Going Up? What To Look For In A Cloud ProviderJune 6, 2016 No Comments
Featured article by Matthew Cleaver is the CEO and Managing Partner of The SMB Help Desk
Considering a move to the cloud? You’re in good company — according to RightScale’s recent survey, hybrid cloud adoption has reached 71 percent while private solutions hit 77 percent this year. Yet moving to the cloud isn’t enough; small businesses need the right provider to ensure services are always available, resources are truly “on demand,” and spending is justified by measurable ROI. Here are five key characteristics of a great cloud provider.
As noted by HedgeWeek, it’s a good idea to know as much as possible about a provider before signing on the dotted line. Conversely, your cloud provider should make an effort to understand the particular needs of a small business rather than trying to sell you on enterprise-level features with little direct benefit.
Start by getting a sense of how your prospective provider is viewed by other clients and competitors in the industry. This is not a “no news is good news” scenario. Radio silence in Google searches and industry forums suggests that a cloud provider may not be able to back big promises with commensurate action. Ask for a list of existing clients of similar size and scope to your company, and don’t be afraid to request references. Better to know upfront if a provider can’t deliver.
Scope of Service
How many solutions does a provider offer? Is the provider a niche player in security or storage, or a more general supplier of cloud services? For small businesses, the best-fit cloud vendors are often generalists — companies with a proven track record of supplying services like disaster recovery, Infosec planning, Internet telephony and storage. While multi-cloud environments are becoming popular among enterprises with the IT staff to manage multiple providers, single vendors with the infrastructure backbone to supply multiple services typically make better bedfellows for SMBs.
While security is no longer the biggest worry for companies moving to the cloud, it’s critical for SMBs to find security-conscious providers. According to ZDNet, this means looking for a vendor that’s in “lock step” with current security advances and implements them ASAP. From compliance regulations to critical software vulnerabilities, your provider should always make security a top priority.
Not all clouds are created equal, especially when it comes to storage. While it’s commonplace to offer cost-effective storage options that can handle the big data deluge of small businesses, not all providers do so in real time. As noted by Tech.Co, it’s a good idea to look for partners that offer automatic synchronization of files on the cloud to reflect real-time changes in addition to support for file versioning — instead of being overwritten and lost forever, files in the cloud are stored as multiple versions to empower collaboration without losing the ability to backtrack as required.
Is your cloud provider compliant? Does it know how to handle HIPAA-covered or PCI DSS data as required by government and oversight agencies? Make sure you know the answer before agreeing to any SLA, since ultimate responsibility for data rests with the owner — your business — rather than the provider you pay to handle this information.
Ready to reach for the cloud? Check your provider potential first: Does it have the experience, scope, security focus, storage synchronization and compliance confidence necessary to help you grab the IT brass ring?
Matthew Cleaver is the CEO and Managing Partner of The SMB Help Desk. Matthew has worked with multiple Fortune 500 companies and countless small businesses, supporting business process changes for sales and marketing systems as well as ERP systems. As a small business owner, certified Salesforce developer, certified Sales Cloud Consultant, and cloud evangelist Matt understands the challenges that small business owners face, and how implementing cloud solutions can improve operational efficiency, customer service, and the overall performance of the business.
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