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Five questions to ask your Cloud provider

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If recent events have taught us nothing else, it is that an open line of communication between Cloud provider and end-user is more important than ever. When making the move to virtualisation, it is important to find out as much information as you can about the provider, their infrastructure and their policies, before placing your mission-critical servers in their hands. This will allow you to filter out those companies who are not offering a genuine Cloud provision, or who don’t have the credentials to meet your needs. Below are 5 key questions to ask when narrowing down your long list to a shortlist:

1) What accreditations for data protection standards are possessed?

Like any business, data centres must adhere to certain standards, with additional accreditations available to distinguish the good from the better. PCI DSS accreditation for data hosting is a must, along with IS0 standards, most commonly ISO 27001 for security and ISO 9001 for quality management. Regulated by external bodies, having attained these certifications means your data centre knows what they’re doing, and your data – your business – is in safe hands.

2) What is your policy for data protection/DR?

Does the data centre offer the protection of data across multiple, geographically-dispersed sites? If so, across how many, and what is their reported availability? Storing data in two different locations gives approximately 99.99% availability, or a 1 in 10,000 chance of data loss. To the average user, this equates to a loss of one file per year, with five 9s ensuring a lesser risk. Once you have ascertained this information, it is then up to you to decide what level of availability best fits the needs of your business.

3) Can you provide the same level of availability, and management, as my data needs grow?

The Cloud’s main benefit is its scalability, and all true Cloud offerings will offer this as standard. However, it is important to know whether the Cloud service you have taken will be flexible enough to support your growth indefinitely. User auto and self-provisioning are also a must, allowing you to provision your own servers as and when your capacity needs change. Any Cloud worth its salt will meet these criteria as standard.  I discussed this in more detail (among other things) in my recent article ‘Beware Fake Clouds’.

4) Who owns your infrastructure?

There is no doubt about it, the best Cloud provider will be one that owns its own infrastructure – network, application platforms etc – end-to-end. We can learn from the food industry here: meat production was so outsourced that, in the event of a problem, the source of the issue could not be effectively traced, and nobody could be held accountable. And that lack of accountability means that the problem is not fixed fast enough. With a Cloud provider who owns their own network and develops their own applications, any problem can only have resulted from them, and can be fixed immediately.

5) How easy is it to migrate to another provider?

Many 2e2 customers will be looking to migrate to another Cloud provider in the wake of Daisy’s acquisition. Porting between service providers, however, is a relatively new technology, and not all organisations will have adequate means in place to action your request quickly. Asking this question in the beginning ensures that your options are kept open, right the way through your Cloud service.

This list of questions is basic, and intended as a starting point from which to narrow your list of Cloud providers. For a more exhaustive guide on choosing the right Cloud service, take a look at our Top 10 Tips when considering Cloud-based Services.

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