There’s a reason that cities are filled with skyscrapers instead of underground burrows, and that reason is the economy of space in the clouds. Your business needs cloud storage – that should go without saying. Servers are expensive investments that need constant maintenance and updating; it is much more affordable, in dozens of ways, to outsource your storage needs to the cloud.
However, not every cloud is equal. Before you consign your precious data to just any wispy cirrostratus, you should ensure you find a powerful, reliable cumulonimbus by checking your possible providers for the following seven important criteria.
You don’t want to trust your data with a business that is about to fold. It doesn’t matter how advanced their technology is, how excellent their customer service is, or how competitive their prices are if you can’t expect to work with them for years to come.
As you compile a list of possible cloud providers, you should look for a track record of stability and proof of healthy finances. For example, Cisco cloud services are backed by a strong and reliable corporation. Any evidence of legal issues, frequent transitions in management, plans for mergers or acquisitions, and other big changes will help you determine business health.
There are a few independent organizations that develop standards for cloud storage to help the industry improve service as a whole. However, different certifications providers tend to focus on different elements of cloud computing; for instance, ISO 27001 prioritize information security in the cloud whereas the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) focuses on simplifying cloud technologies.
Still, because certifications and standards are relatively new and incredibly diverse, a lack of accreditation is not necessarily a mark of poor quality. You should independently assess the knowledge, service, and effectiveness of cloud providers with whom you are interested in working.
You wouldn’t put a top-of-the-line graphics card in a desktop you intend to use for word processing. Similarly, different tech is required for different objectives in cloud computing. First, you should ascertain that your prospective cloud providers have tech that is compatible with yours; then, you should determine whether their tech will help you achieve your cloud objectives.
Many cloud providers offer migration services that will explain their tech, assess yours, and assist you in transferring your data to the cloud. Even if you have your own migration team, you should take advantage of offered technical staff to ensure cloud efficiency.
You should measure the reliability of potential providers by evaluating their performance for the last six to 12 months. You might find this information already published on their websites, but all providers should supply it if you ask.
No cloud is perfect; small amounts of downtime should be expected with even the best providers. What is most important is the provider’s response to downtime. They should have documentation on how long downtime typically lasts, how quickly they communicate with clients, and how they monitor and assess issues.
It is difficult to trust someone else with something as valuable as your business’s data, but in most cases, cloud storage is dramatically more secure than other options. To confirm this is true in your case, you should evaluate providers’ emphasis on information security.
To begin, you should find a provider with mature security operations that are demonstrably risk-based. You can ask for internal security audit reports, incident reports, and evidence of remedial actions. If necessary, you should identify providers that adhere to required compliances within your industry. Finally, as is the case with all aspects of the cloud, your provider’s security policies and processes should support your own.
Typically, service/ providers – including cloud service providers – rely on vendor relationships, subcontractors, and other service providers. For example, SaaS providers typically build their products on existing platforms. You must understand the complex relationships and service dependencies of your cloud’s provider before you enmesh yourself in what could be a dangerously tangled web.
This should be obvious, but it must be said: You must read the contracts, SLAs, protections, policies, terms, and agreements before committing yourself to one cloud provider. Further, you must understand as much of it as possible – or pay someone else to understand it for you.
While the real estate industry is required to make the process of buying a home as simple as possible, there are no industry standards or regulations affecting the contracts of cloud services. As a result, contracts tend to be filled with jargon and deliberately misleading language. If you want your cloud to behave like you expect, you need to spend time parsing the various agreements.