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Advice for Choosing a Cloud Service Provider

When you’re moving your company’s IT services to a third-party cloud provider, you need to make sure you choose the right partner – one that can meet or even surpass your firm’s requirements. 

There are many reasons why firms are increasingly migrating their IT operations to cloud providers – everything from reducing costs to getting access to better hardware and security features. However, all companies are different and you should work out what’s most important to you. 

Unfortunately, there is no standardization across Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) and no two providers are the same. This, coupled with the fact that there is currently no common framework to compare or assess CSPs means that you’ll be largely on your own when it comes to choosing the right partner for your company. 

Advice for choosing a cloud service provider

The most important considerations

One of the main reasons businesses move their digital services to the cloud is for improved security but you’ll undoubtedly have your own list of additional requirements. Only by asking the right questions will you find the CSP that’s best for you. Below are some of the most common considerations:

What is the CSP's security and backup provision: As mentioned, security is one of the main reasons companies move their IT to the cloud so you should ask what cover prospective companies provide. At a minimum, you need a company that has staff trained with Google Cloud certification or similar platform-based qualifications but you should also ask what hardware and software protection they have in place - plus the physical protection of servers (i.e. against break-ins, fire, theft, and so on).

Ask for the tech specs of servers and software: While it might be hard to compare CSPs side by side, one area where you can do a like-for-like comparison is by assessing the hardware they use. Even if you’re not particularly knowledgeable about computers or servers, ask for the tech specs of the provider’s equipment, then find someone that can interpret the details. 

How often do they upgrade hardware and software: While getting an idea of the current status quo of equipment is important, you need to know you’re going to partner with a proactive firm so take a look at their track record over the years in terms of renewing or upgrading equipment. 

Look at how a CSP will integrate with your current operations: If your firm already makes extensive use of Google products it would probably make more sense to go with a provider that offers Google-based services to ease integration. Likewise, the same would apply if you already make heavy use of Microsoft or Amazon services. 

Legally binding service levels: As a cloud customer, you need to know your CSP is going to protect your data and offer managed, reliable service levels in terms of support, availability, capacity and response time. Before choosing to partner with a CSP, you should agree a legally enforceable Cloud Service Level Agreement (Cloud SLA) that clearly outlines the provider’s responsibilities. This is even more important when it comes to the legal responsibilities of data storage.

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