Nine Cloud questions to ask

Now it’s getting serious. We’ve spent the last week detailing Cloud considerations and explaining what the right Cloud should look like for your business, but now we want you to think about the provider of your Cloud services and the questions you need to ask of them.

We believe Dataquest Group is the perfect choice for your Cloud partner, combining as we do, decades of experience, unrivalled technical knowledge and the resources to design, deploy and manage the perfect Hybrid Cloud for your business. But we would say that, wouldn’t we?

So we’ve listed nine questions, compiled from the list of questions we answer on a regular basis when approached about the Cloud service we provide. Any Cloud provider that can give you satisfactory answers is worth meeting – not all will bring chocolate biscuits however.

To help find the right Cloud provider ask these questions

It’s more likely than not that your business is already taking advantage of Cloud computing, but you must want more, you must be relentless in your pursuit of the perfect Cloud, or you wouldn’t still be looking at alternatives, so ask these questions of the Cloud providers on your list:

How healthy and stable is your business?

It’s too easy to start looking at the technical capabilities of Cloud providers, without first considering their financial health, ethos and business profile. It matters. They should demonstrate a stable history, be in good financial health, with sufficient capital resources to operate long term.

Technology, compelling SLA and low prices, matter little if your provider goes bust during the term of your contract. Ask how they address legal issues and whether there are corporate changes in the pipeline, including acquisitions, all of which could impact the service you receive.

Do you work to recognised standards?

Providers can promise the earth, but is their claimed ‘high-quality service’ independently assessed or just a marketing term? Those providers that understand the need to comply with recognised standards will have the certificates and qualifications to back up their claims.

Look for ISO 27001 (information security), ISO 9001 (quality systems), ISO 14001 (environmental management). Also seek Cyber Essentials and Plus accreditations, along with industry specific certificates like PCI-DSS, all of which demonstrate a serious business, in it for the long haul.

What operating systems do you work with?

Cloud is getting easier to understand, but there are still complications to catch the unwary and assuming any operating system works on the relevant Cloud you have selected, could be an issue if the provider doesn’t work with yours.

Operating compatibility is a very easy aspect of Cloud to confirm but do it long before you get rolling in the deep with your migration as it could prove a major, costly headache. There are still Cloud providers that service a small, often industry specific market relying on an OS different to yours.

Will your Cloud performance meet my needs?

Not all Cloud providers are the same. All of us have our own idea of what the perfect Cloud looks like and that means each will provide different levels of performance and capacity, based on the needs of the majority of clients being serviced.

Once you have decided to make the switch to Cloud, or a particular Cloud will benefit your business, understand the exact service and capabilities you require and ensure the service providers you engage with can meet all your needs and their Cloud will deliver the functionality you need.

Can I speak to existing clients?

This is important. Once you have established the Cloud providers you’re considering can deliver all you need in terms of technology, technical know-how and Cloud capabilities, recognise you may have to work closely with them for the years ahead. Do you trust them and do you like them?

You should like the company, the people within it and the ethos that drives it forward. Understand the reputation of the business and how it achieved it, then ask to speak to current clients who may have made the same journey you’re considering and look for case studies that back up the claims.

Are costs the same across service delivery?

Sounds a good question and in reality the answer will always be, you get what you pay for. The conversation around Cloud focusses on choices around Private, Public, Hybrid, Multiple, etc., and rarely considers the service quality, the layers of security, the level of management.

Clouds can be self-managed or fully-managed, with just about any level of service in between, all of which should be explained at the outset, so you know what the quoted figures covers, whether it includes a backup solution, 24/7/365 support , UK-based or outsourced, it all impacts the cost.

What Cloud support is provided?

If you have your own IT team, the support offered by the Cloud Provider probably worries you less, but once all your valuable applications and data are ensconced in Tier 3 datacentres, you will want the peace of mind the Cloud is supported 24/7/365, not just your office hours.

Look for Clouds that come with support and ideally those providers that have invested heavily in technical support to build their own teams that monitor the Cloud performance themselves, with no outsourcing when the sun sets and ready to step-in when you hit a problem at 2am.

Do I have to move everything to the Cloud?

Okay, so Cloud is popular now, but you don’t have to follow fashion and move everything you have to a new platform immediately. If you have on-premises resources still to deliver a return on your investment, then integrating Public or Private Clouds to create a Hybrid solution, makes sense.

Depending on the reason for the move to Cloud and the services you need, a slower migration might be a smart option. It gives you and your Cloud provider time to develop the strategy based on the size and amount of your data, along with time to resolve any issues that occur during the process.

Will all my applications work in your Cloud?

Do not assume all of your legacy applications will work in every Cloud. If you have a set of core applications, such as those associated with enterprise resource planning (ERP), it may be challenging to migrate these to the cloud for a number of reasons, like performance and availability.

Assess all of your applications and identify any industry specific ones, like legal practice management software, than speak to your Cloud provider and ask how they can address your challenge. There are options like containerisation, but a frank discussion up front will mitigate migration problems.

Can I speak to you about my Cloud?

Of course you can. This might be the tenth question in the list, but you can see why we included it and hopefully after nine days of insights into the Dataquest difference, you’re confident we can deliver what you need.

So, if a Cloud conversation would help before you relax over Christmas, please get in touch with Chris Baker, on 07984 574609 or email chris.baker@dataquestuk.com