Proceed with caution when dealing with cloud contractors

August 1, 2013

Proceed with caution when dealing with cloud contractors

The speed and efficiency offered by the cloud are often too good for many organizations to pass up. In fact, a June 2012 study from the Nonprofit Technology Network revealed more than 9 in 10 nonprofits use some kind of hosted software and about 80 percent use several different cloud-based services. Those numbers have likely gone up in the past year, but organizations still face some problems when it comes to cloud implementation.

Cloud contracts are a cause for concern
The inherent risks of the online storage solution are apparent and cloud contractors need to do a better job of being transparent when forming agreements with their clients, according to a recent Gartner study. The research firm projects that over the course of the next two years, 80 percent of IT procurement professionals will want information for risk management purposes written in their contracts with cloud providers. With all of the critical donor information that nonprofits plan to store in their online storage solution, decision-makers must ensure that they go over their arrangement with cloud companies with a fine-tooth comb.

"Whatever term is used to describe the specifics of the service-level agreement, IT procurement professionals expecting their data to be protected from attack, or to be restorable in case of an incident, must ensure their providers are contractually obligated to meet those expectations," said Alexa Bona, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

Nonprofit decision-makers must be more proactive
Migrating to the cloud can be stressful for nonprofit leaders, but it is imperative that they are able to negotiate with providers to ensure the security of their data. An article from the Nonprofit Technology Network said that before signing any contracts with cloud vendors, decision-makers must make sure they have the latest security defenses, as well as policies in place that require them to perform background checks on their own employees. Furthermore, cloud contracts, or SLAs, should always clearly state whether the client or provider is responsible for things like regulatory compliance or ensuring data is backed up.  

"Concerns about the risk ramifications of cloud computing are increasingly motivating security, continuity, recovery, privacy and compliance managers to participate in the buying process led by IT procurement professionals," Bona said.

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