Choosing the Right Cloud Partner

The cloud market is expected to grow another 30% by this time next year. That’s great news for managed service providers who have already embraced cloud based technologies like IaaS and data protection as part of their service offering.  But, for those who aren’t partnered with the right cloud partner, it can be complicated, overly expensive and can even pose a risk to client data. 

We know that choosing a cloud service provider (CSP) can be a lengthy and complicated process. No two CSP’s are the same. From solutions offerings to service level agreements, and costs vary widely. The following considerations can help IT providers decide on what type of cloud partner will enable their business to optimize revenues, enabling them to meet business goals. 

Top considerations when choosing a cloud partner

  1. Data security
  2. Governance
  3. Architecture
  4. Contracts
  5. Support
  6. Reliability
  7. Costs

Data Security

Ransomware and cyber threats are increasing at an alarming rate. How does your prospective cloud partner measure up in terms of data security, and disaster preparedness? 

  • What measures are in place to mitigate the risk of data loss at an infrastructure level? 
  • Ask for internal security reports, incident reports, and evidence of remedial action to understand the reaction to security breaches.
  • Ensure security protocols comply to government and industry standards.
  • Tier III + data centers offer a great level of data protection. 

Governance

When migrating to the cloud, carefully assess how each prospective cloud service provider aligns with your business’s governance requirements.  Proactively take steps to understand where responsibilities lie.

  • Can each provider offer a solution that respects government regulatory requirements?
  • Can each provider meet industry regulations?
  • Can each provider meet internal compliance requirements?

Architecture

Finding a cloud service provider that can support your technology workflows will ensure long-term satisfaction and sustainability.  Consider how a prospective cloud service provider’s cloud solution fits with your existing technology stack. Does the solution complement your organization’s architecture environment, or will it require significant customization? Do they offer a robust back-up and recovery infrastructure that enables the quick recovery times that your clients expect? 

The right cloud provider must offer comprehensive support when migrating clients to the cloud.  They must also be willing to right-sizing technology resources.  Be sure to map the opportunities to use IT infrastructure more cost‑effectively, and ask the prospective cloud partner if there is any further opportunities to minimize spending. Look for a cloud service provider who looks out for your best interest at migration; they are more likely to help adapt your infrastructure solution as your needs change and grow.

Contracts

Contracts and Service Level Agreements are always a point of contention when selecting a cloud service provider. Prior to negotiating the terms of a contract, ensure that the cloud service provider meets your organization’s availability, capacity and support requirements. Most importantly, ensure that these promises are all legally enforceable.

At the same term, be sure that prospective contracts are not overly strict. Look for cloud service providers that offer infrastructure that easily migrate to other solutions/platforms. Avoid contracts that incur penalties for leaving an agreement prior to the end of the fixed-date period.

Support

When selecting a cloud service provider, consider both migration support and live support.

Migration to the cloud requires depth of knowledge and problem solving expertise. Ask prospective cloud service providers for case studies about their existing client base, and the process of migration. Can the provider fulfil your migration requirements, or will you require additional expertise from third party contractors?

Once the migration is complete, and your IT infrastructure exists in the cloud, can the cloud service provider promise service levels that meet your needs? Many providers tout their support services as their reason for being. Take steps to understand how the provider offers support. Is it in the form of online chat? From a call center? Or will the provider offer a live, dedicated support person? Understand what to expect, and decide if the offering meets your enterprise needs.

Reliability

Prospective cloud service providers should readily provide examples of past disaster recovery efforts. How much downtime has the provider experienced? How have they responded in the case of disaster for other cloud computing clients? Were those clients satisfied with the action taken? The provider’s response to these questions will help to understand history, and to set future response expectations. Tier III data centers provide guaranteed 99.982% uptime, and no more than 1.6 hours of downtime per year. They also ensure that in the event of a power outage, there is at least 72 hours of energy backups in the building. 

Costs

While many factors contribute to cloud service provider selection, cost is often the deciding factor. Cloud service providers typically offer solutions based on two pricing models: pay-as-you go and Fixed Rate.  These costs can dramatically change the business case, if they are not properly understood and proactively managed. Cloud environments offer the benefit of scalability but the cost implications must be clear and known in advance.

Pay-as-you go / on-demand – Pay for the compute power your small enterprise uses, with no upfront costs.

Fixed Rate – Dedicated resources for a fixed period of time at a fixed upfront cost based on forecasted usage. consumed bandwidth

Volume discounts – This applies to fixed rate contracts. As usage increases, additional services can be purchased in advance for a discounted price.

Taking the leap: Choosing your Cloud Service Provider

With constant technological evolution and new providers emerging regularly, it can be difficult to stay ahead of all the developments available in cloud computing. By cultivating a careful understanding of your small enterprise needs, qualifying how prospective cloud service providers meet your needs, and assessing opportunities for growth, you’ll be able to make an educated decision about who to partner with in your move to the cloud.

Migration to the cloud offers transformative opportunities for small enterprise. In order for that to happen, small enterprises must approach cloud migration with clarity of goals and expectations, thorough planning, deliberate execution, and ongoing management.

Curious about learning more about partnering with HostedBizz to expand your cloud service offering? HostedBizz offers a full-range of cloud computing solutions that help your small enterprise reduce costs and eliminate redundant technology solutions. Get in touch with our Customer Success team today to learn more!