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Questions cloud providers should answer

Cloud providers will need to answer more in-depth infrastructure questions.

As more customers become cloud-savvy, it is likely that businesses will come to their providers with a larger array of questions regarding their services. Traditional business-centric questions will likely need to be answered in the form of service-level agreements with clear availability provisions. However, ZDNet contributor Heather Clancy recently suggested that companies could see a greater benefit from also asking about the cloud infrastructure supporting their solutions. 

While businesses are starting to develop applications within cloud environments, there is still a significant amount of data that needs to be migrated when adopting a new solution. As a result, Clancy noted that it is important to understand the company's existing storage hardware and whether the cloud provider's platform is optimized for it. Interoperability is another core concern, particularly for companies that utilize a number of different cloud services and must connect assets in disparate systems.

"As one really great example, Box has developed a service called Box Embed, an HTML 5 technology that basically lets you access files stored on the Box service from within certain cloud applications," Clancy wrote. "As of early February 2013, the service features native integration with NetSuite, Oracle Fusion CRM, Sugar CRM, Zendesk and IBM Connections, and support for additional applications should be added in the coming months."

The ability to move data around and access applications, regardless of the device used, has become an essential component of cloud-powered collaboration. One example of this is a recent partnership between the Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium and the Cycle One team. The project will include the development of cloud infrastructure to share information from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to non-NGA users. To test the feasibility and potential value of its project, the NGA plans to provide data to depict the 2010 Haiti earthquake scenario. Tip Slater, NCOIC director of business development, commented on the cloud's ability to allow the global online community to share insight with government agencies and potentially contribute to improved response and operational models.