However, finding the best provider will require a bit of due diligence—beyond typical search engine queries and a few phone calls.
Trusting an organization with your company’s precious data and infrastructure is a large undertaking; partnering with the wrong vendor can spell the end to your business as you know it.
What are the best practices to follow when choosing a cloud provider?
Always Network First
No one can assess other technology vendors better than those who have used their services. Contacting other IT executives, managers and vendor is a proven strategy for gaining key insight and unbiased opinions on the best companies to hire; these are the people actually dealing with cloud services providers on a regular basis. Networking with other industry contacts is a no-nonsense way to narrow down the list of choices.
Check Certifications and Reputations
Finding the best hosted cloud provider is firmly based on the company’s level of knowledge and expertise, since they are ultimately responsible for hosting the lifeblood of your company—the technology. Are they highly experienced in your particular industry with an excellent reputation? What industry-specific certifications have they obtained? These questions should be asked immediately and the providers should be able to provide documentation as proof.
Last but not least, research the history of possible vendors and learn who their previous and current clients are; contact these clients and inquire on their overall experience with each prospective provider.
Check Security and Breach History
Maintaining the integrity of your data, applications and network will become the responsibility of the cloud services vendor—as well as your IT department—once the move is made to the cloud. It is very important to obtain specific information on any of the providers’ past security breaches, if any have occurred.
Furthermore, having a disaster recovery plan in place to mitigate loss resulting from data breaches is critical for any organization. What kind of disaster recovery plan do they have in place to handle or circumvent a disaster? What security protocols and safeguards are being implemented to prevent such problems from taking place?
Be Critical of “Vendor Lock-in” Policies
One caveat of shifting to cloud services is the difficulty in changing solution providers. Transferring data from one proprietary format to another—switching cloud vendors—is often difficult. Lock-in prevents the advantage of utilizing resources from different companies and can cause users to become dependent on a particular vendor’s hardware, applications and services.
This can significantly increase the cost and complexity of switching providers when the need arises. If at all possible, find an architecture which allows moving services between different cloud platforms, to better equip your organization for the changing demands of business.
Negotiate a Service Level Agreement
Prior to committing to a cloud provider, an organization should always negotiate a service level agreement, also known as an SLA. This agreement defines the level of service, performance and other key objectives to expect from a vendor, while holding them accountable for reaching these expectations. For cloud computing, the Service Level Agreement can highlight critical points such as:
- Availability of service
- Operation specifics
- Service warrantees
- Penalties for failing to deliver according to the SLA.
No local cloud is created equal. When choosing a cloud services provider in your local area, keep these best practices in mind to guarantee a smooth transition and a highly beneficial relationship for all parties involved!
Until next time..
Jarvis – TekTime IT Consulting LLC