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Defying gravity: How to get to the cloud without falling down

Defying gravity: How to get to the cloud without falling down

Why deliberating data sovereignty and cloud lock-in will help you pick the right provider

Canadian enterprise is in the midst of a massive digital transformation as businesses continue to abandon pricey on-premises hardware and move to the cloud. But while many companies are simply looking for a quick and easy solution—and there are plenty of those—they often don't realize that the key to taking full advantage of this revolutionary transition lies assessing your needs ahead of talking to potential providers.

The benefits of cloud services are no secret. These include dynamic updates (without interruption), guaranteed uptime, round-the-clock troubleshooting and support, and saved capital. However, you can avoid a few pitfalls if you ask yourself the following questions before talking to a prospective provider:

Do I need to be worried about where my company's data will reside?

If your data physically resides on servers in another country—or are housed on servers in Canada, but which are owned by a foreign company—it’s not clear whose jurisdiction governs the data. It can get even more confusing if rules change in one jurisdiction versus another. It’s easier and less risky if you ensure your data falls within Canada’s jurisdiction alone. This issue—known as data sovereignty—should be of vital concern to any company or organization that retains sensitive information. In fact, government and healthcare organizations are legally required to ensure that their data resides within Canada.

One of your first priorities should be to determine your company's data sovereignty and data security needs, and then create a shortlist of cloud service providers that meet your specific requirements. Remember: if you have a local, provincial or the federal government as just one of your many clients, you may be obliged to keep your data within Canada and managed by a Canadian service provider.

Am I in danger of getting locked into a specific cloud service?

Short answer: Yes, especially when you sign up with a large cloud provider (a.k.a., a “hyperscaler”). Cloud lock-in, as it’s called, results from the following issues that almost inevitably emerge with such providers:

  • Cost barrier: If you want to move your data out, you’ll have to pay for it.
  • Technology barrier: It’s not easy to move a specific workload from one cloud to another.
  • Skills barriers: It requires hard-to-find expertise to move workloads from traditional on-premises infrastructure to the cloud and back.

To avoid these issues, consider designing a multi-cloud solution—i.e., implementing more than one data centre service—that meets your company's fluctuating needs. For instance, to maintain 100% control of your data, leverage a colocation service to store it, and consider using a public cloud to provide analytics and computing services. Just remember to be wary of creating interoperability issues that might complicate daily processes.

You'll know when you’ve met the right one

Most cloud services deliver reliable uptime and make infrastructure expenses much more manageable, but offerings can vary when it comes to data security and the framework of your ongoing business relationship. Take your time to do the proper research on data sovereignty, performance requirements, costs and required skills; you don’t want to be repatriating workloads due to unexpected costs, poor performance or compliance issues. You can then meet providers armed with the right questions and find out who’s willing to cater to your company's specific needs. Finally, with a shrewd cloud migration strategy, your company has little to fear and has plenty to gain.