How to Choose the Right Cloud Provider for Small Business

More and more, businesses are getting rid of the servers in their office and migrating their entire technology infrastructure to the cloud. In fact, according to a Technavio report, the global virtual desktop market is expected to grow at a pace of 11% year over year through 2020.

This isn’t the only trend we’re seeing, though; while many businesses have determined that a cloud model makes sense for their business, few are confident that they can identify the best cloud provider.

How can you tell which provider has built the most reliable environment? How can you know if they’ve taken all necessary security precautions? How can you sift through all the technical jargon and abbreviations to know if you’re just getting “sold”?

It can feel like an overwhelming process, but the good news is that there are some guidelines you can use to help select a provider that will take proper care of your data, your people, and your business. We’ll walk you through them below.

Why it’s so important to choose your cloud provider carefully

When you move your technology systems into “the cloud,” what you’re really doing is using someone else’s servers. In the case of a virtual desktop model, all of your back-end computing will take place at your provider’s datacenter, and you’ll connect into your “desktop” over the internet.

Technology aside, the point is that your cloud provider will be responsible for the availability, performance, and security of your network. If they do a good job with this, your business could reap some serious gains in productivity. If they don’t, you could find yourself at risk of lost time and even lost data.

To help make sure you land on the positive side of the spectrum, let’s work through how you can identify a good cloud provider.

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How to choose the right cloud provider for your business

Here’s what to investigate when you’re selecting a cloud provider for your business:

  1. Their clients. Find out what the provider’s current clients think of them. Are they trustworthy? Do they “get” businesses like yours? Have there been any major outages or security incidents in the past? If so, how did the provider respond? Technology is only as good as the people behind it, so find out as much as you can.
  2. Their datacenter. Your network is going to live in your provider’s datacenter, so you need to make sure that datacenter has the right physical and environmental controls, monitoring and alerting, redundancies (internet, power, cooling, etc.), and staffing to minimize your risk of downtime or data loss. You probably don’t need to go so far as to tour the facility, but have your provider walk you through their strategy in plain English.
  3. Their disaster recovery capabilities. We’re talking data backup, failovers, and replication of your data across multiple locations. Your provider needs to be prepared for everything from equipment failure to complete and utter destruction of the primary datacenter. Have them explain their methods to you.
  4. Their security policies. A good cloud provider will have written documentation of their security policies and procedures, such as malware protection, permissions, patching, incident response, and so forth. If security is important to you as a company (if, for example, you are subject to compliance regulations), have them provide this documentation to you as proof that they are taking the safety of your data seriously.
  5. Their security roadmap. Threats are always evolving, so the provider’s current security measures are just the start; your provider should have a long-term plan for their security initiatives, which might include controls like two-factor authentication, data loss prevention (DLP), access-based enumeration (ABE), or improvements to their datacenter. They should be able to share their roadmap with you at a high level.

All told, moving to a cloud computing model can produce extraordinary results as far as productivity, security, and morale. We’ve seen this happen for businesses of all shapes and sizes, and would encourage companies to seriously consider whether a transition makes sense for them.

Just take the vetting process slowly and seriously, keep these 5 factors in mind, and trust your gut when it comes to selecting your provider.

From there, enjoy!

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Topics: remote work, cloud, consulting, projects, selection, vendors