Questions to Ask Your Potential Cloud Service Provider
Seemingly everybody is talking about cloud solutions, from small businesses to large Enterprises. It’s not hard to see why – the benefits over on-site deployments are numerous – rapid deployment, potentially lower costs of ownership, and reduced maintenance and administration, to name but three.
For IT companies and Managed Service Providers (MSP’s) offering solutions to their clients, the cloud equals opportunity. Unsurprisingly, rather than investing the considerable time and effort required to develop their own cloud solutions from scratch, the majority of smaller IT solution providers instead partner with cloud service vendors to provide their clients with services ranging from CRM to backup.
But one of the benefits of cloud services – rapid deployment – can also lead some IT companies to look at partnerships with cloud vendors with rose tinted glasses. If things go wrong with the cloud service, the first complaints won’t come into cloud vendors – they’ll come into the IT solution providers selling those services. For this reason alone, it’s important for IT Solution Providers to take a step back and ask potential cloud partners “What happens when things go wrong? And is it really the best solution for your business?
Below are a few questions that you should ask your potential cloud solution provider:
Does the cloud fit our current business needs?
It is true that, for many businesses, the cloud is the way to go. Gartner, Inc., the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company, has said that by 2020, a corporate “no-cloud” policy will be as rare as a “no-Internet” policy is today. This is the kind of hype that makes it seem like everyone who matters is already using the cloud, and those companies who have remaining physical infrastructure will be left in the dust. But that may not always be the case. Cloud migration doesn’t make sense in all scenarios.
Security and Availability
For one, moving systems to the cloud may complicate security measures and/or unique regulatory compliance considerations. In some cases, (i.e. HIPAA, instances of national security, etc.) extreme information security is necessary and having direct control of an on-site system is critical.
Learn about how they deal with and monitor security issues, install patches and perform maintenance updates. Does it match your company’s expected level of security or service? Ask where they host data and if it’s a shared or a dedicated environment, and find out how many servers they have and if those servers are set in a cluster. It’s also critical to know if the infrastructure is mirrored and 100 percent redundant. While you’re at it, investigate their disaster recovery processes and determine if they operate out of a Tier 1 or Tier 4 data center.
This is a deal breaker. Be sure to ask how their solution integrates with your current IT environment and other solutions. What’s their track record and game plan when it comes to integrating with other, on-premise solutions you already have installed? If halfway down the road they realize it does not integrate, what is their contingency plan and what kind of guarantees are they willing to offer?
Uptime Metrics and Reports:
Find out how your vendor measures uptime and how that’s communicated to clients, such as what part of the hosting infrastructure (hosting, server reliability, service delivery, etc.) the uptime calculation takes into account. Ask about processes in place for handling major outages: do they have a SWOT team in place, how do they typically communicate with the client (phone, email, RSS Feed, Twitter, SMS), and at what speed and with what level of details. Determine if they are proactive or proactively reactive when a problem occurs. disaster recovery plan for cloud services