What to Look for When Choosing a Cloud Provider

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A cloud provider sounds like such a simple concept — perhaps even a one-size-fits-all solution to your business data housing needs. The problem is that not all cloud providers are created equal. Choosing the right one for your business needs will take all the pain out of the process, allowing your business to experience the peace and tranquility that the name “cloud computing” implies. Below are a few details you need to consider when selecting the cloud provider you’re willing to trust with your data.

Pricing Clarity

While pricing in itself is important for most businesses, understanding the price you’re paying and what you’re getting for that price is even more important when dealing with data centers and space in the cloud. But, pricing can be confusing.

Pricing models don’t always adequately explain to consumers what they are getting in return for their investment. In many ways, cloud technology is still the Wild West of the World Wide Web. It even has a language that feels completely new and foreign to the average business person. Look for companies that either have clear and concise pricing models or someone willing and able to explain it to you in a satisfactory manner.

Support Concerns and Availability

Know what you’re getting when it comes to support. Many companies offer some free support time but then charge a quarter-hour or hourly rate once the free support hours have been utilized.

The key is to know that support is available if you need it — and just how supportive that support may be. After all, you may be adept at your business, but cloud computing is a new technology, and there is a learning curve involved in adapting it to your needs, bending it to your will, and making it work for your business.

Find out how supportive the company is by reading online reviews, checking out social media, and looking for news reports on the Internet about what the data center in question has to offer.

The three main concerns, when it comes to support, are:

  1. Cost
  2. Quality
  3. Availability

Make sure you know what you need to know about these areas of concern before you join forces with one cloud service over another.

You also need to understand how support is delivered and offered. Is it a ticket system? Email? Phone? Keep this in mind as you decide whether or not you’re getting a good value for your investment. If not, choose a provider that’s more in keeping with your business needs and values.

Scalability Options

Businesses are constantly evolving. Change is the one thing you can count on above all else. What you need to count on with your cloud provider is the ability of the provider to scale with you, large or small, as your business waxes and wanes.

Reliability

Perhaps the most important consideration for businesses that understand the pricing scale and are fortunate enough to have a strong grasp of the technical aspects of operating in the cloud is the reliability or uptime of the facility. Look for facilities that offer some sort of redundancy so that a power outage, even if it is area-wide, isn’t likely to knock your business out of focus until power problems at the other end are corrected.

Look for a provider that offers maximum uptime guarantees and back up those guarantees at a cost to themselves. This lets you know how serious their commitment to uptime really is.

Security

You keep a lot of sensitive information on your servers. Whether you have business secrets, customer information, or even employee information, you have a responsibility to ensure that great care is taken to secure all information stored on data center servers.

In some states, there are strict laws regarding the lengths you must go to in order to keep that information private and secure. What this means for you is that you must choose a cloud service provider that takes security seriously, too. Otherwise, you’re posing significant security risks to the data your business has been entrusted with. This places your business in a position of financial liability in addition to the risk of breaching the public trust.

Although these are the major issues that affect all businesses interested in cloud technology, you should also come up with your own set of questions specific to your business needs to ask a potential cloud provider before committing to them. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have or schedule time to speak to one of our hosting engineers. We’re always glad to help you with this important business decision.

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