There are a number of advantages that come with moving from an on-premises server installation to a cloud-based setup. Security, reliability, accessibility, scalability and access to highly skilled professionals are some of the main ones.
Nevertheless, not all cloud services providers are created equal. Your experience will vary from one provider to the next. If you want to increase your odds of identifying a good quality cloud service, there are certain factors you should keep an eye on. Here are some of the most important ones.
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1. Standards and Certifications
Providers who comply with recognized quality frameworks and industry standards demonstrate an enthusiasm to follow best practices and deliver a high quality experience to their customers.
Of course, an accreditation is no guarantee that the provider is better than those without. After all, such certifications are a snapshot of the provider’s compliance at a specific point in time. It’s possible that the service provider could become non-compliant not long after earning the accreditation.
Despite that risk though, you are more likely to get good service from an accredited provider. They have taken the time to establish structured process, good data management and effective infrastructure oversight in order to meet the requirements for certification.
2. Compatibility with Your Own Technology Roadmap
Go for a service provider whose infrastructure is well aligned with your existing cloud objectives and current environment. Does the provider’s architecture, services and standards resonate with your data management and system workload expectations? Map out how much customization you may be forced to do in order to make your systems and data compatible with their platform.
Some cloud services providers will go the extra mile and closely work with you to facilitate a seamless system migration. They may even offer help in the planning and assessment phases. However, large cloud providers like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure don’t provide much help with migration so you have to see whether contracting a third party is worth the cost.
3. Performance and Reliability
There are several ways you can gauge the performance and reliability of a cloud services provider. The best would be to check their actual uptime over the last 6 to 12 months against the requirements of their service level agreement (SLA). Not all providers share this data but some of the leading ones do.
Don’t anticipate perfection — no tech company in the world can guarantee or deliver 100 percent uptime. Downtime will happen. What you are most interested in is its frequency and also how the provider responds when it does happen. Frequent downtimes are usually a sign the provider is not doing enough to identify and resolve root causes.
Cloud services that make use of a proven server management solution for monitoring and reporting are often better at ensuring their systems are available 99.99 percent of the time.
4. Business Health
Looking at the technical considerations is certainly the most important aspect of evaluating cloud services providers. However, if you are planning on sticking with the provider for the long haul, their financial health is something you should check too. Financial stability matters for several reasons.
First, a cash healthy enterprise is more likely to afford the upgrades and tech purchases necessary to ensure continually stellar customer service. Second, a financially sound business is a sign that the organization is run by competent persons. If the management cannot oversee a successful business, can they successfully manage their servers?
Third, business health is an indicator of the provider’s likely continuity as an entity in the long term. Fourth, if you ever want to cancel the contract and ask for a refund, a struggling service provider may be unable to give you back your cash due to their own cash flow problems.
Think of signing up with a cloud service as a medium to long term commitment. You should go with the provider who you expect to be comfortable with for the next 3 years minimum.