For smaller firms, one of the biggest benefits of moving their operations to the cloud is that they can focus on the business at hand and let the cloud-based service handle such worrisome IT concerns as security, maintenance, backup, and support.
With an increasing number of companies offering an ever-growing menu of cloud computing solutions with options ranging from AWS, Rackspace to google cloud, choosing a cloud service provider can be a daunting task. To help you overcome this challenge, below are a set of key points to be considered when choosing a cloud provider.
1. Business Health & Process
- Business knowledge and technical know-how. The provider should understand your business and what you are looking to do and be able to match it up with their technical expertise.
- Compliance audit. The provider should be able to validate compliance with all of your requirements through a third-party audit.
- Financial health. Looks for the provider’s track record on stability and their healthy financial position with sufficient capital to operate successfully over the long term.
- Organization, governance, planning, and risk management. The provider should have a formal management structure, established risk management policies, and a formal process for assessing third-party service providers and vendors.
- Trust. You should like the company and its principles. Check the provider’s reputation and see who its partners are. Find out its level of cloud experience. Read reviews and talk to customers whose situation is similar to yours.
2. Security Practice
- Security infrastructure. There should be a comprehensive security infrastructure for all levels and types of cloud services.
- Security policies. A well laid out comprehensive security policies and procedures should be in place for controlling access to providers and customer systems.
- Identity management. Changes to any application service or hardware component should be authorized on a personal or group role basis and authentication should be required for anyone to change an application or data.
- Data backup and retention. Policies and procedures to ensure the integrity of customer data should be in place and operational.
3. Technical Capabilities
- Change management. A documented and formal process for requesting, logging, approving, testing, and accepting changes is essential for a streamlined change management process.
- Hybrid capability. A hybrid cloud gives the customer the mixed advantages of a public and private cloud. Even though you may not be using this type of model, a service provider supporting this model can make your future transition easier. This is an advantage that you may wish to exploit at a later time.
- Ease of deployment, management, and upgrade. Make sure the provider has mechanisms that make it easy for you to deploy, manage, and upgrade your software and applications.
- Standard interfaces. The use of standard APIs at the service provider helps your organization to easily build connections to the cloud for data extractions and transfers.
- Event management. The provider should have a formal system for event management which is integrated with its monitoring/management system.
4. Administration & Support
- Performance reporting. Performance reports from the provider auto-sent or manually extracted helps you in continuous performance monitoring
- Service Level Agreements (SLAs). Providers should be able to promise you a basic level of service. Check if the agreed SLA can meet your IT business objectives.
- Billing and accounting. An automated billing system helps you to monitor what resources you are using and the cost, so you don’t run up unexpected bills. Check if there are dedicated helplines for support for billing-related issues.
- Resource monitoring and configuration management. Established providers do provide their customers with controls to track and monitor services provided to customers and any changes made to their systems.