SMBs need cloud services to compete in today’s fast-paced and digitized business world. But choosing the right cloud service provider (CSP) can be challenging, particularly for those who are not familiar with cloud computing. In addition, there are so many CSPs to choose from in the market. This article strives to help by breaking down the key features, considerations, and factors SMBs need to keep in mind when evaluating any CSP.
What is a cloud service provider?
A CSP is a third-party company that provides clients with access to a suite of computer resources without the clients having to purchase or maintain their own hardware and software. These resources often include application services, data storage, and operating systems.
When selecting a CSP, it is important to consider the features that come with their services and how effectively they deliver them. Look for the following key features:
Data security should be your top priority when choosing a CSP. Your customers’ trust and your business’s reputation depend on it. As you’ll essentially be entrusting your data to the provider, ensure they adhere to standard security protocols and use strong encryption methods. Check to see if the CSP provides automated data protection like Liberty Center One does.
Dependability and accessibility
Downtime can be detrimental to your business, so check the CSP’s uptime guarantee and make sure it aligns with your business needs. The higher the guarantee, the more dependable and accessible their services will be.
You should also inquire about their accessibility options. Can you access your cloud services from various locations, including remote work settings? If your business relies on fieldwork, make sure the provider supports on-the-road access and offers mobile-friendly solutions.
Evaluate the provider’s disaster recovery protocols, preparations, and capacity to preserve and restore your business’s functionality in case of a disaster. A good CSP like Liberty Center One will include disaster recovery as part of their regular service, providing clear information and documentation on how it handles data backup, recovery, and restoration.
In addition to measuring the technical capabilities and services of a provider, take into account these essential considerations:
Contracts and SLAs
Carefully review contracts and service level agreements (SLAs), ensuring that the terms are clear, relevant, and verifiable. Understand the provider’s service delivery standards, data policies, and protection provisions. Closely examine terms related to compensation in case of loss or damage, intellectual property rights, liability, and warranties.
Service dependencies and partnerships
A CSP’s relationships with vendors and other providers can impact their service quality, reliability, and flexibility. Look into their partnerships and keep an eye out for complex networks of connected components and subcontractors that could indirectly affect your business.
Certifications and standards
Providers with recognized certifications and adherence to industry standards demonstrate a commitment to quality and best practices. Seek providers with certifications such as ISO 27001 if your business handles sensitive or government-related information. These certifications can help shortlist trustworthy providers.
Data governance and security
Examine the CSP’s data management and security policies, especially regarding data classification, where they physically store data, their encryption practices, and the data loss prevention measures they implement. Ensure their policies align with your organization’s privacy and compliance requirements.
Reliability and performance
Assess the provider’s track record for reliability and uptime. Check their performance against SLAs and understand how they handle planned and unplanned downtime. Be aware of remedies and liability limitations in case of service issues.
When determining the most suitable CSP for your business, consider these three main factors:
Forecasting cloud costs can be tricky, especially for new businesses. Many providers charge based on data traffic, so understanding your usage patterns is crucial. Prepaid options can help lower monthly costs, but avoid overcommitting before you have a clear idea of your data needs to prevent unnecessary expenditure.
Technology and network infrastructure
Compatibility is vital. Make sure the CSP’s technology matches your current infrastructure to avoid unnecessary expenses and delays. Ask about cloud protocols — how the different components, programs, systems, and networks within a cloud communicate and interact with each other — and ensure they meet industry standards to avoid problems.
SMBs may start with modest cloud storage and infrastructure needs, but growth is often inevitable. Choose a provider that offers scalability matching your business’s estimated growth. Make sure that the provider can seamlessly accommodate your expanding requirements.
By being aware of these features, considerations, and factors, you will be able to perform more comprehensive evaluations of prospective CSPs. And when you eventually decide on a cloud service provider, make sure you remember the 5 Elements of a Successful Cloud Migration Strategy.
If you want to learn more about the cloud and how it can benefit you, Contact us at Liberty Center One.