The Cloud: What’s in it For You?

Xath Cruz | Cloudtimes

Nowadays, more and more businesses are moving their operations to the cloud as the industry starts to realize the benefits that the cloud brings, whether it’s cost-efficiency, improved flexibility and agility, or any of the myriad advantages that comes from cloud computing. However, before you start migrating all of your data to the cloud, there are some considerations that you need to think about first, such as:

Bigger is Not Necessarily Better

Due to the popularity of cloud computing, you’ll see a lot of large companies from other IT related sectors now staking their claim on the rapidly growing cloud market, but don’t always assume that you’ll be better off with a certain provider just because they are a large, popular company – as they could have earned their reputation in another field and are still not used to the cloud business. It would be wise to do your research first and focus on the provider’s reputation regarding cloud services before signing up with one.

Think of Your Security Needs

While cloud technology has already managed to distance itself from the early critiques levied on it regarding security, there is still a certain amount of risk much in the same way any service provider will have. One thing you have to keep in mind is that different organizations will have different needs and expectations regarding security, so you need to find out yours and use them when researching potential cloud service providers.

Study the Principles of Data Backup

You should find out how your cloud provider backs up data, so that you can be prepared for the worst case scenario: what would happen if you want to move data to another provider. Try to research their reputation as well as the location of their data centers, not to mention the redundancy of their infrastructure. Crashes or downtimes are a matter of when, not if, so you need to know if your chosen provider has contingencies in place so that you will not lose your data.

Secure Good Service Level Agreements

Industry certifications these days are a dime a dozen, and since they only capture a moment in time, they don’t serve well as a good indication of future performance. The best way to ensure good service is to get a solid SLA or Service Level Agreement, with clear contractual language. Try to go for vendors who are upfront about their performance and provide clear financial penalties on their side for underperformance – whether it’s rebates or refunds, as long as there’s an indication that they can’t perform poorly without suffering for it.

Try to Gauge Their Customer Service Standards

The best cloud service providers have customer services that are staffed with cloud specialists who are available 24×7. Try to see if your potential provider has a good customer support system in place, as not having one is usually an indication that they’re not going to have any help when you encounter problems.

Test the Service

Of course, you shouldn’t enter any contracts blindly without at least demoing the service or product. There’s always a means to test out  cloud service provider’s service – whether through a demo account or a money back guarantee period. A cloud service provider that doesn’t let you test their service first is not worth your time, effort, and money.

Features You Should be Looking For

The key feature in a cloud service is the actual server space provisioned to a subscriber. In practice, there is as much available as a subscriber needs, but whether it can be scaled up and down on demand or not will depend on the provider.

Security is the responsibility of the service provider, so you need to take the provider’s reputation and capability into account if you have specific needs regarding security, especially if you plan to offer software service to third parties using the cloud.

When a cloud service provider offers a service package, planning and technical services are usually included. The provider’s support staff is usually responsible for assisting and helping you with the structure and design of the platform that you are going to use, in order to ensure that it will meet your specific needs and requirements.

The reason for outlining the above factors is that they directly affect the cost of providing such services, which in turn will affect the prices of the service. It is not uncommon for a service provider to compromise the quality of their service in order to lower prices and say competitive. The problem with this scenario is that when it becomes widespread, consumers will be complaining of poor service and will not be willing to pay more for them, which will result in further reducing the provider’s bottom line and forcing them to cut costs further until it turns into a catch 22.

Conclusion

The above factors are all important and should be considered when shopping around for cloud support services. While it is not all encompassing, since there are always companies who try to buck trends, it will still be useful if you want to be vigilant in an effort to get the best service possible.

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