I recently had the privilege to speak at the Chicago Bar Association where they hosted a seminar and panel; Introduction To Cloud Computing and the Virtual Office which included an overview of the technical aspects of cloud technology as well as insights from practitioners operating out of the “virtual” office. For my session, I presented a technical overview on Cloud Computing and then participated on the panel with fellow panelists: R. Andrew Smith, Stephen Hoffman and moderator, Justin Heather.
While cloud computing seems to be ubiquitous in conversations overheard in enterprise IT as well as conversations about cloud services for the home consumer, cloud computing is still quite young in the retail market place and has a lot of growing to do. There was a great Q&A period for the panel where we addressed questions about security, platforms, applications and support. One of the surprising things that came up, and in an ironic way considering it was a room full of attorneys, was the notion of reading the End User License Agreement (EULA) and Service Level Agreement (SLA).
The EULA & SLA spell out not only what the services are that the cloud company is providing to you but also; the service level (availability of the service, disaster recovery and support), the level of security of your data, the level of privacy of your data to either the company, 3rd party companies or other applications, and other critical considerations.
It’s clear that cloud services can be a tremendous boon for different companies of various sizes and in different industries. However, subscribers need to take the time to educate themselves and get informed about the kinds of services they are receiving, the services limitations, and look ahead towards their exit strategy. You never know when your cloud provider might stop offering their services, change their services, or you want to change providers. How are you going to migrate your data and applications to another cloud service? It’s not as easy as you think.