Over the last few years many businesses have begun switching over to Cloud services, to run their key applications and store documentation – the key advantages being financial and resource savings, and hopefully lower maintenance costs also. With abundant providers in the market to choose from, including familiar names such as Google and Amazon alongside many smaller less well-known or established players, it can be pretty difficult for a business to ascertain which is the best option for them. Here is a rough guide to some of the issues that need to be borne in mind when considering a Cloud migration:
There are some Cloud service providers that tend to operate in specific industries, giving them a depth of knowledge and experience that is hard to beat elsewhere. For instance, construction or manufacturing companies may want to look at a provider such as mclarensoftware.com to take advantage of their technical expertise in these fields. Experience in areas such as secure hosting is valuable. You should also check how easy it is going to be to migrate your data across using each provider, as this can be an additional cost if not managed well.
Cost is likely to be a big factor in many decisions, but you can’t put a price on security. It’s highly recommended to select a provider that makes security their priority – all data transfers should be fully encrypted, and multiple firewalls plus regularly updated virus protection are also a must. A good provider should recognise that online threats are constantly appearing and evolving, and be taking active steps to counter them.
Ascertain your company’s Cloud requirements – do you need a privately-hosted or on-premises service, or a public Cloud, or a hybrid solution? Many providers offer a range of options to suit every company’s needs.
Check the service level agreement before signing a contract with a provider – if an outage should occur that might significantly affect your business – say you’re an online retailer – at what point will compensation, and of what type, kick in?
Look for a provider that is constantly developing the package of services it offers. Cloud technologies are relatively new, and there is still a lot of work going on behind the scenes. Acknowledgement that this is a fast-moving and exciting industry shows that this is a provider seriously invested in the Cloud and can be trusted.
There are plenty of perfectly functional low-cost providers, but they may not have the capabilities your business specifically needs. One complaint many low-cost users have is a lack of technical support or customer service, which are essential really.
A reliable provider is likely to have a flexible and varied portfolio of services on offer. Must-haves include data encryption; user-authentication and audit trails for document management, and scalability – if your business needs change in the next few years, how easy is it going to be to extend storage? Compatibility is important to many businesses too, especially with teams out in the field – can files be easily shared between pcs, laptops, smartphones and tablets?