The cloud computing market is exploding with a large number of new entrants. If you are shopping around for a cloud service provider (CSP), here are ten things you should keep in mind.
1. Technical Expertise
A cloud computing service is not a commodity: it is not as simple as providing you with a computer in a server farm. It requires a lot of technical expertise to set up the right system that guarantees security for your data and lets you run your business without interruption. Thus, the first thing you have to look in your CSP is the quality of their team and their technical prowess.
You are going to migrate your sensitive enterprise data to a third-party server. You really need to be able to trust that organization. Interview their team and see if they are the people with whom you can trust your confidential corporate information. Ask for references and testimonials. Research the vendor thoroughly before trusting them with your data. Also, look for their industry memberships and accreditations.
3. Uptime guarantees
Can you afford to have your server down for hours in the middle of the week? If not, ask for uptime guarantees from CSPs. Ask their existing customers about previous outages, and how soon the vendor had the services restored. Anything more than 1 hour’s downtime/month is unacceptable for most businesses.
4. Tools available
Does the CSP have a good tool set to help you with analytics, data management, security, etc? A good tool set provided by the CSP can help you cut the costs of your IT operations team.
5. Ease of migration
Will it be easy to migrate your data and applications to the cloud? Migration is one of the biggest pain-points for enterprises moving to the cloud, so check if your CSP provides tools and support to make this process less painful.
6. Performance guarantees
Just as uptimes are important, so are performance metrics. Ask the CSP about the servers they are using, the disc access speeds, the processor types, network bandwidth and availability of SSDs.
7. Customer Support
You are going to trust your corporate IT infrastructure with a third party. What if your server crashes at the start of the day due to a malfunctioning app? Are you sure you can get it fixed ASAP? Customer support is critical, and it is important that the vendor provides you 24-hour technical support, at least on weekdays. If the support is poor, you can expect to spend a lot of money on your in-house IT team.
8. How serious are they about Security?
Security should be a top priority for your CSP. Ask about the steps they take to ensure the security of your data and applications.
9. Third-party compliance audits
Have the CSP had their service audited by third-party compliance teams to back up their claims? The industry body, the International Association of Managed Service Providers (MSP Alliance), has a certification standard (UCS) that is used to certify CSPs. Check if your CSP is accredited by it.
Ultimately, it is all about the cost. Check for all the fees (one-time fees, monthly fees, usage fees, etc.) and make sure they are clearly spelled out in the contract.
By Balaji Viswanathan