Month: March 2011

Choosing a Reliable Cloud Computing Service Provider

Cloud computing as a concept has gained ground significantly in the last few years. It is a great way for small and medium businesses (SMBs) to get access to cutting edge IT services without having to invest in infrastructure or hire new personnel.

More and more companies are realizing the benefits of cloud computing in the form of improved operational efficiency as well as cost reduction. When it comes to choosing a cloud computing service provider there are some key factors you need to consider.

Here are some of the criteria to keep in mind before making the decision:

1. Suitability: The first question that needs to be asked is whether cloud computing is suitable for your business IT needs.

Are IT concerns taking up your valuable time? Then cloud computing is the solution that can take your mind off IT, while focusing on your business.

Does your business operate from different locations? A professional cloud computing hosted solution will ensure that all your employees stay connected without any data backlog,

2. Service level agreement (SLA): The SLA is an important part of the deal that you negotiate with the service provider. The SLA is a contract that outlines the tasks and quality level committed to by the service provider, usually with a time deadline.

List your main requirements before negotiating a contract with the service provider.

The requirements should focus on major concerns like network downtime and data confidentiality along with the solutions.

3. Infrastructure: Check the facilities, physical security safeguards and the equipment used by your service provider with a trusted IT expert.

A modern data center is a sophisticated facility with high-end routers, servers, backup generators and storage units housed in a secure facility.

The equipment used by the service provider should be from a reputed company and appropriate for your needs.

4. Security: Data theft and loss due to hackers, virus, spyware, power outage and system crash can and do occur.

The cloud computing service provider needs to have an elaborate system in place, which takes care of your data from a physical as well as networking point of view.

Biometric access for physical security, firewalls and proactive network monitoring of data flow and regular backup of data are some of the measures that need to be observed for foolproof security.

5. Performance: Timely and regular reports help to gauge the performance of the service provider.

However the effectiveness of the reports will depend on the metrics or parameters selected to measure the performance.

Before signing the SLA discuss with the service provider about the metrics to analyze which will give you a clear idea about the functioning of your IT network on a periodic basis.

6. Experience: Request the service provider for testimonials from existing clients. Have a look at their client portfolio and ask for referrals from past clients as well.

Customer service is a good indicator of the level of professionalism of the service provider. If they don’t sound organized or display lack of knowledge they may not be the best choice.

An experienced and reputed cloud computing service provider will have a competent team of personnel providing 24/7 support.

Last but not the least, the cost should be flexible and affordable for small and medium businesses (SMBs). Ideally the service provider should offer the services as a pay-as-you-go option as well as a fixed monthly fee options, which allows for better financial planning for SMBs.