How to Pick a Cloud Hosting Provider: 7 Questions to Ask
The cloud hosting market is growing at a brisk pace. From startups to major enterprises, most businesses around the world are starting to realize the perks of migrating their business processes to the cloud.
Gartner forecasts the public cloud services to grow 17.3 percent in 2019 to a total of 206.2 billion with Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) to grow 27.6 percent.
The cloud providers offer you with various cloud platforms, such as Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), etc. for your applications, websites, data storage, software development, as well as complete business processes.
However, because of the emergence of a plethora of cloud providers in the market, you must be wise in choosing a cloud provider. Here are some questions you can ask yourself while choosing a cloud hosting provider.
1. Does the cloud provider know your business?
The cloud basically provides you with the resources to host your applications or carry out your business processes on the cloud. However, every application, website, and software vary in the mode of functioning, resource requirements, and other aspects such as security.
For instance, some application might need extensive data monitoring, while others a high-performance server with SSD storage.
It is always favorable for you if the cloud provider has expertise in hosting your type of applications.
Hence, before choosing a cloud provider, you must research whether the provider has expertise in hosting your application or not.
2. How efficient is the customer support?
Talk about any industry, whether service-based or product-based; customer support is the thread that weaves the customers and the company into a community. If a company is not able to offer a resolution to the customers’ issues, no matter how good the product is, it is bound to go down the hill. The customer loses faith in the company and consequently, its products and services.
However, only resolving the issue is not enough for most customers. The customers must be responded to swiftly, and the issue must be resolved in minimal time.
The deployment of an efficient customer support system is the top priority for most cloud hosting providers. The cloud providers are responsible for hosting applications, websites, critical data, etc. for various companies. Hence, it is essential for them to cater to the clients’ issues.
While choosing the cloud hosting provider, make sure the customer support is satisfactory. You can do market research about the cloud provider, read the customer testimonials, and ratings. You can analyze the Average Response Time and Average Resolution Time promised by the cloud hosting provider.
Go for a cloud provider that offers 24/7/365 support to make sure that the technical support staff is always at your beck and call.
3. What security practices does the provider follow?
For most of the business processes, security is a vital concern. However, for some processes, security is the most critical aspect. Some processes such as accounting, HIPAA compliant covered entities, and online payment portals involves highly confidential data that cannot be compromised at any cost.
All cloud providers are expected to keep a certain level of security while hosting the applications. However, it is always wise to choose the cloud provider with an advanced level of security mechanisms, practices, and safeguards.
The safeguards might be physical, administrative, or technical.
Physical Safeguards - The physical safeguards may include multiple access points at the data center where the data is hosted. These may be retina check, fingerprint scanner, access cards, etc.
Technical Safeguards – This includes technical aspects such as firewalls for data monitoring and filtering, multi-factor authentication, data encryption, Intrusion Detection and Prevention System (IDS & IPS), etc.
Administrative Safeguards - It involves access control to servers, strong password policy, among others.
4. What is the SLA guaranteed uptime?
Service Level Agreement (SLA) is the agreement between two parties, namely the customer and the cloud providers, that specifies the level of service that the cloud provider must offer. SLA makes the cloud provider legally bound to oblige to the level of service. It also specifies the terms of the termination of service.
Under the SLA, the cloud provider must mention the uptime that it offers to the customer. The uptime is the duration that the service is expected to be operational during the year.
You can choose the cloud provider that offers high uptime to ensure total availability of your application throughout the year.
5. Does the cloud provider offer BCDR plans?
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) are the processes that ensure total protection of your data even in unforeseen events.
Business Continuity involves constant monitoring of the data to analyze any discrepancies or anticipate a malicious activity. Any event, intentional or not, that causes a disturbance in your operation is called a disruptive event. It can be anything from a ransomware attack to an office fire.
A Business Continuity plan comprises of processes such as Risk Analysis, Crisis Management, and Disaster Recovery that ensures that the integrity of your data is intact. For instance, Disaster Recovery ensures that your data is safe even in times of a disaster such as an earthquake by backing up your data in multiple geographical locations.
6. Is the cloud provider cost-efficient?
You can only judge whether a service is costly or affordable by evaluating the level of service offered with the cost incurred. It means that the services offered to you should be cost-efficient. There is no use of choosing a cloud provider with advanced infrastructure not fitting your budget, or an affordable cloud provider with sub-standard services.
The cloud hosting providers in the market offers you with a wide range of features and services and make you feel that they are the best in the market. The costs associated with hosting depend on numerous aspects such as the server specifications, the security safeguards deployed, availability, duration of the contract, backup services, level of support, among others.
However, while opting for a cloud provider, you should analyze the features and services in accordance with the revenue you are willing to spend.
7. Are the pricing plans flexible?
Every cloud hosting provider have standard plans for you to choose from as per your process requirement. The pricing is set in accordance with the server resources, the number of users, additional services, etc. However, the cloud hosting provider should be flexible with the pricing plans, as in, should comply with the customer’s request if he/she wants additional features.
Opt for a cloud provider that is open to modifying the pricing as per your request and has special offers for you.
Choosing the Right Cloud Provider is Vital!
You have to be extra cautious while choosing a cloud hosting provider as it affects the way your business operates, and consequently, your growth.
The cloud provider should be well-informed about your process and its requirement. Analyze the customer support offered by the provider. Data security is important. Hence, the cloud provider should be equipped with the latest security practices. Inquire about the uptime guaranteed by the cloud provider in the SLA.
Go through the pricing plans thoroughly and see that the provider is cost-efficient. Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans are critical in times of a disruptive event. Go for a cloud provider that offers you the same.
These questions will help you evaluate the cloud providers efficiently. However, you should keep an open mind while choosing a cloud provider and see to it that the provider fits your process.