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How to Choose Your Cloud Provider

How to Choose Your Cloud Provider

Each day, the cloud computing marked is bringing new options of cloud providers and services. I named some of them here. If you have decided to pursue cloud computing for your company, you have to bear in mind that selecting the right cloud provider is crucial in this process.

First, you must prioritize your information and choose where you will be the focus. Make sure your IT department is up for the task. Your information and its security will depend in a large measure on how you communicate with the cloud provider and what settings you agree upon with them before doing the actual implementation.

I tried to put together a list of elements to consider when choosing your cloud provider:

●    Reputation: Look into history and clients, read case studies and testimonials. Ideally, the cloud provider has a considerable experience in this field. Moreover, it must have a solid reputation.  Many providers are now being acquired; NaviSite and TerraMark are two that were recently acquired by Time Warner and Verizon.  This in my mind is a good thing. If a company has a lot of capital behind it, most likely it will be able to expand its Cloud Services rapidly.

●    Security: The provider should be a member of the Cloud Security Alliance and be SAS Level II certified. In order for you to trust the provider to deal with your confidential information, privacy and data security options must be top tier.

●    Flexibility: It must allow you the freedom to customize the applications or to let you create the interface which manages the virtualized servers, according to your needs, as well as being able to add and drop managed services when needed.

●    Pricing: Before starting the implementation, you should have a general idea on how much you will invest versus how much you will save. Closely collaborating with the cloud provider might help you come up with this estimation. Also, make sure it does not change pricing plans with little or no notice.

●    Recovery: Ask about data recovery in case of a disaster or if the provider goes out of business. Also, if the provider offers bad customer service or the quality of the service downshifts, you should have the option to switch cloud providers and recover your information.

●    Failover: Cloud Platforms have built in failover. Get educated on how the provider plans for failures on premise as well as off premise and make sure this matches to your needs.

●    Environment: If you are interested on the impact of your business on the environment, then you should know that cloud computing is green. Make sure that the cloud provider you pick is a member of The Green Grid.

●    Test it: Make an implementation for something that is not crucial to your business – and see if you really made the right choice when selecting the cloud provider, before moving the entire business or most of it to the cloud.

Perhaps you  might find that a cloud provider is not entire suited for all your needs, and you might choose one for applications and one for DNS services, for example.  In the end, be sure to check the list above in order to select a right cloud provider for your company.

By Rick Blaisdell

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One Response to How to Choose Your Cloud Provider

  1. Regarding security please consider the following:
     
    Being a member of the cloud Security Alliance does not in anyway imply that you do your information security well, it just shows that you are a member of a group that promotes cloud computing. There is currently no Cloud Security Alliance certification that a service provider organisation can certify against.SAS 70 type II audits are designed for accounting and not Information Security. The auditee nominates the controls that are being audited, so you’ll see they are not really of much value.
     
    In general I’d urge any organisation to perform a true in depth risk assessment of any cloud deployment, not just the simple cost / benefit analysis that may provide moderate savings presuming there is no serious compromise.
     
    Risks to watch out for are:
     
    Lack of transparency about the level of security and the means of deploymentFeasibility of vendors producing useful audit data across multiple counties and data centres with differing laws and regulation Differing employment laws in differing countriesCriminals following the most lucrative marketsIncreased / unknown Administrative access to systems (No SIEM)Lack of visibility of user access (no SIEM)Lack of visibility of security incidents (no SIEM)Risk of collateral damage from attacks on other tenantsDiffering disclosure laws conflicting with differing privacy laws in different countriesAccess from public devices with malicious code or keyloggersSensitive information remaining resident on public devicesLock in and lack of flexibility once entered into contractProviders ability to change service without consultation or risk assessment On an international level, have any of the authorities and regulatory bodies considered the commercial impact of a major compromise on one of the big cloud players.

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