Although there was a period of uncertainty regarding the advisability of using a cloud service, currently the trend is for small businesses to move more and more of their operations to the cloud — but there’s several things you should consider before making the move:
1. Is Bigger really better?
If you go online and research cloud service providers you’ll discover that many large companies are staking their claim on a cloud market that is steadily becoming more crowded. The service provider’s reputation and how long they have been providing cloud services should trump size.
Look for a cloud specialist with reputable technology that thoroughly knows the industry. Knowledge is the key to success and a smaller company that is responsible, successful, knowledgeable and respects it’s customers will serve your needs far better than a larger company concerned only with profit.
2. What are your security needs and how can they best be met?
With cloud use increasing, there has been a great deal of discussion pertaining to the security of the cloud, but the fact is that there is very little difference between the trust you place in your ISP and your other technology providers. Nothing is foolproof, but if you choose the right company, you should be able to use its cloud services without being unduly concerned about security.
Just remember that every organization’s security needs and expectations are different so it’s essential to understand how the vendor can meet your particular needs.
3. How does the cloud provider back up data?
Be familiar with the basics of data back-up. Know not only how the cloud provider backs up data, but — heaven forbid — what would happen if they went out of business or if you wanted to move data to another provider. Find out about the provider’s storage reputation, the number and location of their data centers and redundancy of their infrastructure.
4. What kind of SLA, or Service Level Agreement will I get?
Be sure and secure a good SLA. Industry certifications capture a moment in time and don’t necessarily indicate good performance. The best way to ensure quality service is with a good Service Level Agreement using clear contractual language.
Make certain that what you expect to get for your money is plainly spelled out in the contract, so that there won’t be any arguments later on. Keep an eye out for vendors who publish their performance and have clear financial penalties for underperformance.
5. What type of customer service is available?
The best customer service departments for cloud services are staffed with cloud specialists who are available 24/7. Be certain that the vendor you choose has customer service specialists who can meet your organization’s needs and are friendly and cooperative.
6. Is a free trial offered?
One of the main advantages of SaaS is that it makes it easy to deploy a free trial and most vendors offer this to those considering their services. Start small with the trial and give yourself a taste of what is to come without trying to absorb everything at one time, then once you are satisfied, you can expand the service to include confidential data and other mission-critical systems.
While there are pros and cons to using a cloud system, most users seem satisfied once they have tried cloud computing services. The above are just some simple guidelines to help you choose the right company to service your business. Making a decision that you can live with also involves having a thorough knowledge and understanding of your business and its needs.