With cloud gaining ground across the globe, more and more organizations are jumping on the cloud bandwagon. In an attempt to leverage cloud technology capabilities, they are migrating their key processes to the cloud. But choosing a cloud service provider can be mind-boggling given that no two cloud hosting service providers in India are alike. From technology giants such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon to niche players offering custom solutions, we have a broad range of cloud players.
Besides, there is no standard framework for choosing the best cloud service provider. So, how can you select a cloud provider that can suitably fulfil your requirements? A well-thought-out selection process geared towards your unique needs can help. So, let’s discuss the key factors that can help you finalize the right provider.
1) Certifications and Accreditations
Cloud providers complying with industry certifications are more likely to adhere to industry best practices. While these certifications may not help you finalize a provider, they can help you shortlist a few.
The commonly recognized certifications and accreditations in the cloud hosting provider industry include ISO, Cyber Essentials, ITIL, HIPAA, FitSM, etc. Choose the ones that are in sync with your needs, or you’re vertical. For instance, if you operate in the healthcare sector, you need to comply with HIPAA. Or, if cybersecurity is a huge priority for your business, compliance with ISO 27001 is recommended.
Also, make sure how your service provider plans to ensure constant adherence to these standards.
When it comes to security, you must assess your security goals first. Afterwards, you should identify the security measures offered by each service provider to preserve your critical data and applications. You need to consider which security features are available for free and which ones you need to pay for.
As security is a primary concern for any organization, you must ask explicit questions about your industry, regulatory needs, and any other query that you may have.
You need to ensure your cloud provider’s platform and technologies align with your existing environment. Their architecture and services should be in sync with your workloads. It’s essential to figure out the customization level you may need to make the workloads suitable for their platform. For instance, if you are already using the Microsoft suite of products, it makes sense to choose Azure over AWS or Google Cloud.
Also, it would help if you considered cloud storage architectures. Different providers have different options for storing and retrieving the data frequently and infrequently. You have to choose the ones that fit your needs better.
4) Service Level Agreement
A service level agreement (SLA) is a documented list of service standards, terms and conditions that define how a cloud provider will compensate for failing to comply with these standards. Though important for any business, SLAs are indispensable when your business has stringent requirements regarding availability, capacity and response time, etc. You expect your service provider to offer services as promised, so there has to be a legal agreement to back things up if anything goes wrong.
Evaluate the terms and conditions stipulated in the SLA properly before finalizing your CSP. Pay special attention to the legal requirements of the security of your data hosted on the cloud.
As cloud services aren’t very cost-effective, pricing should always be taken into account. A cloud provider offering services at low prices may seem economical, but you may end up not getting the desired level of service. This, however, doesn’t imply that the most expensive cloud solutions are the best.
When it comes to pricing, evaluate the providers concerning the features they offer. Your bargaining skills come in handy here-don’t hesitate to ask for special discounts and offers.
Your vendor’s pricing plan should be flexible, so you can add the features you want and remove the ones you don’t. There should be a provision for a free trial and/or refund, so you can easily opt-out of the cloud plan if you feel the need.
Support is an essential parameter in deciding the best cloud service provider. This is because all the Linux cloud hosting service providers in India don’t offer the same support while some offer 24*7 support, others offer only limited support and that too during working hours. If you run a business where your employees/clients work during odd hours or on holidays, getting round-the-clock support is vital.
Then, the medium of support also counts. You may be offered support through email or chat only-absence of a support agent talking to you in times of urgency isn’t acceptable in most cases. It’s great to ask upfront questions on the level and kind of support you will be provided.
7) BackupBackup and Disaster Recovery
Almost all the cloud providers have backup service included in their plans. However, the extent to which the data is backed up or the backup frequency is of utmost consideration when selecting a cloud provider. Of course, you shouldn’t choose a vendor that doesn’t back up your data daily.
Another key point to consider is a disaster recovery plan. A robust disaster recovery plan testifies to your service provider’s ability to resume services once they get disrupted on account of a minor/major event. Your prospective provider should have identified all kinds of risks and have the procedures to deal with them. They should also have redundant infrastructure to deal with any disaster.
8) Vendor Lock-in and Exit Planning
Vendor lock-in refers to the situation where you cannot transition to another vendor easily. It may result from proprietary technologies that are incompatible with other service providers or the result of terms and conditions stipulated in your contract.
To minimize the chances of a lock-in, make sure your service provider uses proprietary technology as less as possible. Alternately, you can limit the use of services that restrict your ability to transition to another provider. When choosing your cloud plan, go for services that have comparable alternatives in the market.
Also, make sure there’s a clear exit strategy from the beginning of your association with the vendor. Ending your association with a cloud vendor will never be very smooth; so it’s good to ask questions on the exit process before signing a contract.
9) Company Profile
Many of you examine a prospective cloud service provider’s technical capabilities, neglecting their financial profile and overall performance that’s equally important. Choosing a vendor with competent products/services but doesn’t have a sound business doesn’t make sense.
Question the vendor on any major changes planned in near future-mergers, acquisitions, etc. Inquire if they have any legal issues going on. If yes, how they have/are going to deal with them. Browse review sites to examine their online reviews. A bit of research will equip you with the requisite information on your prospective vendor-their competitive position, market status, and so on.
The Final Word
The aforementioned factors will help you build a robust framework for choosing the best cloud service provider you can count upon. You can also carry out an in-depth analysis of your business needs to discover additional factors to help you make the right decision. Choosing the right service provider can go a long way in determining the success of your business objectives.
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