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Choosing a Cloud Service Provider

Choosing a cloud provider or a cloud computing partner can be a daunting task. The amount of information out there on cloud computing can be overwhelming. In this article, we'll cover some basic criteria to look out for when choosing a cloud provider or partner.

What is Cloud Computing?

 

Cloud computing, in its most basic form, is the provision of computing services such as those involving servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence over the Internet (“the cloud”) in order to provide quicker innovation, more flexible resources, and economies of scale. To better manage expenses, increase efficiency in infrastructure management, and adapt to shifting business requirements, you normally only pay for the cloud services you really use.

What are Cloud Providers?

 

Cloud providers allow you the ability to design, manage, and deliver small as well as large-scale applications for the web and mobile platforms. When you sign up for virtual server hosting, the company will supply you with a variety of resources over the internet to facilitate streamlined software development. These resources may include big data analytics, internet of things, computation, and others.

Cloud resources often come with plug-and-play functionality, which enables users to make use of only the resources they require at the precise moment they require them.

Working with a cloud provider partner is often necessary to get a tailored experience and ensure that your needs are being met.

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How to Choose a Cloud Service Provider

 

When trying to choose a cloud provider, you can get overwhelmed with the amount of information and number of platforms out there. From AWS to Microsoft Azure, and everyone in between, there is a lot to consider. Our goal with this article is to lay out what to look for when choosing a cloud provider, in the simplest terms possible. Let’s dive in!

  • Security

In our opinion, the security of the platform you’re considering using should be your number one concern. If the provider you choose has a reputation for poor security, it’s not even worth considering. You should have a list of questions that pertain to your particular use cases and industry regarding security for your potential provider. 

When it comes to security, you generally get what you pay for. So while it may not be ideal for you budget to purchase a top of the line service, consider the risk you take when going ‘cheap’. Picking a cloud provider with a solid reputation can negate a lot of issues, which brings me to my next point. 

  • Credentials and Standards

If ensuring data safety is a top concern, you should seek for vendors that have been approved by organizations such as ISO 27001 or the Cyber Essentials Scheme run by the government.

Providers who exhibit an adherence to industry best practices and standards are ones that have demonstrated compliance with recognized quality standards and frameworks. Even if the requirements themselves do not determine the service provider you go with, they can be of great use in narrowing down the pool of candidates for that role.

  • Expertise

This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the previous point, but before choosing a partner to lead your cloud journey, make sure they have the knowledge to meet your needs. Your organization may invite them to carry out a crucial project if they have the necessary knowledge and you have faith in them to make your idea a reality.

Many of these cloud services recognize progress with badges of honor. Verifying their previous successes should be an early priority.

To determine if they are up to par with your requirements, you might request to see relevant credentials or ask them some questions. However, the rotten apples can be easily separated from the good ones by implementing a few checks and balances during the evaluation process.

  • Data Management

Relating back to security is data management. Depending on your organization’s needs and the policies in place regarding data residency, you may already have a data classification plan in 

place. You should at least be familiar with the regulations and data privacy laws that apply to sensitive personal information.

Evaluate encryption of data transfer to and within the cloud, if applicable, to ensure the safety of data at rest. In addition, sensitive volumes should be encrypted at rest to prevent unauthorized administrators from accessing data. File/folder encryption or client/agent encryption is a common way to secure sensitive data in object storage.

Keeping this in mind, it’s possible that local regulations to which your data is subject will play a significant role in your decision. You should search for service providers who give you some say over where your data is stored, processed, and managed if you have jurisdiction-specific needs and obligations. While it is the responsibility of cloud service providers to disclose the physical locations of their data centers, you should also take the initiative to learn this information.

Find out how the provider handles data loss and breach notifications, and make sure they fit in with your company’s risk tolerance and any applicable legal or regulatory requirements.

As part of a provider assessment, the CIF Code of Practice framework can be used to help identify pertinent security and data governance policies and processes.

  • Multi-Vendor Relationships

Having a partner who has relationships with multiple vendors will enable you to take advantage of a variety of cloud services. You do not need to be satisfied with the services provided by a single vendor because you have the ability to specify the option that best meets your unique requirements and then select it.

Conclusion

 

Include both objective and subjective criteria in your evaluation of potential service providers. You should acknowledge and verify not only the certifications and standards to which they comply, but also what their clients have to say about them in the form of case studies and testimonials.

If you want to avoid being locked in, you need to think long-term. Staying away from proprietary technology and having a well-defined exit strategy will save you a lot of trouble in the long run.

Invest some time and effort into drafting service level agreements (SLAs) and contractual conditions that are feasible, since these will serve as the primary source of assurance that the services will be provided in accordance with the terms of the agreement.

Jacob Murphy

Jacob Murphy

Jake is a writer and marketing associate for AllCode with a wealth of experience in a variety of industries.

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