If you are selecting cloud computing services or if you want to improve your ROI in the cloud, here are 50 questions you\u2019ll want to ask!\nBusiness Objectives \u2013 Identifying Why You Are Moving Into The Cloud\n1. There are as many business objectives for the cloud as there are shades of any color, such as capex to opex budgeting, flexibility, agility, high availability, etc. Why do you want to move to the cloud?\n2. Saying that your objectives are important isn\u2019t enough. How important are these outcomes to the success of your business? Are they all equally important, or can you rank them?\n3. The real test of importance is the resources you are willing to allocate to achieve your objectives. What resources of time, money, and effort are you willing to put in?\nCloud Service Level Agreements (SLAs) \u2013 Guaranteeing Availability, Capacity, Performance, and More\n4. SLAs can be narrow or broad, simple or complex. Check with each cloud service provider (CSP) you are considering: what is included in each SLA? Which best meets your needs?\n5. Definitions can help or hurt you. Are the components of an SLA defined? If so, are the definitions publicly available? Do the definitions leave loopholes that could harm you?\n6. You\u2019d think that SLAs would be straightforward since they are all about numbers. But how are those numbers measured, and how often?\n7. It would be nice if all SLAs were upheld all of the time. But what if an infraction occurs? What are the ramifications for your business?\n8. Don\u2019t make assumptions! What is considered an infraction of the SLA? You and your CSP had better agree!\n9. And one more thing \u2026 is the CSP allowed a remediation period prior to the \u2018SLA Clock\u2019 beginning to tick?\nSecurity \u2013 Guarding The Doors And The Windows\n10. Choices, choices! Is the cloud infrastructure or any of its components single tenant, or is it fully multi-tenant in nature? And what do you want and need?\n11. Speaking of choices, what type of network segmentation is available, and how does that compare to your needs?\n12. Your data is your company\u2019s lifeblood. Who is making sure that it is secure, both in-flight and at rest? You? The CSP? Both of you?\n13. CSPs vary widely in how they monitor access (physically and virtually) to their cloud environments. What controls are acceptable to you? What would raise a red flag?\nCloud Automation \u2013 Deciding How To Streamline Operations\n14. You can do it all! But do you really want to? What functions would you like to automate?\n15. You may know what you\u2019d like to automate, but what level of outside automation will the CSP allow? Does that jive with what you have planned?\n16. Exposed application programming interfaces (APIs) will probably need to be addressed in your move to the cloud. Decide now: do you have the in-house development talent to handle this, or will you need to contract for outside help?\n17. Not all apps can be migrated seamlessly into the cloud. Take a good look: have you written any of your applications for a specific orchestration platform, or are any vendor-specific in some way? If so, will you need to rewrite your applications to move to a new cloud platform, or does the CSP use the same APIs?\nBusiness Continuity And Disaster Recovery \u2013 Keeping Your Business Running \n18. CSPs vary across the map on their stance toward business continuity and disaster recovery (BC\/DR). What stance do you have? What stance do you need your CSP to have?\n19. Resiliency isn\u2019t graded as \u201cPass\/Fail.\u201d It\u2019s graded on a curve. So examine the primary cloud environment you are considering carefully: how would you grade its resiliency?\n20. Some companies are comfortable with one DR facility. Others want multiple facilities. Only you know what is right for you. Ask your CSP: how many facilities are available for DR and where are their locations?\n21. Disasters are a matter of \u201cwhen,\u201d not \u201cif.\u201d So when a disaster hits, how do you want recovery handled? Do you want automated recovery, managed recovery, or manual (DIY) recovery?\n22. Back to those SLAs for a moment \u2026 be sure to probe your CSP on the SLAs provided for recovery point objectives (RPOs) and recovery time objectives (RTOs). Do they meet your needs?\nGovernance, Risk Management, And Compliance \u2013 Keeping Law And Order In The Cloud\n23. Take them one at a time \u2026 what kind of governance stance would you be comfortable with in a CSP?\n24. What about risk management?\n25. And compliance? What are your requirements, what are your clients\u2019 requirements, what are the CSP\u2019s requirements \u2026 and do they all sync up?