Questions to ask your potential cloud services provider…
What service level agreement (SLA) are they offering?
The industry standard of 99.9% service uptime should be expected as an absolute minimum. It is usual to expect that the higher the percentage, the better the quality of service you receive should be.
Do they own the infrastructure?
For peace of mind a cloud services provider (CSP) should own the hardware infrastructure upon which your mission-critical data is hosted. This is to ensure that, should a problem occur, your provider can directly resolve any issue themselves, rather than having to wait for third party involvement. You should also consider CSPs who host your data in the UK where you know the security is tightest.
Which cloud platform do they offer?
There are many different cloud platforms available; the vast majority of which use virtualisation to offer value added cloud services. Lower end cloud providers tend to use open source software, whereas higher end providers use VMware etc. The cloud platform and its reliability are important factors to consider as ongoing management, support and future service integration may raise issues for cloud users in the longer term.
Are they ISO27001 compliant?
An ISO27001 certification is the best indication as to whether your CSP is suitably qualified to store, manage and protect your data. The ISO27001 standard demonstrates that CSPs have the necessary information security processes and practices in place to reliably protect and safeguard your data.
Do they hold any industry accreditations?
Your CSP should be able to manage and maintain their cloud infrastructure and have a proven track record of IT expertise. Many vendors offer common cloud industry accreditations and you should check to see if your potential CSP holds any of these rather than having to rely on a third party subcontractor.
What equipment do they utilise in their Data Centre?
The performance and quality of equipment used inside your supplier’s Data Centre is something that should be thoroughly investigated. Branded hardware from leading technology manufacturers such as HP, IBM and Cisco should be the minimum expected. If your Data Centre provider is using equipment from lesser known producers, then the quality and level of service delivered could potentially be impaired.
How reliable are their communications and internet connections?
Extremely reliable, low-latency network with performance guarantees should be provided as standard. You need to ensure that your CSP is not ‘piggy backing’ onto a daisy chained connection, i.e. that their connection is their own. Ask questions regarding the quality and number of internet connections they have in addition to the design of their core network. A minimum of 3 tier one provider connections (BT, Virgin, Cable & Wireless etc.) should be expected.