Choosing the right Cloud Service Provider

So, you’ve decided to make the leap to the cloud.  Great!  Where do you start?

It’s important to choose the right Cloud Service Provider so that you don’t run into problems later.  When you choose the service provider, look at things like how long the company has been providing cloud services and how much uptime has there been during this period.  You want to make sure that the provider’s technologies are compatible with your company’s technology.  And you need to make sure you have a list of your requirements to use as you look into whether or not that vendor can meet your requirements.

This article, “10 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Cloud Provider“, provides a list of 10 things you can ask providers as you shop around to find the right provider for your needs.

Here are the ten questions that Kim LaChance Shandrow lists in the article:

“1. Which Cloud Services do you provide?

 2. What is your pricing structure?

3. How secure is your cloud?

4. Where is your data center, and how safe is it?

5. What happens if you lose my data?

6. What customer support services do you offer?

7. Can your cloud scale up to meet my business needs?

8. What’s your downtime history?

9. How will I get set up?

10. How will I access my company’s cloud

There are some very good points in this article.  For Cost: you should only pay for what you use.  That’s the way the Cloud is set up.  Research pricing, make sure you are not being charged for stuff you don’t need.  Also, there should be no big investment to get set up.  There may be set up fees involved, but one of the benefits of cloud computing is that you are not making a huge investment up front for equipment, etc.  If you feel that a provider is asking for an unreasonable amount of money up front, find a different provider!

About Security:  Make sure that the provider you choose has adequate security measures in place to keep your data secure.  Do they have firewalls?  How about Anti-Virus protection?  Do they have user authentication and encryption standards in place?  Do they do regular monitoring/auditing?  Also, where (Physically) is the data being stored?  Physical security is just as important as virtual security – if someone can get to the equipment, they can wreak havoc and cost you money.

I hope if you are reading this, you have a disaster recovery plan in place for your organization.  It’s important to make sure you know what the SLA (Service Level Agreement) says about how they plan act in the case of data loss.   Make sure you ask them about their history of data loss and know what the agreement says.  Do they have a  system in place to recover data?  If there is a loss of data, will they compensate you and how?

Remember, you are giving this company access and charge over your information.  Make sure you research them like you would a caregiver coming into your home to care for your children in your absence.  You want to make sure they are trustworthy and are not going to cause your business to suffer a loss if it can be prevented.

References:

LaChance Shandrow, K.  (June 3, 2013).  10 Questions to Ask when Choosing a Cloud Provider.  Retrieved from:  http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/226845

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