Switching your company’s office applications to the cloud can reduce costs, increase reliability, and make your processes more efficient. Storing email and important files in the cloud gives your team access to necessary information when they need it, making collaboration easier than ever. A cloud service provider can even replace the need for an internal IT department and/or on-site hardware.
With an ever-growing number of options to choose from, picking the right cloud solution for your business can be an overwhelming job. However, by asking these ten questions, you can be confident that you’ve chosen the best cloud service provider for your business’s unique needs.
1. What cloud services do you offer?
Not all cloud service providers are equal. Some, like G Suite (Google) for Business, offer a variety of services including document management, file storage, email, and calendars. Others, like Dropbox, focus entirely on storage. Having an understanding of how your business will use the cloud can help you choose the provider that aligns most closely with your needs. Remember, knowledge is power!
2. How does your pricing work?
Cloud service providers help you to regulate cost by only charging for necessary services. Therefore, you should always be skeptical of large upfront costs. Unless you’re transferring massive amounts of data to the cloud, your monthly costs should be predictable. In a 2015 survey by Bitglass, half of all CIOs and IT leaders reported cost savings as a result of using cloud-based applications. Your ideal cloud service provider should work with you to create a plan that fits both your budget and your needs.
3. Is your cloud secure?
Cloud security is an essential consideration for every business. The data your business collects is sensitive, and a breach could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars. Your cloud service provider should always be up to date on the latest advances in network security.
When using G Suite, the files you add to your Google Drive app or folder are stored on servers in secure data centers. Your data is encrypted both during transfers from your computer and while it sits on the Google Drive servers. For more information, this article by the New York Times provides an in-depth look at how Google Drive works to keep your data safe.
4. Where is my data stored?
In spite of its name, cloud data is actually stored at a physical location. It’s a good idea to ask about the location and how much protection it offers from natural disasters. The data facility needs to be protected from the elements and potential thieves alike. The last thing you want is to risk compromising your data by doing business with a guy who has a couple “cloud servers” in his leaky basement.
5. What happens if data is lost?
A cloud service provider losing or accidentally deleting company data is a rare occurrence, and there should be processes in place to recover any data that is lost. However, this doesn’t mean that data loss is impossible.
Ask potential cloud service providers to define the terms in your SLA (Service Level Agreement) that address loss of data. A trustworthy provider won’t shy away from this question. It’s their job to understand and handle the risks associated with cloud services.
6. Do you offer customer support services?
Don’t wait until something goes wrong to ask about your support options. Make sure that a customer support representative will be available to answer any questions you may have in a timely manner. Ask detailed questions about their average response time, availability during and outside of normal business hours, and whether your questions will be answered by a chat bot or a live, friendly voice.
7. Can you scale up or down to meet my business needs?
Cloud services can be scaled up and down depending on your business’s needs, enabling you to save money by only paying for the services you’re actively using. Ask potential service providers about their options for adding and removing users, upgrading and downgrading storage capabilities, and adding on more services in the future. The best cloud service providers will allow you to flex your plan along with your business’s growth.
8. Do you have any history of downtime?
When a cloud service is temporarily unavailable to users, it’s referred to as downtime. In a perfect world, downtime would be nonexistent. Unfortunately, even the best providers experience it occasionally: Amazon itself recently had an outage that put Netflix offline.
Because downtime can cost your business both time and money, always inquire about a cloud service provider’s downtime history. The best providers are honest about their downtime history and work diligently to keep it to a minimum.
9. How do I access my business’s cloud?
You and your team should be able to access any information that is uploaded to the cloud regardless of time or location. Your cloud service provider will supply you with a login page that can be reached on any computer or mobile device. The only other requirement is an internet connection, so you can access your data both in the office and on the go.
10. What is the setup process like?
After you have chosen the best cloud service provider for your business, ask them about the next steps in the process and establish a timeline for cloud implementation on your network. Let the cloud provider help you configure your account and add employee user accounts as needed. Don’t forget to reach out to the customer support team for with any remaining questions.
The benefits of partnering with a cloud service provider are many, but the most important one is peace of mind. You can have the freedom to work on increasing your business and profits while we take care of concerns like maintenance, cloud backup, IT support, and network security.
If you’re interested in learning about what cloud services are right for you, please give us a call or chat with us online. We would love to walk with you through each of these steps and design a plan that fits your business’s unique needs.