The cloud environment is complex. Failure to comply with cloud regulation can simply mean the end of a business and the breakdown of your professional reputation. It is imperative that when selecting a cloud provider, you ensure that they operate to your business and their service is tailored to your needs.
Whether it be disaster recovery, back-up or other cloud-based infrastructures, you must understand that every aspect of your service must be complaint, why? Because you are purely responsible over your business’s compliance! Whether it’s during a failover event or in your general day-to-day operations, your auditor and customers will demand organised and clear regulatory compliance. Since your cloud needs to maintain compliance as well as your on-site operations, it is essential that you utalise a cloud provider that runs their environment like you would.
Before you move into the cloud, you must understand what cloud service works best for your compliance needs, what to expect from the audit process and how you can get all the information you need from you cloud provider to pass your audit with flying colours.
The bread and butter
Cloud services are often multi-faceted. It is important that you are across all components of your cloud services and are confident they are all compliant. The first step to doing this is know what services your business requires…
DRaaS: Your compliant and secure environment is constantly generating reports, however when a disaster hits, your systems will flip over to cloud backups using DRaaS to keep your business ticking along while you go into repair mode on your off-cloud operations. Eventually you will flip back to your original systems, but in a stressful time of recovery many will forget to report and comply. Ensure your cloud-based systems are generating the right reports when disaster strikes.
Backup: You backup to restore information that has been lost or compromised but also, you backup to comply with an increasing number of regulations that occur in the industry. Many companies will have internal recall time periods. Some will be multiple months or years. You need to be sure that your backup plan is effective and sustainable in the long-term to house old files.
IaaS: One of the main reasons business owners will prologue their move to the more scalable, nibble and flexible operations of the cloud, is because of ambiguity and concern over cloud compliance. You need to guarantee that your cloud vendor can help you navigate through these complexities as well as provide internal and external support during an audit. Sourcing the right vendor will mean you will be able to focus on more business-critical tasks and relieve that stress that is inevitable during a compliancy audit.
Failing to plan is planning to fail
One of the main pain points of a compliance audit is that many business leaders will not plan on their processes to deal with an audit. Audit processes go most smoothly when you work hand in hand with you cloud service provider and allow yourself plenty of time. A lack of communication between you and your cloud service provider will extend all steps of the process. For example, having to notify your cloud provider of an audit, then having to request documentation, to then receiving a packet of generic information which isn’t much help, to then a review follow up. This is all a very reactive rather than proactive process which should be avoided. Cloud service providers who do the simple things well, like helping you generate all required reports promptly, will allow you to save your time and money. Paying for your auditors to sit around and wait for you to produce your reports is money burnt. You should look for a cloud service provider who will be able to cut the auditing process down to no longer than 1.5 days, including the added time to produce any additional documentation that is required. Many cloud service provider’s customers will be occupied with an auditing process of up to 8 days, this shows they are not working collaboratively with you, subsequently burning a big hole in your pockets and crippling your business!
Take it slow!
Navigating cloud compliance can be a daunting process which can drive away IT professionals out of a fear of compliance in the cloud. Have no fear! You are more than entitled to ask your cloud provider for as much information as you need. The number one tip when choosing a cloud service provider take extra time upfront in the sales process and make sure they know your business as well as you do. Make sure they understand your needs and understand every aspect of what they offer. Your cloud service provider is like your boyfriend or girlfriend… Get to know each other first before you get serious! Here are some basic things you must ask your potential provider to ensure you get to understand their services:
- Are they fully and independently audited?
- What compliance technologies and staff do they have in place?
- Are there reporting capabilities available? If so, can they report ad-hoc reporting?
- Do they have a compliance-oriented customer support team that is dedicated to all things compliance?