How to choose a Cloud Services Provider (CSP)

What to look for and the questions to ask

There are so many benefits available to businesses adopting cloud services. But you really shouldn’t settle for a Cloud Services Provider (CSP) who you haven’t asked some important questions of, and received comprehensive answers from.

Moving to the cloud, fully or partially, is a big decision as it fundamentally changes the infrastructure of your business. You need to be sure you’re working with the right CSP to deliver everything you expect, on time and in budget. Poorly designed and / or executed cloud solutions will be disappointing and will not deliver the benefits you rightly expect.

These are OGL’s top questions to ask when choosing your CSP:

Are they a strong and stable company?

We don’t want to imagine the nightmare scenario of a CSP going out of business and what that would mean for their customers. You absolutely want a provider that has a long, proven track record of delivering IT services with a rock-solid company background. You also need to ask about their risk management policies, compliance standards and industry accreditation. Ensure your chosen provider is mature enough to provide a long term partnership to your company.

What type of cloud services do they provide?

You want a CSP that has the full scope of cloud services at their disposal so that the ideal cloud solution can be designed and implemented for you. You don’t want a CSP that is only capable of delivering one particular product or solution, regardless of whether it is right for your business. You want a provider that demonstrates maximum flexibility in the way they deliver services and they need to be able to handle a hybrid of cloud and onsite products seeing as that is what most businesses prefer.

Do they understand your business?

Ask prospective CSPs to demonstrate an understanding of your business type and industry. Ask for testimonials, case studies and even request to speak to an existing customer with similar needs to you for a recommendation. Ideally you want a CSP that has worked in your industry and understands the specific IT requirements you face; you don’t want to be the guinea pig!

Do they have a transparent pricing structure?

Large, upfront costs for cloud services are not typical and you should worry if your prospective CSP talks about a big lump sum payment. Cloud services are usually paid for on a pay-as-you-go monthly basis and you pay for what you use. You want a clear pricing strategy so you can be clear on the bill you’ll receive each month.

Do they take security seriously?

Security should be a major consideration when it comes to storing your company's critical data in the cloud. You need to see comprehensive evidence that security is a paramount concern for your CSP and they have state-of-the-art security in place. Perhaps even request a visit to their data centre so you see the security for yourself. Also look for providers who meet ISO 27001 requirements.

Data backup is also a must. As well as knowing what would happen to your data should you ever choose to leave the service.

In summary, ask questions, read reviews, talk to customers whose situation is similar to yours – and trust your instincts. The right Cloud Services Provider can become a very valuable long term strategic partner bringing many advantages to your business. Choose wisely and you’ll reap rewards.

Any of our IT Consultants would be delighted to speak to you about your business’s suitability for the cloud and answer any of your questions about our credibility as a cloud provider. 

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