\n26. There\u2019s no grey area when it comes to adhering to compliance standards! But which compliance standards does the CSP adhere to \u2013 and do they have audit results to prove it?\n27. Ownership can defined \u2013 such as who owns the data that goes into the cloud? Who owns the infrastructure?\n28. In ownership, who has the right to order additional services?\n29. And don\u2019t forget controls: are there controls in place in the cloud that you are considering that will allow you to maintain compliance?\n30. If the controls are not in place, does the CSP allow you enough flexibility to install your own?\nMigration Readiness \u2013 Preparing The Way To The Cloud\n31. Cloud readiness is another area where you grade on a curve \u2013 but this time, you grade yourself. Have you performed a cloud readiness assessment? How \u201cready\u201d are you?\n32. Here\u2019s a critical aspect of cloud readiness you must not overlook: do you know the technical requirements and interdependencies of your machines and the applications that drive them?\n33. And the real kicker \u2026 will the new cloud platform support these requirements?\n34. You also need to determine if you can you move the interdependent applications in bundles to the new platform to avoid outages. If \u201cyes,\u201d do you have the resources to complete the task in addition to the day-to-day operations of your IT team? If \u201cno,\u201d how will you augment the skillsets and\/or manpower to complete the task?\n35. Don\u2019t forget to assess where you are coming from. Is this a greenfield application, or are you moving existing workload(s) into the cloud? If the latter, who will migrate your workloads onto the new cloud platform?\n36. Status quo can be a good thing or a bad thing. It just depends on what the \u201cstatus quo\u201d is. Are you looking for a \u201clift and shift\u201d migration, or will you take this as an opportunity to assess, optimize, and streamline your estate?\nMigration \u2013 Making The Move And Making It Work\n37. Now let\u2019s talk about making the move. For instance, will you be performing the migration or will it be a shared effort?\n38. If the migration will be a shared effort, what would you like the provider to do vs. what you would like to do?\n39. Don\u2019t forget to ask about the migration process. Does the CSP allow the import of virtual machines, or will the migration require you to move the data and applications to new machines, synchronize, and failover in stages?\n40. If you need migration assistance, don\u2019t be shy about asking for proof that the CSP has done it before. Does the CSP perform migrations on a regular basis? If so, what is their success rate for meeting contractual obligations regarding migration, downtime, and data integrity?\n41. In fact, you should ask for documentation upfront. Can the CSP provide you with a comprehensive SOW in advance to show all of the components that they will care for? If components of the migration are absent from the SOW, who is responsible to fill the gap?\n42. Migrations are never without hiccups. Can the provider give you their procedures for change orders during the migration?\nService Termination \u2013 Saying Good-bye\n43. There may come a time when you have to say \u201cgood-bye.\u201d If that time comes, who can terminate the service, and under what conditions?\n44. What is sufficient to terminate service: a call, an email, or written notice?\n45. Never make assumptions where money is concerned! If service is terminated, when will billing cease?\n46. Just because you terminate service, it doesn\u2019t mean your data just \u201cgoes away.\u201d What happens to your data when service is terminated? How do you get your data out?\n47. And one more thing: how are the disks scrubbed prior to being re-allocated to another tenant?\nBilling \u2013 Paying For What You Need\n48. You knew we\u2019d get to the money aspect eventually! Ask some good questions upfront, such as, are there any upfront capital expenditures? Is the bill a set operational expense? How about if you need to take advantage of cloud bursting?\n49. Make sure you understand the billing model. Is it a utility model? If so, how is it calculated and in what increments?\n50. Many people assume that the cloud is automatically cheaper than what they are using now. Calculate your costs \u2013 for preparation, migration, and utilization. What is the bottom line? Is it acceptable to you?\nThe cloud is both complicated and rewarding. Taking the time to answer all the questions that are relevant to your business in the cloud will help bring you the ROI you\u2019ve been looking for!\nThis article was also published on Forbes and Sungard Availability Services.