How to Analyze Cloud Computing Providers

December 27, 2018

Are you thinking about moving your practice’s data to the cloud?  This transition makes sense if you have a proven cloud provider on your side.  Let’s take a look at how to differentiate the best cloud service providers from the rest.


Get to Know Prospective Vendors

Invest a little bit of time and effort into researching each vendor prior to contacting them.  Get an idea as to how the business started and what it will be doing a few years down the road.  Consider the company founders’ merits, the products/services it provides, sources of funding and the size of the current customer base.


Mind the Terms of Service

The terms of service including service-level agreements and privacy policies matter a great deal.  Do not rush through these documents as the devil is in the details.  Read through each contract prior to signing.  This way, you will have a full understanding of what the cloud service provider can do with your data.  Thankfully, the terms of agreements for cloud providers tend to be fairly basic compared to contracts for software providers.


Where and how will the data be stored?

The majority of cloud tools conceal the “hows” and the “whys” of data storage.  However, users deserve to know how and where their sensitive data is going to be stored.  Do not simply assume your data will be kept in good hands.  Keep in mind there is a good chance the prospective cloud provider does not host customer information.  The majority of cloud providers outsource this storage to outside data centers such as Rackspace.  This is no cause for concern as such dedicated data centers are stable, secure and reliable.  However, you should know ahead of time where your data will be stored for peace of mind.  This information will also provide you with a complete understanding of your firm’s data security.

If you find out the vendor relies on data centers located outside of North America or even outside of the United States altogether, go with a domestic provider as laws pertaining to privacy do not extend beyond our country’s borders.  Furthermore, you should find out if the data center provides redundant backup with regular data center audits.  Such offerings will help you gauge the provider’s credibility and commitment to data security.


Data Access

Your data might prove accessible to others unless the provider permits you to hold onto the encryption key.  Pinpoint the exact procedures and policies in place to protect customers.  Find out if you hold onto full ownership of your company’s data.  If the company argues all information uploaded to its system becomes its own, move on to the next provider.


What About Exiting?

There will likely come a time when you decide to move on.  You should be able to move your important client data away from the cloud provider.  This data should be in a non-proprietary format.  It also makes sense to inquire about the company’s policy for data elimination.  Find out how long the company will keep your data on its servers after exiting the business arrangement.  This way, your data won’t remain on the servers after you move to a new provider.