How to choose your Cloud Service Provider

More and more business houses and even individuals are moving to the Cloud because of the benefits they provide. At the least, cloud service providers offer remote storage accessible from anywhere.

There are different types of cloud providers – SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS etc. Microsoft offers all three types, from OneDrive to Office 365 to Azure and thereby covering all possible types of services one can expect. If you feel Microsoft is too costly, you can go for other cloud providers. You have to evaluate the services so that your data is safe, accessible anytime (low downtime), and gives you the freedom to move your functions to other clouds anytime. The post lists some points that tell you how to choose a cloud service provider.

How to choose a Cloud Service Provider

Microsoft Privacy Principles - Cloud

Reputation of Cloud Service Providers

Like with any business dealing, you have to check the reputation of the cloud service providers. If there is no background data about the cloud service providers, probably it is a new business or they were never interested in gathering feedback. Amazon, Microsoft, and Google are just a few of the service providers that have a good reputation. If you are looking for cloud backup, Mozy has been in business for long.

In short, search for reviews for cloud service providers you are considering. Check the Internet and then people who have already used one or more of those providers. Know the good and bad about them before taking your business there.

Downtime (Data Accessibility)

There can be two factors when we talk about downtime. First and most important are that your people, employees etc. should be able to use the cloud service providers whenever they want. Second is the bulk access. What if some 30 members of your team suddenly plan to brainstorm using the cloud? Will it still work or hang? Will it slow down inversely to the number of people accessing the cloud simultaneously?

OneDrive, for example, provides collaboration feature. Suppose the team collaborating on a story or presentation contains 20 people. If all of them wish to review the story or presentation at the same time, OneDrive will create 20 channels – one for each of the connection. That makes sure your document or presentation is not inaccessible after a while. Not all cloud providers use the method. Some provide a limited bandwidth – making it difficult for all 20 to use the file at the same time.

Secure Cloud Service Providers

All of the Microsoft cloud services, including even the email service, offer you a secure connection for login purpose. Insecure login without the HTTPS can prove to be a disaster. AWS and Google too, provide HTTPS and so does Mozy. While HTTPS alone cannot provide you all the security you need, it is the most basic thing when it comes to security of your data and functions

Encryption

As said above, simply providing a HTTPS won’t be of much use when it comes to the security offered by cloud service providers. It needs to use available technologies that keep your data safe not only in the cloud but also in transit – uploading or downloading. You can use custom encryption methods on your local network for encryption. You also have to make sure the cloud service provider is offering best encryption so that your data is not breached even if the cloud provider’s server is hacked.

Privacy in Cloud

Next to security, privacy is an important thing. There is no point in uploading data to servers where the admin can read your data. You have to read the privacy statement from the cloud service providers so that you know how they intend to protect your data. Microsoft Privacy Policy says they will provide full privacy and that your data will not be accessed for any purpose except to provide you with better services. That means some of their systems can access your data but no data will be noted down anywhere or shared with third parties. It looks a bit scary but it is pretty good when compared to other cloud services that openly state that your data will be under observation for say, improper usage etc.

The above are the top 5 factors that answer how to choose cloud service providers. It is not necessary that you use big names if you have issues. Just keep in mind that your functions and data need to be safe, accessible, and private.

You may also want to look into the different compliance certifications used by the cloud service providers. Likewise, the service providers should be able to tell you how they implement the service you intend to use. You wouldn’t want to work with people who don’t know their jobs or implement it poorly. Not only that, an exit strategy must be in place allowing you to remove all data permanently from the cloud in case you take your business anywhere else.

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Arun Kumar is a Microsoft MVP alumnus, obsessed with technology, especially the Internet. He deals with the multimedia content needs of training and corporate houses. Follow him on Twitter @PowercutIN