5 Questions Businesses Should Ask Their Cloud Provider
When selecting the right cloud provider for your business, it's important you ask how and where your data is stored and the ways they are set up to work with you.
For many companies, the decision to make the switch to cloud computing and cloud management systems is a simple one; however, deciding which cloud provider to select is a more difficult prospect. When it comes to a cloud service provider (CSP), many will offer a range of capabilities, with contracts that can vary greatly in total cost and flexibility. Additionally, determining the appropriate architecture and approach to cloud computing functionality such as SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS can be overwhelming.
As it pertains to different types of cloud security and cloud management, a one-size-fits-all solution for every company will not work. Due to the dynamic nature of cloud computing and the ongoing evolution it goes through on a regular basis, most businesses will prioritize different elements relating to their company as the world becomes increasingly digital and connected. (Read also: Reaching for the Clouds Without Flying Too Close to the Sun.)
When looking to make the shift to a cloud management system, business owners will quickly realize that there are a large number of different service providers to choose from, all offering slightly different forms of cloud backup or cloud security that can impact how your organization operates.
This makes it difficult, especially for those previously unaware of the capabilities of cloud computing to make an effective decision relating to their system provider. Asking the right questions is one simple way to ensure that you get all the information you need and helps you to make the right decision. Here are five questions that will help you select the right cloud provider before doing business with them.
Where Are You Storing Our Data?
Effective data management is at the heart of good cloud management systems. It is important to validate that your data is being held in an up-to-date center to help ensure you get both the reliability and performance you require as it relates to your company data. It is also important to find out if your cloud service provider has a reserve data center or two, as opposed to just one lone facility. This is because if there are any problems relating to the primary data center, anything from a natural disaster, flooding, or loss of power, your services will transfer over to a secondary data center with little to no visible interruption in your organization’s data management.
How Often Do You Perform Backups?
Cloud backup is one of the critical elements of an effective cloud management system and cloud computing functionality as a whole. As a business, if your data does get deleted, corrupted, or if you become a victim of ransomware, the best solution is to restore a recent backup. (Read also: Cloud Security 101.)
This is where the regularity of a cloud backup becomes important as the older the backup is, then the more data you will likely end up losing when it does get restored. Asking all potential providers if they offer hot backups (those that run regularly during the day) is a key question to ask. Additionally, find out just how long it takes to restore your data, because you never want to be in the position where you are waiting days for your cloud computing systems to be operational again.
At the very least, there needs to be a dual backup strategy, such as backup-to-disk and backup-to-tape, that will guarantee that your data will be available following any incident or disaster.
Do You Offer Third-Party Integration?
As cloud computing continues to evolve, more activities are being performed through APIs among countless third-party providers. At times, this level of connectivity may require the creation of VPN tunnels or other connectivity options. It is important to understand exactly what the specific policies and options are regarding third-party integration as it can significantly impact your ability to conduct your business operations.
What Level of Flexibility Will My Business Receive?
Often cited as one of the main advantages of cloud computing over standard setups is the ability to add capacity and services as they’re needed. This level of flexibility also works in the opposite way as it is incredibly easy to remove or reduce capacity when they are no longer being used. (Read also: Managing Cloud Sprawl in Your Operation.)
This flexible nature of a cloud computing model will save your business money by enabling it to run short-term projects without having to permanently purchase hardware and software licenses. Ensuring that your cloud provider offers flexible consumption is a key aspect as without it, your business will be missing out on one of the main benefits of a cloud management model. Even if you are in a situation where this level of flexibility will be useful to you, it is highly likely that you will need it in the future.
What SLAs Do You Provide?
A service-level-agreement (SLA) is a promise to provide a specific level of service that can relate to anything from uptime, backups, restores and anything else. Within this set up, a service provider will usually offer different tiers of SLAs, such as a lower-priced one which might feature a restore request that will be completed within one business day while a higher-priced tier may promise that it will be completed within one hour. As it pertains to SLAs, it’s also important to ask about any related penalties, such as financial compensation or free services that may exist for a period of time if the service provider does not meet the agreement within an SLA.
While there may be many questions that you will have for a potential cloud provider, the ones mentioned above will enable your business to find that ideal candidate that offers everything you need to help improve your business in the digital age. Alongside these questions, it is important to remember to get as much information relating to technical specifications and limits as well as industry-specific compliance needs. This should not stop once you have found a partner; you should continue to ask questions throughout the process to ensure that you are fully informed and thoroughly understand how cloud computing will impact your business.