Choosing a cloud provider can seem daunting, but with the right advice it need not be. Firstly, it is essential to choose one that understands the needs of your small business or organisation. You also need to look at the security and performance levels offered. While larger providers usually deliver greater stability and features, they may not be able to offer the flexibility and aggressive price plans of smaller, more nimble suppliers.
Choosing a cloud service provider involves the same price/quality trade-off awareness that we discussed in Module 1. In that Module we focused on the choice of Internet Service Provider (ISP), and the issues with the cloud are similar – plus, many ISPs also offer cloud services.
You need to know why you're moving to the cloud, and whether it is in your best interests to do so. Never rush to put everything in the cloud; it takes time, planning and risk assessment. Most users will begin with the transfer of email and data storage to the cloud service, and slowly become accustomed to the optimum use of the cloud (see Figure 5) to maximize the benefits for their particular small business or organisation.
Figure 5 – Different Services that can Inter-connect through the Cloud
Like any ICT project, not asking the right questions during supplier selection can lead to trouble down the track. ACCAN recommends that you consider –
- Which cloud services are provided?
- Are the services appropriate for your needs?
- What is the provider's pricing structure?
- Can the provider's cloud service be scaled up to meet your business needs?
- The provider's approach to security.
- The location of their data centres, and how safe they are.
- What happens if they lose your data?
- What customer support services are offered?
- What is the provider's down-time history?
- What assistance, if any, will be available when getting set up?
- How will you access your organisation's cloud services?