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Evaluating Cloud Service Providers

Seven Criteria When Evaluating Cloud Service Providers

There’s no shortage of cloud service providers out there. But how do you filter out the marketing hype and choose the right one for you? Features and costs of course matter, but other factors are just as important, and you can’t discard them. Here are the key cloud service evaluation criteria you need to pay attention to.

#1. Evaluating Cloud Service Providers – Compliance

evaluating-cloud-service-providers-complianceDepending on your organization or industry, you may also have to meet compliance standards such as the System and Organization Controls (SOC 2) or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Some cloud providers are in a better position to ensure this kind of compliance than others. If you require specific compliance, evaluate this criterion before moving on to the others since without it the others become irrelevant.

#2. Evaluating Cloud Service Providers – Security

evaluating-cloud-service-providers-securityBefore you can evaluate a cloud provider’s security, you need to know your security requirements. If you are looking for cloud solutions for a business or organization, these requirements will be more demanding. Especially if you will be storing sensitive data in the cloud.

Once you know the level of security you require, you can look into the provider’s security measures and how they protect data. Ask questions to clarify any doubts or concerns you may have.

Comparing cloud service security is crucial to minimizing the risk of security vulnerabilities later on, which can cost money, time, and damage your reputation.

Cloud services providers typically provide documentation on their security practices. Make sure to check what each part is responsible for as many providers will adhere to a shared responsibility approach.

#3. Evaluating Cloud Service Providers – Cloud Architecture

evaluating-cloud-service-providers-architecturePublic cloud? Private cloud? Hybrid cloud? If you are already using cloud services, it’s important to think of the way you can integrate them all in the most cost-effective and scalable way. This is especially important if you plan on relying on cloud services and resources for years to come.

In many cases, getting additional cloud services from a provider you’re already using makes implementation and deployment easier and can save you money. However, there are expectations to this. Many companies today opt for cloud services from different providers and use different architecture integrations to manage them. Or else create two or more clouds.

Also essential is to consider cloud storage options and which one suits you best. Decide how often you need to access the data and whether you may need to put some into hot storage for more frequent access. Archival storage is usually different from provider to provider.

#4. Evaluating Cloud Service Providers – Management Requirements

How much management will the cloud services provider demand? And will you be able to integrate existing solutions with the cloud services you need? Assess the time, cost, and technical management requirements that come with the cloud solution.

It’s important to factor in too your IT team’s experience with the cloud and how the new service may increase or decrease their workload.

#5. Evaluating Cloud Service Providers – Service Levels

In addition to data security and compliance, you may have specific availability, capacity, or support requirements. Even if you don’t, it’s good to know what exactly you are being promised. This has to be written down in a legally enforceable contract.

#6. Evaluating Cloud Service Providers – Support and Assistance

Is call center or chat support sufficient? Many cloud services providers will ask you to pay extra for more support. It’s best to clarify this point from the start if you anticipate requiring technical support during your contractual agreement. Otherwise, you may find yourself losing precious time getting the level of support you need if a problem arises.

#7. Evaluating Cloud Service Providers – Costs

evaluating-cloud-service-providers-costsSome cloud providers determine the cost of cloud resources per hour or minute. They may offer on-demand billing with no upfront costs, upfront reservation costs based on expected usage, and prepaid resources with discounts.

What all this means is that you often can’t directly compare provider costs just by looking at their pricing. Instead, you have to estimate usage patterns and then consider which pricing model works best for you.

The Wrap Up

Equipped with the cloud service evaluation criteria we’ve been discussing you can better analyze cloud providers and their offerings. You’ll be able to zoom in on the most important characteristics of their offering and make an informed decision. Take time to look at each criterion and don’t hesitate to ask questions. It can save you time and money in the long run.

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