How to Determine If You Can Trust Cloud Services Provider

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The number of cloud services providers (CSPs) in Australia has soared in the past few years. A recent study found that the Australian cloud market is set to grow by 14 percent this year. And with a wide assortment of CSPs in the market, the average business owner is spoiled for choice. So how do you decide between cloud provider A and cloud vendor B? Or more importantly, which service should you trust?

You can’t exactly pick one that claims to have ‘cutting-edge’ features because all of them will probably say they do. In the end, choosing a cloud provider is like one big trust fall. When you give up control of your data to a third-party provider; you best be sure that its services can support you. That said, here are some ways you can determine whether your potential CSP can catch you when you take that leap of faith.

Do they walk the walk?

First and foremost, it’s imperative to assess each CSPs performance and capabilities. Many providers have a bad habit of swaying potential customers with fluff stories and vague statements like “our services give you peace of mind,” but that doesn’t tell you anything about what they do or if you can even trust their services. Look for a provider that can put action behind those words.

You can often tell whether CSPs are worth their salt by taking the time to read through their case studies page. From here you can assess a prospective partner’s track record of success in the industry and ask for references from previous clients. A cloud provider is probably worth considering if competitors are giving rave reviews of its cloud management services and technical support.

If particular CSPs have caught your eye, contact them and ask whether they’re financially stable. This question may seem strange at first, but knowing their financial situation helps you confirm whether they have enough resources to support your business in the long run. Of course, as with any IT service, ask them to disclose their terms of service and managed service level agreements. The more transparent CSPs are about their services and operations, the more reason you have to trust them.

Can they keep data safe?

Not only should vendors deliver what’s outlined in their ‘About Us’ page, but they should also provide your company with in-depth cloud security capabilities. Trusting an inexperienced CSP is one of the quickest ways for your critical data to get wiped, corrupted, or stolen.

To avoid this, select a cloud vendor that understands data security regulations and complements your cloud infrastructure with 24/7 network monitoring, antivirus software, cloud backups, security updates and patches, firewalls, and full system encryption.

Unfortunately, there is an inherent risk that administrative staff working for a cloud provider could breach your data from within. In this case, reliable CSPs should give you the option to manage your own encryption keys, so that no-one — besides your company — can access sensitive files. Or, better yet, go for a cloud vendor that implements hybrid cloud solutions, allowing you to handle sensitive data either in a private cloud server or on site.

Is their data centre secure?

While online security is important, don’t forget that disaster season is just around the corner here in Australia; so you better be completely confident in your cloud provider’s data centre security.

For compliance reasons, cloud providers can’t fully disclose the location of their data centres, but you can ask them whether they have failover facilities or geo-redundant sites in case one data centre goes offline. Also, find out how the server rooms are designed to keep thieves at bay. Do they have security cameras? Locked server vaults? And trustworthy IT staff on-premises?

The best way to gauge all this is by looking for ISO and SSAE 16 certifications. Complying with these data centre standards indicates that a cloud vendor’s data centres have secure physical access controls and full data redundancy. If a prospective provider doesn’t meet these compliance initiatives; then they may very well be housing your data in a makeshift server room without any of the aforementioned security measures in place.

Have they experienced downtime before?

Ideally, the best answer to this question is none. But considering the cloud outages we’ve seen this year; we all know that’s almost impossible. Telstra, for example; was hit by five major outages this year mainly due to human error. And though the renowned telco company can survive several hits; your business can’t afford to have the constant threat of downtime bearing down on its shoulders.

That’s why before making any big decisions; you should ask for each providers’ downtime history and choose one that guarantees the least amount of service disruptions. If they have ever experienced downtime in the past, ask them how they plan to mitigate any future fallout. Will they rectify their lapse in service with monetary compensation and recover lost data?

Although asking this many questions may seem a bit tedious; it can go a long way in helping you identify a cloud provider that’s right for your business. Because, at the end of the day; you’ll work with one of these providers, and it’s best to set expectations early before you realize its services are woefully inadequate.

Here at Empower IT, we consider ourselves bona fide cloud experts. Whether your business needs a hybrid cloud solution, cloud backups, or advanced network security; we have the means to catch your fall. But don’t just take our word for it. Contact us to ask any of the questions we discussed here today or to evaluate our services yourself. We value your trust and we will do our utmost to earn it.