Cloud services are a must-have for any business to be competitive in today’s market. From the smallest startup to the largest multinational, a good cloud service allows you and your employees to access, transmit, and create data from anywhere that you may find yourself.
Shopping for a cloud provider can be tricky business and it’s imperative that you ask the right questions before diving in with a company. Here are eleven of the most important questions to ask before selecting a cloud service provider.
What do I want?
Ask yourself this question before you even talk to a cloud provider. Do you need to simply backup data? Do you want a comprehensive application-hosting suite? A way to access your desktop from anywhere? Some companies won’t need all of the features that cloud providers may provide, so take the time and assess your current needs.
What is your security like?
This is especially important for companies that deal with sensitive information, such as merchants and those in healthcare. Even a bare-bones cloud provider should utilize antivirus software, firewalls, multiple methods of user authentication, data encryption, security audits, and a means to react to threats.
How do you back your data up?
When searching for a great cloud service provider, you’ll want to take into account what their backup system is like. Consider whether they have physical backups, offsite backups, and security for those physical backups from thieves and natural disaster.
What is your pricing structure?
Your cloud service solution should be strictly pay as you go. Upfront costs shouldn’t be brought up unless they’re willing to do all of the installation and setup for you. Outside of that, you should only be charged for how much you use on a monthly basis.
What is your uptime/downtime history?
Every cloud service provider has downtime. That’s simply the nature of computing. But how do they handle downtime? Do they have a redundant system that takes over in those cases or is it a total blackout? What’s their downtime history?
Is it easy to setup?
Setting up your cloud should be quick and easy: add administrators and those who can access the information and then back up your data and applications.
Is it easy to access?
Barring the obvious security measures, your cloud service provider should provide an easy way to access the cloud for those with the proper credentials.
Can you follow the regulations in my region? Do you have any regulations in your region?
Every region has different restrictions and regulations. Check with the cloud service provider to determine whether their restrictions and regulations differ from yours and, if so, whether those restrictions and regulations help or hinder your business’ goals.
Is it scalable?
As with everything related to business, your cloud service solution should be easily scalable as your business expands. If there is a limit to what you can do with your cloud in the future, it may be best to look elsewhere.
How do you manage loss of data? Do you have any loss of data issues?
Ideally this won’t be an issue. But if it does happen, how would they deal with it. Check their Service Level Agreement and determine how they compensate for such an event and what methods they have to prevent those events from occurring.
What is the customer support like?
If you have trouble, who do you turn to? You want a company that is easy to get ahold of on your schedule, has a knowledgeable staff, and can guide you through any troubleshooting you may need.