Your business is unique, and so should be your cloud service provider.Amir Hashmi, CEO and Founder of award-winning cloud and managed technology services company, zsah discusses essential best practices for picking the right provider for your enterprise needs.
Cloud computing has shown itself to be an invaluable asset to a business, ultimately transforming how we handle and store data and view IT infrastructure. Therefore, choosing the right service provider is a significant decision – and before you sign the dotted line, any potential provider must be able to fulfil these eight absolute priorities before you make them your IT partner.
- Keep your business data secure
Data is sacred to your business and your customers. Therefore, information must be stored securely. However, as we know, data loss can occur without warning, resulting in catastrophic results.
For example, hardware failure, power surges, or unforeseen circumstances such as natural disasters can lead to data loss. A 2019 LogicMonitor study reported that 96% of organisations had experienced at least one outage in the past three years, and 95% had experienced one brownout. Yet these figures will continue to increase, with corporate networks reporting a 50% increase in cyberattacks in 2021. So, your business must consider the seriousness of data security, as any of these events could represent an irretrievable data loss.
Luckily, any cloud provider worth their salt will have a range of measures to ensure your data is protected and backed up securely – ranging from simply storing duplications in different data centres to complex cybersecurity measures.
- Keep your overall cloud expenditure to a minimum
Spending thousands of pounds buying and maintaining in-house server equipment is not only costly to your business but requires specialised knowledge and expertise, which can impact the productivity of your business’s actual functions. It is cheaper and more cost-effective, in the long-term, to contract the services of a cloud provider – particularly if you are a small to medium-sized organisation where in-house IT teams have a limited time of focus.
However, this does not mean you should choose the cheapest option. To determine the total cost of ownership (TCO), you must consider the Service Level Agreement (SLAs), management, and support against the needs of your business. As with many things related to IT, skimping will cost you more in the long run.
Another aspect to consider would be to check for potential refund policies, or free trial offers if you are not satisfied with the service provided. This will enable you to opt-out of service easily without any commitment.
- Have the requisite in-house skills for your business needs
Cloud computing is complex and requires highly honed and specialised expertise that isn’t easy to come by. For example, the annual salary of an AWS Network Specialist ranges between £33,594 to £54,000 – with most being at the higher end; and you may have even more trouble finding one that’s available than paying them thanks to a growing digital skills shortage. Furthermore, you will probably need several, sometimes specialising in different areas of IT – particularly if you’re a more prominent company.
When you choose a good cloud provider, this is part of the package; it makes more sense to outsource to dedicated experts.
- Have the right experience and track record key to your industry
Cloud computing is complex, and so are the needs of your business – so not any IT pro will do. Your cloud provider must demonstrate that they have the requisite skills and staff to handle the cloud computing needs of your company now and where it might be in the future – as often, experience is just as important as technical know-how. Find one who thoroughly gets to know your business and asks the right questions suited to your industry. Match that with a strong case study portfolio, and you can be assured you are in good hands.
Also, cloud providers must have an unassailable track record to trust them with your data. Before taking them on, you should thoroughly examine their safety record, response to downtime and possible breach attempts, industry commentary, and accolades.
When attending initial meetings, you may want to consider discussing their customers, what the industry says about them, and how they stand out from their competitors. This will help one gain a clear overview, and if they cannot satisfactorily answer these questions, you should give them a wide berth.
- Offer the right tailored service package for your business
The best providers will offer various services that complement cloud computing – and may add new and previously unrealised value.
Some may go further, offering much more than cloud computing, for instance, integrated service platforms that transverse the cloud service. This includes DevOps and netops, digital advisory services, software development services, advanced cybersecurity solutions, or new and innovative ways of working in the cloud – such as Kubernetes.
- Show flexibility and can adapt and grow with your business
In today’s market, needs change quickly – and you need an agile managed cloud provider to stand by you and grow as you grow. Ultimately, they should be an extension of your own business and, therefore, intimate with your goals, requirements, and issues.
- Provide second to none customer support
Being supported in the right way is one of those simple little things that can make the experience of working with a provider infinitely more productive and less stressful. For example, if you need help, you want to get in touch with someone as soon as possible, and an added benefit would be speaking to the same person you did last time, so they are aware of your business.
A good service provider will acknowledge your relationship with your business and your teams. They know that having a respectful understanding of your enterprise is often a critical box that needs ticking. These personal touches can often make or break a business relationship.
- You feel they are an extension of your business team
Most cloud providers do not care about your well-being beyond your ability to pay for their services; however, the best ones will want what is best for you and help you achieve it. Ultimately, it is a symbiotic relationship built on trust and respect. Look for that click with your contact before you sign up, and you can be happy in the knowledge you began a strong working relationship.