“I don’t need a hard disk in my computer if I can get to the server faster… carrying around these non-connected computers is byzantine by comparison.” — Steve Jobs
A sales executive logs in on to the company server to review his current assignment. He then switches over to his Salesforce account to check details on the client database. Then he opens up an app on his smartphone to check and schedule his workday. He is gliding through all this while working remotely. And what has made this possible? Thanks to our good friends – the cloud service providers.
An army of cloud service providers has cropped up over the decade. Cloud service providers are the companies that provide an array of computing services over the internet to businesses or individuals. The range of services includes software, storage, servers, networking, databases, analytics and much more.
Cloud service providers charge a fee in return for their services, much like a subscription service. As per IDC, the global spending trend on cloud-based services will grow by 19.4% CAGR that is compound annual growth rate, which is almost six times upward from $70 billion in 2015 to $141 billion in 2019.
As the businesses grow and expand, they need to rely on various cloud-based services to cater to evolving market. In this scenario, it is of utmost importance that they choose the right cloud service provider to take care of their business so that would free them to concentrate on their core-business operations.
- Type of Service:
The type of service required depends on what your business needs. Infrastructure (IaaS), Platform (PaaS) and Software (SaaS) are the three main types of services provided by cloud service provider. Based on your business need you may require any or all of these services. A combination of services is often preferred considering diverse business needs.
- Financial Background:
Run a background check to see if the cloud service provider you are eyeing is well established and has a stable financial status. Examine if the service provider will sustain long-term. If the service provider is not in good shape financially, chances are they would disappear without notice.
- Customer Base:
Survey the current customer base of the cloud service provider before signing up with them. Study the trend in their customer behavior. If the service provider is a start-up and provides good service, then their customer base will increase. If they lose their customers, it means that there are flaws in their services. Also check to see what percentage of their customer base is made up of business clientele, since it is very important to gauge the quality and level of their service.
- Solid Infrastructure:
A solid infrastructure updated with latest hardware and innovative technology is a must, since you will trust the cloud service providers with your precious data. Make sure they are solid enough to handle critical data.
- Robust Security:
Robust security measures should also be in place. Check to see if they use reliable firewalls, data encryption and anti-virus. Ask them about their policy on security audit and check if they are conducted on regular basis.
Personal key based encryption is important to allow users to access the system securely. Users also need to feel confident about the safety of their data on the system. They also need to trust the service provider while downloading the data from the system. It is advisable to use two types of encryption.
Third-party accreditation also plays a vital role to build trust for the cloud service provider. Periodic audits should be conducted to ensure security of data. SSAE 16 is an auditing standard by American Institute of Certified Public Accountants that verifies in-depth audit control. ISO 27001 certification also enables the service provider to prove that it meets international standards for information security.
- Service-level Agreement (SLA):
Service level agreement is critical while selecting the right cloud service provider. The terms laid down in this agreement determine how the customer’s data will be handled. Customers need to know if their cloud service provider is capable to keep their data secure.
- Data center and servers – location and security:
Location and security of the data center and server is one of the deciding factors to select the right service provider. Check with the service provider if they have a security plan in place in the face of natural disasters like fire, floods, storms and earthquakes. Also enquire if they have security measures to safeguard against burglars and thieves. Check if they possess authentic security certifications and are compliant with industry standards.
- Global reach:
While selecting the right service provider, check to see that they provide international coverage. Global coverage will facilitate you to reach the users wherever they are. This will boost your performance and help you deploy, upgrade and manage your applications and software with ease. Try to strike a balance between cloud computing requirements and locations.
- Data Centers Geographical distribution:
Selecting the right service provider, that has data centers that have wide geographical distribution, often saves you from the hassles of unanticipated problems if in case the primary data center suffers downtime. By distribution of location, risk factors are diversified in case of natural disasters or complying with jurisdiction requirements.
- Standardized Service:
Opting for standardized service provider is a wise option, since it will maintain uniformity and clarity. Cost will be maintained as well since the service will tend to be interoperable, compatible and can be used repeatedly. Office365 is the best example of standardized service. Standardized software bundled with right open source technology can deliver the results you desire without compromising flexibility and help you stay competitive.
Selecting the right cloud service provider needs to carefully executed after considering all the requirements of your company. Also make sure your service provider is flexible enough to cater to your growing business and is capable to provide your business with additional storage and current technology.
Did you find these tips useful? If you have any additional insights or best practices for choosing the ideal cloud solution, then share that with us.
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