. SAQs are a nifty little term I saw online that is a branch from the FAQs we all know and love - Frequently Asked Questions - that stands for Should-Ask Questions. These are the questions people need to ask. (And some of them are neglected, simply because people don’t know to ask them!) 

cloud computing australia

Though its growth in popularity and deployment has soared, particularly this year, the cloud computing in Australia is still an elusive concept that many just don’t quite fully “get” it. Understandably: it’s hard to describe something that doesn't ‘exist’ (but of course, it does exist... see how we’re getting confused?)

Luckily, online resources are plentiful, and businesses are great at explaining the cloud in easy-to-digest ways that don’t overwhelm readers (and prospects!).

Let’s not mince words: we’re sick of incomprehensible tech babble that leaves us scratching our heads after we read the same paragraph over and over, thinking, ‘What on earth did I just read?’!

It’s sometimes tempting to show off our vast encyclopaedia of knowledge using the most convoluted and sophisticated language, but at the end of the day, we want to make the concept of cloud computing in Australia and moving to the cloud with a reliable provider an attainable and transparent one for you - the end user.

Where’s the proof? Choosing an Australian cloud computing provider

As humans, we love (and crave) proof. We don't want to be the first cab of the rank, so to speak, so it’s natural that we will want some sort of proof of what an organisation has done for another one of their clients. It provides us with comfort and instills trust.

Can they provide a report or case study of cloud deployment and execution for a business similar to yours? What problems did they initially encounter, and how have these been smoothed over? Don’t be afraid to ask.

Should you choose Australian cloud servers?

Your cloud provider should be able to realistically help you decide whether your data needs to be stored locally - in Australia - or in a server overseas. Schepisi’s Telstra cloud services have three data centres in Australia, as well as centres in Singapore, Hong Kong, and the UK.

If you’re talking to a cloud provider who cant help you make the local vs. international decision, keep looking. As we’ve stressed many times before, it all comes down to your business needs, and the conclusions we draw from individualised, specified strategies and assessments.

Is your potential cloud provider giving you the time, consideration your business needs?

What kinds of costs will I come across?

You probably correlate cloud computing with the notion ‘pay-as-you-go’, (where you pay for the storage that you use, and no more) but there’s also integration, moving and storage costs. Is your potential cloud vendor upfront and realistic about incurring costs? (If not, run!)

Paying attention to what you buy, and not being blinded by fancy words, appealing promises and hyped-up stories is a top priority as a user, consumer, buyer and customer.

Data ownership

Who owns my data, even when it’s been deployed to the cloud? What happens if I want to move back into my own data centre, or change cloud providers?

You’ve probably heard it a thousand times: a blasé “err... let’s just cross that bridge when we get to it”. Most definitely not the right approach here! Make sure it’s contractually clear any costs you may incur if - for whatever reason - you want to move data back to your own servers or to another vendor.

Wait, back up. What about back up?

Two important questions: how often is data backed up? and Can you do it more often if I want? 

This is just one of the many factors of a cloud strategy that you might want to change to better suit your needs. So if your prospective cloud provider isn't giving you the opportunity to tweak a solution to meet your exact needs, move right along. Your cloud solution should fit your business, and not the other way around!

Downtime history

Obviously not the most ideal outcome, downtime is not, unfortunately, 100 per cent unavoidable. That is not to say, though, that all cloud vendors are the same. Ask potential providers to provide you with a history of their downtime so you can assess the level of reliability you can come to expect. Cloud outage, disruptive, few as possible, ask for a record.

Downtime may also be expected when apps are upgraded. You should investigate how often this happens, typically how long systems are down for, how you might be affected, and what you can do and who to contact if you experience troubling issues.  

Cloud computing security

What happens if some of my data is lost?

This could be a whole other post in itself (wait a minute, it is!)

You need to learn about (and understand! Don’t blindly nod ‘yes’ for fear of looking clueless!) your cloud vendor’s data-protection policy, audit procedures, and data encryption. Do they encrypt all your data? (Answer: they should).

Now what? Organise a cloud computing consultation!

All that’s said is done, right? Not quite! These questions, though, provide an excellent start to a comprehensive cloud vendor consultation, and can help ease your mind when it comes to choosing a provider. Remember, the cloud is not a solution for every business model. 

So what’s the best way to begin? Organise your cloud computing consultation.

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