Bringing Cloud Computing Down To Earth

For some, fully understanding “the cloud” can often feel as elusive as grasping an actual cloud. From afar you can see its form and comprehend a cloud as an idea, but driving into a layer of might change your previously established opinion. Being inside of a cloud leaves you disoriented, searching for an end or a beginning that will allow you to recall that idea you once thought you knew.

Personal Touch of a Cloud Provider

In many ways, the same can be said for the digital cloud. While you may have experienced the storage benefits, or conceptually comprehend the efficiencies and accessibility that a cloud network enables, when you dive in to find a cloud provider you suddenly may find that you don’t know what parts of your business you want the cloud for, or how to best deploy the cloud network to achieve the IT goals of the business. The hardest part is that you may not even be sure what to ask for.

One of the benefits of bringing on a managed cloud provider is that IT expertise and assistance. You, as a business owner, shouldn’t need to be become an expert on IT matters in order to hire someone to deal with your IT matters. But, you also shouldn’t need to worry that your cloud provider is taking advantage of you, or charging you for services that you don’t need. One of the primary and most valuable reasons for hiring an expert in cloud computing is the ability to break down their services into layman terms and quickly and clearly relate their services to the needs of your business. This quality is what makes many managed IT partners and cloud providers, like Continuous, a great asset for small and medium-sized businesses.

When having a conversation with a potential cloud provider, the following considerations should be made explicitly clear regarding their services. If the provider does not offer this information up front, here are some topics you should bring up to help determine the quality of their service.

CLOUD SECURITY

When it comes to cloud computing, security can be quite a broad topic, perhaps too broad. Your cloud provider should be able to ensure that your data will be safe with them by disclosing all of their physical and digital security measures. Be sure that you understand:

  1. Location - Where are their data centers geographically located? Different countries, and even different states, have individual laws governing digital security. A data center’s physical location may affect the baseline security measures that your cloud provider has to adhere to. Geographic location may also carry more threats of natural disaster (areas prone to floods, earthquakes, etc.). Of course, disaster can strike anywhere and is never 100% predictable, does your cloud provider have redundant data centers to ensure continuity?
  2. Facilities - How big are their facilities? What structural safeguards are protecting the buildings, the computers, and the power? How many people work at these facilities? Has the person you are talking to ever been to the facility?
  3. Encryption - When and where is your data encrypted? Who has access to your data outside of your office or company?

SERVICE

What services does your cloud provider offer, and what is NOT included within the offer? The cloud service models include infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a device (SaaS). To determine which of these services would help your business grow, the potential partner needs to understand the intricacies of your business, including your business size, application use, sensitivity of data, and type of clients or interaction with the public.

COST

Be clear about your budget. Regardless of the price the cloud provider is quoting, that provider should be able to provide you with a cost breakdown and explanation, as well as discuss alternative solutions should their quote be above outside of your budget. If a charge or fee doesn't make sense to you, compare it to other cloud providers.

RESILIENCY

The most discomforting aspect of the cloud is the perceived lack of control over your data. With that in mind, it’s important to understand the provider’s disaster recovery protocols. What data recovery plans does your cloud provider have in place to ensure you will always have access to your data? How will they recover your information if a facility suffers damage from human or natural disasters? Power Outage? Data theft? These are all ideas that should be clarified before any contract is signed or payment is made.

FLEXIBILITY

Make sure you know what you are signing up for! Is your cloud provider able to adjust your service plans, either increasing or decreasing services or storage, based on need? Will this cost you more?

AVAILABILITY

Even if all of your questions are answered correctly, that doesn’t mean more will not arise. To what extent and at what times will your cloud providers be available for troubleshooting, bug fixing, or other miscellaneous questions you might have? If you need to access your data at 3am, and find it missing, will you get help immediately?

If one or more of these considerations confounds you, it may be an indicator that you may not be getting the best cloud service available, at your budget. Your potential cloud provider should want to really be a true partner to your company and establish a symbiotic relationship with your business. Their ability to do their job properly relies on being a part of your team, that means having a vested interest and understanding of what IT measures will make you, and consequently them, a success. Choosing a cloud provider that you can trust will make all the difference.

As always, if you’re interested in learning about ways Continuous Networks can be of a service to your cloud computing needs, give us a call or browse our site.