For small- and medium-sized businesses, outsourcing your IT infrastructure presents long-term savings, reduced upfront costs, greater efficiency and far better disaster recovery. However, there are many cloud providers to choose from, and more seem to be popping up every year.
A good cloud provider is more than just a vendor, they're your partners when it comes to everything IT-related. This means they need to be onboard with your business objectives and have the tools and expertise necessary to simplify the decision-making process and formulate a strategy that works for you, not just for them. With that in mind, here are five key questions you should ask any potential cloud provider:
#1. Who Owns Your Data?
Digital data has become one of the world’s most valuable commodities. That’s why some cloud vendors may use certain data for advertising purposes. For example, Google uses some customer data to provide personalized advertising to its users. While this might not present a major concern with certain activities, such as everyday browsing habits, you’ll certainly want to make sure that your cloud provider keeps your data safe. That means keeping a close eye on any small print to guarantee that you still own your company’s data and have complete control over it.
#2. How Secure Is Your Data?
It’s common belief that uploading data to the cloud means surrendering control over it. However, that’s not necessarily the case, and neither is the cloud inherently insecure. In fact, a dependable cloud provider should be able to keep your data safer than ever. After all, they’ll have access to the latest and most reliable technology as well as countermeasures like backup power supplies and redundant servers stored in multiple locations. You’ll want to ask any potential provider where your data is stored, and which measures are in place to protect it.
#3. What Uptime Do You Commit To?
Service uptime matters. A lot. But there’s more to it than often meets the eye. Just because a cloud provider might proudly advertise their 99.99% service uptime doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll offer a consistently high level of service. Not only should their service level agreements (SLAs) state the minimum service uptime – they should also be able to talk about the more specific business advantages you will have from their services, such as streamlined migration processes and fast support response times.
#4. How Will You Be Informed of Service Changes?
While change is inevitable for any organization that keeps up with the times, any unexpected change to your infrastructure can cause unnecessary disruption. You’ll need to ensure that there will be sufficient warning for any changes to your services, and the terms and conditions governing them. Above all, any potential provider needs to be transparent about any modifications or unplanned service outages. Remember that even a minor change to a mission-critical system can have a major impact on your business due to lost productivity and compatibility issues.
#5. What Is Your Industry Experience?
Any cloud provider can claim that their services and expertise are suitable for pretty much any type of business or industry. However, any such claim should be taken as a big red flag. A dependable cloud provider is someone who understands the challenges your business faces as well as those that are specific to your industry. For example, different industries face different compliance regulations, which your cloud provider will need to be fully on-board with. Choosing the wrong provider, however, can leave your business exposed to unnecessary risk.
At Total Tech Team, we understand that it’s not always easy to choose an IT support team and cloud provider you can trust. That’s why we offer flexible services designed to meet your unique set of objectives. If you’re unsure where to start, call us today to get the help you need.