What to Look for In a Cloud Service Provider

So you’ve decided to move your organisation into the cloud. But what’s the next step? Choosing a cloud service provider. The provider you choose will be entrusted with all of your company’s important data and sensitive information—so it’s important to choose the right one. What qualities are important, and what provider will best serve your needs?

What is the Organisation Like?

When you choose a cloud service provider, you want it to be one that you can continue to use for as long as you want and need. So, it’s important to consider not just the service a company provides, but also some basic attributes of the company itself.

  • Is the company in good financial health? It should have a record of financial stability and be in a good position to keep operating long-term.
  • How is the company organised? It should have a documented management structure and an established risk management strategy.
  • How well does the company understand what you need? They must understand what you need in a service provider as well as have the technical expertise to provide it.
  • If your industry and organisation is subject to any relevant compliance standards, can the service provider ensure you continue to meet them?
  • Does the company deserve your trust? Be thorough when it comes to checking their reputation and level of experience.

What Safety and Security Practices Does the Organisation Have?

Once your data is in the cloud, security is of paramount important. No matter what particular services you need, vetting the provider’s security practices is a high priority. Consider what your organisation’s security goals are, and be sure the provider you choose matches your needs.

  • If the provider offers multiple levels of service, make sure to clarify what each level provides.
  • Each level and type of service the provider offers should have its own security infrastructure and policies.
  • Look for strong identity management practices. For instance, identity authentication should be required in order to make any changes to data or applications.
  • What is the provider’s downtime history like? A cloud service provider can never guarantee 100% uptime but outages should definitely be short and infrequent. Look for a provider that’s open and honest about outages that do happen.
  • The provider should have rigorous data backup and retention policies to ensure data integrity.
  • Don’t forget that physical security is important too. As well as protection against physical security breaches the provider should have environmental safeguards at its data centres, plus redundant networking and power supplies, and disaster recovery and business contingency plans.
  • What certifications does the company have? For instance, certifications such as ISO27001, which require regular auditing and validate that important data security measures are in place.

Remember, security is critical. Don’t be shy about asking as many questions as you need, especially if there are any issues you don’t understand. Any provider worth its salt will have no problem with answering them.

How Well does the Provider’s Architecture Mesh with Yours?

When considering a cloud provider, it’s important to think about how the organisation’s architecture will fit with yours—not just right now, but in the future too. For instance, if you’re already using several Microsoft products, it’s probably a good idea to go with the Microsoft cloud option. It’s generally much easier and faster to integrate your organisation’s workflows if you consolidate services in this way.

What is the Service Like to Use?

Administrative matters may not be at the top of the list of deal-breakers but it’s still important to clarify what you’re getting when you choose a cloud service provider.

  • What is the onboarding process like? Will you get step-by-step help or are you going to be working from an online guide?
  • How do you access the service? Users should be able to access cloud data from anywhere in the world, on any device.
  • How easy is it to add new users, and for those new users to connect to the cloud?
  • Finally—how portable is your data once it’s in the cloud? Every user hopes they’ll never have to transfer to another cloud service, but if you do have to, how easy will it be to move your data?

What Kind of Technical Support is Available?

If you need help, how quickly can you access it, and what form does the provider’s technical support take? Some providers may offer a call centre service or a chat service, while others may have additional options. If there are different types of support for different service levels, make sure to clarify what kind of support is available at the level you choose.

Cost Matters Too

Last but certainly not least, there’s the cost of the service. While cost isn’t necessarily the most important factor, it does still play a role. Different cloud vendors have different pricing structures; for instance some offer pay-as-you-go pricing, while others offer reserved instances for an upfront reduced per-hour rate. It’s hard to compare such disparate plan types so it’s important to consider your usage patterns to determine a pricing plan that fits with your needs.

Contact ACUTEC today to discuss your cloud service needs.

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