The cloud is growing at an annual rate of 22 percent and is projected to come in at $178 billion in 2018, according to Forrester Research. There is no question: The cloud is where companies are investing heavily. One topic we rarely hear about is the legal side involving contracts with these providers. Full disclosure: I am not an attorney, but a CIO with more than 25 years of experience, and I have negotiated many contracts with in-house council and cloud providers.

When signing a cloud contract, pay particular attention to these five tenets. This is where a number of organizations miss the mark, and endure challenges walking away from cloud providers without their data and wallet intact.

Listed below are several items you should consider before signing on the dotted line.

1. Clearly state your data egress terms and conditions

When you leave a cloud provider, you want your data back. And, you want it in a readable format. During the signing of a new contact, nobody wants to discuss breaking the agreement, so this is often overlooked or swept under the carpet. The time to negotiate your potential early exit is before you ink the contract. Many cloud provides charge a small fortune for returning your data. Depending on the size, this could be a significant dollar amount. These data egress terms should also include commitments from the vendor to assist in the extraction and preformatting of your data into a useable state. Expect to pay a fee for this but negotiate the amount in advance to avoid sticker shock. Document all these services and charges up front.