If you've been an IT solutions provider for more than a year, you're probably well aware of the fact that an IT product you proudly sell and support today could be dropped from your line card next year. There are a myriad of reasons this can happen -- ranging from a change in focus at your company to changes within an IT vendor's organization. When this situation happens with a cloud vendor, however, the break-up can be messy.
The best way to resolve this problem is to address it long before it becomes a real possibility -- ideally even before you sign with the cloud provider. And, the best advice to follow comes from the late business self-help coach Dr. Stephen R. Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. According to Covey, the second habit of highly effective people is that they "begin with the end in mind." The way this concept applies to choosing a cloud backup vendor partner is to find out upfront the vendor’s policies for giving your data back and helping you migrate to a new platform if you decide to cancel with them down the road. What you're really trying to avoid here is getting into a legal dispute over a cloud provider holding your customers’ data hostage or returning the data in an unreadable, proprietary file format.
Be sure to ask these hard question before you start doing business with the cloud provider. Here are a few questions to consider:
1. What happens to my data if your company goes out of business?
2. What happens if I want to cancel my contract with your company? How quickly and in what format will my data be returned to me?
4. How can I be assured that no unauthorized copies of my data will remain with your company?
5. Do your termination procedures comply with industry guidelines such as HIPAA and Sarbanes Oxley?
Asking probing questions upfront and getting your answers in writing are two necessities to have in place before selecting a cloud provider. You can't control how your business needs may change down the road nor what new directions your cloud provider may take in the future, but at least if you know that going into the relationship there's a viable exit strategy, the possibility of having a messy break-up down the road will be lessened.