The ease with which one can start using cloud computing services seems to lead some organizations to bypass traditional competitive bidding processes such as requests for proposal (RFP). I recently advised on a statewide RFP for cloud-computing services, and it was not only an effective way to compare and identify the best offerings, but it also served as an excellent starting point for the cloud-computing contract.
As you draft the questions that make up the RFP, your cloud-computing contract will be shaping up as well. Every issue that's important to consider when developing a cloud-computing contract should also be addressed in the RFP. And by asking multiple vendors how they propose to fulfill your needs, you not only obtain a firm understanding of the relative benefits provided by each vendor, but you also gain insight into where additional negotiations may be needed and what each vendor's starting point in those negotiable areas may be.
If you have built a team to address cloud risk-mitigation issues, it can play a key role on the RFP team by developing RFP questions and evaluating vendors' responses in relation to their particular areas of expertise and responsibility.