Guest author Seth Payne is a senior product manager at Skytap.

The rapid emergence of cloud computing is part of a fundamental shift in how IT services are developed and delivered. There are plenty of upsides: The cloud is faster to deploy, allows businesses to be more agile, flexible and innovative, and can often lower overall costs.

But cloud computing also introduces new risks for technical managers. Questions regarding security, data ownership and reliability of the cloud are justifiably top of mind for CIOs and other IT managers.

Time To Stop Hugging Your Servers

When enterprises embrace cloud computing they are, in essence, entrusting a portion of their IT operations to a third party – an outsider. Relying on a cloud provider makes them an integral part of various IT operations, so it is imperative that cloud providers and the enterprises they work with find ways to transcend the traditional, transactional relationship and enter into a truly cooperative partnership.

So, how can cloud providers and enterprises build a cooperative, trust-based partnership?

Communication Comes First

To set the stage, clear lines of communication should be in place so that when issues inevitably arise, enterprises and cloud providers can work together to find resolutions – without pointing fingers and playing blame games.

Cloud providers must hold up their end by offering complete transparency when it comes to their policies, underlying infrastructure and support/maintenance procedures.

While operational risk is inherent when adopting any cloud platform, most enterprise consumers recognize that no IT implementation, whether cloud or on-premises, can be undertaken without some degree of risk.

Cloud providers can help mitigate any concerns by clearly outlining potential risks and the procedures in place to deal with them. Key areas for discussion should include

  • High-level storage, compute and networking architectures
  • Datacenter specifications
  • Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for outages, and recovery plans
  • Disaster mitigation processes

What Enterprises Need To Do

Enterprise cloud consumers must also play an active role in building a cooperative partnership with cloud providers. The importance of clearly communicating the planned use of the cloud services they’re buying cannot be overstated. Sharing a realistic and accurate plan allows cloud vendors to provide the best possible performance and user experience – as well as mold their offerings to meet the enterprise’s present and future needs.

There is no doubt that IT will continue its march toward cloud computing – the benefits are just too compelling to ignore. But enterprises moving to the cloud have to understand that they are not simply purchasing a specific product or service. Rather, they are entering into a core partnership with their cloud provider.

With up-front communication and transparency on both sides, cloud providers and enterprise IT can adjust to this new paradigm together as they work to design and deploy better solutions to increasingly complex technology problems.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.