17. April 2013 16:45
By Rieva Lesonsky
There are so many cloud services providers in the playing field today, you could spend weeks or months researching and debating which cloud provider should store your critical data. The more sensitive the data, the more consideration you should put into choosing your cloud service provider. Are they reliable? Safe? How much are you willing to pay to ensure your data and files are secure and accessible from anywhere you are?
Before you decide on any service provider, here is a list of questions you should be able to answer.
- How many years has the provider been in business?
- What kind of reputation does the business have? (Check review sites such as TopTenReviews.com.)
- Do they charge per user, by amount of storage, or by some other metric?
- Are there any setup fees?
- Are there any ongoing fees?
- What is the total yearly cost?
- How long is the contract? If you decide to terminate services, what are the terms?
- Is the data easily transferable to another provider?
- What kind of data encryption is employed?
- Where are their data centers?
- What kind of electronic and physical security do they employ at their data centers?
- Do they hold any legal rights to your data?
- What is their guaranteed uptime?
- If they do not meet their guaranteed uptime, do they provide compensation?
- Does the company have support procedures they can share with you?
- What about documented disaster recovery procedures?
- If your company must meet any regulatory compliance requirements, does the provider meet those requirements?
- If you do business globally, are there any regulation or storage issues you should be aware of?
- Do they have data and service certifications and/or Sarbanes-Oxley certification?
Most cloud providers offer a free trial, so once you have narrowed down your list to a few possibilities, it may make sense to try out different services to see what features each has and which dashboard you prefer. Talk to a representative about all the different software programs you use, and find out how the provider can help you integrate your systems so everything works together seamlessly.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at email@example.com, follow her on Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.