What to Ask Cloud Providers Before Picking One

Picture of Rick DelgatoRick Delgado feels blessed to have had a successful career in the tech industry and has recently taken a step back to pursue his passion of writing. He's started doing freelance writing where he occasionally works with tech companies like Dell Computers. He enjoys writing about new technologies and how it can help us and our planet.

When it comes to cloud computing, few issues are more important than your company’s choice in cloud provider. There are many different providers to choose from, and each have different capabilities, philosophies, payment models, security measures, and reputations. Going with the wrong one can set your company back months or even years, often at a serious cost. In short, the right decision is important to make, but it’s not always easy. So how do you find out if a prospective cloud provider is the right one for your business? By asking questions. Before making this all-important decision that could affect your company for years to come, here are several questions you should definitely ask.

How and when can we get access?

Whether using a cloud provider as an infrastructure, software, platform, or simply taking advantage of cloud storage, having access to the cloud can be especially convenient--depending on when that access is allowed. Limitations, particular those imposed by security issues, can restrict access to the cloud provider’s systems at certain times and while using certain devices. Before reaching an agreement, businesses should ask providers when their users can get access. If vendors allow access from any device, anytime, anywhere, that means the cloud will be a lot more convenient for the company.

How is encryption handled for company data?

If there’s one major concern most businesses have with using cloud providers, it’s how the provider will handle the sensitive company data used and stored on the platform. Data is valuable, and it just makes sense for companies to want their data protected when in the hands of another party. One way to protect that data is through encryption, but different cloud vendors handle encryption in different ways. Companies need to find out what data providers will encrypt, if it will be encrypted while in transit and/or at rest, and if encryption will be done on mobile devices. Cloud providers that don’t encrypt all data at all times might not be good enough for your business’s needs.

How and when are support requests answered?

No cloud computing platform will be perfect. Companies will occasionally have problems, and if it deals with the cloud, they will see answers for their cloud vendor. The businesses will need to know how support requests will be handled once the provider is made aware of them. Equally important is the response time to the requests. Cloud problems could mean stopping operations while the problem is fixed. If the response time is too slow, businesses could end up losing money.

How will you determine costs?

Cloud services for companies usually don’t come for free. Cloud vendors are businesses just like those organisations seeking their services, and they’ll usually charge for those services in some way. How they do it depends on a wide variety of factors, from how much data is involved to what types of services are needed to the amount of support offered. Some cloud providers charge a flat rate per month, while others charge depending on how much businesses actually use the service. Finding these factors out can help companies plan ahead and find the right vendor.

What is your strategy for backup and disaster recovery?

There are few things worse than losing valuable data. Placing that data in the hands of another company requires a lot of trust, but that trust can only be earned when the cloud provider demonstrates a well thought out plan for when the worst happens. The right cloud vendor will have policies and procedures in place that regularly backs up data. In the event of disaster, a good provider will also have a plan in place to make sure the essential data is recovered as quickly as possible, saving companies the headache of being out of action for an extended period of time.

These are, of course, only a few of the questions companies should ask before making a final decision on a cloud provider. Most of your questions will likely revolve around security concerns and offered services, but whatever your focus is, finding the right cloud provider is just as important as any other business partnership you have. A good relationship between your company and your cloud provider can lead to many productive years together, while the wrong decision can be costly. With the right questions, you’ll be sure you are making the right decision.


Are there any additional questions you would ask? Let us know in the comments section below or via @TechNetUK