How to Choose The Right Cloud Computing Provider for Your Business
Working with a cloud computing vendor has numerous benefits. From a cost perspective, it decreases both the server space and the technical support needed to run and manage complex programs. Cloud applications also allow your team to be mobile and work from different devices. It’s essential to find the right cloud service provider that meets all your needs. Here are the elements you need to consider when selecting one for your business.
One the most important steps is to ensure ongoing quality support. Look at what support offerings each cloud computing vendor has and the different ways to contact them (email, phone, online chat, etc). Verify that support hours sync up with your company’s main operations hours and make sure that there is support available for after-hours, weekends, and holidays in case of emergencies.
Cloud computing vendors typically have a standard service-level agreement that outlines expectations for details like response times and the percentage of the time that servers are online. Before signing any service agreement, closely review the terms. If possible, negotiate penalties for any downtime that affect your company’s ability to function. This will ensure fast resolution of issues and it limits lost income.
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Billing and Monitoring
The more space you use and the number of users you add will typically increase the costs of cloud services. The ability to manage your own administration and monitor usage via an online interface eliminates billing surprises. Choose a solution that gives you the option to access a user-friendly interface as needed.
It’s important to ensure that any cloud vendor you consider using a standardized API or application programming interface. This mechanism handles the data transformations that plug specific software programs into the cloud. Standardized APIs mean the servers will be compatible with all your applications and you’ll be much less likely to experience user issues along the way.
Standard software packages are simple. The way they’re built integrates the software itself with your company’s data. For example, if you host local accounting software, your computer contains both the copy of the software and any financial information you’ve inputted. Cloud software operates differently. User data is separate from the applications, which allows the cloud to function in a less resource-intensive way. Any cloud computing vendor should be able to explain how your data are structured and whether that impacts performance.
It is important to find out how a cloud vendor stores and protects your data. In addition to an overall security plan, it’s helpful to understand the answers to specific questions. How are levels of access granted and controlled? Does the provider use multiple steps to confirm the identity of someone logging into your account? What forms of authentication is the vendor using? Get as much information as possible on the steps providers take to make sure your data remains safe.
Does your business handle sensitive information, such as financial or health data? If so, your business may be subject to specific government or industry regulations on data storage and handling protocols. It’s important to ensure that a cloud provider understands and addresses those concerns. The penalties for mishandling sensitive information, both financial and criminal, can be significant.
Moving your computing systems to a cloud service provider can save your company time and money, while opening up tremendous performance capabilities. Before doing so, it’s important to make sure that the vendor you are considering meets minimum security, performance, and service standards. By asking the right questions before committing, you’ll make a smart decision that will dramatically increase your IT productivity.