Selecting A Cloud Service Provider (Questions/Answers)
How Do You Know That You Can Trust Your Cloud Provider?
8 Important Questions You Should Ask
Whatever industry your business may be in, chances are you’re using some form of cloud solution in your daily work life. From food service to retail and construction, from legal services to medical practices, finance and more, there’s a place in the Cloud for everyone. But now that we’re all here, what are we doing to ensure our cloud solution is truly secure?
We lock the doors to our workplaces when we leave for the day, but there’s no key to turn on our cloud storage security. So, what do business owners like you need to know to keep your digital world as safe as the real world?
While there are many common cloud software suites being used by providers that offer cloud storage-as-a-service, it doesn’t mean that their operations are equal. Ensuring your cloud security should begin before uploading your first file.
Here Are 8 Important Questions That You Should Ask Before Choosing A Cloud Provider
Does your cloud provider have a regular backup schedule?
Depending upon your specific solution, any cloud provider worth their subscription cost will run regular backups with redundancies for all the data it stores. The backups are often stored separately from the primary storage which adds another level of security against data loss. In the event of an incident in one location, data can instantly be restored from one of the other backups.
Do they stay ahead of issues?
Along with an alternate storage location for those backups, ensure you’re getting the protection you are paying to receive. Because a cloud provider’s reputation largely relies on its ability to deliver on its promises of security and reliability, staying ahead of issues before they become problems is every good provider’s top priority.
Does your provider conduct security audits and make them available to you?
Reputable cloud providers conduct routine security audits of their systems to ensure your data is safe from a variety of threats, including malware, data corruption, system failure, or damage to your physical infrastructure. Even better, these security audits are typically available to the provider’s customers because they want you to know that your data is in good hands.
Do they offer Security Awareness Training?
With all the security tools available today, it would be much more difficult for cybercriminals to gain access to data if it wasn’t for the single biggest source of security breaches – human error. The end user remains the biggest threat to the security of business data. Knowing that your cloud provider can educate and empower you and your employees in the practice of good security hygiene is an important step in ensuring your data safety.
What about Cloud Compliance Support?
Can they deliver cloud infrastructure solutions for closely regulated industries and ensure the data they collect, store, and access for you will be protected in line with compliance regulations such as HIPAA, PCI-DSS, and more?
They should also provide support 24/7 to ensure that any issue or concern you may have is addressed and taken care of quickly and effectively.
Will their Standard Uptime SLA meet your business requirements?
Some cloud providers offer SLAs (Service Level Agreements) with 99.9% uptime, while others offer 99.999%. An SLA with 99.999% uptime will cost more than one with a 99.9% uptime. However, it may be worth the price.
There’s a significant difference between the two:
- A 99.9% uptime equals 8.77 hours of downtime per year.
- A 99.999% uptime equals 5.26 minutes of downtime per year.
Evaluate your needs and consider how much downtime is acceptable to ensure your business runs smoothly without reputational damage or major revenue loss.
What’s included in their Disaster Recovery Plan?
The cloud provider’s disaster recovery plan is extremely important. Ask about site visits and audits to estimate the vendor’s recovery time and the impact of a potential failure.
Does the provider have a reliable process in place? Is the provider’s staff knowledgeable and ready to react under the worst possible conditions? Unfortunately, disasters occur so it’s critical for your business and your cloud provider to be prepared.
How often do they test their disaster recovery plan?
A disaster recovery plan alone doesn’t ensure that downtime will be minimized in the unfortunate event of a disaster. The cloud provider must test their plan on a regular basis to ensure the plan is effective. Ask the cloud provider to disclose the results of disaster recovery tests on a regular basis.
When Selecting A Cloud Provider, Be Sure To Do Your Homework First
Your business needs a robust and comprehensive data security policy. And your cloud provider should play a role in the development and execution of this very important strategy.
Cloud computing and storage have changed the way we store and share data in all types of businesses – from the cost savings of off-site storage and the ease of collaboration to the peace of mind regarding disaster recovery and more.
But with the trust that we put in cloud solutions, it’s very important that this trust is also earned by the cloud provider.