Cloud computing has grown in popularity, but as more and more businesses take advantage of the benefits it offers, many are left asking, “Are all cloud providers created eqaual?” Even for the tech-savvy, finding a cloud provider can be confusing. A Google search of the term ‘Cloud Provider’ returns over 115 million results – so, where do you start?
Who are cloud computing providers?
Cloud service providers (CSP) provide a range of public and private cloud computing solutions, including infrastructure as a service (IaaS), software as a service (SaaS) or platform as a service (PaaS) to other businesses or individuals. The cloud services offered are usually hosted in their data centres and can be accessed online anytime and anywhere.
Using a cloud service provider is ideal if you want to take the strain off your existing IT infrastructure and don’t want to make further investment in an on premise solution.
Which cloud service providers are the best?
Cloud can provide your business with access to data, scalable resource, increased security and mobility all for a manageable cost. While the benefits of cloud computing are widely understood, the different offerings or “cloud stack” are not and each cloud provider has something different to offer. By knowing what to look for in a supplier you’ll be better placed to make an informed decision that aligns with your overall business strategy.
Business First, Cloud Second
There is lots of confusing terminology and technical terms surrounding cloud. As a business owner, you probably don’t want to hear all of the techy jargon, but rather know how a Cloud strategy will help you improve accessibility, efficiency, productivity and drive growth. This is why it’s important to look for a supplier who will listen to your requirements and business challenges and tailor a cloud solution to meet your needs.
What to look for in a cloud provider?
When it comes to storing your valuable data, trust and reputation is everything. Read case studies, reviews and testimonials – if you can, ask to talk to their existing clients to ensure they live up to their claims. Find out if they hold any accreditations and certifications, too. In short, you want to choose a cloud provider with a good reputation, after all your reputation will be in their hands…
Data security should be a key consideration when moving all or part of your IT to the cloud. Privacy, risk and compliance are key factors to consider, you need to be sure the cloud provider you choose has the appropriate controls to protect your sensitive data. If you your cloud provider uses data centres in a different country, your data is subject to its laws. Therefore, we recommend choosing a provider that has data centres local to you – The UK Law Society has industry standards which suggests legal firms should not store data outside the EU. Additionally, if your industry is regulated, you will need to check the providers you shortlist can comply with the regulations, i.e. if you are required to store data for specific time periods.
Look at the tier of the cloud provider’s data centre (this refers to the requirements they must comply to). The higher the tier, the greater the uptime and reliability of the cloud provided. Top tip: there are four tiers in total, so ideally you should look for a cloud provider with a tier 3-4 data centre and an uptime of 99.995%+. Our cloud division, The Cloud Simplified has a tier 3 data centre built to uphold 100% uptime.
Look for a provider with best in class security. The safety of your sensitive data will be in their hands, so don’t opt for second best. Many providers have security measures in place, but it is worthwhile looking out for internationally recognised certifications. ISO 27001, for example, is an international specification which sets out criteria to cloud providers globally, ensuring they develop and maintain an information security management system. The accreditation is constantly reviewed, so choosing a provider with this recognition will ensure the highest standard of security practice.
White labelling is the practice of rebranding a product or service produced by one company by another company, to make it appear to be their own. This is common with cloud platforms – with many cloud providers, so it is important to find out if the providers you are speaking to own their own data centres. With white label cloud providers, they do not have control of the platform (and therefore your data). We would recommend finding a provider with their own platform, so you know where you stand.
There will always be something one provider can do better than another. The key is to have a whole-sighted view of their offering and match this to your internal business requirements.