Increased efficiencies, cost savings, a lightened workload for the IT team—these are just a few among many reasons businesses opt to move to the cloud. The bottom-line reason for almost every business is that cloud vendors are supposed to make their work easier and provide smooth, secure access to their data, with backups and protections that are difficult, expensive or cumbersome for a business to handle on its own.
So how can organizations be sure that a cloud vendor they’re thinking of partnering with is going to provide the service and support they’re looking for? As with every relationship, it’s essential to ask the right questions. Below, 16 industry experts from Forbes Technology Council share critical factors businesses need to cover when vetting a cloud vendor.
1. Data Privacy And Protection Safeguards
Data breaches are in the news and only going to become more prevalent as the value of personal information increases. Businesses should ask cloud vendors what data privacy and protection safeguards they have in place and what plans they have to remediate issues should a breach occur. At the least, they should be applying and prioritizing encryption and data compliance laws. – Stephen Cavey, Ground Labs
2. R&D Investments
It’s important to ask, “What is your yearly investment in research and development?” The best cloud technology companies have a continuous innovation mindset—they’re always improving their flagship products, building new features and functionality, and offering their customers a true competitive edge. How much a company focuses on R&D will reveal whether they’re a true long-term partner or a one-trick pony. – Trisha Price, nCino
3. Migration Assistance
When choosing a cloud vendor, one of the most important factors is migrating your applications to their cloud. An essential question to ask is what migration assistance the cloud vendor will provide. Things to look for are ease of migration, application performance in the new cloud environment and potential security issues. – Steve Taplin, Sonatafy Technology
4. Their Definition Of ‘Cloud’
One core question to ask a cloud vendor is whether they see the cloud as a set of principles or a destination. The response to that question can give you insight into how well they understand the concepts of the more than 23 variants of cloud “types” that customers have to design against. Further, asking for clarity on the differences between multi-cloud and multi-cloud can be very informative. – Wayne Filin-Matthews, Dell Technologies
5. Cost Models
I have asked, “What is the security and compliance model, and what is the cost model, especially in terms of volume discounts?” The same cloud deals will vary by volume, region and tier. Additionally, it’s important to understand the support model by tier, as this will have implications on how and when to engage vendor support—any cloud migration effort will have its own twists and turns. – Shiboo Varughese, CirrusLabs.io
6. Data Residence
The first question I always ask is, “Where will my data reside?” Data residence is important for many reasons—most notably for privacy (tracking all data flows) and compliance (many industry regulations require you to know where the data is at all points). This includes not just production data, but test data and even your backups. Contractual obligations may also limit where the data can reside. – Tom Garrubba, SFG/Shared Assessments
8. BYOK Model
With rampant breaches, businesses must always be in control of their most prized asset: data. This includes scenarios in which they do not own the physical infrastructure, such as cloud environments. An essential question to ask a cloud vendor is if they allow a Bring Your Own Key model, which enables this control through a mechanism (such as encryption) that uses keys the business manages. – Ameesh Divatia, Baffle, Inc.
9. Support Ecosystems
It’s essential to ask, “What is your reliability record, and what does your support ecosystem look like?” Uptime is crucial for every business, so ensuring you’ll be able to keep the lights on is a bare minimum. Outside of that, you need an open architecture for integration with other solutions, especially if you’re looking to break down silos across your organization and deliver seamless, end-to-end customer experiences. – John Hernandez, Genesys
10. Available Training
Ask the vendor how much training is available for their technology. It’s important to have adequate training resources so that your IT and DevOps teams can not only stay up to speed but ahead of the curve when it comes to that particular vendor’s technology and platform. – Juliette Rizkallah, A Cloud Guru
11. Backup Capabilities
Ask, “Do you provide multi-site, read-only backups?” If you want your best shot at eluding the spoils of ransomware, you must have the capability of rolling back your systems instantly and easily. Businesses need to live by read-only backups and offsite storage. – Adam Stern, Infinitely Virtual
12. Previous Cyber Incidents
Ask about the nature of their last cyber incident. Don’t ask them if they had one—they did. Every organization has, and cloud vendors are juicy targets. I care less about how they handled it and more about whether they will be open and transparent; in my opinion, those qualities are foundational to any partnership. If they truly don’t know they’ve had an incident, that’s another problem and a big red flag. – Jerich Beason, Epiq
13. Workflow Integration
You should always ask whether or not they can be integrated into your current workflow. This allows you to harness the power of new technology and reduce the time for user adoption—and eliminate any potential implementation failures due to lack of buy-in. – Joanna Riley, Censia Talent Intelligence
14. Exit Strategies
Ask, “How can I get my data out of your cloud or service?” Cloud services get terminated or fundamentally changed all the time. As long as we can move our data between different offerings, we can choose the one best suited to our needs. Once we get locked in, we are at the mercy of this vendor and lose control over what is most likely an essential piece of our company’s system. – Kevin Korte, Univention
15. Data Portability
It’s essential to focus on portability to, and interoperability with, other cloud providers. For your offering’s resilience and your business’ continuity, having the flexibility required to either operate across cloud service providers or rapidly move to a new provider is imperative. – Shawn Harris, Turing.ai
16. Renewal Rates
It’s simple: “What is your renewal rate?” Renewal rate is the most telling customer satisfaction metric when it comes to the cloud. Happy customers renew. Unhappy customers move on. – Tim Femister, ConvergeOne
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