For many business owners, growing their companies remains a key focus that drives many of their business decisions. One tool that is being adopted more often, especially in recent years, to facilitate this is that of cloud computing. The cloud offers companies more agility, lower operating costs, and more efficient and productive work, but even with those advantages, some businesses may struggle finding a cloud provider that’s right for them. In many cases, the question isn’t if the business should do it, but rather how well the cloud will fit into the existing organization’s processes. When the time comes to make an important decision over who you will choose to handle your cloud storage needs, here are five things you should consider.
1. Security Capabilities
One of the major factors holding business owners back from embracing the cloud is the concern over security. When you use a cloud storage provider, you’re essentially giving your valuable data to a third party with the expectation they’ll keep it safe. Even so, with numerous news stories involving security breaches at big companies, business leaders may not be enthusiastic about giving their data to someone else. Most cloud storage companies have responded to these concerns by improving their own security, adding in new measures aimed at protecting clients’ data. When you pick a cloud storage provider, make sure they have sufficient security measures. These can include anti-virus software, data encryption, firewalls, and routine security audits.
2. Price Considerations
While it may not be a surprise, bringing down operating costs is a major reason so many companies have started using the cloud. And with so many cloud vendors striving for your business, prices have become very competitive. Examine closely how each provider’s pricing structure works. Many providers offer a certain amount of storage for free, but businesses that need a lot more storage will need to pay for their services. Some vendors have a monthly subscription fee, while others have an upfront flat fee that usually lasts the whole year until you renew it. Once you know how a vendor charges their clients, figure out which pricing plan works best for your company.
3. Data Storage Location
Storing data in the cloud isn’t some nebulous, abstract concept. That data is stored in an actual physical location; it’s just transferred over the internet. When looking for a cloud provider, know where they plan on storing your company’s information. If the vendor stores your data in a different country, that country’s laws may affect who has access to it and how it can be controlled. Another factor to be considered is if the data storage location is at risk for natural disasters like tornadoes, earthquakes, or hurricanes. Knowing your cloud vendor has a plan for how to protect and save your data in case an emergency strikes can play a major role in which one you end up choosing.
4. Service Level Agreement
The service level agreement (SLA) should be a key factor when you decide on a cloud storage provider. The SLA basically outlines what a vendor will do for your company and what the client’s responsibility is. This may include items such as what kind of data will be stored, how it will be stored, how it will be protected, how problems are solved, and a variety of other important items critical to understanding how the cloud vendor operates. Make sure you know what a prospective cloud vendor’s SLA entails to get a good idea what you can expect from them.
5. Tech Support
No technology is perfect, and problems will arise from time to time. When the unfortunate happens, it’s helpful to know you can contact your cloud provider to get some much needed assistance. So before choosing a vendor, find out how they handle tech support. Ask them when they’ll be available (preferably 24/7 and on holidays) and how best to contact them (online or over the phone). You should also find out how quickly they respond to a concern or problem, since having your cloud storage go down for a few days could be disastrous for your business. A vendor that does not meet these needs may be one that’s best avoided.
Choosing a cloud provider for your storage needs is a very important decision. There are lots of considerations to take into account, and your choice is not one to take lightly. If you go in prepared, with all the needed information at your disposal, you’ll be sure you can make an intelligent and informed decision. From there, you’ll be able to take full advantage of all the benefits cloud storage has to offer.