Shopping for a Cloud IT Provider? Look for these 5 Qualities!

Your business is ready to move to the cloud, which is a big decision for you and your team to make. Prior to nailing down a partner for this migration, you need to consider a few things. In this blog, we’ll outline some factors to contemplate when choosing your cloud IT vendor.

What are your Priorities?

First, prioritize what you want from this migration to the cloud. Knowing what you want to achieve can lead to easier decision when picking a cloud solution provider. Although you will have a reason for your employees and shareholders, you need to take time to develop a solid list of IT needs before diving into different partner options. Once you have established a list of needs, you can then move on to looking for these 5 important qualities.

1. Storage Size/Cloud Type

Think about the size and type of cloud you need. Do you just need it to store files? Or do you want to collaborate on different platforms? Do your team members need to be working on applications together in real time? It’s worth considering that at some point you may want to expand your cloud abilities. Check out what other offerings your vendor might have in terms of applications, software and servers.

In terms of what type of cloud, there’s public, private, & hybrid cloud options. Private cloud is the most secure and can help in downtime situations when public clouds like AWS are typically fall offline. And while public cloud is less costly, private cloud is a dedicated server, so there’s less need to worry about losing time and money for your business in the long run. Hybrid cloud is a bit more complex, giving options that have both public and private traits, but takes time to maintain and develop proper data policies. It all depends on what your team composition is and how much bandwidth you require for your data.

2. Cost/Budget

Also work out a budget for your vendor. Yes, there’s the upfront price, but what can your business afford beyond that? There might be a maintenance fee, and it could depend on the vendor if it is hourly, monthly, quarterly or on other basis. If you plan on expanding your cloud, think about the potential increase in fees or costs down the road too. Find out if they can expand the plan you select to meet any of your new business needs.

Other questions to consider is do they cover onboarding costs? How efficient is that onboarding process? Do they charge at a fixed rate or per ticket/IT issue? You want to make sure the IT provider you choose is in it to help YOU succeed, not just wait until problems arise.

3. Strength/Security Procedures

It’s also worth exploring how often your vendor makes updates and evaluates their security procedures. Some solutions don’t always stay current with their offerings or regularly test their systems for vulnerabilities. You want a vendor that’s making updates frequently to improve your cloud. Ask them what their yearly cyber strategy is, and for a copy of their business continuity plan if an outage or data breach occurs. If they can’t provide that for you, or they take long to get back on your request, just imagine how long it will take them to process a real crisis.

And if they do have a plan in place, do they have proof it works? Some managed IT services providers (MSP) go through yearly data compliance audits of their security procedures to ensure everything is airtight, such as System and Organization Controls (SOC). While this may not be a make or break quality for your business, it’s still very important to keep in mind, as it shows the IT provider truly cares about your peace of mind.

4. Flexibility/Accessibility

Flexibility and accessibility at all times is a must in today’s fast-paced markets, not to mention after businesses enacted widespread remote work options. You and your teams should be able to access data within the cloud at any hour of the day. This is necessary for businesses to be successful because imagine you have a team based in South America trying to access a data sheet that a team in South Florida created, and they can’t open it. That presents a huge problem in maintaining productivity for your business.

Now imagine that same situation, but afterwards when you try contacting your MSP’s support team, they aren’t available after business hours. Cloud providers should be around and ready to help 24/7 to solve a problem or answer questions for your team.

5. Reputation

Look into the IT provider’s online reviews. See how long it takes them to respond to an issue or what additional technical support is provided.

Do they educate clients on how they solve issues to prevent future ones, or do they only do the bare minimum and barely communicate? Some companies do this for free and some charge an extra amount for it.

Will you be dealing with an expert for your issue or an outsourced service representative with a script? Knowing this information ahead of time can save your team frustration down the road.

And do they have experience with businesses of your size? If you’re a small or medium sized business (SMB), you don’t want to feel like the little guy or just a number in their system. But also, if you’re a larger business with hundreds of employees, can they deal with that level of support bandwidth?

Will your data be Protected?

Since the cloud is a network of computers, it’s crucial that security be one of the top priorities of a cloud vendor. With multiple large-scale data breaches happening in recent years, it is important to know that your vendor has the most up-to-date protocols and defenses to prevent these types of problems. When it comes to security, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, companies need to have a cloud partner that is constantly monitoring and updating security for cloud data.

Part of preventing security problems comes down to access. Controlling access to sensitive information is another question to consider with a potential partner. Working with your IT provider or vendor is vital for maintaining control of access leak points for the cloud and consumer data. When selecting a cloud vendor, ask them about how much control your team or in-house IT will have over modifying who has cloud data access. Plus, check out how your potential cloud vendor certifies their employees. You don’t want a technology rookie watching over your business data.

Also consider the data security laws for your industry. If the cloud vendor you are selecting does not comply with the compliance standards and regulations for your industry, then you are putting your business at risk of non-compliance.

How to Plan Moving Forward

If you are looking at an on-premises cloud solution, consider where the data center will be located. You don’t want anyone to be able to “walk in” and access this information. Think about natural disasters, too such as floods, fires, earthquakes or even man-made disasters such as data breaches and ransomware attacks. These things happen, and it’s important for an MSP to have a plan in place to keep your business running.

In short, making the move to the cloud is a big change for many businesses. By doing your homework ahead of time, you can select the perfect cloud vendor to help your company with this transition and long-term solution. Call Nerds Support or schedule a consultation below and we can provide your business a free IT audit to give the best insight on what you should look for in a cloud provider!

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