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Karen Cohen

By: Karen Cohen on March 02, 2023

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8 Questions To Ask When Vetting Cloud Providers For IT Services

Modern Data Center | Workforce Enablement | Managed Services

Editor's note: This article was originally posted in 2018, but has been updated to include the latest information.

Considering migrating from a physical server to a cloud-based solution? Wondering how to ensure you get the best provider for you

This is an important decision and selecting a cloud provider can be difficult.

I can help. In this article, I'll walk you through 8 important questions that will help you identify the best cloud service provider for you

After reading this article, you'll be confident that you know the right questions to ask, so you get quality service that is the right solution for your organization.

As a managed service IT provider for numerous companies in a variety of industries in Connecticut and the surrounding region, Kelser uses cloud-based tools to ensure optimal technology performance. 

But, don't worry, I won't try to convince you to work with us or push managed IT support services. The truth is, we know that managed IT isn't the right solution for every organization. Rather than convince you to work with us, we focus on providing honest information you can use to get the IT solutions that are best for you. 

Why Is Asking The Right Questions Important?

As with any important buying decision, it's important to ask the right questions to ensure that you will be satisfied with your purchase. And, while people often assume that one cloud provider is the same as the next, the truth is that each provider may handle things a bit differently

8 Questions To Ask Potential Cloud Service Providers

Here are 8 important questions to ask potential cloud service providers: 

1. Is Service Work Outsourced?

If service work is outsourced to another group, you might not receive the support you expect. It might not meet your organization's unique needs and goals.

The service level agreement should be detailed and include the following:

      • A confidentiality clause
      • An insurance clause
      • A change of business clause (what happens if the cloud service provider merges with another company or is acquired?)
      • The location of the primary data, as well as data backups
      • Your organization's ownership of the data
      • Details about the number of help or service desk calls 
      • Time-zone conflicts 

2. Where Will My Data Be Located?

Your sensitive data should not be stored on a third-party server. Your data should not be stored in a location close to your headquarters.

Your data must be safeguarded in an area of the United States not susceptible to the same natural disasters as your primary facilities.

Related article: What Are The Pros & Cons Of Cloud Computing? (Is It Right For You?)

3. Do You Have Insurance To Cover Data Loss & Power Outage?

While large, hyper-scale cloud providers certainly have insurance, many smaller providers may not be insured to the same degree.

If your company's data stored in the cloud is destroyed or inaccessible and the cloud provider does not have insurance, your business could go under. So, do not tie your fate to a cloud provider that lacks insurance.

4. What Is Typical Total Downtime For Your Services?

The cloud provider in question should be able to predict anticipated downtime with reasonable accuracy.

If the percentage is high compared to the competition, move on to the next candidate. Talking with different candidates should help you determine an acceptable amount of downtime.

And, depending on the nature of your business, you may or may not be able to tolerate longer downtimes.

5. Do You Re-Sell Cloud Services?

If the cloud provider does not own the hardware or if the client is a re-seller of the cloud service, problems may arise in terms of who is responsible for support and service. Make sure you understand the boundaries of responsibility.

6. Are Data Security Policies Documented?

Cloud provider employees have the potential to improperly access your data, sell it, publicize it or use it to damage your organization in other ways.

Cloud providers should have highly detailed formal security policies in place to ensure the integrity of your data. Make sure they do before you sign.

Related article: Cloud Migration: What It Means, How It Works (6 Questions To Ask)

7. What Can Go Wrong? 

You want a provider who will acknowledge that things can go wrong during installation or migration. They should be comfortable honestly explaining potential issues based on those they've encountered in the past, how likely they are to happen, and how they are prepared to resolve them

Among the potential problems they should discuss are data loss or incompatibility as well as problems connecting to the internet.    

8. How Much Internet Bandwidth Is Required?  

This is one of the most crucial questions to ask -- and you want to make sure that you know the figure per user. Check with your Internet service provider to understand what your upload and download speed to ensure that you won't have issues.

Where Do You Go From Here? 

After reading this article, you know 8 important questions to ask when vetting cloud providers. 

You want to know if they outsource service work, where your data will be located, and whether the provider has insurance to cover data loss and power outages.

You also want a full understanding of their potential downtime, whether they re-sell, and whether they have documented data security policies. You want to know what could go wrong and how much bandwidth you'll need to make full use of the services. 

Now that you understand the questions to ask, you are ready to begin vetting providers.

We recommend that you consider several options to get the right cloud provider for you. As we mentioned earlier, all cloud providers aren't created equal. It's important to find a provider who will protect your data and work with your organization's unique needs. 

You may have an internal IT staff that is totally comfortable evaluating cloud providers and working directly with them. If your internal IT staff is small or you don't have one, you may be considering working with an external IT support provider that can provide a full complement of services. 

If this is an option you are considering, learn what managed IT includes and how much it costs

Again, we know that managed IT isn't the best solution for every organization. If you are wondering what your other options are for external IT support, read this article to find out the pros and cons of break/fix IT services or read this article to discover the similarities between managed and break/fix IT support. 

Many organizations are concerned about cybersecurity. And the threats are constantly evolving.

How would your organization fare against a cyber attack? Not sure? Click the button below for a free, concise eBook and learn 10 actions you can take right now to protect your data including: updating applications and operating systems, maintaining current backups, and implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA). Get Your Cybersecurity eBook


About Karen Cohen

Karen brings unending curiosity to her role as Kelser's Content Manager. If you have a question, she wants to know the answer.

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