LBMC recently released our fourth annual Business Outlook Survey Report addressing top business goals for 2021 and offering insight into current business trends, challenges, and levels of optimism across the U.S. Of our survey respondents who indicated that they plan to prioritize technology and software this year, more than half expect to invest in cloud technologies in 2021.

Trusting your data to a cloud provider is a big deal. When it comes to choosing one, you should ask some tough questions to make sure the company you select deserves your confidence.

What questions should I ask my cloud service provider?

1. Where will my data be located?

Your information should be stored in several locations with instant failover in areas remote from your own location so it’s not subject to the same regional risks as your company. While a provider should not disclose the exact physical location of their data center, the organization should be able to assure you your data is safe with general information of that nature.

2. Are you sharing hardware resources between clients?

You want to know whether your processing is being dedicated just to you, or if it’s being shared out among all the provider’s customers.

3. What are the specs of the data center you operate out of?

This would include physical and electronic security measures, redundancies, and so on. You don’t want to experience outages or security failures.

4. How much Internet bandwidth is needed for the solution to perform correctly?

This is one of the most crucial questions to ask — and you want to make sure you know the figure per user. You’ll also want to check with your Internet service provider to know both your upload download speeds. Slow speeds and limited functionality should not be a challenge.

5. Is my data automatically redundant across multiple data centers?

This will give you a strong idea of their backup and security procedures and their ability to recover from a total data center loss.

6. What is the recovery time if the systems hosting my data are completely destroyed?

Don’t forget to ask what kind of secondary backups they have, how often they’re made, and how often they’re tested.

7. Do you have documented data security policies?

Knowing what kind of formal security policies they have in place will give you an idea of how secure your data is from the provider’s own staff. It’s not uncommon for a client to ask for a SOC report.

8. What is the average total downtime for the services I’m subscribing to?

They should be able to tell you how often during a particular period of time — annually, over three years, over five years, etc. — their services are unavailable. It should be a relatively low percentage.

9. Do you outsource your help desk?

Is it offshore? Outsourced? Will it give you the support you need on the schedule you need? Obtaining your cloud services through a knowledgeable local company that provides the work themselves and with more than one certified network engineer is ideal.

What should be in a service-level agreement (SLA)?

According to Wikipedia, a service-level agreement (SLA) is a commitment between a service provider and a client.

There are a number of items that you want to make sure are included in your SLA. The SLA should contain a clause clearly stating who owns the data (you), a confidentiality clause, and a clear identification of where primary and backup data will be located. It should also include an insurance clause, a guarantee of up-time, and a change of business clause covering what happens if the provider is acquired by another company.

LBMC Technology Solutions is uniquely positioned to assist organizations in determining how best to use cloud software and services to save time and money and “stretch” resources to allow you to concentrate on your organization’s growth.

Several different models and deployment strategies have emerged to help meet the needs of different users. Each type of cloud service and deployment method provides you with different levels of control, flexibility, and management. Review the differences between SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS, as well as what deployment strategies you can use will help you decide what set of services are right for your needs.

Learn more about the benefits of cloud computing and how LBMC Technology Solutions can help.