When searching the market for a cloud solution, make sure you ask vendors for the whole story. As we all probably already know, not all cloud servers are created equal. It is highly recommended that you look beyond marketing claims, search the fine print, and ask the right questions. Here are ten critical points you should bring up when talking to potential providers, especially because they probably won’t bring it up first.

  1. Initial integration. If your company is looking to implement a cloud hosting solution, you need to be aware, step-­by-­step, how this is actually going to happen, especially when it comes to software and products. For instance, what will happen if you already have a particular business management software application that you’d like to put on the cloud, but another branch of your organization tries to use another one? Make sure the process of integration and implementation is one of your first questions.
  2. Hidden costs.  A Cloud Server is infamous for being extremely cost-­effective, but it is important to note that some companies will take advantage of this by incorporating hidden costs into their subscription plans. Make sure you completely understand their pricing model and what you can expect to see on your monthly bill, explained by the vendor down to the cent. Additionally, you should ask if upgrades to new versions of their software are included.
  3. Real uptime numbers. All providers want to list ideal numbers, if possible, especially when it comes to uptime. To be clear, all networks will eventually go down. What’s important is how they will recover. While a few vendors will completely disclose their statistics regarding uptime, you can also ask for reports generated within the past few months about maintenance schedules.
  4. How responsible are you for security? All vendors should have best practices implemented for security—from data to infrastructure and personnel—but don’t assume that you have zero responsibility in keeping your information safe. Make sure to ask who is responsible for what in terms of security. Keep in mind that you will most likely be responsible for implementing encryption policies and other similar factors.
  5. Encryption keys. As discussed above, the security of your information is one of the most important factors when it comes to choosing a hosting provider. It is important to make sure your information is encrypted at all times. Also, find out how the vendor manages encryption keys and the rules and policies they have regarding managing these keys. This is a critical issue to bring up no matter what industry you work in, especially if you are in a regulated industry such as healthcare or finance.
  6. Data restoration. Once your data is in the Cloud, how quickly can you get this information back in the instance of network downtime or a disaster? Ask the vendor for any data they may have that shows real-­‐world examples.
  7. Multi-­tenancy. One of the fundamental reasons the Cloud creates such a cost-­effective solution is that the Cloud architecture is essentially a single machine with several clients renting out a portion of that machine. Since the machine isn’t dedicated to one single user, costs are lowered. If installed correctly, multi-­tenancy is a great way for multiple companies to use a single platform with the utmost security and privacy. However, if done incorrectly, you can lose sensitive information or have your data infiltrated by someone with malicious intent. As discussed in previous points, you need to be proactive and utilize full disk encryption.
  8. How to move your information to another cloud or hosting solution. Moving from one hosting type to another is never easy, but it is often catastrophic with the Cloud. Ensure you are informed ahead of time how to get your data from the Cloud and how easy or difficult it will be to move to another solution, such as a dedicated hosting plan. If you decide to move from the Cloud down the road, you will need to know how to easily manage this with minimal data loss.
  9. Privacy. When it comes down to the privacy of your data, the type of Cloud utilized by the vendor can greatly affect the privacy rules. For instance, if the vendor’s Cloud relies on advertising for revenue, they will likely want to use your information to give to advertisers. On the other side, if the revenue comes from end-users, the vendor will want to keep your information protected. Make sure you read the fine print!
  10. Environmental concerns. According to a recent Greenpeace report, nearly $450 billion is spent annually on new data center facilities. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has warned that approximately two percent of North American electricity consumption comes from data centers. This number is only expected to increase exponentially as the years go by. If you are environmentally conscious, be sure to ask how “green” the vendors’ cloud solution is.

As you can see, you will need to ask potential vendors a large number of questions before you should officially sign a contract. Some will disclose this information upfront, and some will want to withhold this information. Ideally, you should choose a company that wants to create a genuine relationship with its clients, not one that simply looks at customers as a money source.

At Atlantic.Net, we pride ourselves on the fact that we create full transparency with our clients. To learn more about the cloud server hosting services we provide, including VPS hosting, contact us today.

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