13 Aug Things to Look for in a Cloud Hosting Provider
Cloud computing is ever-increasing in popularity and widespread use—and it’s not going away anytime soon. Thankfully, the extensive list of cloud computing benefits make switching to the cloud a wise business decision. However, when you plan to move your business operations to the cloud, you need to select your cloud hosting provider with caution. No two cloud hosting providers are the same, and the differences between what they can provide may be drastic.
Before discussing what you should look for in a cloud hosting provider, let’s first understand what cloud computing is and what the benefits are.
What is Cloud Computing?
According to Wikipedia, “Cloud computing is the on-demand availability of computer system resources, especially data storage and computing power, without direct active management by the user. The term is generally used to describe data centers available to many users over the Internet. Large clouds, predominant today, often have functions distributed over multiple locations from central servers.”
Cloud computing services are divided into three primary categories:
- Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)
- Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
Benefits of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing offers several benefits to your business. According to Gartner, “the worldwide public cloud services market is projected to grow 17.3 percent in 2019 to total $206.2 billion, up from $175.8 billion in 2018.”
Benefits of cloud computing can include:
- Cost efficiency
- Scalable options
- Reliable security
- Optimized collaboration
- Work flexibility
- Immediate updates
Things to Look for in a Cloud Hosting Service Provider
In order to take advantage of the full benefits of cloud computing, it’s important to select a reliable cloud hosting provider for your business. Here are some of the most important tips to follow when searching for a cloud service provider:
- Set Clear and Attainable Goals — Don’t move your business assets to the cloud without a plan. It is essential that lead management positions at your business fully understand and agree on the purpose of moving to the cloud, how it should be conducted, and what the top priorities are for making the switch. These goals should also be made clear to your cloud service provider to ensure that all of your cloud and business needs are met. If it doesn’t look like your objectives will be adequately met, then it’s perfectly fine to move discussions to another cloud service provider before signing any contracts.
- Know the Data Center Locations — Cloud services providers that tout very low hosting prices come at another cost—your security. Your business information may be at risk if it is hosted in certain foreign countries with very few security regulations. Be sure to thoroughly investigate where your prospective cloud providers host their data centers, as well as the security regulations of those countries. While it is beneficial to find a good deal for cloud hosting, it’s important to look deeper than cost to be certain that your data will be housed in a safe and secure location.
- Look for Security Certifications — Cloud service providers can voluntarily become certified for their security infrastructure. The organizations which analyze cloud security infrastructure and award certifications include the British Standards Institution (BSI), the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), and ISO 27001. Additionally, your business can request internal audit reports of potential cloud providers in order to see the provider’s record of incidents and how they resolved them. Certifications show the credibility of which cloud hosting providers can be trusted.
- Seek Out Existing Customers — The best way to learn how a cloud hosting provider performs in action is to gain the insight of existing customers, either directly or through reviews. Before making any decisions, request that the prospective provider share with you client reference contacts, particularly of other businesses that are utilizing the same services that your business is interested in. The most important thing to ask of other clients is how efficient and helpful are the provider’s customer support services.
- Check the Data Security — The security of your data is crucial to selecting the right cloud hosting provider for your business. Misuse of client data on the part of the provider can mean devastating results for your business. Request to view the privacy, security, and data-handling policies of all potential cloud hosting service providers. Investigate and find concrete answers to who would have access to your data, how they can guarantee confidentiality, and what are the data recovery plans.
- Plan and Understand Exit Policies — Before making any agreements or signing final contracts, it is crucial to discuss the plan and policies for ending service with the cloud hosting provider. This discussion stage can lead to negotiations and reveal the true nature of the provider. Be sure to fully understand any penalties for leaving, along with how your business will retrieve its data in the event of a departure from the partnership. Both your business and the cloud hosting provider should be in agreement of all terms before making the deal official.
- Investigate Disaster Recovery Plans — No cloud service provider is completely immune to the potential for a major incident that will affect most if not all of their clientele. Because of this, it is extremely important to know the provider’s disaster recovery plan. Have the potential provider outline for your business exactly how long can your data be down before serious data losses happen and how exactly will your business be impacted. If possible, request a copy of the provider’s disaster recovery documentation. It is also wise for your business to purchase extra risk insurance in the case of potential data and monetary loss.
- Evaluate Costs — As mentioned earlier, getting what seems to be the best deal in terms of cost does not always equate to the best deal in terms of service and security. You don’t want your business to pay an unfair price, of course, but the quality of the cloud hosting service should come first. A cloud provider with package pricing far outside of the average range should send up some red flags. Begin to compare costs only once you have narrowed down the options of your business to a select few cloud hosting providers.
If your business is considering moving operations over to the cloud, consider Virtual Stacks Systems UK for your cloud-hosted business software solutions. From enterprise resource planning software with eZnet ERP, to cloud-based email hosting with eZCloud Mail, and more, our cloud hosted business solutions are designed to increase workforce optimization, while also improving security. Contact us to learn more!