These days, increasing numbers of IT business systems are becoming externalized. Information gets moved to the cloud for additional security, easier scalability and customization, and to provide data access to team members anywhere in the world, among other things.
The market is vast, though, with many different providers offering services in the cloud space. As such, choosing the right provider for your company’s needs isn’t something you can tick off your to-do list in an instant. Here are some top factors to consider as you research options.
Since you’re going to store critical and sensitive documents, videos, graphics, etc., in the cloud, you need the service provider you entrust with this data to take security seriously. Learn about how contenders on your list keep client information safe from hackers and other data losses.
Security controls should be built into the cloud system created and updated regularly to plug security gaps that crop up over time. It pays to ask about firms’ internal security audit reports, incident report numbers and pertinent details, and for evidence of actions taken when issues have arisen in the past.
Certifications, Standards, and Compliance
Select a provider who complies with all the key industry standards and quality frameworks to live up to best-practice methods. For example, look for companies with certifications such as ISO 27001 for information security or that are members of the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA).
There are ISO standards relating to the cloud, specifically, and to operations, too, which it pays for businesses to follow. Plus, look out for service providers that adhere to DMTF standards regarding managing traditional and emerging technologies such as the cloud.
Keep in mind that your business might have industry and organizational compliance standards you’re beholden to that you need cloud platforms to meet, such as PCI DSS, GDPR, and HIPAA. Don’t be afraid to ask operators if and how they achieve compliance with their infrastructure in various ways.
Another area to consider is manageability. No matter which platform you go with, you need to feel comfortable that you’ll easily manage your side of things. There are different tools and integrations required, so find out if you’ll be able to use and integrate all the elements you need.
Think about how much time and effort will be required from you and your team to manage various aspects of the cloud infrastructure. For instance, your internal tech experts may wish to utilize Azure container instances to run application containers in the cloud with a single command. If so, ensure the cloud platforms on your shortlist have the capabilities to handle this, and you won’t have issues setting things up the way you prefer.
Don’t sign up with a cloud provider before learning about the customer support they offer, too. What happens if you or your workers have issues and need help? Will it be available any day of the week and year and at any time? What about communication methods? Can you contact support personnel by phone, live chat, email, or other methods?
Also, how knowledgeable and well-trained are the support members you’ll deal with? Will you have a dedicated resource to utilize, or will you potentially have to wait a long time for access and responses? These are all questions worth asking before signing on the dotted line.
Reliability and Performance
There’s no point selecting a firm for your cloud needs if they don’t have good records for reliability and performance. Check performance data against service-level agreements for the past 12 months or so to see how well different companies stand up to their claims. Many publish this information freely, but if you can’t see the details you need, feel free to ask for it.
Don’t expect perfection since downtime is natural and all providers experience it occasionally, but check statistics and learn how different firms handle this downtime. They should have robust monitoring and reporting tools plus proven processes for dealing with planned and unplanned downtime. Also, don’t forget to ask companies for their disaster recovery provisions, procedures, and support methods since it’s essential that your valuable data get backed up, restored, checked, managed, etc.
These are some of the vital elements to consider when choosing a service provider. It’s also worth comparing prices carefully, asking about billing processes, and checking out contract terms (make sure there aren’t any vendor lock-in issues). Ask about migration support, scalability, advancement and innovation likelihood over time, and service offerings. Take your time choosing which company you entrust with your data since it’s such a critical decision.