While the underlying concept of cloud computing has been around for decades, the technology recently has exploded into the mainstream. Interest is spiking because of the many potential benefits that the cloud promises the enterprise, including elimination or reduction of capital expenditures, reduced administrative costs and other burdens, speed of implementation, improved resource utilization, economies of scale, scalability on demand, quick access to the latest technology and many others.
Despite these potential benefits, there are important issues businesses must ask before transferring vital business applications and data to the cloud. For example, will your cloud services integrate easily with your current infrastructure? What service level guarantees are offered? Can you live with providers that want the right to change the service at will? Where will your data be scattered? When your data resides and is processed in the cloud, what data protection and privacy laws apply? Who is responsible if data security is breached? How is your data backed up and how often? What happens if the cloud vendor goes bankrupt or simply vanishes? What exit rights do you have? Can you get your data back in a usable form? What happens in the event of a disaster?
Cloud computing agreements are typically offered as non-negotiable forms and often draw on traditional outsourcing or technology licensing models. However, traditional models often do not cover the particular risks associated with cloud computing. Cloud transactions also commonly require analysis by a range of subject matter experts. For example, privacy, information management and data security strategies are key components of almost every cloud transaction and many times require approaches that actually do not involve the cloud provider, such as limiting the types of data processed in the cloud.
Our lawyers have negotiated cloud computing transactions around the world and we have extensive experience negotiating with the major cloud vendors, including Google, Microsoft, Salesforce.com, AT&T and Workday, as well as many others. Critically, we couple our cloud experience with the resources of our global privacy and data security team, which recently was named the world's leading global privacy practice by Computerworld magazine in each of its four surveys. This combination enables us to anticipate and address your unique issues effectively and creatively.