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July 15, 2015

Top 5 essential questions to ask your Cloud provider

Don't go down the wrong path with a cloud provider that you don't know anything about, ask these essential questions.

By James Nunns

Cloud is the way forward, the majority of people are jumping onto the bandwagon but before you do, you need to ask some serious questions of your cloud provider.

Don’t just trust the marketing spiel they give you, dig deep into how they operate, you need to know that you aren’t getting ripped off, that your systems will remain up and that you are safe.


1. Where is my data being stored?

In most cases, you are basically handing over your data to someone else, your cloud provider, which you need to trust. You also need to know where the data is being stored, perhaps you work in a heavily regulated industry such as finance or healthcare. If this is the case, you need to know where your data is.

When dealing with sensitive data, you need to know where it is moving to and what laws you are obeying.

If you are in the UK but store it on serves in the U.S then different rules may apply.


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2. How secure is my data?

Are you going to sleep well at night if you are constantly worried about the security of your cloud provider? Probably not.

You’ll sleep even worse if you have a data breach because you trusted a company that didn’t have any cloud security certifications.

So make a note to ask what certifications are in place and ask for evidence, many will have put up evidence on their site.

There are a few different certifications, find the ones that are applicable to you and your region.

You can also ask about data encryption, how they encrypt data and how they manage encryption keys.


3. How much is this costing me?

Let’s face it you want to know how much you are going to be charged. Will you pay more during peak hours? And how much are the prices going to fluctuate?

Sure it’s great if you are paying a tiny amount when you sign up, but if the prices rises 200% every morning then it might not be ideal.

Some providers have made their pricing reasonably transparent so you can see terms of usage.

One thing you probably want to look out for is the pay as you use model, make sure it fits your needs.

You want to have a cloud service which can keep up to pace with the highest demands but has flexible pricing so you aren’t paying for that maximum capacity all the time – just when you need it.


4. Can users get anytime, anywhere access from any device?

The lines between work and your private life are as good as gone, let’s face it, you are working on that report at home.

You need to know that you can work on your business when you are out and about. It wouldn’t be great if every time you went to a meeting you found that you couldn’t access those files you needed anymore.

As the bring your own device culture grows, so do people’s requirements to have all the tools available to them, wherever they are.

Your business requires you to access it from anywhere, securely. So make sure your cloud provider knows this and can give you the access you desire.


5. Ask about latency and downtime!

There is no point in moving to a cloud service because you want to energise your business if you find that your service is slow and constantly going down.

This ties in with where your data is being stored, the further away it is, the more likely you are going to have latency problems.

If you are a cynical person, then you might not trust what the cloud salesperson is telling you about the 100% uptime and zero latency. Don’t worry though, there are services available that monitor the reliability of cloud providers.

Independent sites such as CloudHarmony can tell you what the performance is like and will even allow you to speed test.

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