Choosing the right public cloud provider: A checklist

In this guest post, Gordon Grosse, director of technical services at IT support and datacentre managed service provider MCSA, offers advice on how to choose the right public cloud provider for your business.

It is common knowledge that moving to the cloud can cut business costs, streamline workflows, eliminate the need for hardware and reduce requirements for in-house IT personnel.

The cloud can also make it easier for people to work remotely, collaborate, backup their data and ensure business continuity.

But, with such a wide variety of cloud services and applications for businesses to choose from, how should companies set about sourcing ones that are right for them?

Part of the process should include looking beyond what the public cloud giants (Amazon, Google, and Microsoft) have to offer, because there are a whole host of lesser known names whose technologies may fit the bill.

Similarly, companies are under no obligation to use the services of a single provider. As such, they should consider adopting a hybrid or multi-cloud approach. This may prove beneficial from a cost, manageability, and business continuity perspective, for example.

Ways to pay in public cloud

Companies must also bear in mind that there are a number of ways to pay for cloud services, and these agreements need to take account of the fluctuations in your business.

Some cloud providers demand large upfront costs or make customers pay a premium should they exceed certain data limits.

The pricing scheme should be pay-as-you go from the outset, with the ability to add services as needed, and can be charged hourly, monthly, bi-annually or annually, depending on the vendor.

It is also worth requesting a copy of the service level agreement (SLA) to check what the pricing is based on, in case there are additional costs for adding or deleting files, in the case of cloud storage deployments.

Security assessments

Cloud security is a focus for all IT and business managers when weighing up the pros and cons of using public cloud. Before leaping in, it is advisable to get up to speed with the latest guidance on data security and governance and what measures are in place should an incident or outage occur.

The location and security of the provider’s datacentres, where your company’s information will be stored, is also a critical consideration for many organisations.

In addition to finding out how they would deal with malicious attacks, it’s important to know how a cloud provider protects its datacentres – and therefore your company data – from natural disasters, including fires, floods, earthquakes and storms.

Public cloud provider assurances

Any provider needs to offer technical support around the clock, 24/7. You need to ascertain what their average response and resolution time is and whether you’ll be speaking to knowledgeable engineers or customer service reps.

A formal agreement with stated SLAs is strongly advised, as it ensures you have full visibility of the risks to your business. It should also set out what measures are available to ensure business continuity, in the event of a system problem or failure.

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