If you’re considering Cloud for your business, or perhaps switching to a new Cloud provider, make sure you aren’t locking yourself into a sticky situation. Before you read on, understand we aren’t trying to deter you from implementing Cloud technology in your business. The purpose of this blog article is to make you are aware of the potential risks you should avoid when choosing a provider to handle your company’s network in the Cloud. Although many solutions/providers look similar on the surface, it’s what’s behind the scenes that can make all of the difference.
Where will your network/data be located?
Any reputable Cloud provider should disclose exactly what data center your network is going to be housed in. Most IT companies are offering Cloud based solutions today and leverage data centers such as Amazon, Azure, Google, Soft Layer, etc. Ask your provider which one they use and exactly where your network will be located. You should also have authority to access your data center account should you ever need to access your servers. If your provider can not give you this specific information, start looking for another provider.
Industry research shows that the majority of Cloud providers on the market today are building their own data centers in their own offices, or renting space out of a local data center to host their own equipment. Be cautious of these providers as their infrastructure is only as strong as their balance sheet. The best way to take advantage of Cloud is to leverage the leaders in data center computing such as AWS or Azure. These companies offer much more scalable, secure, and high performing data center services. Using these leading data center services gives you access to some of the best server technology in the world. Take the time to truly understand where your data, apps, and network will be located. Some providers will dance around this question so be sure to clarify this point when researching which Cloud solution is best for your business.
Will your Cloud be dedicated or shared?
This can be a difficult question to answer if you don’t know exactly what to ask your provider. Some Cloud providers build what is called a multi-tenant Cloud instead of a dedicated Cloud for each client. The reason they may do this is to drive down their costs (or increase their margin) by putting multiple clients on the same servers. Often times a multi-tenant Cloud solution can be a little less expensive, but will lack the performance, security, and flexibility that having your own servers can offer. Clarify whether your Cloud provider is building you a dedicated Cloud or putting your data and apps on a multi-tenant Cloud, it can save you from issues and lock-in problems down the road.
What is the off-boarding process if you want to leave?
This is probably the most important question you should have answered and incorporated into your agreement. Often times Cloud providers focus on how great their migration process is to on-board a client to their Cloud, but when it comes time to off-board a client the details are not as clear. A multi-tenant based Cloud can make off-boarding a little trickier (and costly) because the provider may need to extract your data from servers that are shared among multiple companies. Make sure to clarify if the provider will give you a copy of your entire servers (File Server, App Server, SQL, etc.) or just extract the raw data, meaning you will have to rebuild your servers/network from scratch. You want to ensure that if you ever decide to move your network to a different Cloud provider, or back onsite in your office, you can extract your servers to a different location and not have to rebuild your network from scratch.
We’ve migrated many companies to the Cloud and unfortunately witnessed some scenarios where their previous provider makes it difficult and/or costly to get their data and servers back. By asking these questions upfront you can ensure that no IT company or Cloud provider holds your network hostage. If you’re interested in Cloud Computing for your business our professional technology consultants can fully advise you on what to look for and the different choices on the market to best fit your company’s needs. Feel free to contact us for an initial consultation.
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