February 1, 2018

6 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Cloud Provider

Moving to the cloud is an investment of both time and money. When done properly, it can result in cut costs, streamlined workflow, and elimination of in-house IT personnel and hardware. However, there are many cloud computing and hosting providers in the marketplace which makes the decision of choosing the best option for your company extremely difficult – especially when a lot of those vendors make big promises and can’t deliver.

To help you work through this dilemma, here are six questions to ask when choosing a cloud provider that can best match your business, technical and operational needs.

1. What is your downtime history/record?

Having access to your business-critical data and applications is essential for operating an efficient and successful organization. So in the case that your data or apps that are accessed via your cloud cannot be utilized, you are putting your business at risk of wasting both time and money. If you decide to use a cloud service provider, availability is a major issue that must be discussed. Make sure your provider can guarantee access to your cloud 24x7x365. Having zero downtime leads to increased productivity, higher revenue, and greater opportunities – giving you peace of mind that your business will be up-and-running at all times.

It is also important to note that upgrades, maintenance and scheduled testing are a quintessential part of a cloud provider’s duties. That is why at Cetrom, all of these actions occur during off-peak hours, such as overnight and on weekends, to ensure that you don’t experience any disruption in your accessibility and can remain productive.

2. Do you have experience working with industry-specific applications?

Managing and working with applications are a time-consuming task and can be confusing without the proper technical background. With the right cloud provider, you will benefit from IT Application Experts who will take on the burden of managing your applications. So, if you're in a vertical where the data is critical from a compliance standpoint, such as healthcare or finance, it might make the most sense to choose a vendor that specializes in cloud solutions for sensitive data.

3. What level of support can I expect?

No matter how perfect your organization may be, there will always come a time when a problem arises. When this happens, you tend to go through the same headache of a routine: you call support, hear an automated script, get put on hold and finally receive impersonal communication. When it comes to pressing IT needs, this sequence of events is unacceptable.

When choosing a cloud computing vendor make sure it is capable of addressing your needs, no matter the time of day. This means whether you need assistance overnight, during the week, or even on the weekend, you can be certain that support personnel will be available to resolve your technical issues 24x7x365 via email or phone.

Also, be wary of cloud computing companies that utilize a tiered support system where only entry-level issues can be initially solved. Having support that is essentially an extension of your staff and can solve your issues from the start will make all the difference.

4. Are you SOC 2 Type ll and HIPAA compliant?

Security and compliance are key priorities in evaluating cloud vendors. Your organization remains accountable to regulators, business partners, customers and employees. It's absolutely essential that your vendor has experience dealing with whatever standards apply to your industry. Cetrom is independently, annually audited and verified to ensure all the layers of its cloud security exceed industry standards. To reinforce its commitment to quality, Cetrom is both SOC 2 Type ll and HIPAA compliant.

5. How secure is your cloud solution?

The Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements 16 (SSAE 16) regulation was created by the Auditing Standards Board (ASB) of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) for redefining and updating how service companies report compliance controls. It is important to invest in a cloud vendor that complies with this regulation in order to ensure that you are being provided with the level of protection your data deserves.

Don’t forget to ask about the protection of your network. Make sure the cloud vendor you are vetting utilizes enterprise-level firewalls, multi-layered virus and spam protection, intrusion prevention, daily backups, encryption, two-factor authentication for sign-on access, and user-defined permissions.

6. Are they reinvesting in the best hardware, software available in the market?

Cloud vendors should always be committed to strategically addressing the cloud computing market. By reinvesting into the company, cloud vendors are able to continuously offer clients the best technology available with optimum performance, reliability and stability. In fact, Cetrom is known for continuously reinvesting about a $1 million dollars back into the company on an annual basis. In 2016 for instance, the company focused on restructuring its infrastructure, improving and developing new technology and products, such as two-factor authentication (2FA), and enhancing the overall customer service and support to ensure the highest quality services for their clients.

Takeaways

While the questions above won’t give you all the information you need, they will help you build a solid starting point when you are determining which cloud service provider you will trust with your data and applications. The reality is, choosing a cloud vendor cannot be done in one day. Take the time to do your homework and verify that all of the answers you were given are in fact true, even if that means talking to references. This is essential when determining which provider will be the one that can deliver the features and resources that will best support your ongoing business, operational, security and compliance goals.

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