More and more SMBs are migrating to the cloud and that is not a surprise considering the numerous benefits the cloud can offer them. For a SMB, the cloud is a cost efficient and secure answer to their growing data needs and IT security requirements. The cloud grows with them and lets them scale their business without worrying about a corresponding rise in IT costs. Plus, with the cloud, the important aspects of security and backups are mostly taken care of by the cloud service provider. And then, there’s the convenience of any-time-anywhere data access.
With all these benefits that the cloud brings, what’s there to think about before signing up with a cloud service provider? While there are a lot of benefits of storing your data in the cloud, it's important not to lose sight that your data is still yours, so there are a few things you need to know and be comfortable with before you jump onto the cloud.
Data storage location
Ask your cloud services provider where your data will be stored, i.e. the physical location. Ask them if they have multiple data centres and if yes, then, will they be backing up your data and storing them at different places. It is great if your cloud services provider does that, since that ensures higher safety of your data.
An important question here is regarding the transfer of data between UK, EU and USA. With current GDPR and a possible UK GDPR in the near future adding complexity, it is important not to fall foul of regulators. There have been rumours in Westminster that UK have been considering deviating from the GDPR in the coming months/years and the ICO recently issued a draft international transfer agreement which adds further complexity to vast ocean of data storage regulation. Any business in this space needs to keep on top of what could be far reaching and rapid changes occurring in the near future.
How secure will your data be?
When you hire a cloud services provider, a major chunk of your data’s security responsibility is passed onto them. You don’t have to really worry about your data security but you still need to know how they plan to keep your data safe. Ask your cloud services provider for details regarding their data security procedure. Have them share all policies, standard operating procedures and data security frameworks that they claim to have in place.
Past performance/data loss history
Everyone talks about their best projects in a sales meeting. What you really need to know are the worst ones. Ask your cloud services provider to share with you their data loss/downtime trends for the past year and observe any trends. How often does their system give way and how long does it last? This is important for you to understand, because this metric translates into loss of business for you.
And finally, don’t forget to ask for a client list. Like we said before, everyone highlights the good things about themselves in a sales meeting. If you really want to know how good your cloud service provider is, ask them for a client list; both current and past. Check how many of them are from your industry vertical. Try reaching out to those who are willing to talk. Find out what they like the most about your cloud service provider and what aspects they find negative. Find out why their former customers left them. Usually customers are pretty good indicators of the quality of service a business provides.