Choosing a cloud hosting provider can feel like an intimidating process for those new to „the cloud,“ but it doesn’t have to be. The same rules apply for choosing any new service provider – you want to select a provider that is trustworthy, secure, reliable, affordable and appropriate for your industry and storage needs. In this post, learn what we recommend for selecting a new cloud hosting provider.
Makes Security the Highest Priority
The moment you lose your driver license or passport, everything else moves to second priority level. Your cloud provider should treat data security with the same level of intensity and focus. In short, if your data is not fully secured at all times, nothing else matters – no bells and whistles, no amount of attentive customer service, nothing.
You want to ensure the cloud provider you select is ahead of the curve in implementing the newest, most current security measures and has a flawless track record of keeping data secure.
In particular, look at how security is handled in these areas:
– Data breaches. Look at protocols, response times, reporting.
– Mobile/remote devices. How are lost/stolen devices handled?
– Auditing. Examine how security audits are performed and scored.
– Private AND public storage options. Select a company that offers the option of a private cloud for the most sensitive data (as applicable).
– Government AND industry compliance. Seek out a provider that is fully compliant with the latest government and industry standards regarding data storage and security.
Demonstrates Longevity and Employs Industry Experts
Cloud-based solutions are big business right now, which means a new startup can potentially be born any second. But you want to be sure your data is in the hands of a company that plans to stick around for awhile – and employs experts with the same agenda.
In particular, closely examine these factors:
– Track record. What is the provider’s track record in the cloud storage field AND in your particular industry?
– Customer service. What is the level of expertise of the provider’s customer service and technical staff? Is support and technical assistance available to you 24/7, including on weekends and holidays?
– Training and IT support. What kind and how much staff training and ongoing IT customer support comes with your cloud-based storage solution? Is the customer service/technical staff sourced from your home country, timely, courteous and knowledgeable?
A Broad Range of Solutions
If you plan to continue to expand your cloud-based operations, you may find it beneficial to select a cloud hosting provider that has specific expertise beyond simply providing a secure space in the cloud to save your data.
With industry-specific expertise, for instance, may come specific software or add-ons that can accommodate special needs such as maintaining HIPAA/HITECH compliance (medical data), PCI compliance (credit card storage and processing) and other industry- or business practice-specific compliance needs.
Where available, these types of complementary solutions can also help to cut costs, improve efficiency and provide better data protection and security. This also includes expertise with integrating different types of cloud-based web services – which can prove very helpful at tax time, for instance, when your principle cloud-based data storage solution can „talk“ to your cloud-based accounting software to import and process your business’s tax data.
As well, if your company has any plans to do business internationally (or already does), choosing a cloud storage provider that has expertise doing business in multiple countries can greatly ease integration and compliance issues for your company as your business expands.
Easy, Intuitive and User Friendly Interface
There is simply no substitution for software and web-based tools that are easy to use. The more intuitive the new platform and service seems to be, the less downtime you will suffer as staff gets used to the new cloud-based solution and learns to use it. As well, you will find internal compliance is higher when staff enjoy using the new tools and are able to grasp the basics quickly.
Option of a Period to Evaluate (or a Free Trial Period)
Ultimately, you want to select a cloud provider that is trustworthy, confident in its services and dedicated to maintaining expertise in the field of cloud-based services. One way to separate the industry leaders from the rest is to find out what your options are as your service first launches.
For instance, does the provider offer you a free trial period so you and your staff can evaluate the customer service, the platform and the software? If so, you may be on the right track as far as selecting a provider that wants to partner with you towards the long term. This also gives you an out if you discover that the service, however well set up in general, just doesn’t work as well as you might like for your specific purposes and needs.
Customizable Storage Solutions and Options
One very important benefit to look for in any cloud hosting provider is the option to create your own customized, individual storage solution. In this way, you won’t struggle to make an out-of-the-box solution work because you can tailor it to your company’s specific needs.
Here are some features to look for in a customizable solution:
– Does the company offer add-ons or software apps that can be added or removed as your needs dictate?
– Is the service scalable – which means can it grow and expand with you as your company (and its data storage and security needs) grows AND handle sudden spikes in inbound website traffic (such as around the holiday shopping season or when you do a special sale or promotion?
How Backups are Handled
Because your data will now be partially or wholly stored in a cloud-based system, you need to be sure that you know how backups will be handled if the provider’s system ever experiences down-time or an outage for any reason.
Sometimes this is called „load balancing.“ This term simply means that if there is an issue or problem with one or more of the servers storing your data, your provider has alternate measures in place to ensure your data is always completely backed up at all times.
These six tips can guide you to select a cloud hosting provider that will take care of your data storage and security needs as if it was their own data! Finally, you also need to select a company you enjoy working with that seems to have a similar corporate culture and personality, since you may be working closely together for some time and to accommodate your changing business needs in the future as your company grows. By carefully evaluating a small, select group of cloud hosting providers using these six criteria as your foundation, you will be able to make your final selection with confidence.