Are you thinking of moving to Cloud Computing?
Choosing a cloud IT provider: key considerations
Over the last few years there has been a steady move from traditional infrastructure to cloud computing, due to the many benefits this brings to a business. Cloud computing runs on a virtual server, replacing on-premises, or data centre servers and their associated hardware. This offers the same storage, security and networking services as a traditional server, but with far greater flexibility when building a business infrastructure.
The main advantages of cloud computing are cost savings, flexibility, scalability, and enhanced security. A cloud provider will essentially run the business infrastructure as a service, and are responsible for security, backups, and application support.
When choosing a cloud IT provider, there are some key considerations. The following points will help to compare services, and source the right cloud provider for your business.
There are undoubtedly cost savings to be made by moving to cloud computing, which is why many businesses choose to do so. There is no need to pay for IT engineers to service the infrastructure, as the provider covers both configuration and maintenance.
Another cost advantage is that cloud IT services are provided on a pay for use basis, rather like traditional utilities such as gas and water. This can save the business money if capacity needs change.
However, when it comes to choosing the right provider, cost should not be the only motivating factor. It is important to weigh this up against service, as the cheapest providers may not offer the level of on-going support your business requires.
Well-established cloud IT providers are likely to offer the most robust security, using data centres for backup storage and meaning peace of mind for the business.
When working with your chosen provider, good communication is essential. They must take the time to really understand your business, highlight any existing challenges that can be addressed, and offer advice on process improvements.
They will need to have a high level of technical expertise, in order to quickly respond to any necessary changes to configuration, and to trouble shoot pain-points or breakdowns.
However, a good provider will not be tempted to bamboozle a business owner with tech speak and jargon. You want to work with a provider who speaks plain English and explains things clearly from the start.
#3: Technical capabilities
A good cloud provider will offer sufficient technical capabilities to meet your business requirements, coupled with mechanisms to make deployment and management straightforward for the end user. They should use standard interfaces (API’s), which enable your business to easily build connections to the cloud.
The provider should have a robust system in place for managing and monitoring your infrastructure, including event management and investigation. They should also have a clear system for any changes you request to the infrastructure, so they can be logged, tested an accepted in a timely manner.
All cloud services should be covered by a resilient security infrastructure, which includes firewall and VPN (virtual private network) connectivity. There should also be an integrated system for automated backup, and physical security to protect any hardware used for backup data storage.
The recent changes to legislation, around data handling and storage, mean it is essential that your provider has procedures in place to protect the integrity of customer data and information.
If there is a security breach or system failure, there should be a clear process in place for disaster recovery and restoration of service. This will form part of your agreement with them and their commitment to your Business Continuity Plan.
Your business infrastructure will be managed by your chosen provider, so it is important that you know what level of on-going support to expect. This should be clear, and formally set out in the SLA’s (Service Level agreements) between parties.
Part of your provider’s on-going support should be to constantly track and monitor activity across your infrastructure and provide regular performance reports. There should be clear expectations around response times, whether it is taking steps to fix a problem, or responding to a routine request for change.
In addition to the specific points of comparison above, your choice of cloud provider should be one with a good reputation in the industry, as a well-established, financially sound business. They should offer comprehensive risk management assessment and a rigorous vetting of any third-party services or vendors they recommend.
To talk to us about our cloud IT provision and find out how our services can support your business in migrating to the cloud, please contact us here.
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