Choosing Cloud Provider: 6 Questions You Should Ask

TWALKITOUT:: GUEST POST: A lot has been said about the benefits of switching your business to the cloud: saving costs, increasing productivity, increasing security, streamlining workflow. So having considered these benefits, you decided to move your documents to the cloud. The next step you have to make is to choose a cloud provider. This task is always challenging, because there are no obvious answers to questions such as which cloud provider is the best for you, should you trust a particular provider or not etc. Today we’ll try to answer these and other questions and give some recommendations to keep in mind when choosing cloud provider. So let’s get into it.

CLOUD

1. What type of cloud service do you need?

In order to benefit from cloud computing, you have to understand what your company’s needs are, which type of cloud services will satisfy these needs and which cloud providers offer the best solution. There are several types of cloud computing offerings:

  • Infrastructure as a service (IaaS): the most basic cloud-service model; vendors supply physical or virtual machines, your business uses that infrastructure and pays for capacity and storage.
  • Platform as a service (PaaS): the cloud provider deliver a computing platform, typically including operating system, programming language execution environment, database, and web server.
  • Software as a service (SaaS): the cloud provider installs and operates application software in the cloud and cloud users access the software from cloud clients.
  • Network as a service (NaaS): the cloud provider deliver network services over the Internet on a pay-per-use or subscription basis.

Once you’ve understood which type of cloud offerings is best for you business, you have to determine your company’s needs, such as the volume of data you need to store, how much computer power is needed etc. This way you pay only for a certain amount of services instead of purchasing services or storage you don’t actually need. Make sure that the chosen cloud vendor can provide you with the flexibility and scalability to fit the size/growth and demands of your organization.

2. How good is your potential cloud provider?

It’s a good idea to run a background check on your potential cloud vendor before making a final decision. Try to find as much information as possible about the company, paying special attention to customer feedback. If possible, contact these individuals or organizations and ask if they are fully satisfied with the services provided. Try to rate your potential provider on several aspects such as security level, customer service, risk management, critical problems handling and others.

3. Who’s responsible for the security of your data?

Is your potential cloud provider willing to take on full responsibility for your data? Those providers who offer a complete set of cloud services usually take responsibility for everything including the security of stored data, processes and infrastructure maintenance, and so on. But many cloud providers are willing to take responsibility only for maintaining physical and environmental security, which means that your IT department have to accept the rest of the responsibility.

So it’s very important to understand the level of responsibility your cloud prouder will take for your data. You also need to discuss this issue with your IT department to confirm that this level is suitable for your company.

4. Where is your data located?

The location and security of data centers, where your information is stored, is very important. It’s a good idea to ask your cloud vendor what the exact location of your data is and how they’re protecting the data from natural disasters, thieves and other threats. So how to make sure that your data is fully protected? A Standards for Attestation Engagements 16 (SSAE 16) certification guarantees that offerings provided by a cloud vendor or another service provider, are compliant with the industry security standards, including data center physical security, customer access and privacy.

5. What level of service availability do you need?

Is a high level of availability crucially important for you? If you’re moving a highly critical business application to the cloud, then probably yes. In this case it’s extremely important for the cloud service to always be available. But you may not need a high level of availability if your application isn’t business critical and only used occasionally. If there are any limitations on your application accessibility, discuss them with your provider. Again, determine your company’s needs and then make sure that your potential cloud provider can satisfy them.

6. How good is their customer service?

Make sure your cloud vendor provides you with a high level of customer service. First of all, it’s highly recommended to sign a service level agreement (SLA) so you clearly understand the rights and responsibilities of both sides. If you get any chance to communicate with other clients of your potential cloud vendor, try to find out how responsive the company is in terms of customer service. Do they respond to phone calls? In case of a problem, are they ready to solve the problem right away or do they simply ignore it? Do they answer clients’ questions about the technology and software being used? You want to make sure that the cloud vendor is honest and transparent in discussing any aspect of your partnership.

So before diving into the cloud, take the time to do your own research and think through each of these aspects. This way you’ll be able to find a cloud service provider which suits your needs the best and benefit from moving your business to the cloud. Would you like to share your own experience or give some advice? Please feel free to post your comments below!

About Guest Author:: Kate Podorvanova is a Social Media Marketer at GroupDocs – a cloud-based service for online document sharing, collaboration and management.

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Anuj Sharma

I am based out of Shimla. Writing is my passion, and a part of my livelihood. I started writing here almost 3+ years ago and couldn't stop ever!! Apart from Twalkitout, I run an E-Commerce consulting Company named Omex E-commerce Pvt. Ltd. out of Shimla.

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