Adopting a cloud-based service can be so easy just go to a provider's site, enter your credit card information and you're in the cloud.

However, in a typical insurance enterprise, there's a lot to consider before you hit the confirm button on a provider's payment page. Security is just one aspect. Another is the impact on both downstream and upstream applications and processes, which were painstakingly established when we lived in an entirely on-premises world.

Seth Miller, an IT consultant and founder of Miller Systems, for one, says cloud migrations often aren't as easy as they would seem. In a primer over at TechRepublic, he reiterates that a relatively sophisticated enterprise with hundreds of users and applications running across multiple platforms may have a hard time making the move to cloud.

In many cases, on-premises data centers and servers may be operating at fairly decent levels, with low latency and relatively little cost for ongoing data transfers. Moving to the cloud means incurring costs that may not even be on the books yet.

There has already been plenty written about security issues, so Miller does not address this head-on in his analysis. Cloud does raise some management concerns that need to be ironed out. He offers the following tips, which need to be well understood before the cloud deal is sealed:

Understand the volume of your application network traffic, and when the peaks and lulls occur. This is critical during the time of the transition, and could result in some nasty and expensive surprises in terms of bandwidth pricing.

Understand your file sizes. How large are the files that move between applications, or between end-users' desktops and servers? This also could be a more expensive proposition than originally bargained for in terms of potential bandwidth charges.

Don't jump into a desktop-to-cloud migration. There may be a variety of applications or platform types that are not yet available on the cloud.

Don't proceed without the business. Many IT managers have moved to the cloud for cloud's sake, with no apparent benefit to the business.

In a separate article also at TechRepublic, Thoran Rodrigues offers a list of key questions that need to be asked of the vendor before a cloud migration is approved:

- “What security certificates does the provider currently have? Which ones is the provider trying to achieve?"

- "What is the provider’s client list? Who are its most security-minded clients?”

- “How simple is it to move workloads and data into and out of the provider’s cloud?”

- “What is the provider’s vision for the future? What is its roadmap and evolution plans?”

- “What is the provider’s cost structure? How does it charge for different resources?”

- “How does the billing cycle work? What are my payment options?”

- “What kind of service-level agreements and compensation does this provider offer?”

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Joe using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at

This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

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