You need to get definitive answers to three fundamental questions:
- Is it secure?
- Is it reliable?
- Does the application offer a comprehensive Open API?
Lets dig in a little deeper on each of these questions.
Is it Secure?
You should not store your data just anywhere. Moving your data out of your data center and into the cloud definitely has risks associated with it. You should be very certain that the vendor you select to house your most valuable asset has all its t's crossed and i's dotted before you make the jump. The good news is there are industry certifications out there like SAS 70, SSAE 16, SOC 2 and SOC 3 auditing standards for data centers. Make sure you understand what these are and whether the data center in which this cloud application will be housed have these certifications where applicable.
Is it reliable?
Reliability is all about transparency. Companies like Google and Salesforce.com have a 'TRUST' site where they openly share how reliable they have been over time. Don't take the vendors word for it. Ask for the facts before you move your most critical applications to somebody else's data center. Below are links to examples of how the best known cloud providers present this data.
Does the application offer a comprehensive Open API?
I am sure you have heard the saying, "it is all about the data." Put more accurately, it's all about your data and making sure you can get to your data when and however you need to. In the last few years, many legacy application providers have suddenly declared their applications have moved to the cloud.
Well that is all fine but you should investigate what they mean in terms of security and reliability and more importantly you should make sure that this application has a full set of open Application Programming Interfaces (API's), which will provide you with anytime access to your data.
So what does the above really mean from an end user perspective? I am not talking about being able to just export your data should you choose to move to a new vendor. I am talking about being able to build integrations between your data and other applications, which may reside in your data center or in some other cloud.
The fact is that today IT infrastructure is all about ecosystems and if this new application does not have a fully developed API library then there is no way they can be part of any such ecosystem. And let's just say this is not good.
So, when I get asked, "should I move my applications to the cloud?" my answer is in turn a series of questions. If you can answer those questions in the affirmative then you should be good to go. If not then further investigation is required. Perhaps it's time to consider bringing in a good advisor.