Cloud Services Due Diligence Checklist

Clearly identify your objectives and requirements before choosing a cloud service provider.

How to use the checklist

Microsoft created the Cloud Services Due Diligence Checklist, instructions, and worksheet to meet business needs with a standardized approach.

Photograph of person wearing headphones seated at a counter touching the screen of a laptop
Photograph of two people standing in a high-end factory space talking and pointing while one holds a Surface in tablet mode

Formalized service specifications

Once you know your objectives and requirements you can create formalized service specifications to address the business needs cloud service providers require to build an appropriate response.

How the checklist helps organizations exercise due diligence

The checklist promotes a thoroughly vetted move to the cloud, provides structured guidance, and a consistent, repeatable approach for choosing a cloud service provider.


Cloud adoption is no longer simply a technology decision. Because checklist requirements touch on every aspect of an organization, they serve to convene all key internal decision-makers—the CIO and CISO as well as legal, risk management, procurement, and compliance professionals. This will increase the efficiency of the decision-making process and ground decisions in sound reasoning, thereby reducing the likelihood of unforeseen roadblocks to adoption. In the case of Convergent Computing, a San Francisco-based IT consulting firm, they used the checklist to bring consensus to an otherwise chaotic decision process and reduced the decision cycle from a six-month process down to six weeks.


Learn how the Cloud Services Due Diligence Checklist helps protect you.

Download how the checklist helps protect organizations

The checklist provides

Key topics for decision makers

Highlights key discussion topics for decision-makers at the beginning of the cloud adoption process.

Support thorough business discussions

The checklist provides support thorough business discussions about regulations and objectives.

Help identifying potential issues

The checklist helps organizations identify any potential issues that could affect a cloud project.

Consistent questions

Consistent questions for every cloud service provider to simplify comparing different offerings.

Forrester Research study results

Cloud service agreement infographic

Cloud service agreement video

Microsoft commissioned Forrester Consulting to evaluate the current state of cloud agreements against the elements of the ISO/IEC 19086-1 Standard. View results of the study in a short video.

Cloud service agreement report

Why Microsoft created the Due Diligence Checklist

Microsoft developed the Cloud Services Due Diligence Checklist to help organizations exercise due diligence as they consider a move to the cloud. It provides a structure for an organization of any size and type—private businesses and public sector organizations, including government at all levels and nonprofits—to identify their own performance, service, data management, and governance objectives and requirements. This allows them to compare the offerings of different cloud service providers, ultimately forming the basis for a cloud service agreement.

The checklist provides a framework that aligns clause-by-clause with a new international standard for cloud service agreements, ISO/IEC 19086. This standard offers a unified set of considerations for organizations to help them make decisions about cloud adoption, as well as create a common ground for comparing cloud service offerings.

Microsoft has been an active member of the panel of experts that developed this standard over a three-year period. The checklist distills the standard’s 37 pages into a simpler, two-page document that organizations can use to negotiate a cloud service agreement that meets their business objectives. Because it is grounded in the new standard, the checklist is service- and provider-neutral, applying to any organization requiring cloud services and any cloud service provider.

ISO/IEC 19086-1 standard ISO/IEC 19086-1 cloud SLA framework


ISO/IEC 19086-1 is the first of a new four-part international standard that establishes a framework and terminology for cloud service level agreements (SLAs). It offers a unified set of considerations for organizations considering cloud adoption, and common terminology so they can more easily compare cloud services and providers to ultimately establish an SLA.

The standard was created by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). The ISO is an independent non-governmental organization and the world’s largest developer of voluntary international standards; the IEC is the world’s leading organization for the preparation and publication of international standards for electronic, electrical, and related technologies. Over a period of years, a joint ISO/IEC subcommittee created ISO/IEC 19086-1; Microsoft was one of many member organizations that participated.

The goal was to create a simpler document that organizations considering a move to the cloud, as well as cloud service providers, could use to create a cloud service agreement. Microsoft has been involved with the panel of experts that developed the ISO/IEC 19086 standard, and took on the work of distilling the 37 pages of the standard into the two-page Cloud Services Due Diligence Checklist. Note, however, that this is not a Microsoft-specific checklist; it applies to all organizations and cloud service providers.

Organizations should convene stakeholders from across the company to discuss how each checklist item applies to the organization, and specifically to the cloud project. The team can determine minimal requirements, weigh the importance of each item in the list, and assign responsibility for each item. Organizations are then in a better position to ask providers to respond to each of the considerations in the checklist, compare responses, and decide which provider best meets their organizational objectives.

Additional resources

Graphic icon of a shield with an exclamation point in the middle

Protection for you

How the Cloud Services Due Diligence Checklist helps protect you.

Graphic icon of three stacked boxes with checkmarks

Watch an instruction guide

Cloud Services Due Diligence Checklist instructions guide.

Cloud Services Due Diligence Checklist