Are You Selling Trust and Transparency In Your Cloud Approach?
MSPs build trust with customers and prospects by providing transparency in their approach to cloud data storage and cloud-based file sharing.
Because many businesses are cautious about making the transition to cloud computing. When customers move their data and applications to the cloud, they’re relinquishing some of their control. Of course, many find this disturbing. In this environment, how can you alleviate stress and establish trust?
One critical component of building trust is transparency. Merely claiming your services are secure and reliable isn’t enough. Transparency gives customers information about not just what you can promise, but also how you’re going to fulfill that promise.
How can you achieve transparency? How can you tailor your cloud approach to build trust? Proactively answer some questions about your services. When it comes to data, security, and availability, you should be ready to answer such questions as:
Where is customer data processed and stored?
This includes both the physical servers and the virtual locations within the cloud. This key question helps identify both the risks to customer data and your strategies to mitigate them.
What intermediate data is generated during processing?
Is it used within one site or transferred among multiple sites? How is it protected and stored? Does the customer retain ownership of intermediate data?
How many copies of the customer data will be kept – and where?
This concerns both where and how long source data, intermediate data, and results data will be retained. How will copies of the data be destroyed?
What are the security profiles of the sites where data is processed and stored?
General security issues to be addressed include identity management, access control, virtual machine protection, and in-image data protection. Cloud-specific security issues must also be considered, including both unintentional breaches (such as data leakage from shared hardware) and intentional breaches (such as cross-VM attacks).
What MSP employees and third-party organizations have access to the data?
This isn’t only about who has access, but also what privileges they have. And how will customers know when their data has been accessed by another party?
How is data protected during transport?
Data may be exposed to the public or other cloud users when it’s moved within the system. How is in-transit data protected?
What legal protections do customers have?
Data may be stored, processed, and transferred through multiple states and countries. What legal protections do customers have in each location? This may be especially important in light of both recent concerns about government surveillance and U.S. government legal claims over data stored on foreign servers.
How will availability of both the data and applications be ensured?
Although normal SLAs specify what the contracted availability is, this concerns how availability is ensured. What specific availability, reliability, and resiliency methods do you use?
This list may seem intimidating, but that’s partly the point. Cloud computing is intimidating to many customers, and to earning their trust means answering some daunting questions.
Still, this list is just a starting point. What questions you ask – and answer – are up to you, and, ultimately, you need to ask the questions that are important to your customers. This will enable you to earn client trust by delivering both the services and the answers that are needed.